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					                 ―Our Dialogue‖
                     6th Edition - Rev.

                 the Religious Editor
                           Arab News
                              Jeddah
                               apkar pk


                               Volume I


Gratuitous Distribution only
2          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah          Our Dialogue




•   Copies of the books in ‗Our Dialogue‘ series
    are offered to those in Karachi who kindly visit
    us personally.

•   Those outside Karachi are requested to please
    write a request, indicating their full name,
    complete permanent mailing address and a bit
    about their self. This will make it more
    personal. Their copies will, Insha‘Allah, be sent
    through mail as far as may be.

•   If located outside Pakistan, please make
    arrangements with someone in Karachi to
    collect on your behalf.

    Alternative, you may arrange with a courier
    service to collect the books and deliver to you.


    apkar pk
    [Muhammad Arif]
    404 Qamar House
    M. A. Jinnah Road
    Karachi - 74000 Pakistan
    Telephones: [92] [21] 231 24 95 [Work/Home]
     Telecopier: [92] [21] 231 09 08
         E-mail: dialogue@khi.comsats.net.pk

    — apkar pk will try to meet their demand
    as    far      as        may         be   practicable.
  Our Dialogue       SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah            3




Hadith —
                              Indeed,
                 the creation of each one of you
            is brought together in the mother's belly
          for 40 days in the form of a drop of sperm,
             then he is a germ-cell for a like period,
           then an embryonic lump for a like period,
               then there is sent to him the angel
              who blows the breath of life into him
           & who is commanded about four matters:
             to write down his means of livelihood,
                    his life span, his actions
                and whether happy or unhappy

                          By Allah,
              other than whom there is no God,
    one of you may behave like the people of paradise
   until there is but an arm's length between him and it,
     and that which has been written overtakes him
       and so he behaves like the people of hell fire
                    and thus he enters it;
    and one of you behaves like the people of hell fire
   until there is but an arm's length between him and it,
     and that which has been written overtakes him
      and so he behaves like the people of paradise
                    and thus he enters it."

                           ( Related by Al Bukhari & Muslim.)
4                        SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                Our Dialogue




                                apkar pk
This will serve to tell you a bit about apkar pk. Well, apkar is simply an
abbreviation from Allied Promotors Karachi, the Company I organize, while the
suffix pk stands for Pakistan.

A friend, Mr. Ateed Riaz has been involved in copying and gratuitously
circulating pages from the religious columns of arab news, Jeddah. I was also
favored with these pages. I found the columns very interesting indeed and deeply
thought provoking. I decided to start compiling. After compiling about a hundred
pages, in the year 1989, I showed the result to some of my friends. They were
enthusiastic and I was pleased. We felt that it could serve as a useful and handy
guide for those keen to know more about the ways of our religion but did not get
convincing answers from the nearby Ulema. My friends offered to help with the
printing. The first such book was a smaller version of ―Our Dialogue‖, under the
title "a question and answer session, the Religious Editor, arab news, Jeddah",
comprising 125 text pages. This was a beginning.

I was encouraged by the response. I continued with this compiling work and in
time came up with the enhanced version of the same book under the title ―Our
Dialogue‖ which is the title of the columns which appear in arab news, Jeddah.
The scope has been enlarged and improved since, under the titles "Our
Dialogue," "Our Dialogue II," and their combined, common-indexed version also
entitled "Our Dialogue", in December 1994, "Our Dialogue" PLUS and in June
1995, a reworked version of all previous issues was presented in two volumes
called the Sixth Edition of ―Our Dialogue‖. In April 1996, an Urdu version,
translated by Abdus Salam Salami, was also provided under the title of ―Islami
Tarze Fikr‖. Later, in August 1997, a Volume III was added to ―Our Dialogue‖
series. Now this book in your hands is Volume I of a set of three, revised,
improved and consolidated version of all previous issues.

Much thought and effort has gone into the collection of works for the books in
"Our Dialogue" series, which owes a debt of gratitude for the worthy advice, kind
assistance, and useful support extended from time to time by Abdul Lateef
Abbasi, Abdul Rehman Haji Habib, Abdus Salam Salami, Ahmed Arif,
Alimuhammad Abdullah, Amin M Arif, Anwar Ahmed Meenai, Ateed Riaz, [late]
*Badruddin Dharani, K M Yaqub, Khurram Ali Shafique, Mansoor Osman Kalia,
Muhammad Amin, Muhammad Ayaz Ghaznavi, Munir Malik, Nasir Osman Kalia,
Salman Ansari, Salahuddin Ahmed, Sarwat Jamal Asmaee, Sultan Ahmad Kalia,
Tahir Shafique, Umeza Ansari, Zaheer Baber, Zaheer H Malik and Zahra Arif.
Without their help, the "Our Dialogue" series could not have been achieved.

Muhammad Arif                                            February 1998.
* Badruddin Dharani [or Badru, as we called him,] is no more with us. He
died in 1996. May Allah in His mercy grant him eternal peace. He was one of the
main motivating forces behind the publication of books in ―Our Dialogue‖ series.
I request our readers to kindly say a prayer for his soul. Jazak Allah.
Our Dialogue       SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah           5




                Answers to questions in

               ―Our Dialogue‖
      are provided by more than one scholar
                  and edited by
                       Adil Salahi
               arab news Jeddah, K.S.A.


                              •
          There is a main rule in Islamic Law
               that a particular regulation
        which is made for a particular reason
           is enforced only when that reason
                 is clearly in evidence


                                        ―Our Dialogue”
                     Sixth Edition - Rev. • — Volume I
6    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah       Our Dialogue




    supporters
        in alphabetical order


                         Abdul Latif Abbasi
                 Abdul Rahman Haji Habib
                                Ahmed Arif
                   Alimuhammad Abdullah
                     Amin Muhammad Arif
                     Anwar Ahmed Meenai
                                Ateed Riaz
                                K M Yaqub
                      Khurram Ali Shafique
                     Mansoor Osman Kalia
                          Muhammad Amin
                               Munir Malik
                        Nasir Osman Kalia
                        Salahuddin Ahmed
                            Salman Ansari
                       Sultan Ahmad Kalia
                            Tahir Shafique
                             Uneza Akhter
                             Zaheer Babar
                            Zaheer H Malik
                                 Zahra Arif
Our Dialogue   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah   7




    Contents of the books in
      “Our Dialogue”series
   are also accessible on the
              Internet.
         Visit the website
  http://www.ourdialogue.com
8                        SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                 Our Dialogue




    ―Our Dialogue‖ —                           advice & consent
• Publishing 'Dialogue' answers in book form
Has ―Our Dialogue‖ been published in book form?
I have mentioned that such publication requires an extensive editing work if it is
to be done properly. What I mean is that questions should be sorted out
according to subject and related ones should be consolidated in a more
comprehensive way. This will mean some expansion of certain answers so that
they treat the subject rather than the specific case the reader puts. It will also
mean grouping together various answers so that the treatment of the subject is
more complete. I pray God to enable me to undertake this task at some point in
the future.

Meanwhile, I do not permit any publication which is intended to generate
financial profit, without my prior agreement. Those who had produced
compilations seeking no profit, but aiming only to make such answers known to
people who may need them, are generous with their effort. May God bless them
and reward them. I hope that God will also grant me a share of that reward.

 ―Our Dialogue‖ was compiled and printed by some people at their own initiative.
I have not had any role in that. They state that copies may be obtained from
apkar pk (Muhammad Arif), 404 Qamar House, M. A. Jinnah Road, Karachi -
74000 [Telephone Work/Home 92 21 231 2495].

Knowing that majority of questions have been put to me by readers from the
countries of the subcontinent, I realize that if ―Our Dialogue‖ is made available
in Urdu, it would serve a good purpose. Therefore, I have no objection, in
principle, to its translation into Urdu. [One such compilation in the form of a
book called Islami Tarze Fikr is also being offered by apkar pk.]


              [Arab News • Saudi Arabia's English Language Daily]

              ―Our Dialogue‖ — Sixth Edition Rev. —1998
                        Topical Index
A
Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani ........................................................................................ 1
Ablution
   Concept behind it ......................................................................................... 3
   Contact with the opposite sex........................................................................ 3
   In bathrooms ................................................................................................ 4
   Invalidation caused by illness or obsession? .................................................. 5
   Invalidation — Certain misgivings ................................................................. 5
   Nail polish — use of ...................................................................................... 6
   Physical contact with wife ............................................................................. 7
   Purification — women's ................................................................................. 7
   Shower instead of ablution ............................................................................ 8
   Touching private parts .................................................................................. 8
   Undressing after ablution ............................................................................. 9
   Use of oil on skin .......................................................................................... 9
   Wiping of socks............................................................................................. 9
   Women seen without head-cover ................................................................. 10
Abortion on medical grounds .......................................................................... 10
Accidents — Scope of accidental killing ........................................................... 11
Actions and intentions .................................................................................... 12
Accountability — Role model and the acts of his followers................................ 12
Actions and illness preventing a good action ..................................... See ‗Illness‘
Actions on behalf of dead persons ................................................................... 14
Addressing prayers to the Prophet .................................................................. 16
Adoption
   A mistake to be undone — how?.................................................................. 18
   Gift by will .................................................................................................. 18
   Inheritance ................................................................................................. 20
2                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                    Our Dialogue


    Prohibited in Islam ...................................................................................... 20
    Voluntary-care and guardianship ................................................................ 22
Adultery
    God's forgiveness and marriage; .................................................................. 23
    Punishment and marriage ........................................................................... 24
Adversity — Attitude toward............................................................................ 25
Advice to parents, elders ................................................................................. 25
Airlines and women's charms .......................................................................... 25
Alcohol
    In soft drinks .............................................................................................. 26
    Misconcepts about the curative power of alcohol .......................................... 27
    Physical use of ............................................................................................ 29
Al-Fatihah in congregation .............................................................................. 29
Allah's 99 names ............................................................................................ 30
Allah's entity and human perception ............................................................... 30
Allah's existence ............................................................................................. 32
Allah's name, its origin, and equivalent in other languages; ............................. 35
Allah's will
    and consequences of our actions ................................................................. 35
    and His foreknowledge ................................................................................ 36
    and Iraqi invasion of Kuwait ........................................................................ 38
    and man‘s choice ........................................................................................ 38
    and man‘s doing ......................................................................................... 40
    and predestination ............................................................ See ‗Predestination‘
    and predetermination .................................................... See ‗Predetermination‘
Angels recording our deeds and the need for such a record .............................. 40
Anger ............................................................................................................. 42
Animals for sacrifice, accidental death............................................................. 42
Anniversaries
    Observing death anniversaries .................................................................... 43
Apostate — When an apostate returns to Islam ............................................... 43
Appearances & true piety ................................................................................ 44
Aqeeqah
    Is it obligatory? ........................................................................................... 46
     Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                               3


   It's necessity and the time limit ................................................................... 46
   the purpose of ............................................................................................ 46
Arabic
   Can non-Muslims teach Arabic ................................................................... 47
   Is it a divine language? ............................................................................... 47
Athan
   Change of wordings .................................................................................... 48
   For the newborn ......................................................................................... 48
   Laws prohibiting use of loudspeakers .......................................................... 49
   Without ablution ........................................................................................ 49
Aulia
   A status or a title ........................................................................................ 49
   Miraculous powers ...................................................................................... 52
Ayat-ul-Kursi ................................................................................................. 52




B
Ba'it or pledge of loyalty to spiritual leaders......................... [Also see ‗Saints‘] 58
Babri Mosque and killing by Muslims .............................................................. 60
Backbiting or honest testimony ....................................................................... 62
Bank employees
   Misgivings about working in a bank ............................................................ 62
   Prayers at the Bank's premises ................................................................... 64
Banking
   An overview of the banking system .............................................................. 65
   PLS Bank Accounts in Pakistan .................................................................. 70
Bath with pants on ......................................................................................... 70
Becoming a Muslim
   How to become a Muslim ............................................................................ 71
   Reluctance - the do‘s & donot‘s ........................................................................ 73
Begging in an Islamic community ................................................................... 76
Behavior — unbecoming ................................................................................. 78
4                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  Our Dialogue


Believers
    What makes one a believer? ........................................................................ 79
    Who is a true believer? ................................................................................ 79
Believers & non-believers
    Drawing clear distinction between ............................................................... 81
Bible — the position of Bible in Islam .............................................................. 83
Big bang, Origin of the universe — the right approach ..................................... 84
Bindiya — the use of ....................................................................................... 85
Birth control
    As national policy........................................................................................ 87
    Coitus interruptus ...................................................................................... 87
    Contraception & sterilization ....................................................................... 88
    Through sterilization ................................................................................... 89
Birth, life and death — feeling of helplessness ................................................. 89
Birth — the purpose of our birth ..................................................................... 91
Birthday of the Prophet, peace be upon him
    Celebration of ............................................................................................. 92
    Significance of ............................................................................................ 93
Biscuits with Surah for improving memory ...................................................... 94
Bowing when we greet .................................................................................... 95
Boy meets (or goes out with) a girl ................................................................... 95
Bribery viz.-a-viz. coercion .............................................................................. 96
Bridge to hell .................................................................................................. 97
Brothers — their obligations to sisters ............................................................. 97
Bullet-proof soldiers........................................................................................ 99
Burial — Delayed .......................................................................................... 101
Buying good deeds done by others................................................................. 101




C
Carrion — forbidden to eat, but ..................................................................... 103
Celebrations — anniversaries and the like ..................................................... 103
     Our Dialogue                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                              5


Ceremonial impurity, the state of — [or janabah] ........................................... 104
Change came about — but how? ................................................................... 105
Charity
   It is not a favor done by the giver .............................................................. 107
   Through a will .......................................................................................... 111
Charms and the black magic ........................................................................ 112
Charms and the spread of Islam ................................................................... 112
Charms used to cast spell or to neutralize ..................................................... 114
Charms with verses from the Qur'an ............................................................. 117
Children
   Accountability and the misjudgment of parents? ....................................... 118
   Caring for the financial needs of kids of a widow ........................................ 119
   Growing up where Islam does not exist ...................................................... 119
   Parents‘ approach toward teaching Islamic faith ........................................ 120
   Parents‘ misdeeds and the children‘s suffering ........................................... 121
   Parents‘ responsibility for children‘s deeds ................................................ 122
   Restricting the number of children ............................................................ 122
   Rights of an illegitimate child .................................................................... 123
   Saving for the future of a child .................................................................. 124
Christians
   Muslims insulting their religious book, the bible ........................................ 124
   Muslims partaking in the celebration of Christmas .................................... 125
   Muslims putting across Islamic view to preachers ...................................... 126
Circumcision — is it obligatory? .................................................................... 132
Classes within a Muslim community ............................................................. 133
Classification of mankind ............................................................................. 134
Clothing for men .......................................................................................... 135
Coeducation
   Islamic view on ......................................................................................... 135
   Seminars on reproduction & mixed participation ....................................... 136
Commemorating the great in the Islamic manner .......................................... 137
Compulsion in religion and the standard alternatives .................................... 138
Congregation
   A duty on the Muslim Community ............................................................. 139
6                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  Our Dialogue


    Al-Fatihah in congregation ...................................................... See ‗Al-Fatihah‘
    At home or office ....................................................................................... 140
    Friday sermon & the voluntary prayers ...................................................... 141
    Friday sermon in Arabic ............................................................................ 142
    Joining it from the neighboring house ....................................................... 142
    Joining late ............................................................................................... 143
    Offering a missed prayer — the proper approach........................................ 143
    When imam missed ablution ..................................................................... 144
    Who should lead the prayer? ..................................................................... 144
    Women leading ......................................................................................... 145
Contractual obligations — infringement of ..................................................... 145
Copyrights and wrongs ................................................................................. 145
Corrupt setup
    Following bad example in bribery & corruption .......................................... 146
    Observing Islamic practices in such a setup .............................................. 148
Cosmetic surgery — is it permissible? ........................................................... 150
Counting glorification ................................................................................... 150
Creation — the six days of creation ............................................................... 151
Crescent — significance of the crescent ......................................................... 152
Curse of precious stones ............................................................................... 152




D
Dancing — is it permissible? ......................................................................... 154
Darwin's theory of evolution .......................................................................... 154
Day of judgment
    Signs, indications ..................................................................................... 155
    Uniting of married couples ........................................................................ 156
Daybreak — when does a day start ............................................................... 156
Daydreaming about committing offenses ....................................................... 157
Death
    A grieving daughter's suffering .................................................................. 157
     Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                                7


   Body and the spirit ................................................................................... 158
   Burial time limit ....................................................................................... 159
   Condolence for the deceased ..................................................................... 159
   Dispute about the faith of a dead woman................................................... 160
   Expressions of sorrow that displease God .................................................. 161
   Forgiveness by coincidence ....................................................................... 161
   From here to eternity ................................................................................ 162
   From hunger ............................................................................................ 164
   In infancy ................................................................................................. 165
   Janazah prayer for a child ........................................................................ 166
   Life after death ......................................................................................... 167
   Misguidance by Satan in the grave ............................................................ 167
   Mourning ................................................................................................. 168
   Observing death anniversaries ............................................See ‗Anniversaries‘
   Predetermined by Allah - the proper sense ................................................. 169
   Questioning the cremated after death ........................................................ 169
   Questions on death and burial .................................................................. 170
   Recitation for a deceased........................................................................... 171
   Speedy funeral and burial ......................................................................... 172
   Suicide — Islamic view on ............................................................ See ‗Suicide‘
   Time of death............................................................................................ 172
   Torment in the grave — without accountability? ........................................ 173
   Traditions that follow ................................................................................ 174
   Washing the dead spouse .......................................................................... 175
   Washing the dead — reasons for ............................................................... 175
Debt
   Comments on a bad debt .......................................................................... 175
   Compensation for late payment ................................................................. 176
   Incurred to help parents perform pilgrimage .............................................. 177
Decorative figurines ...................................................................................... 177
Delivery by a male Doctor ............................................................................. 177
Depression — Islamic way to overcome it ...................................................... 178
Devil — the powers of ................................................................................... 178
Directives and rituals ................................................................................... 179
8                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                   Our Dialogue


Disowning one's child ................................................................................... 179
Divorce
    A review on Islamic limits and regulations ................................................. 180
    Beget children or else ... ............................................................................ 184
    Conditional ............................................................................................... 186
    Conflicting rulings .................................................................................... 187
    Consent of the wife ................................................................................... 190
    Custody of children ................................................................................... 191
    Husband's refusal to divorce ..................................................................... 192
    Ill-treatment as the basis for divorce.......................................................... 193
    In anger .................................................................................................... 194
    Inducing a woman to get divorced to marry again ...................................... 195
    Laws changed in India .............................................................................. 196
    Laws clashing with Qur‘an & Sunnah ........................................................ 198
    Maintenance of divorced women ................................................................ 200
    Nullification of marriage — with or without benefits ................................... 202
    Offered for neglect of prayers ..................................................................... 203
    Question raised on equality of men & women ............................................. 204
    Regretted before actual transmittal of advice.............................................. 205
    Reinstatement of marriage after single divorce ........................................... 206
    Remarriage after divorce — a comprehensive view ...................................... 207
    Rights of children...................................................................................... 210
    Separation and automatic divorce ...........................................See ‗Separation‘
    Shortly after marriage ............................................................................... 210
    When a three-time divorce is binding ......................................................... 212
    When the US Laws are contrary to Islamic laws ......................................... 214
    Whimsical divorce ..................................................................................... 215
    Wife divorcing her husband and a precondition ......................................... 217
Dogs — Using guard dogs ............................................................................. 219
Donations for building mosques .................................................................... 220
Dower
    Death of spouse ........................................................................................ 221
    Deferred payment ..................................................................................... 223
    Failure to pay dower ................................................................................. 224
     Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                                9


   Reducing the agreed amount of dower ....................................................... 224
   What dower to pay? .................................................................................. 225
Dowry gifts to brides and their inheritance .................................................... 225
Dress code
   Covering their faces — women ..................................................... See 'Women'
   For Imam .................................................................................... See 'Prayers'
   For Men............................................................................. See 'Men's dresses'
   For Men.................................................................. See also 'Clothing for men'
   For Old Women............................................................................ See 'Women'
   Western dresses and indecent dresses ....................................................... 228
Drinking what is leftover by another person .................................................. 228
Durood
   Best form of — .......................................................................................... 229
   Standing up? ............................................................................................ 229
Dutiful child
   Definition of an un-dutiful child ................................................................ 229
   How dutiful can you be? ........................................................................... 230
Dutifulness and disobedience ....................................................................... 232
Dye for hair .................................................................................................. 233




E
Education — Ijtihad to make it obligatory ..................................................... 234
Eid and of sheep........................................................................................... 235
Eid and accidental death of animal for sacrifice ............ See ‗Animals for sacrifice‘
Embarrassment — objecting and avoiding ..................................................... 235
Employees — Non-believers as household employees ..................................... 236
Employment — Muslims in banks & insurance companies ............................ 236
Engagement — Correspondence before engagement ....................................... 237
Epidemic as punishment from God ............................................................... 237
Equality of men and women — equal but not so equal ................................... 238
Eve — the way Allah created Eve .................................................................. 242
10                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  Our Dialogue


Evil eye — envious people and their evil eye .................................................. 243
Excellence — building an image of ................................................................ 243
Expressions — Insha‘Allah, Masha‘Allah & Alhamdulillah .............................. 244




F
Faith
     Definition of .............................................................................................. 245
     Essentials of ............................................................................................. 245
     Freedom of Faith ....................................................................................... 248
     Hiding Faith ............................................................................................. 251
     Imposing certain practices on others ......................................................... 252
Falling in love ............................................................................................... 252
False concepts — verdict putting an end ....................................................... 253
Family planning
     Abortion on medical grounds ..................................................................... 254
     Birth control ........................................................................See ‗Birth control‘
     Does it constitute killing babies? ............................................................... 255
     Large family and poverty ........................................................................... 255
     Surgical contraception .............................................................................. 257
Fardh
     Basic definition of ..................................................................................... 258
     Difference between Fardh[obligation] and Wajib [duty] ............................... 258
     What is Fardh and what is Nafil [voluntary]? ............................................. 259
Fashion and distortion of concepts, values .................................................... 262
Fasting
     Allah‘s injunction on its nature and purpose.............................................. 263
     Ceremonial impurity — commencing fast in a state of ................................ 265
     Concession of not fasting .......................................................................... 265
     For forty days ........................................................................................... 267
     In Muharram ............................................................................................ 268
     In polar areas ........................................................................................... 268
     Our Dialogue                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                             11


   In Shawwal............................................................................................... 268
   In tough conditions ................................................................................... 269
   Intake of medicine while fasting ................................................................ 270
   Jumm'atul-Wida — the significance of ....................................................... 272
   On Fridays ............................................................................................... 272
   Pregnancy and other situations for fasting ................................................. 273
   Sleeping through the day in Ramadhan ..................................................... 274
   Swimming while fasting ............................................................................ 274
   Tasting food while fasting .......................................................................... 274
   Travel, Umrah, Lunar month and the count of days ................................... 275
   Use of miswak or brushing teeth during fasting ......................................... 277
Father's prolonged absence from home and the growing children ................... 277
Father's property and its division by him ...................................................... 279
Fatihah
   Ritual on the first Thursday of the new moon ............................................ 280
   Traditions after death ............................................................................... 281
Fatimah — What distinguishes Fatimah from other women? ......................... 282
Following the Prophet or someone else .......................................................... 282
Food
   Canned in foreign countries ...................................................................... 283
   Forbidden types ........................................................................................ 283
   Meat of animals slaughtered in non-Muslim states .................................... 284
   Of the People of the Book — Ahle Kitaab .................................................... 287
   Pork — prohibition of ....................................................................... See ‗Pork‘
   Prepared by non-Muslims ......................................................................... 289
   Prohibition — degree of ............................................................................. 290
   Prohibition of intoxicants — since when and why ...................................... 290
Forgiveness — God's forgiveness and man's doings........................................ 291
Freedom of belief .......................................................................................... 292
Friendship with non-believers ....................................................................... 295
Fundamentalist — By definition every Muslim must be one ........................... 296
12                                  SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 Our Dialogue




G
Gambling practices and draws ...................................................................... 299
Gifts to children
     In preference to some over others .............................................................. 299
     Must be equal ........................................................................................... 302
Good deeds
     Could they come to naught? ...................................................................... 303
     Must they be based on faith?..................................................................... 304
Graves
     Graveyard at Al Baq‘ie ............................................................................... 306
     Not a matter of grave importance ............................................................... 306
     Torment in the graves — without accountability? ....................................... 307
     Visiting the graves .................................................................................... 307
Greetings
     Exchanged on Christmas, etc. ................................................................... 308
     Replying while eating ................................................................................ 309
     When visiting the graves ........................................................................... 309
Grievances — redressed through unfair means .............................................. 310
Guidance
     From beyond the Qur'an & Sunnah. .......................................................... 311
     From Divine books. ................................................................................... 313

End of the Topical Index for Volume I
     Our Dialogue                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                              13




H
Hadiths
   Account of Prophet‘s deeds, sayings or tacit approval ................................. 317
   Authenticity of .......................................................................................... 319
   Conditions established for authenticity...................................................... 319
   Qudsi Hadiths ............................................................................... See ‗Qudsi‘
   Revelations or intuitions ........................................................................... 322
Haraam — basic definition of ........................................................................ 322
Heaven
   Bliss for women in heaven? ....................................................................... 322
   What is in it for women? ........................................................................... 323
   Who enjoys bliss most? ............................................................................. 325
Help
   To non-Muslims who are not hostile .......................................................... 325
   Whom to help and how? ............................................................................ 326
Heresy
   The conditions to be met ........................................................................... 327
Hoarding
   Gold & silver ............................................................................................. 328
   Storage for off-season sale......................................................................... 329
Holier-than-thou attitude ............................................................................. 330
Homosexuals ................................................................................................ 332
Horse breeding for races ............................................................................... 332
Hour of Doom ............................................................................................... 334
Human rights
   Islamic view on ......................................................................................... 335
   Social behavior and respect for others‘ rights ............................................. 336
   Torture to extract confession ..................................................................... 337
Humanitarian duties .................................................................................... 339
Hunger for food and sex ................................................................................ 341
Hunting birds and their slaughtering ............................................................ 341
14                                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                   Our Dialogue


Husband & wife — Rights and duties ............................................................ 342
Husband's long absence from home .............................................................. 344
Hypocrisy — actions which indicate hypocrisy ............................................... 345




I
Ihraam
     Covering of head ....................................................................................... 347
     Covering of right arm ................................................................................ 347
     Removal of head cover or Ihraam garments................................................ 347
Illegitimate child ........................................................................................... 348
Illness preventing a good action .................................................................... 348
Imams — the Four Imams............................................................................. 348
Inheritance
     By an illegitimate child .............................................................................. 349
     By followers of two different religions ......................................................... 349
     By will ...................................................................................................... 350
     Children of second marriage & their inheritance ........................................ 350
     Complicated question of inheritance .......................................................... 351
     Forgoing one's right .................................................................................. 352
     Going back on an earlier agreement........................................................... 353
     Justice among children ............................................................................. 355
     Justice among siblings .............................................................................. 355
     Of a woman's property .............................................................................. 357
     Rules ensuring a nearest male beneficiary ................................................. 357
     Settlement of a deceased person's debts .................................................... 359
     Undutiful son and his inheritance ............................................................. 361
     Varied situations and the shares ............................................................... 363
     When there is no son ................................................................................ 367
     Young children‘s claim .............................................................................. 368
In-laws
     Dress code for women ............................................................................... 368
    Our Dialogue                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                              15


  Duties of a woman toward parents-in-law .................................................. 369
  Relationship with mother/father in law ..................................................... 371
Innovations
  Good practices .......................................................................................... 371
  Innovators, the followers and repentance................................................... 372
  None admissible in matters of faith ........................................................... 373
  Voluntary worship .................................................................................... 374
Insurance
  A review on legitimacy of general and life insurance ................................... 376
  Car insurance ........................................................................................... 381
  Claims — scruples regarding ..................................................................... 383
Intentions — Matters are left to the clear intention ........................................ 383
Interest
  An acceptable arrangement for bank interest ............................................. 383
  Bank as a debtor ...................................................................................... 384
  Bank deposits and uses of the interest ...................................................... 385
  Disobedience to God for a beneficial purpose ............................................. 386
  Inflation as a justification for bank interest ............................................... 387
  Its effects on good actions ......................................................................... 388
  Money used in payment of dowry and tax .................................................. 389
  Need to redefine it ..................................................................................... 391
  Pooled to help the poor.............................................................................. 392
  Pressure on Muslim countries ................................................................... 393
  Setting off interest against interest ............................................................ 395
  Spending interest ..................................................................................... 396
  Tailored support from Islam ........................................See ‗Financial practices‘
  Utilizing for charitable purposes — a rejoinder ......................................... 397
  Varying rates of interest on bank accounts ................................................ 397
Investment
  Certificates of ........................................................................................... 399
  Company bonds ........................................................................................ 400
  Friend invested my money to his benefit .................................................... 401
  Islamic way to invest money ...................................................................... 402
  Permissible ways for the use of savings ..................................................... 404
16                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 Our Dialogue


     Plans with minimum income ..................................................................... 405
     Pooled money and its questionable source ................................................. 406
Islam
     A term which covers various religions ........................................................ 406
     Preaches tolerance .................................................................................... 408
     Relevance of Islam in our time ................................................................... 409
     Taking the message to non-believers.......................................................... 411
Islamic community — actions, not words, make one ...................................... 413
Islamic duty — responsibility for ................................................................... 415
Islamic literature for the non-Muslims .......................................................... 415
Islamic names .............................................................................................. 416
Islamic state ................................................................................................. 417
Istikharah
     Appeal for God's guidance ......................................................................... 418
     Seeking guidance from Allah on a difficult task .......................................... 419
Ittaqo Allah — the correct definition of .......................................................... 420




J
Jerusalem — why is it important for Muslims? .............................................. 422
Jews — rejection of the Jews or the Jewish ................................................... 423
Jihad
     Basic definition of ..................................................................................... 423
     Outlook is offensive not defensive .............................................................. 423
     Reality and reward .................................................................................... 427
Jinn — a reality but do they interact with the humans? ................................ 429
Justice
     Basic definition of ..................................................................................... 430
     Meaning of ................................................................................................ 430
    Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                              17




K
Ka'aba
   Black Stone .............................................................................................. 433
   Rukn Al-Yamani ....................................................................................... 433
Kafir — describing one as Kafir ..................................................................... 434
Kalimah in the Qur'an .................................................................................. 434
Khula
   Inability to repay dower and the custody of children .................................. 435
   Remarriage after Khula‘ ............................................................................ 436
Knowledge
   Of the unknown ........................................................................................ 437
   Qur'anic emphasis not restricted to religion only ....................................... 438
Kundaas — a ritual in the month of Rajab .................................................... 439




L
Lactating wife and a sucking husband .......................................................... 442
Lard — Use of ointment containing modified lard .......................................... 442
Lawful & unlawful — What makes things lawful & unlawful .......................... 442
Laws
   Divine law ................................................................................................ 444
   Divorce laws ................................................................................ See ‗Divorce‘
   Evidence and witnesses to prove charge of rape? ....................................... 444
   Flouted to declare ―land of war‖ or “dar-ul-harb” ........................................ 445
   Islamic constitution .................................................................................. 446
   Islamic law — implementation of ............................................................... 447
   Islamic law — marked down as unfair to women ........................................ 448
   Islamic law and the women‘s status .......................................................... 451
   Legislation of permissible or prohibited ..................... See ‗Scholarly discretion‘
   Making — in the Islamic context ............................................................... 452
18                                  SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 Our Dialogue


     Providing illegitimate rights ....................................................................... 454
     Religious laws - changing of ........................................................ See ‗Shariah‘
     Retroactive effect of ................................................................................... 456
     Suited to self-interest ................................................................................ 459
Left-handedness ........................................................................................... 460
Legal profession and helping criminals .......................................................... 461
Leisure — how to spend one's free time in a healthy way? .............................. 461
Liberation movements — Illegitimate tactics .................................................. 462
Licking fingers after a meal ........................................................................... 464
Lies
     Ambiguity for avoidance of lies .................................................................. 464
     Situations where lies are acceptable .......................................................... 465
     To save embarrassment............................................................................. 466
     Uttering simple lies ................................................................................... 467
Life
     Its sufferings and the Hereafter ................................................................. 468
     Man and the universe ............................................................................... 470
Lifestyle — Bare essentials or a comfortable life ............................................. 472
Loans
     Benefit in return for a loan ........................................................................ 472
     Businesses fail & the bank loans become bad debt..................................... 473
     Devaluation and repayment with compensation ......................................... 473
     Inflation affecting the loan amount ............................................................ 474
     Inflation and injustice suffered by the lender ............................................. 475
     Inflation and specific loss .......................................................................... 478
     Lack of proper documentation & the ensuing problems .............................. 479
Lotteries — the Islamic view on ..................................................................... 481
Love
     For one's children — the right way ............................................................ 482
     For opposite sex for Allah's sake ................................................................ 483
     God‘s love for mankind .............................................................................. 483
     One that gives the greatest prize of all ....................................................... 485
    Our Dialogue                      SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                               19




M
Magic — the Islamic view on ......................................................................... 488
Making things too difficult ............................................................................ 488
Makrooh — the basic definition of ................................................................. 489
Man — is man the noblest creature? ............................................................. 489
Marriage
   A Sunnah & those who do not marry ......................................................... 490
   Age disparity ............................................................................................ 491
   Among relatives ........................................................................................ 491
   Arranged marriages and personal choices .................................................. 492
   Before the end of waiting period ................................................................ 493
   Bridegroom staying in the house of bride ................................................... 493
   Children of second wife ............................................................................. 495
   Choosing the right spouse ......................................................................... 495
   Conditions of marriage .............................................................................. 497
   Cultural differences and marital discord .................................................... 498
   Disclosing that the suitor is impotent ........................................................ 500
   Divorce ........................................................................................ See ‗Divorce‘
   Dower & other payments................................................ [Also see ‗Dower‘] 500
   Early age marriages .................................................................................. 501
   Exchange marriages ................................................................................. 503
   Forbidden for marriage — not all 'uncles and nieces'.................................. 505
   Hanging in the balance ............................................................................. 505
   In a simple manner ................................................................................... 506
   In secret ................................................................................................... 507
   Inter-faith — complications in ................................................................... 508
   Inter-faith — conversion to Islam as a convenience .................................... 509
   Inter-faith — matter of a Christian wife ..................................................... 510
   Inter-faith — Muslim man, non-Muslim woman......................................... 511
   Inter-faith — Muslim woman, non-Muslim man......................................... 511
   Inter-faith — permissible though not advisable .......................................... 512
20                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 Our Dialogue


     Just before [or during] Ramadhan ............................................................. 513
     Kidney transplant and an unusual trade-in ............................................... 514
     Late age risks in pregnancy and abortion ................................................... 515
     Legal recognition ....................................................................................... 516
     Marrying a divorcee................................................................................... 517
     More beneficial use of the money spent ...................................................... 518
     Mut'ah — Limited Marriage ........................................................... See ‗Mut‘ah‘
     Need for observing the legal formalities ...................................................... 519
     Nothing forbidden can invalidate something lawful .................................... 520
     Nullified automatically .............................................................................. 522
     One that cannot be sanctioned .................................................................. 522
     Parental compulsion ................................................................................. 524
     Parental consent for marriage.................................................................... 524
     Partners are chosen by Allah or by our will? .............................................. 525
     Payment in cash or kind to bridegroom's family ......................................... 526
     Personal choice or pleasing parents ........................................................... 527
     Prayer recommended................................................................................. 528
     Promises broken ....................................................................... See ‗Promises‘
     Purpose of marriage .................................................................................. 528
     Put off for financial reasons ....................................................................... 530
     Recommended practices ............................................................................ 530
     Remarriage after divorce ........................................................................... 531
     Remarriage upon a Christian couple becoming Muslim .............................. 532
     Separated family and a girl‘s marriage; ...................................................... 533
     Separation prolonged & the marital status ................................................. 534
     Status of an imam [or a molvi] for marriage ............................................... 535
     Telephonic marriage — the appropriate procedure ..................................... 535
     Tribal mistrust .......................................................................................... 536
     Wali — A role that does not exist ............................................................... 537
     Walima — the purpose of .......................................................................... 538
     Wedding ceremony — the significance of .................................................... 538
     When it promises to be unsuccessful ......................................................... 539
     When one of the spouses converts to Islam ................................................ 540
     When parents oppose daughter's marriage................................................. 542
     Our Dialogue                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                              21


   With stepmother's relatives ....................................................................... 544
   Without parental consent — a question of validity ..................................... 545
Martyrs — the basic definition of .................................................................. 546
Masjid-e-Nabvi
   Reward for the prayers offered in............................................................... 546
   Visiting — an Obligation or a Sunnah ....................................................... 546
Masjid-ul-Haram
   Sacred and forbidden ................................................................................ 547
Medical compensation .................................................................................. 547
Men & Women — confusion over superiority of men ...................................... 548
Men's dress — Islamic dress code for men ..................................................... 550
Mental illness, magic, jinn or the evil eye ...................................................... 550
Mercy killing — no killing can be merciful ..................................................... 552
Message [of Islam] — conveying and convincing others .................................. 553
Methods of healing — Cupping & Cautery ...................................................... 554
Migration to non-Muslim countries ............................................................... 555
Mike Tyson, the champion boxer — his conversion to Islam ........................... 557
Military training for women........................................................................... 558
Miracles and the present day need for miracles ............................................. 559
Money Matters ...................................................................................................
   Amassing of wealth ................................................................................... 560
   Beesi — Exploitation of the needy participant ............................................ 561
   Blood money for accidental killing ............................................................. 562
   Buying house on a mortgage ..................................................................... 563
   Charging different customers different prices ............................................. 566
   Charging fees for lectures.......................................................................... 566
   Compensation or an unfair gift .................................................................. 567
   Compensation for moral damages.............................................................. 569
   Credit sales — general .............................................................................. 569
   Credit sales — gold ................................................................................... 569
   Currency dealers and a deal in currency ................................................... 570
   Debts .............................................................................................. See ‗Debt‘
   Financial practices and tailored support .................................................... 570
   Gambling practices and draws ..................................................See ‗Gambling‘
22                                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                   Our Dialogue


     Loans ............................................................................................ See ‗Loans‘
     Lotteries .................................................................................... See ‗Lotteries‘
     Money Value — decline in ......................................................................... 572
     Profit .............................................................................................. See ‗Profit‘
     Purchase by installments .......................................................................... 574
     Shares, Debentures & Stocks ....................................................... See ‗Shares‘
     Social Security ................................................................. See ‗Social Security‘
     Taxes levied by an Islamic Government....................................... See ‗Taxation‘
     Trading contracts — penalty clauses in ....................................... See ‗Trading‘
     Unlawful earnings ....................................................... See ‗Unlawful earnings‘
     Usury ............................................................................................ See ‗Usury‘
Mosques
     As touring sites ......................................................................................... 575
     Bringing children into the mosque ............................................................. 576
     Built over a graveyard ............................................................................... 576
     Donations offered by non-Muslims ............................................................ 577
     Masjid-e-Nabvi .............................................................................. See ‗Masjid‘
     Masjid-ul-Haram ........................................................................... See ‗Masjid‘
     Preference of one over the other ................................................................. 578
     Showing respect for them .......................................................................... 568
     Sleeping in mosques ................................................................................. 579
     Using different mosques for different prayers ............................................. 580
     When a person goes into a mosque ............................................................ 580
Mothers — is Heaven under their feet? .......................................................... 580
Mu'min — who is a Muslim & who is a Mu'min? ............................................ 581
Muhammad, peace be upon him
     A perfect human being .............................................................................. 582
     An ordinary human being ......................................................................... 583
     Man & the Prophet, peace be upon him ..................................................... 584
     Prophet ................................................................................... See ‗Prophet(‗s)‘
     Was he infallible? ...................................................................................... 586
     What can he do for us ............................................................................... 588
Muslims
     Best nation ever raised for mankind .......................................................... 590
     Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                               23


   Boycotting each other ............................................................................... 592
   Flouting laws in non-Muslim countries...................................................... 593
   Identity of ................................................................................................. 594
   In minority and the non-Muslim leadership ............................................... 595
   Malaise afflicting and disparity within ....................................................... 595
   Negligent in major religious duties............................................................. 597
   Only part of the time ................................................................................. 599
   Status as the best community ................................................................... 600
Mustahabb — the basic definition of .............................................................. 601
Mut'ah — the limited Marriage ..................................................................... 602




N
Nafil — the basic definition of ....................................................................... 603
Names of children, and when a change becomes necessary ............................ 603
NASA — the United States Space Agency ...................................................... 603
Nationalism — Muslim fighting for his non-Muslim country........................... 604
Natural disasters — are they punishment or ghazab ..................................... 604
Necklace with Arabic writing ......................................................................... 605
Neckties in prayer ........................................................................................ 606
Noah's ark .................................................................................................... 606
Non-Muslim expates and Islamic traditions ................................................... 607
Numbers
   Fanciful theories about No. 19 & the Qur‘an .............................................. 608
   Figure 786 vice Bismillah... ....................................................................... 610




O
Oath
   Compensation for breaking an oath ........................................................... 611
24                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                   Our Dialogue


Obedience
     As an aspect of worship............................................................................. 611
     Parents‘ order to divorce ............................................................................ 613
Obligations ................................................................................ also see 'Fardh'
     Of a daughter ........................................................................................... 615
     Of a wife ................................................................................................... 616
     Towards parents ....................................................................................... 617
Oppression — the most hateful practice ........................................................ 617
Orphans — Raising the orphans and adoption ............................................... 617
Orthodontic treatment .................................................................................. 619




P
Permissibility and prohibition ....................................................................... 620
Photography
     Is it permitted in Islam? ............................................................................ 620
     Reliability of our views .............................................................................. 621
Pilgrimage
     A duty owed to Allah — an outstanding debt .............................................. 622
     A pillar of Islam ........................................................................................ 623
     A question of validity ................................................................................. 623
     Alongwith a child ...................................................................................... 624
     At other's expense ..................................................................................... 624
     Conditions making it due .......................................................................... 626
     Deception on the legitimacy of sources ..................................................... 627
     Father's pilgrimage ................................................................................... 629
     Forgiveness and some highly sinful practices ............................................. 630
     Fulfillment of duty & reward — unattached issues ..................................... 631
     Hajj Akbar ................................................................................................ 632
     Ihraam ........................................................................................ See ‗Ihraam‘
     Inability to bear heat of summer ................................................................ 632
     Interrupting Hajj, Umrah .......................................................................... 633
    Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                            25


   Jamrah — throwing stones in wrong order ................................................. 633
   Left unfinished ......................................................................................... 634
   Meeqat point & Ihraam violations .............................................................. 635
   Mina — stay at and the mistakes committed ............................................. 635
   On behalf of others — enjoying good health ............................................... 636
   On behalf of others — the order of preference ............................................ 637
   Order of performing pilgrimage duties ....................................................... 637
   Prayers at Arafat and Azaan ...................................................................... 638
   Repeated pilgrimage, repeated sins ............................................................ 639
   Sa'ie and jogging with a woman companion ............................................... 640
   Sacrifice of sheep through bank ................................................................ 640
   Seeking the employer‘s permission for it .................................................... 641
   Substitute pilgrimage for a fiancee ............................................................ 641
   Tamattu' method ...................................................................................... 642
   Tawaf — the proper way ............................................................................ 643
   Wife's Hajj — an obligation for husband?................................................... 644
   With company loan outstanding ................................................................ 645
   With zakah money .................................................................................... 645
   Women covering their faces ....................................................................... 645
Pledges
   An obligation that must be honored .......................................................... 646
   Made to Allah and attached conditionalities ............................................... 647
Plucking of hair of eyebrows ......................................................................... 648
Poets — description of poets in the Qur'an .................................................... 648
Political philosophy of Islam.......................................................................... 649
Polygamy
   Not a Sunnah! .......................................................................................... 650
   Rectifying its abuse is a duty of the individual ........................................... 652
   Rights of wives.......................................................................................... 653
   Unacceptable second marriage .................................................................. 655
   Why is it permitted?.................................................................................. 657
Polytheism — creeping into people's minds.................................................... 657
Poor with deceptive look ............................................................................... 659
Pork — prohibition of.................................................................................... 659
26                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 Our Dialogue


Postmortem .................................................................................................. 660
Poverty — does Islam consider poverty a virtue? ............................................ 660
Practices common to other religions .............................................................. 662
Prayers
     A time-related duty ................................................................................... 663
     Advanced on a rainy day ........................................................................... 663
     Allergy and Fajr prayer .............................................................................. 664
     Believers seek strength in ......................................................................... 665
     Bleeding during — .................................................................................... 667
     Change of intention................................................................................... 667
     Changing places after a congregational prayer ........................................... 667
     Children in congregation ........................................................................... 668
     Combined in pilgrimage ............................................................................ 668
     Combining and shortening of prayers ........................................................ 669
     Commandment making it obligatory .......................................................... 670
     Concentration in prayer ............................................................................ 671
     Congregation ...................................................................... See ‗Congregation‘
     Correct direction of qiblah ......................................................................... 672
     Covering ankles ........................................................................................ 672
     Covering head ........................................................................................... 673
     Crossing the path of a praying person ....................................................... 674
     Delayed and the acceptable reasons for delay ............................................ 674
     Delayed [Qaz'a] ......................................................................................... 675
     Delaying Isha prayers ............................................................................... 675
     Doctors in the casualty departments ......................................................... 676
     Dress code for Imam ................................................................................. 676
     Dry cleaned clothes and their purification for prayers ................................ 677
     Exemption for women — the situations...................................................... 677
     Facing grave ............................................................................................. 678
     Filling a gap during prayer ........................................................................ 678
     Forgetfulness in prayer ............................................................................. 679
     Friday congregation at workplace .............................................................. 680
     Friday sermon and greeting the mosque .................................................... 680

End of the Topical Index for Volume II
 Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                             27



Greeting the Haram .................................................................................. 681
Imam forgot to recite aloud in Maghrib prayer ........................................... 681
Imam without a beard............................................................................... 681
Interrupting prayer ................................................................................... 684
Iqamah — Is it obligatory before a congregation? ........................................ 684
Mark on the forehead ................................................................................ 685
Menstruation, traces of discharge and prayers........................................... 685
Missed by mistake .................................................................................... 686
Movement in prayer .................................................................................. 686
Neckties in prayer ...................................................................... See ‗Neckties‘
Offered at mosque or home ....................................................................... 687
Offered especially for one's needs .............................................................. 687
Offering only obligatory prayers & the time range ...................................... 688
One to define man's nature ....................................................................... 688
Punishment for not praying? ..................................................................... 691
Purity of clothes ........................................................................................ 692
Qazai Umri................................................................................................ 693
Short prayers or long ones ........................................................................ 693
Shortening when only weekends spent at home ......................................... 694
Sitting position during the prayers ............................................................ 695
Supplication during prayers — must it be in Arabic? ................................. 695
Surah after the Surah Al-Fatihah .............................................................. 696
Tahajjud .................................................................................... See ‗Tahajjud‘
Taraweeh ................................................................................ See ‗'Taraweeh'
Towards Ka'aba — started by Jews or by Muslims?.................................... 696
Travel affecting prayers ............................................................................. 696
Two congregations in a mosque ................................................................. 697
Use of a prayer mat .................................................................................. 698
Voluntary prayer before Maghrib ............................................................... 698
With closed eyes ....................................................................................... 698
With hope that wishes are fulfilled ............................................................ 699
With shoes on ........................................................................................... 700
Without understanding the words ............................................................. 700
Witr — offering only one rak'ah for Witr..................................................... 701
28                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                   Our Dialogue


     Women covering head during prayer .......................................................... 701
     Women in mixed congregation ................................................................... 702
     Women's makeup ...................................................................................... 702
     Women's praying method .......................................................................... 703
Predestination
     Life expectancy ......................................................................................... 703
     Life span................................................................................................... 705
Predetermination
     Accountability though Allah determines fate .............................................. 707
     Can human beings avoid the predetermined? ............................................ 708
     Course in life changed at last minute......................................................... 710
Pregnancy — the shortest possible duration .................................................. 712
Pride ............................................................................................................ 713
Priorities ...................................................................................................... 713
Profit
     Limits of ................................................................................................... 714
     Offered by a leading Islamic publishing company ....................................... 715
Prohibition and permissibility ....................................................................... 715
Prohibition
     Degrees of prohibition for pork, wine, interest, etc. ........................... See ‗Food‘
     Gradual prohibition of intoxicants ................................................... See ―Food‘
Promises [for marriage] broken ...................................................................... 715
Property bought on installments or on mortgage loan .................................... 716
Prophecies and the end of the world .............................................................. 718
Prophet
     Appealing to the Prophet, peace be upon him ............................................. 719
     Greeting the Prophet, peace be upon him .................................................. 720
     Jesus, peace be upon him — a question of superiority ............................... 721
     Jesus, peace be upon him — is he dead? ................................................... 723
     Muhammad, peace be upon him ............................................ See ‗Muhammad‘
Prophet's
     Ascension to heaven — a source of reassurance ......................................... 724
     Birthday celebrations ................................................................................ 725
     Children, grandchildren ............................................................................ 726
     Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                               29


   Companions and their ranking .................................................................. 727
   Family — the status of .............................................................................. 728
   Hair and its reverence ............................................................................... 729
   Incision by angels ..................................................................................... 730
   Intercession on the day of judgment .......................................................... 731
   Names ...................................................................................................... 731
   Praises — singing of .................................................................................. 733
   Special privilege ........................................................................................ 733
   Stools, urine and shadow .......................................................................... 733
   Wives ....................................................................................................... 734
Prophets
   Are they sinless? ....................................................................................... 736
   Difference between Prophets & Messengers ............................................... 736
Prostitution .................................................................................................. 737
Prostration after the prayer ........................................................................... 738
Prostration related to reading Qur'an ............................................................ 738
Punishment
   Amputation — a punishment to fit the crime ............................................. 739
   Amputation — suspension of the punishment ........................................... 741
   An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth ......................................................... 741
   For drug smugglers ................................................................................... 743
   In the Hereafter ........................................................................................ 744
   Stoning for adultery — not a Qur‘anic decree but ... .................................. 745
Purdah or an Islamic dress ........................................................................... 746
Purification from madi .................................................................................. 747




Q
Qadianis — their twisted logic ....................................................................... 748
Qiblah — why Jerusalem and then Makkah .................................................. 748
Qudsi Hadith................................................................................................ 749
Qul ceremony ............................................................................................... 750
30                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  Our Dialogue


Qur'an
     A Surah not to be read frequently .............................................................. 751
     Abandoning the Qur'an ............................................................................. 751
     As a cure .................................................................................................. 751
     Aspects of respect for it ............................................................................. 752
     Ayat-ul-Kursi ....................................................................... See „Ayat-ul-Kursi‟
     Compilation of .......................................................................................... 753
     Disposing of the sheets of Qur'an .............................................................. 755
     Following the Qur'an or something else ..................................................... 755
     Memorizing without understanding it ........................................................ 756
     Not a book of science................................................................................. 757
     Playing Qur‘anic cassettes all the time ....................................................... 758
     Present order of the Qur'an ....................................................................... 759
     Presenting copies to non-Muslims ............................................................. 760
     Reading and the acceptable pace ............................................................... 761
     Reading during menstruation .................................................................... 761
     Reading when facing the back of someone ................................................. 762
     Reading without ablution .......................................................................... 762
     Reading without purification ..................................................................... 763
     Recitation without ablution ....................................................................... 763
     Special importance of some Surahs ........................................................... 763
     Translation — Standardized ...................................................................... 766
     Translations and interpretations differ a great deal .................................... 766
     Transporting the Qur'an ............................................................................ 768
     Worn in pendants for protection ................................................................ 768
Qur'an or Hadith used to earn money............................................................ 769
Qur'anic orders — compliance of ................................................................... 770
Qur'anic recitation
     In translation ............................................................................................ 770
     Wages for .................................................................................................. 770
Qur'anic reference to Arabs and Jews only .................................................... 771
    Our Dialogue                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                           31




R
Rabi'ah Basari & the so called Miracle at Ka'aba ........................................... 774
Rape victims, society's attitude ..................................................................... 776
Reformer for each century — is there one? .................................................... 777
Relations with former spouses ...................................................................... 778
Religion
   As a cause of conflict, war ......................................................................... 778
   Conflict and fanaticism ............................................................................. 779
   Inherited beliefs and new persuasion......................................................... 780
Religious scholars — unnecessary interference by ......................................... 781
Reluctant to become a Muslim - the dos & donots ......................................... 782
Renting house to banks ................................................................................ 785
Repentance
   How can one be forgiven? .......................................................................... 785
   When death is imminent ........................................................................... 787
Repentance and forgiveness .......................................................................... 788
Respect
   Bowing down as a show of respect ............................................................. 790
   Three types of respect ............................................................................... 791
Resurrection — body and the soul ................................................................ 792
Retirement
   Pensions — predetermined, fixed returns, no risk, but ............................... 793
   Provident funds and the validity of such schemes ...................................... 793
Return of sold goods ..................................................................................... 794
Revenge — retaliation for wronged father ...................................................... 794
Reward
   Fantastic rewards for simple worship ........................................................ 795
   For prayers in Haram and in the Prophet's Mosque .................................... 797
   Hereafter for non-Muslims adhering to Islamic values ................................ 798
   Questions of the type "Will God reward him?" ............................................ 799
Rights & duties — the conflict of ................................................................... 799
32                                  SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                   Our Dialogue


Rituals & directives....................................................................................... 801
Rukn — the basic definition of ...................................................................... 801
Rulings by the Religious Editor, Arab NEWS — the basis of ........................... 801




S
Sacrifice on Eid Al-Azha — Personal view of the message of Islam .................. 802
Sadaqah
     How is it different from zakah.................................................................... 805
     Sacrificing sheep when laying foundation of a house .................................. 805
Saints
     Blind following, worshipping and Al-Wassila .............................................. 806
     Pledges of loyalty, obedience or allegiance .................................................. 808
     Visiting the graves of so-called saints ........................................................ 809
Satan ........................................................................................................... 810
Scholarly discretion in legislation of permissible or prohibited........................ 810
Schools of thought
     All of them are highly esteemed ................................................................. 812
     Basic concept............................................................................................ 813
     Different views given by scholars ............................................................... 814
     Dilemma for an ordinary Muslim ............................................................... 814
     Division within the community .................................................................. 816
     Followed by the Religious Editor, Arab NEWS ............................................. 816
     Sticking to only one .................................................................................. 817
     Too rigid about schools of thought ............................................................. 818
     Unacceptable stand on .............................................................................. 819
     Wealth hardly matched by any other faith ................................................. 820
Sculpture — One that should not be… .......................................................... 822
Secrets from the past and revealing them ...................................................... 823
Selling what is forbidden ............................................................................... 824
Separation and automatic divorce ................................................................. 825
     Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                               33


Shab-e-Mairaaj
   Fasting on the following day ...................................................................... 828
Shab-e-Mairaaj & Shab-e-Qadr
   Different dates in lunar calendar ............................................................... 828
Shaheeds
   Calling martyr or shaheed ......................................................................... 829
   They are those killed in Allah's cause ........................................................ 829
Shaking hands with women .......................................................................... 831
Shares
   and commodities — forward trading & ordinary business........................... 832
   and debentures — income from ................................................................. 833
   and stocks — buying & selling .................................................................. 834
   Dealing in shares of banks and DFIs ......................................................... 835
Shariah — when can religious law be changed .............................................. 835
Shiites and Sunnis ....................................................................................... 836
Silk — men wearing material similar to silk................................................... 837
Singing ........................................................................................................ 838
Sins
   Cardinal ................................................................................................... 839
   Everlasting hell for some sins and Allah's mercy ........................................ 840
   How to avoid the temptation ..................................................................... 842
   Islamic concept of ..................................................................................... 844
   Repentance and forgiveness ...................................................................... 846
   Shirk — an unforgivable sin ...................................................................... 848
Skies — in the Qur'anic context .................................................................... 849
Slaughtering of animals
   Approach the task with humility ............................................................... 849
   How does it fit into God‘s mercy? ............................................................... 851
Smoking
   Ban on the use of tobacco — the Islamic view ............................................ 851
   During pilgrimage ..................................................................................... 853
Smuggling — Islam does not favor trade restrictions ..................................... 854
Social pressures Vs Islamic duties ................................................................ 854
Society — Western society and the Eastern society ........................................ 856
34                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 Our Dialogue


Soldiers — Muslim soldiers of a non-Muslim country ..................................... 857
Sons of God
     Distorted application by Jews & Christians ................................................ 857
     Jews' claim for Uzair or Christians' for Christ ............................................ 859
Souls of persons who commit suicide or are murdered ................................... 860
Spectrum of life ............................................................................................ 861
Splitting of the moon .................................................................................... 863
Spouses — relations with former spouses ...................................................... 863
Staying permanently close to God ................................................................. 863
Sufferings
     Something to erase past mistakes ............................................................. 865
Sufism
     Degrees of knowledge and sufism .............................................................. 866
     Sufis‘ claims about their methods .............................................................. 868
Suicide
     Getting killed and killing oneself ................................................................ 870
     Islamic view on suicide? ............................................................................ 871
Sunnah
     Basic definition of ..................................................................................... 871
     Before Maghrib ......................................................................................... 871
     Moakkedah and non-Moakkedah ............................................................... 872
     Practical aspects of ................................................................................... 873
     Watching what others may or may not do .................................................. 873
Supplication
     Collective supplication. [Ijtemaee Dua'] ....................................................... 874
     How do we supplicate and pray ................................................................. 874
     In modern toilets....................................................................................... 877
     Prolonged ................................................................................................. 877
     Raising hands in supplication ................................................................... 878
     Through an intermediary .......................................................................... 878
     Through Prophet's companions ................................................................. 880
     When supplication is not answered ........................................................... 882
Supporting a large extended family ............................................................... 884
Surah 'At-Tauba' and 'Bismillah' ................................................................... 886
    Our Dialogue                      SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                               35


Surrogate motherhood and the position of the child ...................................... 887
Swimming by a young girl ............................................................................. 888




T
Tablighi Jama'at
   An organization sound in theory, but ... .................................................... 890
   Relinquishing a career for the sake of Islam............................................... 891
Tafseer — Ussul Al tafseer and Tareekh Al tafseer.......................................... 893
Tahajjud — Night Prayer, its timings & the number of rak‘ah ......................... 894
Taraweeh rak'ahs ......................................................................................... 894
Taxation
   Can an Islamic government levy taxes? ..................................................... 895
Temptation
   Pressure and seductive temptation ............................................................ 897
Terrorism & the Western media campaign ..................................................... 898
Test tube babies — the Islamic view .............................................................. 899
Thanksgiving — Prostration in gratitude to God ............................................ 900
Therapy through being more religious ........................................................... 900
Toilet paper — the use of .............................................................................. 901
Trading contracts
   Penalty clause in ...................................................................................... 901
Traveling every-day and shortening prayers .................................................. 903




U
Umrah
   A duty ...................................................................................................... 904
   Consecutive Umrahs ................................................................................. 904
   During the pilgrimage period ..................................................................... 905
36                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  Our Dialogue


     Entering the state of Consecration [i.e. Ihraam] ......................................... 905
     Offered in the month of Shawwal ............................................................... 905
     Offered on the 9th, 10th or 11th of Thul-Hajjah ......................................... 906
     On behalf of relatives ................................................................................ 907
     Shaving or shortening the hair after Umrah ............................................... 907
     Tawaf of ziyarat and wid‟a ......................................................................... 908
Universe
     Question on the beginning of existence ...................................................... 908
Unlawful earnings
     In the past ................................................................................................ 909
     Its effects on wife and children .................................................................. 910
     People with unlawful earnings — their food ............................................... 910
     Suspicion and assumption ........................................................................ 911
     What to do with it? ................................................................................... 911
Urs
     A death anniversary .................................................................................. 912
     Graves of saints and rituals ...................................................................... 914
Usage of abbreviation A.D. ............................................................................ 915
Usury
     the banking system ................................................................................... 916
     the nature of ............................................................................................. 917




V
Video and photography ................................................................................. 919
Video of a wedding ........................................................................................ 920
Vigilante group formed to enforce Islamic laws .............................................. 920
     Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                              37




W
Wahabis & Sunnis ........................................................................................ 923
Wajib
   Basic definition of ..................................................................................... 923
White gold .................................................................................................... 923
Wigs — Wearing wigs.................................................................................... 924
Will
   A will that should not be implemented....................................................... 925
Women
   About women witnesses ............................................................................ 926
   Are men superior to women in Allah's judgment? ....................................... 927
   Attitude towards chores for women in Islam .............................................. 929
   Breastfeeding and milk banks ................................................................... 930
   Changing family name upon marriage ....................................................... 931
   Childbirth & religious duties thereafter ..................................................... 931
   Choice between education or marriage ...................................................... 932
   Choosing a husband ................................................................................. 935
   Covering their face .................................................................................... 937
   Covering their head in public .................................................................... 937
   Dress code and covering the faces ............................................................. 938
   Dress code for old women ......................................................................... 939
   Dressed up seductively ............................................................................. 940
   Duties toward parents after marriage ........................................................ 940
   Earnings – Who benefits by a married woman's wages ............................... 943
   Equality of rights or equality in value for women ....................................... 945
   Equality of sexes and leading prayers ........................................................ 946
   General appearance .................................................................................. 947
   Guardianship of a mother ......................................................................... 948
   In congregation ......................................................................................... 949
   In politics — a general outlook .................................................................. 950
   In politics — electioneering for position ..................................................... 951
   Kept only as mothers of children ............................................................... 952
38                                    SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                     Our Dialogue


     Marriage – an obligation? .......................................................................... 953
     Marriage & the consent of parents ............................................................. 953
     Marriage without guardian — which view is correct? .................................. 955
     Menstruation — delaying of its period ........................................................ 957
     Menstruation & other continuous bleeding ................................................ 958
     Muslim women going out .......................................................................... 959
     Muslim women in the twentieth century .................................................... 961
     Obedience of husband or of father ............................................................. 962
     Participation in public affairs .................................................................... 964
     Position in society ..................................................................................... 964
     Pregnancy techniques ............................................................................... 966
     Prophets ................................................................................................... 966
     Provided protection ................................................................................... 966
     Puberty at a very early age ........................................................................ 967
     Restrictions on .......................................................................................... 968
     Riding horses ............................................................................................ 968
     Role in a war............................................................................................. 969
     Segregation and seclusion of ..................................................................... 969
     Segregation in Islamic society .................................................................... 970
     Status of women in Islam .......................................................................... 972
     Supporting husband ................................................................................. 974
     Taking part in funeral ............................................................................... 976
     Travel by taxi ............................................................................................ 977
     Traveling for studies.................................................................................. 977
     Traveling without a male relative ............................................................... 977
     Unacceptable treatment of women ............................................................. 978
     Undoing their hair when taking bath ......................................................... 979
     Veil ........................................................................................................... 980
     Visiting graves .......................................................................................... 982
     Waiting period — movement becoming necessary ....................................... 983
     Waiting period — reasons for regulating the period .................................... 984
     Widows and the restrictions on them ......................................................... 987
     Working women and the pressures of society ............................................. 989
Working for a non-Muslim government. ......................................................... 991
   Our Dialogue                     SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                              39


Worship
  Credits, injustice and forgiveness .............................................................. 991
  Practices – ingenious teachings or revelations ............................................ 994
  Wrong practices with religious appearance ................................................ 996




Z
Zakah
  A mutual social security system devised by Allah ....................................... 998
  A tax liability? .......................................................................................... 999
  Buildings and factories ........................................................................... 1001
  By a married couple ................................................................................ 1001
  Calculating assets and the due date ........................................................ 1003
  Calculation and distribution of ................................................................ 1005
  Company shares — zakah on .................................................................. 1006
  Cumulative zakah liability ....................................................................... 1007
  Deduction by the state on savings accounts ............................................ 1009
  Difference between zakah and taxes ........................................................ 1010
  Empty house and zakah liability ............................................................. 1011
  Expending and choosing the beneficiary .................................................. 1011
  Family arrangements of a 'house-zakah' liability ...................................... 1013
  Financial requirements and zakah liability .............................................. 1014
  Forgotten investment .............................................................................. 1016
  Gold in joint family ................................................................................. 1017
  Holdings when the liabilities are in excess ............................................... 1017
  Insolvent debtor with assets and savings ................................................. 1018
  Investment of zakah money ..................................................................... 1019
  On (employment) savings plans ............................................................... 1020
  On unproductive land ............................................................................. 1021
  On women's jewelry in relation to her social status .................................. 1021
  Payer or a beneficiary.............................................................................. 1022
  Payment as help to dependents ............................................................... 1024
  Payment for a marriage ........................................................................... 1025
40                                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  Our Dialogue


     Payment in advance and to brothers ........................................................ 1026
     Payment to a political party ..................................................................... 1026
     Payment to a poor woman with considerable assets ................................. 1027
     Payment to brother, sister ....................................................................... 1028
     Payment to clear external debt ................................................................ 1028
     Payment to grandchildren ....................................................................... 1030
     Payment to hospitals ............................................................................... 1030
     Payment to one's son .............................................................................. 1030
     Payment to relative in preference over others ........................................... 1031
     Payment to sister with frozen assets ........................................................ 1031
     Payment to support buying of a house ..................................................... 1032
     Qualifications to benefit by zakah ............................................................ 1032
     Rate of 2.5% is not for everything ............................................................ 1035
     Reward in the month of Ramadhan ......................................................... 1036
     Sayyids as beneficiaries — detailed comments on .................................... 1036
     Spending what is beyond needs and the zakah ........................................ 1038
     Step-children as beneficiaries of zakah? .................................................. 1039
     Valuation — face or market value of shares for zakah .............................. 1041
     Women's jewelry-limit ............................................................................. 1042
     Youngsters and their liability................................................................... 1043
Zakat-ul-fitr
     Payment at place of residence or back home ............................................ 1044
     Uses of ................................................................................................... 1044
Zamzam water ............................................................................................ 1045
Zikr
     Guidance which ends in ruin .................................................................. 1045
Zoos — Deprived of their freedom, the animals are treated kindly ................. 1048
• Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani
Would you please give us a short biography of Abdul Qadir Al-
Jilani and his contribution to Islam. In our country, people believe
that he memorized the Qur'an when he was still a fetus. Is this
true?
Much is said about Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani who is still revered by millions of Muslims
throughout the world. However, much of what is being said about him is absolutely
nonsense. As a scholar and dedicated worker of Islam, Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani would not
approve of anything extraordinary being said about him. An example of which is that
which has been provided by the questioner. That Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani had memorized
the Qur'an while still a fetus is a claim that cannot stand to the shortest of serious
examinations. Nevertheless, we know that Allah is powerful to accomplish any purpose. If
he wanted Abdul Qadir to memorize the Qur'an before he was born, He would certainly
have enabled him to do so. But Allah has a purpose and a wisdom behind any action He
takes. What purpose would be served by giving Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani, or indeed any
other human being, that accomplishment before birth? Besides, how can one prove such
a claim? Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani himself did not make it. Then how can anyone say that
this was the case? And then why would this be needed? Would Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani
have been able to talk to other fetuses in their mothers' wombs and explain to them the
Qur'an? The fact is that such nonsense reflects badly on anyone who repeats it, and
indeed on the man himself. Many people who are aware of the true concepts of Islam
adopt a very suspicious attitude to anyone around whom such myth is woven. No one
does Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani any good service by claiming for him any of the miraculous
acts that he is said to have accomplished. Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani was not a Prophet. If a
miracle is worked out by Allah through him, he had no choice in it and he could not have
determined its happening. Such miracles are worked by Allah when He chooses and for a
purpose He determines.

Therefore, before we begin to read about Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani, we have to put out of our
minds any notion about his being a human being of a superior type. To do justice to
Sheikh Abdul Qadir, I have referred to the invaluable work of Sheikh Abu Al-Hassan Ali
Al-Hassani Nadwi which is given the title of Saviors of Islamic Spirits. He devotes a
chapter in the first volume to the life and work of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani. Here is a
brief summary of what Sheikh Abu Al-Hassan has written.

Abdul Qadir was born in Jilan, which is also known as Vailam, in the North-West of Iran,
south of the Caspian Sea. He was an Arab by descent, but belonged to Iran by migration
of his ancestors. In the year 488 A. H., when he was still 18, he went to Baghdad.
Although inclined to penance and cultivation of religious observances from an early age,
Abdul Qadir addressed himself whole-heartedly to the acquisition of education under the
most reputed teachers of the time such as Ibn Aqeel, Al-Baqillani and At-Tabrizi, turned
to mysticism and was guided in its tenets and practices by Sheikh Abu Al-Kheir Al-Dabas
and Mubarak ibn Ali.

After completing his education of religious sciences, Abdul Qadir began his career as a
teacher in the seminary of his teacher Mubarak ibn Ali Al-Makhrami. He soon acquired
great fame and people flocked from all areas of Baghdad to listen to his sermons. Ibn
Qudama, a famous Hanbali scholar, records that he had not seen a man more reverent
for his piety and religious learning than Abdul Qadir. The king and his ministers
attended his sermons along with the rank and file. Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani himself was
always modest, humble and unpretentious. He often left his work to attend to the needs
of a child, a destitute or a slave girl. Never evading the company of the poor, he even
washed their clothes or performed similar personal services for them. He never stood up
in the honor of any person of high rank. If he got information that the Caliph would be
2                            SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


visiting him, he deliberately went inside his house so that he might not have to stand up
to welcome him. He used to come out of the house after the Caliph had seated himself in
the mosque. Abdul Qadir never paid back such a courtesy call.

Those who have seen Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani have paid a glowing tribute to his moral
excellence and large-heartedness, modesty and hospitality, generosity and goodness of
the heart. Held in such high esteem by the people, Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani showed great
respect to his elders, met the youngsters with a good grace, was always the first to salute
those whom he met, and hailed the poor courteously.

Two great scholars, each of whom came later to be known as Sheikh Al-Islam, Izzuddin
ibn Abdul Salan and Ibn Taimiyah are of the view that Abdul Qadir's work was
miraculous, but his miracle of miracles was filling the hearts of the despaired and the
broken-hearted with faith, hope and enthusiasm. He infused a breath of new life, zeal
and self-confidence into countless persons through his power of speech and the spiritual
power of his heart. He was, in truth, a blessing for the world of Islam for he renovated
and revived the true content of the faith and tapped the sources of moral spiritual
strength for a religious renaissance.

Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani was a follower of the Hanbali school of thought and he endeavored
to root out innovations and deviations from the orthodox faith and practices. Because of
his forceful defense of the need to follow the Sunnah strictly, scholars of Hadith and their
disciples came to be held in high esteem by the masses.

Abdul Qadir used to hold classes on daily basis teaching the Qur'an, the Hadith and
Fiqh, and explaining the differences between various schools of thought in Islam. The
classes were held in the morning and evening, while Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani recited or
listened to the recitation of the Qur'an after the mid-day prayers. Thereafter, he dictated
his rulings on religious or legal questions referred to him. His rulings, or fatwas, generally
followed the Shaf'ie and Hanbali schools of thought.

Following the example of the Prophet, his companions and successors and great past
scholars, Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani touched on the current problems of his days, analyzed
the reasons for the miseries and maladies of the people and provided answers to their
doubts and deficiencies. Along with this, his sincerity and earnest zeal for the welfare of
the people fired his enthusiasm and enhanced his appeal to people's hearts.

The forces of worldliness had become so strong during Abdul Qadir's time and the entire
social and economical life of the community appeared to be woven into the context of the
prevailing political situation that people had developed a tendency to rely on kings and
the noble elite for the realization of their worldly ends. Abdul Qadir tried hard to drive it
home to the people that only Allah could bring them benefit and spare them harm. He
stressed that all worship should be addressed to Allah alone. No false object of worship
could be entertained. In one of his speeches, he explained this meaning by saying: "You
put your trust in your own self, in others, in your wealth, in your rites and customs, in
your trade and business, or in your rulers; but in whatever object you place your
reliance, it becomes, to say the truth, your object of worship. If you fear someone or
expect harm or favor from him, or else you deem him as your intercessor with Allah, then
he is the object of worship for you."

Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani did not preserve his admonition to ordinary people alone. He
fearlessly performed the duty of enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.
This is a duty incumbent on all the Muslims, particular their scholars. Therefore,
whenever Abdul Qadir considered it necessary, he publicly denounced actions of even the
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 3


highest government officials. He bitterly criticized faults of the great ones without the
slightest consideration for their power or position. Ibn Katheer, the highly renowned
commentator on the Qur'an, highlights this fact, saying of Abdul Qadir: "He admonished
all — the caliphs, viziers, kings, jurists, elite and the laity — to adopt the righteous
course and to forsake what Allah has forbidden. He openly and unsparingly criticized
everyone to his face. He used to denounce the authorities sternly if they appointed
anyone to public office who was known for his cruelty, heavy-handiness or tyranny. He
never cared for anyone if he saw the commands of Allah being overstepped."

He also criticized other scholars and jurists for paying too much attention to the concerns
of this world and who were prepared to accept office or be in the entourage of the rulers.
He held such scholars and jurists responsible for the waywardness of the kings and
ruling chiefs.

The moral and spiritual excellence of Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani, his unflinching devotion to
Allah's cause, the effectiveness of his sermons, the inspiring and regenerating influence
exercised by him over the people in his own time, and the upright character and moral
rectitude of those who have had an opportunity to be instructed by him, mark him as one
of the most eminent workers for the Islamic cause. His greatest achievement was brought
about by his inspiring and impressive teachings which made thousands of people turn
away from the lust of power and wealth and his ability to inculcate the true spirit of faith
through self-correction and purification of the soul. In short, his was a striking example
of the innate power of Islam to produce a true spirit of religion, love of Allah and moral
righteousness in an age of crass materialism. Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani died at the age of 90,
in the year 561 A. H.

This brief account of the life and work of Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani gives a totally different
picture of this eminent scholar from that held by numerous people who think of him as a
man of physical miracles. I even heard from some people that Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani used
to fly over the heads of those attending his circle in the mosque. Such stories are
absolute rubbish and they do not do any service to Sheikh Abdul Qadir or his cause.
Sheikh Abdul Qadir was a dedicated worker for the cause of Islam and we would do well
if we follow his example by purging all traces of impurity of faith and mistaken concepts
from our hearts and minds. May Allah have mercy on Abdul Qadir and reward him for
his dedicated efforts.

• Ablution: Concept behind it
Islam establishes some kind of link between worship and other legislations. Washing
some parts of our bodies as we do in ablution or having a full bath as we do in grand
ablution are not merely meant for physical cleanliness. This is an attempt to unite the
cleanliness of the body with the purification of the soul in the same act of worship which
a believer addresses to his Lord.

• Ablution: Contact with the opposite sex
Schools of thought differ on the point of whether ablution is
invalidated as a result of coming in contact with a member of the
opposite sex. Therefore, if a person has to walk in a crowd,
particularly in tawaf, where there is always the possibility of such
a contact, should one make his intention as he performs his
4                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


ablution on that particular occasion that he is following the Hanafi
school of thought?
There is no rigidity in Islam about following a particular school of thought. Indeed, it is
very rare that a person follows a single school of thought. Most people imagine that they
do, but in practical life, they can hardly prove that. Let me explain.

A person who has learned enough about Fiqh and how rulings on different matters are
made is required to look at the evidence supporting any ruling made by any scholar on a
particular question. He compares the evidence and determines which opinion is
supported by better and stronger evidence. He then follows that ruling. This means that
he may be following the Shaf'ie school of thought in respect of certain practices, and the
Hanafi school of thought on a number of other issues, while he follows Imam Malik in
certain matters and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in others. He may go further than that and
follow other leading scholars and imams on other questions. There is nothing to stop him
from doing so as long as he is able to determine for himself the reason which makes him
follow one imam on a particular question and another in a different matter.

A lay person who has very little knowledge of Fiqh is sometimes thought to be the person
who follows a single school of thought all the time. This is wrong. He may follow that
school of thought in his worship, particularly prayers, because he learns these in
childhood according to a particular school of thought. But when it comes to other
matters, he goes to a scholar to ask about the rulings governing different questions.
When the scholar answers him, he does not begin to ask the scholar in which book he
read that ruling and whether it conforms to the Hanafi or Shaf'ie school of thought. He
simply trusts his judgment, because he knows that he is an expert.

Let us take this particular question on ablution. If a layman who believes himself to be a
follower of the Shaf'ie school of thought comes in contact with a woman during tawaf, he
feels unable to interrupt his tawaf for a fresh ablution. He continues and then tries to
find a scholar. When he puts the question to that scholar, the latter reassures him that
his tawaf is valid. He tells him to go ahead and offer his prayers in the normal way. If the
man is somewhat rigid, the scholar will try to reassure him saying that a casual contact
is different from a deliberate contact which stirs up certain feelings. Here the scholar is
giving him the ruling of another school of thought. The layman does not inquire about
that. He accepts the ruling and is happy with the outcome.

The situation is comparable to that of a person who wants to build a house. He goes to an
architect and tells him to draw him a plan with certain specifications. When the architect
has done so, the man does not ask him how he has determined the strength of the pillars
and in which book of architecture he read that a particular number of pillars going so
much deep into the ground will be able to support a building of the height he wants. He
simply accepts the judgment, because he is an expert, in the same way as the scholar is
an expert concerning religious rulings.

When we ask whether any person follows a particular school of thought rigidly, we might
find some people doing so. These are scholars in their own right, and they have
consciously chosen to follow a particular school of thought, because they believe that the
method of construction and deduction of rulings it follows is the best.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 5


• Ablution: In bathrooms
Is it appropriate to start ablution with the name of Allah if one is
doing it in the bathroom where there is a toilet?
No, that is not appropriate. Mentioning the name of Allah in the bathroom is wrong.
People obviously need to do the ablution in the bathrooms and they have learned that
many supplications are recommended when they wash different part of their body as part
of their ablution. What I would like to say is that none of these supplications has been
recommended by the Prophet. There is nothing authentic about them. It is true that every
action of a Muslims is recommended to start with "bismillah", which means "In the name
of Allah". But even then, one should not say this phrase in a bathroom where there is a
toilet. It is sufficient if he is only conscious of that without giving his consciousness any
vocal or verbal expression.
6                            SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue




• Ablution: Invalidation caused by illness or obsession?
I suffer because my ablution is frequently invalidated as a result of
wind. I am often unable to complete my prayer with the same
ablution. With Friday prayers the problem is acute, because I often
find myself leaving the mosque to have a fresh ablution. Sometimes
I ignore the condition, hoping that God will accept my prayers, as
He surely knows my condition. I will be grateful for your advice.
There is one of two possibilities for your condition. It is either a pathological condition,
which means that you have an illness, or it is a case of obsession. There can be no other
explanation. You will need to deal with either possibility in a proper manner so that you
can rid yourself of an unnecessary problem.

The first possibility, i.e. the discharge of wind involuntarily is caused by some illness, is
perhaps less probable. The well-known remedy to deal with such a condition, however, is
to take charcoal tablets; inexpensive and available without prescription from any
pharmacy. You may like to consult a doctor.

However, the other possibility is more likely. You may have developed this obsession, that
you are unable to hold on to your ablution, as a result of your keenness to do your
worship in a perfect manner. The situation is not uncommon among people who are very
conscientious in their attitude to their worship. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has
warned us against this because of the problems such a situation creates. He has also
advised that we should try to control the situation.

The first step to deal with such an obsession is to determine that one should not allow it
to control him. Then one supplicates for God's help in dealing with it. Thirdly, one
should understand that religious matters are not determined on the basis of doubt, but
on the basis of certainty. For certain, when you stand up to do your prayer, you have
done your ablution. Then your ablution can be invalidated with a certain action such as
going to the toilet [and easing yourself] or discharging wind. The proof of the latter is
either with its sound or smell. If you smell nothing and have not heard the wind being
discharged [and you have not willfully released wind without any sound], then no
discharge has occurred. Besides, wind cannot normally be discharged if one is sitting
upright. Its release requires a different posture. Thus, if you are sitting properly in the
mosque, listening to the sermon, and you feel something which causes you to suspect
that a wind discharge has taken place, you must confirm this with either sense —
hearing or smelling. If you have no confirmation of either type, then there is no certainty
to supersede the certainty of your having done your ablution. You continue to listen to
the sermon and do the prayer when it is called. When you have applied this method for a
few days you will find that it disappears completely.

• Ablution: Invalidation — Certain misgivings
By how many ways is ablution invalidated? Does touching a non-
Muslim or touching a woman intentionally invalidate ablution?
Everything that is discharged through one's private parts, whether wind, fluid or solid,
invalidates ablution. It is well known that a discharge of semen requires a full bath or
grand ablution. But everything else that is discharged through either private parts
requires a fresh ablution, i.e. wudhu before one can offer prayers.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                7


Sound sleep is also a cause to invalidate ablution. Some scholars are of the opinion that
a mere sleep is sufficient cause to require a new ablution, while the majority of scholars
suggest that if a person sleeps while seated in a position which makes any release of
wind impossible, his ablution is not invalidated.

Loss of consciousness is another reason for fresh ablution before prayer. It does not
matter whether this is caused by drunkenness, medicine, or by natural causes.

Similarly, a temporary loss of mental powers through madness is also a cause which
invalidates ablution.

Finally, touching one's genital organ with one's hand [skin to skin] invalidates ablution.
There are Hadiths to support what we have said regarding each of these causes.
Limitation of space prevents me from quoting them in detail. They are readily available in
any book of Fiqh or Hadith.

There are certain actions which some people think to be reasons for having a fresh
ablution. It is appropriate to mention them briefly, emphasizing that they do not
invalidate ablution.

The first is touching a woman, skin to skin. Some scholars find this as enough reason to
invalidate ablution, the majority are of the opinion that such touching is not the type
referred to in the Qur'an as requiring ablution. They consider the Qur'anic statement to
mean sexual contact.

Secondly, bleeding from any part of the body with the exception of menstruation. It does
not matter whether it is extensive or little bleeding or whether it is through an injury or
through one's nose. Nor does vomiting or eating camel meat invalidate ablution. The
same can be said of loud laughter during prayer and giving a dead person a final wash.

There is no evidence to support that these are the actions which invalidate ablution.

If someone doubts whether his ablution has been invalidated or not, scholars tell him
that it has not been invalidated unless he is certain that it has been. In other words, he
must be sure that he has done any of the invalidating actions mentioned above to require
a new ablution before he prays.

• Ablution: Nail polish — use of
It is said that ablution is not valid if a woman wears nail-polish. At
the same time, it is said that ablution is valid if one wipes over
one's stockings, instead of washing one's feet. If I apply my nail-
polish after I take my grand ablution at the end of my menstrual
period, why must I remove it before renewing my ablution, if I do
not have to remove my stockings for the same ablution?
The analogy you have drawn may sound logical. There seems to be a case for
comparison. However, matters of worship are not decided on the basis of logical
arguments. In our worship, we follow the Prophet's guidance. Whatever he says we must
follow. That is because he is the messenger who is infallible in matters of faith and
worship. On one or two occasions, he suggested certain things which were not the best
course of action in their relevant situations. But these were matters which have nothing
8                            SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


to do with religion. As far as Allah's message is concerned, he conveyed that to us
complete and intact. Everything he said to us is correct. Moreover, it is how Allah wants
us to worship Him. With regard to prayer, the Prophet instructs us; "Pray as you have
seen me pray." When he went to pilgrimage, he said: "Learn from me your rituals."
Therefore, we do not determine our actions in matters of worship on the basis of logical
analogy, but on the basis of what we have learned from the Prophet.[Added; Islam
prohibits prostration or kissing of stones, which is termed as idol-worshipping. Yet,
during pilgrimage, we are directed to kiss the Black Stone.]

In the case of ablution, when any substance covers any spot of the parts of the body that
we need to wash and it prevents water from reaching the skin, then ablution is invalid
because it remains incomplete. Therefore, if the nail-polish you use, prevents water from
reaching your nails, it spoils your ablution. Sometimes people use a certain red liquid to
heal their cuts or wounds. This takes a long time to wash away, but it does not effect the
validity of ablution, [Added: Use of hinna, for instance, does not invalidate ablution.]
since it does not prevent water from reaching the skin. As for wiping over socks or
stockings, we know that the Prophet once did that. Hence, it is permissible. But it applies
to socks and shoes only, not to any other part of the body. For example, we cannot wipe
over gloves or over our sleeves in order not to wash our hands. If we do that, then our
ablution is not valid.

• Ablution: Physical contact with wife
If a man touches or comes into physical contact with his wife or
another woman, does this invalidate his ablution?
According to the Shaf'ie school of thought, any touch or physical contact between a man
and a woman he is eligible to marry, including his wife, invalidates ablution when their
skins get into touch. If either has a cover over the place where the contact is made, then
this ruling does not apply. Other schools of thought do not agree.

The Hanafi school does not consider such contact as enough to invalidate any ablution.
There are further details in other schools of thought distinguishing one sort of contact
from another. When the touch is an accidental or a normal touch, then there is no
question that the ablution remains valid. If the touch is accompanied by sexual thoughts
or arouse feelings of a certain type, then it does invalidate ablution. It is certainly better
to follow a middle course. I am, therefore, more inclined to say that normal everyday
contact between a man and his wife does not invalidate ablution.

[Added: There should be no physical contact between a man and a woman he is eligible
to marry, other than his wife, in any case - ablution or no ablution.]

• Ablution: Purification — women's
Is it necessary for a woman to have a full shower or bath before
she prays, if she has had a vaginal discharge which may happen at
any time of the day without a particular cause?
Having a full shower for purification is necessary for a woman only at the end of her
menstrual period and after the discharge of postnatal blood has stopped. It is also
obligatory for both man and woman after sexual contact which involves even partial
penetration. For a man, it is obligatory after ejaculation, whether deliberate or voluntary,
as in the case of a wet dream.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                9


When we have learned this, the simple answer to your question is that a discharge of the
type you have described does not require a full shower. It should be treated, however, in
the same way as urine, in the sense that it invalidates ablution. Purification must be
carried out first, by washing the place with water. If it has fallen on any part of your
clothes, or your body, the spot where it has fallen should also be washed. When you have
carried out this, you only need to have a new ablution in order to be able to offer your
prayers.

However, if a woman is in doubt as to whether this discharge is the beginning or end of
menses, she has to ascertain the fact first since the difference in ruling is total. If the
discharge is white in color, there is no doubt that it does not require a full shower. A
simple ablution is sufficient.

• Ablution: Shower instead of ablution
If time and circumstances permit, is it better to take a shower or
ghusl instead of having ablution in order to get ready for prayer?
What is the proper way of doing the ghusl when it is due?
No, it is not preferable to go beyond what God requires of us, even though it is of the
same nature. What God wants us to do in order to have the purification for prayer is to
wash our faces and hands up to our elbows, wet part of our heads and wash our feet.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, has taught us to add a few things to that by way of
recommendation. It is the proper attitude to do what is required and not to add to it. The
question here is not one of time and availability of water, etc. It is a matter of worship
and in worship we do only what God has bidden us. We do not add anything to it.

If one is taking a shower for cleanliness, one washes all the parts of his body which he is
required to wash for ablution. Nevertheless, such a shower does not count as ablution
because it is taken for a different reason. If one needs to have ablution, when having a
shower, one should make the intention to do that and then go over the parts he washes
for ablution as he normally does. In other words, he has to separate the two actions so
that intentions are not confused together.

Ghusl is the Arabic term for grand ablution. It involves the washing of one's head and
body completely with water. Since this is an act of purification taken for a religious
purpose, it is deemed to include ablution. It certainly may be done under the shower.
Now it may be asked what is the difference between this and an ordinary shower. The
answer is in the purpose for which each one is taken and the intention formed at the time
when it is started.

Ghusl must be taken after intercourse, a wet dream, ejaculation with desire, and after
the menstruation period or postnatal discharge. It is very strongly recommended on
Friday to the extent that some leading scholars consider it obligatory. It is also
recommended for the Eid and many other occasions. It is very simple to do. We are
encouraged to start it with ablution, after which a person takes water with his hand and
goes with it through his hair, rubbing it against the skin of his head. When he has done
that three times, he pours water over the rest of his body. A shower is a very good way of
taking ghusl or grand ablution, but one must make sure that all of one's body is properly
washed.
10                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


• Ablution: Touching private parts
Could you please quote a Hadith in support of your claim that
ablution is invalidated by the touching of one's private parts? What
if this happens as one is drying himself after having had ghusl?
It is the view of most scholars that to touch one's private parts, skin to skin, invalidates
ablution. Their view is based on the Hadith by a companion of the Prophet, Yassrah bint
Safwan, who stated that she has heard the Prophet saying: "He who touches his private
parts must not pray until he has performed ablution". (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim,
Malik, Al-Shaf‘ie, Ahmad as well as others). Another Hadith related by Ahmad quotes the
Prophet as saying: "Any man who touches his private parts should perform ablution and
any woman who touches her private parts should have ablution."

In the light of these Hadiths, if you touch your private parts, when you are drying
yourself after having had grand ablution, you need to perform ablution, i.e. Wudhu,
before you pray.

• Ablution: Undressing after ablution
If one happens to undress, does he need to do his ablution again?
No. Being undressed when one is alone does not render ablution invalid. In fact, when we
take a bath, we have ablution and we are totally undressed. Why should the case be
different otherwise.

• Ablution: Use of oil on skin
If I use some oils to protect my skin from drying. Should these oils
be removed before ablution?
If the oil you apply is of the type which prevents water from reaching your skin, then you
have to remove it for ablution. However, most oils are eventually absorbed and or dried
out. Perhaps the best thing to do is to have ablution before you apply the oil, which may
enable you to have your first prayer without having to have a fresh ablution. By the time
the next prayer is due, the oil would have been absorbed or dried.

• Ablution: Wiping of socks
I read in an Islamic monthly magazine that when a Muslim does
his ablution, i.e. 'wudhu', he may pass his wet hand over his
footwear, only if it is made of leather. Wiping of socks made of cloth
is not permissible. The writer supports his opinion by saying that
according to Arabic literature, the word "jawrab", which denotes
socks, applies only to leather-made socks. Is this true?
What I find strange is the definition the writer uses for the word "jawrab". It is certainly
not true that it denotes only leather-made socks. According to one of the best Arabic
dictionaries, it means "feet wrapper". There is no hint that it must be made of any
particular materials.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                11


Where the writer has probably got confused is the fact that the question of wiping feet
covers is entered into books of Fiqh, or Islamic rulings, under the use of the "khuff". This
is traditionally made of leather, but is different from socks. It is similar to shoes,
although it is without heels. That scholars agree that this concession meant to make it
easier for people to have ablution, applies to all the types of footwear which cover the area
which we normally wash when we have the ablution. That includes the whole feet up to
the ankles. In operating this concession we rely on the Hadith which tells us that one of
the Prophet's companions was helping him to do his ablution by pouring water for him.
When that man got ready to pour water over the Prophet's feet, the Prophet motioned him
that he did not need to have his feet washed, but wiping his socks was sufficient. He said:
"I have put them in when they were pure." That meant that he wore his socks after
having had ablution.

It is perhaps useful to mention the rule here that if you do your ablution in the morning,
or indeed at any time during the day, then put on your socks or boots, you make the
intention (not by words but by being conscious of what you intend to do) to avail yourself
of this concession. If your ablution, or wudhu, gets invalidated afterward, you do not
need to wash your feet anew when you have a new ablution. It is sufficient to wet your
hand and pass your fingers over the top of your feet.

To pass one wet finger over a small area of each foot is adequate. You may avail yourself
of this concession for 24 hours at a time, provided you do not take off your socks. If you
take them off, after having used this concession, you need to have full ablution, including
washing your feet, before using this concession again.

Many people find this concession very useful if they spend a long time at their place of
work, where ablution facilities may not be available. This applies particularly in countries
where Muslims are a minority or an immigrant community.

• Ablution: Woman seen without head-cover
If a woman goes out with head uncovered, does that invalidate her
wudhu, or ablution?
A woman‘s wudhu or ablution is invalidated only in the normal way, by any genital
discharge, touching the body of a man which arouses internal sensation, deep sleep, loss
of consciousness, and touching one‘s private parts, skin to skin. It is not invalidated if
men see her when she has not covered her head.

• Abortion on medical grounds
There are many genetic disorders for which currently no cure is
available, but diagnosis is possible. Some of these disorders, when
confirmed, may require termination of pregnancy. What is your
opinion on this important issue in the light of Islamic teachings:
can abortion be allowed on medical grounds?
In 1983, a conference was held in Kuwait in which specialized doctors of medicine and
Islamic scholars took part. One of the most important subject discussed was abortion.
There was a great deal of discussion on the various aspects of abortion and when it can
be considered appropriate.
12                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


From the findings of that conference it can be concluded that abortion is permissible if
the continuation of pregnancy poses a real threat to the life of the mother. In this case,
abortion can be performed at any stage during the pregnancy, and as soon as it is clear
that termination of pregnancy is the only way to save the life of the mother.

As for other medical conditions, scholars differed a great deal on this issue. It is however,
remarkable that the proceedings show that gynecologists and obstetricians who also have
sound Islamic knowledge took a stronger attitude opposing abortion at any stage of the
pregnancy. Scholars of Fiqh could find room for a more understandable attitude.

They gave different verdicts for different stages of the pregnancy. Most of them say that
abortion is forbidden after 120 days of conception. Others say that this prohibition
begins after 45 days. Both groups define the limit which they favor on the basis of a
certain Hadith. The one which speaks of 120 days may be given in translation as follows:

     "Indeed, the creation of each one of you is brought together in the mother's belly
     for 40 days in the form of a drop of sperm, then he is a germ-cell for a like
     period, then an embryonic lump for a like period, then there is sent to him the
     angel who blows the breath of life into him and who is commanded about four
     matters: to write down his means of livelihood, his life span, his actions and
     whether happy or unhappy.

     By Allah, other than whom there is no God, one of you may behave like the
     people of paradise until there is but an arm's length between him and it, and
     that which has been written overtakes him and so he behaves like the people of
     hell fire and thus he enters it; and one of you behaves like the people of hell fire
     until there is but an arm's length between him and it, and that which has been
     written overtakes him and so he behaves like the people of paradise and thus he
     enters it." (Related by Al Bukhari & Muslim.)

We note that the Prophet speaks of three stages of forty days each before spirit is blown
into the embryo. It is on this basis that some scholars consider that abortion on medical
grounds is permissible at this stage.

• Accidents: Scope of accidental killing
Someone bought an electric immersion water heater, but plugged it
wrongly when using it with a two-pin outlet. He mistakenly
connected the earth wire to the neutral wire, instead of
disconnecting it completely. This meant that when the heater was
put in a bucket to heat the water, the current passed through the
body of the heater. One day a new maid wanted to check whether
the water was hot enough, but she got electrocuted and died. Does
the ruling of accidental killing apply in this case? Her employer has
paid compensation to her family at the time, but is he required to
do anything else under the rules on accidental killing? Do these
rules apply in the case of a man crossing the highway but is run
over by a car driving at high speed?
The rules of accidental killing apply when a person does something that does not
normally lead to death, but results in the killing of someone he had no intention to kill.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 13


Someone may push another person, and in the overwhelming majority of cases such a
push does not cause more than a step or two backward and adjustment of one‘s balance.
However, in this particular case, the person so pushed steps over a stone and loses
balance completely. As he falls he hits his head against the hard pavement, or a
lamppost and dies of the impact. When the first person pushes the other, he has no
intention of killing him, but his action results in his death. That is accidental killing.

It requires atonement in the form of freeing a slave who is a believer, and paying blood
money to the family of the deceased. If he cannot find a slave to release from bondage,
either because he cannot afford to buy one or because of the non-availability of slaves,
since slavery has been abolished by God‘s grace, then he must fast for two months
without intermission.

In the case we are looking at, the man simply did the wiring wrongly, which action
resulted in the death of his maid. When he did so, he did not even know the maid, which
was to die as a result of his action. That is accidental killing. He has to atone for his
mistake, which came about by connecting a live electric wire the wrong way. The
compensation is in two parts. The first is the payment of blood money. The man says that
he paid compensation to the woman‘s family, but was that the full amount of blood
money for accidental killing? If it was a small amount, which he decided, then he has to
complete it to the full amount of blood money, unless her family is willing to forego part
or all of that blood money. As she was a maid, then her people are probably poor and
they may accept a lesser amount if they do not know what they are entitled to receive. He
must not try to lessen his liability at their expense. He must give them the indemnity they
deserve.

The other point is the freeing of a slave, which is not available to anyone these days.
Hence, the other option applies, which is to fast for two consecutive months in a gesture
of repentance. The word, ―consecutive‖, is important. These must be completed without
interruption, except through illness. If he fasts for 55 days, or even 57 days and then he
interrupts his fasting for no valid reason, i.e. gets ill after having fasted for a number of
days, he resumes his fasting as soon as he recovers and regains his strength.

These rules apply, as we have said, to all accidental killing, including traffic accidents. If
a person crosses the highway at the wrong place and gets run over by a car, then that is
accidental killing. If the pedestrian shoulders the blame, wholly or partly, then a judge
will determine whether compensation is due or not, and its amount. However, the fasting
part is necessary in practically all cases of accidental killing.

• Accountability: Role model and the acts of his followers
Someone else, like a younger brother or a junior colleague takes a
person who commits an offense as a role model. Is he liable to
account for those who follow his example?
There are two principles that apply here. The first is that each person shall be responsible
for his or her own actions. “No one shall bear the burden of another,” as the Qur‘an states
more than once. The other principle is that of bearing the responsibility for setting an
example. The Prophet, peace be upon him, says: ―Whoever sets a good example shall
have its reward as well as the reward of every one who follows his suit until the Day of
Judgment, without reducing their reward in any way; and whoever sets a bad example
shall bear its sin together with the sin of all those who follow his suit until the Day of
Judgment, without reducing their sin in any way.‖
14                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


What this means is that the one who sets a bad example shall bear the burden of what
he does and will be punished for every time someone else follows his bad example. But
every one who follows him will also bear the blame for his own actions. The same applies
in reverse with regard to setting a good example.

• Actions and intentions
A book prepared by Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Baz as a guide for
pilgrimage says that only in pilgrimage and Umrah the intention
must be stated verbally. In all other actions, a verbal intention is
an innovation. On the other hand, an author in my home country
declares that actions done without intention, or ‗niyat‘, are not
valid. He declares that the intention is obligatory. Could you please
explain this contradiction and what is meant by the Hadith which
states "Actions are but by intentions."
Let us start with the Hadith which you have quoted and which is highly authentic. It is
the intention behind a certain action which determines its value. That intention refers to
the purpose you have in mind for doing any action. Intention does not signify a certain
sentence or phrase which you may say before embarking on a certain action. For
example, you stand up to pray. If you have in mind before starting your prayer that you
are doing it only to fulfill your obligation which Allah has imposed on you and to earn
reward from Him for your obedience, then you are rewarded for your prayer. On the other
hand, someone who prays in order to give an impression to other people that he is
religious incurs Allah's displeasure for cheating. The action made by the two people is the
same, but the value is widely different. The first person earns a reward while the other
incurs a punishment.

That is, generally speaking, the meaning of the Hadith. It applies to all intentions
whether they are ordinary, day-to-day affairs, or actions or worship. There is, however,
something more to the latter type of actions. When you stand up to pray, you have to be
conscious of the action you are embarking on to have the intention present in your mind
that you are about to pray, say, the obligatory prayer of Asr in fulfillment of Allah's
command. When you have this thought present in your mind, you have made the
intention which puts your action in the proper place. You have fulfilled your duty to have
the right intention and you have ensured the value of your action. That satisfies the
condition spoken of by the second author.

That thought is not expressed in words. You do not start your prayer by a verbal
statement declaring that you intend to pray four rak'ahs which constitute the obligatory
prayer of Asr. It is true that many people make that verbal statement, but this is the
innovation of which Sheikh ibn Baz speaks.

This is only reasonable for we speak in our daily life about our actions, saying that I have
intended this action for this particular purpose. You may report to your wife or to a friend
that you had an argument with a certain person. You may give an account of what took
place and follow that with stating: "If he went on in that particular vein, I intended to give
him a piece of my mind." Here you used the word "intended." That does not mean that
you made a statement saying: I intend to give this person a piece of my mind if he does
so and so. It simply means that you had made up your mind to do something. This is
what is required in all acts of worship. To make up your mind to do something and fulfill
your intention.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               15


With regard to pilgrimage and Umrah, the thought of offering them is normally present in
one's mind for sometime before embarking on the action itself. That does not constitute
an intention, in the Islamic sense of the word. It is only when you embark on your
journey to offer the pilgrimage or the Umrah that you are required to have the intention
of offering them. In this particular case, the intention is the thought in your mind and a
verbal declaration. That declaration represents a beginning of the Umrah or the
pilgrimage in the same way as the phrase, "Allah-O- Akbar", signifies the beginning of
prayer. Once you have made that verbal declaration you cannot stop on your way to
Makkah and return back home. It is obligatory to complete your pilgrimage or your
Umrah. Because the verbal statement is so important, it is made in a special form. You
say: "Labbaik Allahumma Hajjah," or "Labbaik Allahumma Umrah." This means "I
respond to your call, my Lord, for a pilgrimage or an Umrah." This is the form of verbal
declaration of your intention that you are embarking on a trip to offer the pilgrimage or
the Umrah [just like you say Allahu Akbar at the beginning of your prayer.] As for the
other duties of pilgrimage such as tawaf, sa'ie, etc. you do not start them with any verbal
declaration. Like all other acts of worship, they are done with the intention being present
in your mind, not expressed in words.

• Actions on behalf of dead persons
A few months ago, you published an answer claiming that it is
permissible to recite the Qur'an on behalf of a dead person and
that the reward for such a recitation is granted to the dead person.
This opinion has been vehemently opposed by almost all renowned
Salafi scholars. They consider such a recitation as an innovation
and they support that by the fact that neither the Prophet nor his
companions used to read the Qur'an on behalf of those who died in
battle or a natural death. They also suggest that it is not possible
to compare such a recitation with offering substitute pilgrimage on
behalf of a dead person, which is certainly permissible. Moreover,
Allah defines the purpose of the Qur'an as "an admonition to any
one who is alive". This means that the Qur'an is for those who are
alive. Please comment.
    I am confused by your contradictory replies. You said sometime
in the past that "no one may offer prayers or other religious duties
which have been left undone by a deceased person." You have also
quoted the Hadith which states that the actions of every person
come to an end when he dies except in one of three well-known
ways. Now you are saying that it is possible to transfer the reward
of a good action to a deceased person. Will you please explain these
contradictions?
These are the view of only two of my readers who have written to me on this subject.
Others have written, making the same objections. To all such readers I say that this is a
question which relates to an aspect of Islamic worship. The answer, therefore, must be
based on what the Prophet has taught us. We cannot argue a case supporting any
viewpoint on purely logical basis. Our starting point may just be the Qur'an and the
Hadith. Before starting to answer the objections of my readers, I wish to say that I hold
16                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


on to my position on both points and I do not see any reason to change either. Nor do I
see any contradiction between what I have said on different occasions on this subject.
The difficulty experienced by some people in reconciling these points can be easily
overcome. Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim, a highly renowned scholar, has spoken extensively on
this question, devoting to it more than thirty pages in his invaluable book, Ar-Rooh, or
The Spirit. My reply is based largely on what he says, since he discusses all points in
detail and replies to all objections.

I have often quoted the Hadith which may be rendered in translation as follows: "When a
human being dies, all his actions come to an end, except in one of three ways: A
continuing act of charity, a useful contribution to knowledge or a God-fearing, dutiful
child who prays for him." This Hadith cannot be quoted in support of the argument that
our actions cannot benefit those who are dead. It is important to know that when we
attempt to understand the meaning of a Qur'anic statement or Hadith, our approach
should be one of careful consideration of the statement in front of us. It must be clear to
us that every Qur'anic verse and every Hadith is meant to convey only the sense of the
words used in it. We cannot, and must not, carry any such statement beyond its
apparent meaning. It cannot be imagined or envisaged that Allah would mean something
and express it in words which convey a different meaning. Nor is it possible that the
Prophet, who has been endowed by Allah with the gift of the most precise expressions,
should mean anything other than what he states. Anyone who would entertain such a
thought actually suggests that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, could fail to
convey precisely an idea which constitutes a part of his message. That is not acceptable
from a Muslim. No one would remain a Muslim for a second if he attaches such an
inadequacy to the Qur'an.

Bearing that in mind, we have to understand every Qur'anic statement or Hadith as it is.
The above mentioned Hadith states that "When a human being dies, his actions come to
an end, except in one of three ways, etc. " What comes to an end, then, is the deceased
person's own actions. This does not mean that a dead person does not benefit by
anything else. He simply cannot do more for himself. He is powerless and incapable of
accomplishing anything. Scholars, however, are unanimous that those who are dead can
benefit by what living people may do in one of two ways: What the deceased person
himself initiated during his lifetime and the supplication of Muslims on his behalf, their
prayers to Allah to forgive him and whatever charity or pilgrimage other Muslims may do
on his behalf. Scholars have different views on whether physical worship such as fasting,
prayer, reciting of the Qur'an, etc. may be done by a living person and rewarded to a
dead relative at his request. Imam Ahmad and many scholars say that the reward of such
actions can be credited to the dead person, while the Shaf‘ie and Maliki schools of
thought take the other view, saying that it does not.

As for things that the dead person himself had initiated in his lifetime, the above quoted
Hadith is sufficient evidence to endorse that. Another Hadith related by Ibn Majah quotes
the Prophet as saying: "What is credited to a believer of his action and good deed after his
death is any useful knowledge he might have taught or spread, a God-fearing child he
might have left behind, a copy of the Qur'an he might have left to an heir, a mosque he
might have built, a house he might have dedicated for use by travelers, a stream or river
he might have caused to run, a donation to charity (i.e. sadaqah) he might have set aside
when he was enjoying good health. All that catches up with him after his death." Another
authentic Hadith related by Muslim quotes the Prophet as saying: "Any Muslim who
initiates a good practice receives its reward and the reward of anyone who follows his
example without reducing their reward by the smallest of fractions, and any Muslim who
initiates a bad practice will bear its burden as well as the burden of everyone who follows
his example without reducing their burdens in anyway."
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 17


In support of our statement that a dead person will benefit by the supplication and
prayer of living Muslims, I refer to the praise Allah bestows on succeeding generations of
believers for praying Him to forgive those believers who lived before them. Allah says in
the Qur'an: "Those who come after them pray: our Lord, forgive us our sins, as well as
those of our brethren who preceded us in faith." (59;10). When a Muslim dies, it is a duty
on the community of Muslims to offer a special prayer for him during which they pray
Allah to forgive him and admit him into heaven. The Prophet says: "When you pray for a
dead person, make your supplication sincere." In his own supplication for a dead person,
just before the latter's funeral, the Prophet said: "My Lord, forgive him; bestow Your
mercy on him; purge him of sin, assign to him a good abode and a wide entrance (to
heaven); wash him with water, snow and hail and purge him of sin as a white dress is
purged of impurity; replace his home, family and wife with better ones; admit him to
heaven and protect him against torment in the grave and the suffering in hell."

There are numerous Hadiths which tell us that a number of his companions came to the
Prophet individually to ask him whether they can give sadaqah or fast or do the
pilgrimage on behalf of their deceased relatives, and he always said that they may do that
and the dead person would benefit by it. Al-Bukhari relates that Saad ibn Ubadah, the
chief of the Ansari tribe of Al-Khazraj, said to the Prophet: "Messenger of Allah, my
mother died when I was away. Would she benefit if I give charitable donations (i.e.
sadaqah) on her behalf? The Prophet answered in the affirmative. Saad said: "I would like
you to be my witness that I am giving as sadaqah on her behalf my orchard at Al-Meraf."
Ibn Abbas reports that a woman traveled in a boat and pledged that should Allah save
her life, she would fast for a month. She was saved but she did not fast before she died.
Her daughter or her sister asked the Prophet about that and he ordered her to fast on
behalf of the deceased woman. (Related by Abu-Dawood, An-Nassaie, Ahmad and others).
Hadiths in support of offering the pilgrimage on behalf of a deceased person or one who is
unanimously unable to undertake the journey are numerous. Moreover, it is
unanimously agreed by scholars that if a person dies without settling an outstanding
debt, leaving no money to settle it, anyone could pay it on his behalf. Whether the person
paying it is a relative or not, the deceased is deemed to have repaid his debt. If the case is
such and the deceased person may benefit by a financial payment, why should he not
benefit by a gift made of the reward for a good action? It should be mentioned here that it
is not possible to do the obligatory duties of fasting and prayer on behalf of a deceased
person. This means that you cannot pray Dhuhr or Asr, or fast a few days of Ramadhan
on his behalf. You may, however, fast if he took a pledge to fast but did not honor it, as in
the Hadith quoted above. You may also do a voluntary act of worship and request Allah
to credit its reward to the deceased person. That applies to reciting a passage of the
Qur'an. It is important to have a clear intention when you begin such an action that you
are gifting its reward to a dead person.

My readers suggest that it is not known that the companions of the Prophet used to recite
the Qur'an and gift the reward of their recitation to dead people. The reason is that they
would view such an action as a private matter between themselves and their Lord. Why
would anyone mention to other people that he recited a surah and gifted its reward to his
mother or to his friend or relative? They were to gain the maximum reward for their
actions in the privacy of their own home. Your motive for such publicity may not be free
of self-esteem. That is bound to reduce your reward. I do not know of any Hadith or
Qur'anic verse which suggests that a recitation of the Qur'an has a special status which
suggests that a recitation, pilgrimage or charitable donations may not be so credited. I
know of nothing to prevent that. Indeed, Allah's generosity will ensure that the reward is
credited to the person to whom it is gifted, while the reciter will be rewarded for his
kindness. [This is different from the act of gathering people to recite Qur'an on behalf of
the deceased. Such recitations are private matters.]
18                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


The best thing that can be done on behalf of a dead person is sadaqah or charitable
donation. The best of that is something which continues over a long period of time. A
pilgrimage on his behalf will be highly rewarded. Prayer to Allah to forgive him and
bestow His mercy on him is also sure to be answered.

• Addressing prayers to the Prophet
1. Is it true that to pray Allah to forgive our sins taking into
consideration the love and affection Allah bears to the Prophet is a
form of polytheism? I am at a loss to understand how it could be
so. How then can we ask the Prophet on the day of judgment to
plead for us, when Allah Himself is ever closer of access to us on
that day?
2. It is our belief that the Prophet will make on the day of
judgment recommendations to Allah for the forgiveness of his
followers. Keeping this in mind, it is appropriate to supplicate and
request the Prophet to recommend us for forgiveness? Could you
also please explain whether there are differences of opinion among
leading scholars in this respect, i.e., addressing Allah through an
intermediary.
The first point which I would like to make regarding this question, which comes up time
after time, is: Who needs an intermediary? Allah Himself tells us in the Qur'an that He is
near to us and that He always answers prayers by His servants. He instructs the Prophet
in the following term: "If My servants ask you about Me, I am near, I answer the prayer of
anyone who prays to Me. Let them, then, respond to Me and believe in Me so that they
may be rightly guided."(2:186). We also read in the Qur'an "Your Lord says: Pray to Me
and I will respond to you."(40:60) There are several verses in the Qur'an which emphasize
the fact that Allah answers prayers when we pray to Him. Furthermore, the instructions
to address Him directly are very clear in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Therefore, who
needs an intermediary?

Muslim scholars and those non-Muslims who study Islam agree that one of the sources
of strength of the faith of Islam is the direct relationship it establishes between every
individual and Allah. You are undoubtedly aware that Islam does not establish or
recognize any clerical order. Individual responsibility is a fundamental principle of Islam
and its correlation is the direct access which Islam establishes between the individual
and his Lord.

Furthermore, Islam tells us that our salvation in the hereafter depends on our actions.
The Prophet tells his own daughter: "Fatima, work (for your salvation), because I will be of
no benefit to you in front of Allah." Ask yourself: when do you need an intermediary to
achieve a certain end? The answer will be that an intermediary may be needed when you
do not have a direct access to the person to whom you want to put your case, or when
your position in relation to him is very weak. In the latter case, you seek the help of
someone who has some influence on the person concerned. Does either type apply to
Allah? The answer is definitely not.

It is an aspect of Allah's grace that He has given every single one of us direct access to
Him. We address Him with our prayers, whether these prayers relate to matters of this
world or of the hereafter. He listens to us and answers all our prayers. Moreover, in
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 19


relation to Allah, we have an equal standing. It is our actions that draw us closer to Him.
When any person addresses Allah, with sincerity and humility, he is certain to have his
prayers answered. Indeed, Allah answers the prayers of people who may have been a
short while earlier non-believers.

The point is when they address Him, they recognize his Lordship over them and over the
whole universe. When they seek His help they also recognize that the God-head belongs
to Him. At that very moment of praying to Him, they, either directly or indirectly, believe
in Him and in His power.

He gives us in the Qur'an the example of the people who find themselves in a boat in the
sea, and fierce wind blows and they are about to drown. At that moment, they pray to
Him with total sincerity and devotion: Save us and we will ever be thankful to You. He
saves them, but they nevertheless turn away from Him.(11:22) He also describes himself
as the One "Who responds to a person in dire need when he prays to Him" (26:62) It is to
be noted that this last description comes within the context of enumerating some of the
most prominent of Allah's attributes. He does not describe Himself as answering the
prayers of believers, but of those who are in dire need. The only requirement is that they
recognize His Lordship over them, and the fact that they address their prayers to Him is
such recognition.

When we realize that by addressing a prayer to Allah we are demonstrating our
recognition of His Lordship over the universe, it stands to reason that addressing our
prayers through an intermediary is a form of associating an intermediary to Allah as a
partner. Allah accepts no partners.

He says in a qudsi hadith: "I am in no need of any partner. I abandon anyone who
associates a partner with Me. He can take what he wants from that partner."

• Adoption: A mistake to be undone — how?
My wife once brought a one-month old child from a nursing home,
and the child was registered in my name. She is now 6 years of
age, and my own three children love her so much. We realize now
that we have done a big mistake. What should we do now?
The important thing to know with regard to adoption is that what is forbidden is to make
the child you bring up as your own son or daughter, giving them your family name and
telling people that the child is your own. All that is false, because you know that the child
is not your own, and that you are not a parent to him or her. At the same time, it is a
great act of kindness to bring up a child who is abandoned or who has no family to look
after it. If your wife has brought this girl from the nursing home because she [the child]
has no family and your wife found it difficult to leave her without care, then you are doing
an exemplary act of kindness.

However, you must not call the child as your own. You should not give her your surname,
or enter her in the records as your own child. You should tell her that she does not
belong to the family in name, but you continue to extend to her a kindly treatment,
bringing her up as you bring up your other children. If you do not know her real
surname, you should still make it clear to her that she does not belong to the family by
blood. This will affect her rights of inheritance, and her attitude to your other children. If
you have a son, she may marry him when they grow up. Whether they would want to do
that or not is a different matter. I am only concerned with the requirement that she needs
20                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


to know that her relationship with your family is the one of upbringing, and not as a
blood tie.

• Adoption: Gift by will
You have stated in the past that adoption is not allowed in Islam.
Could you please quote the relevant part of the Qur'an or Hadith
which supports your statement. Unaware of this prohibition, some
Muslims nevertheless do adopt children. In the case of a person
who has adopted a child because he has none, is it permissible for
him to give the child by will all his property? If he does, what is the
position of his brothers and sisters and also his parents who may
survive him?
That adoption is forbidden in Islam is most certain. As you realize, all things are
permissible unless they are ruled otherwise. The authority to forbid something belongs to
Allah alone. When He forbids something, He either states the prohibition in the Qur'an or
instructs His last messenger to declare it so. Today, we can only declare something
forbidden if rulings of prohibition in the Qur'an and the Sunnah apply to it. Let us,
therefore, look what the Qur'an says about adoption.

In verses 4 and 5 of surah 33, entitled "Al-Ahzab" or "The Confederates" or "The Clan" we
read what may be rendered in translation as follows: "He has never made your wives
whom you have declared to be as unlawful to you as your mother's bodies truly your
mothers, so, too, has He never made your adopted sons truly your sons. They are but
figures of speech you utter with your mouths whereas Allah speaks the absolute truth. It
is He alone who can show the right path. (As for your adopted children,) call them by
their real fathers' names. This is most equitable in the sight of Allah. If you do not know
who their fathers are, call them your brethren in faith and your friends."

This is a clear statement of prohibition. When Allah says that He has not made a
particular relationship in a certain fashion, He means that He disapproves of that
fashion. When Allah disapproves of something, He forbids it. Take the other example in
this Qur'anic passage. Instead of divorcing their wives, some people try to punish them
by making a marital relationship forbidden to them. One of them may say to his wife that
she is to him like the body of his mother, meaning that she is unlawful to him. This is
clearly forbidden in Islam. In surah 58 entitled "Al-Mujadalah" or "The Pleading", we have
the details of what compensation a person who makes such a statement should provide
in order to be forgiven. This prohibition, however, is expressed in this verse in the same
way as that of adoption. Allah has not made the children we adopt truly our children. He
further tells us to call them after their own real fathers' names. There can be no clearer
statement of prohibition.

This is not to say that a Muslim family may not raise an orphan child or that a woman
may not bring up her sister's children or a man may not look after his brother's infants.
Indeed, such an action is highly rewarded by Allah. What is most important, however, is
to keep the relationship clear and according to the fact. The children must be called after
their own parents.

We have also the Prophet's sunnah to confirm this prohibition. The Prophet had adopted
Zaid ibn Haritha as his son before Islam. Zaid was known from that moment as "Zaid ibn
Muhammad". However, when this Qur'anic verse was revealed, Zaid was called after his
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  21


own father, Haritha. The Prophet continued to love Zaid and his children, especially
Ussamah, very dearly.

The question of leaving one's property by will to one's adopted child is truly a separate
matter. Islam establishes a system of inheritance which is very detailed and fair to all.
This system is an essential part of the overall Islamic economic system which ensures the
division of property generation after generation. It takes into account the fact that
according to Islam, a person is "put in charge" of his property which belongs to Allah.
Therefore, it is Allah who decides how property is divided after death. Every one has heirs
according to the Islamic system of inheritance. Depending on his own civil status, when a
person dies, we have to determine who of his nearest relatives have survived him. We
then can determine his heirs. There are several classes of heirs, or that it is more
appropriate to say that there are two or three lines of inheritance. The first class is the
direct line of inheritance which extends from parents and grandparents to children and
grandchildren. Similarly, spouses left behind are of the same class of heirs. Each of these
is given a share apportioned to him or her by Allah. No one can deny any heir his or her
share. When some of these groups in the direct line of inheritance do not exist, as in the
case of a person who dies without having any children, then the deceased's brothers and
sisters may have shares of inheritance.

Another aspect of this Islamic system is the fact that one cannot either overrule or abuse
or add to the system in any way. Thus, no one may disinherit any of his heirs under any
circumstances. It is Allah alone who may disinherit them. Take for example the case of a
Muslim father whose children are not Muslims. They are disinherited because the rule
given to us by the Prophet states: "The followers of two separate religions may not inherit
one another." This means that the reverse situation holds true. If the son is a Muslim and
the father is a non-Muslim then the father cannot inherit his son. But it is not possible
for a Muslim father to say to his disobedient Muslim son that he will disinherit him and
make a will to this effect. Such a will is of no effect whatsoever.

Islam allows a Muslim to make a will to a particular person or persons, or for a particular
purpose, in an amount which does not exceed one third of his property. This is made in
order to allow a Muslim to provide for those of his relatives who are not his heirs and who
may be in need of support, or to leave something for a charitable purpose, or to look after
individuals who need to be looked after. Whatever the situation, a maximum of one third
of his property may be bequeathed in this way.

However, no one of the heirs may be given anything by will. In other words, the share of
any heir cannot be increased by will under any circumstances. When you take all these
rules together, you will find that the Islamic system of inheritance is most fair. The
example you have cited cannot be acceptable from the Islamic point of view. The adopted
child is not a child in the real sense. The person who adopted her cannot leave her by will
more than one third of his property. That is if he wants to give her the maximum
possible. The rest of his property goes to his heirs. Since he is childless, his direct line of
inheritance may extend to his widow, his parents, or grandparents, if any. These have
their apportioned shares which they must not exceed, such as one quarter of the
property to his wife. The remainder goes to the nearest of his kinsfolk, namely his
brothers and sisters who may share it out between them on the basis of one share for a
sister and two shares for a brother.

• Adoption: Inheritance
Can a childless couple adopt a child? If so, will the child be entitled
to inherit the property of the adopting couple?
22                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


I have spoken at length recently about adoption and made it absolutely clear that Islam
does not allow it. It is forbidden in our faith. However, to bring up an orphan child is an
act of charity which will be highly rewarded. But this must not be by way of adoption as
such. The person who looks after an orphan should not call him his own child. The child
must retain his or her name and must be called after his or her father. [Added: it may be
that the parenthood is not known to the family who takes upon itself to bring up an
orphan child. In that case the child must be treated as a brethren. This does not alter the
status of the directive in Islam and the child cannot be called their own child.]

Since adoption is not allowed altogether, the question of inheritance does not arise.
However, if someone raises an orphan child, he can leave him a portion of his property by
will. As you know, every person is allowed to bequeath by will up to one third of his
property, but the beneficiaries of his will cannot include any of his heirs.

• Adoption: Prohibited in Islam
Adoption is forbidden in Islam. But according to authentic Hadiths
related by Al-Bukhari, the Prophet adopted a son named Zaid.
Please comment.
Both statements of the prohibition of adoption in Islam and the Prophet's adoption of
Zaid are correct. The explanation of these two apparently contradictory facts lies in their
chronological order.

Zaid ibn Haritha was a young child when he was kidnapped by fighters who raided the
living quarters of his tribe when their men were out on their business. Zaid was sold as a
slave and he ended up in Makkah when he was given as a gift by her uncle to Khadeejah,
who later was married to Muhammad, her third husband. At that time, he was 25 years
of age. Lady Khadeejah was a rich woman who married Muhammad, having learned
much about his character which filled her with admiration. At that time, Muhammad was
being carefully prepared by Allah for his forthcoming mission as the last prophet to be
sent to mankind. Needless to say, neither he nor Khadeejah knew anything at that time.
Prophet-hood came 15 years after his marriage.

Khadeejah made a gift of Zaid to her husband so that he would have a good servant.

Zaid's father was full of grief when he learned of what had happened to his son. He tried
hard to find out where he was carried to. Perhaps, it was a few years before he learned
that Zaid was in Makkah, a slave in one of its most distinguished households. He,
therefore, traveled with his brother hoping to buy his son's freedom. When they spoke to
Muhammad about Zaid, they requested him to agree to sell Zaid back to them and to
accept a reasonable price for him. He made them a different offer saying: "I will charge
you nothing. If he prefers to stay with me, I will not part with anyone who prefers my
company." They said: "This is indeed a very reasonable offer." When Zaid was called in,
Muhammad asked him whether he recognized the two men. On receiving an affirmative
answer, Muhammad offered him the choice of going back or staying with him.
Unhesitatingly, Zaid chose to stay with Muhammad saying to his father and his uncle, "I
have seen things of this man which make me keen never to part with him." When Zaid
made his choice, Muhammad took him by the hand and went to the Ka'aba where he
addressed the people present saying to them: "Bear witness that I have adopted Zaid as a
son who will inherit me and I will inherit him." Zaid's father was gratified and he went
back home with his brother.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              23


This is how the adoption of Zaid by the Prophet came to pass, long before he became a
prophet. Ever since that day, Zaid was called in Makkah and everywhere else as "Zaid ibn
Muhammad." This continued to be the case throughout the 13 years during which the
Prophet preached his message in Makkah and in the early years of his stay in Madinah.
It was later that the verses of the Qur'an which speak of adoption were revealed. These
make it clear that adoption is prohibited and that every adopted son or daughter must be
called after his or her real father. This automatically abrogated the adoption of Zaid who
reverted to his original name, Zaid ibn Haritha, in compliance with Allah's orders.

The Prophet was very kind to Zaid through their association. He arranged Zaid's marriage
to his own wet nurse Umm Ayman who gave birth to Zaid's son Ussamah, whom the
Prophet loved very dearly. Later on, the Prophet married Zaid to his own cousin, Lady
Zainab, who only accepted the marriage to please the Prophet. The marriage was an
unhappy one and Zaid reluctantly divorced Zainab. The seal on the prohibition was
placed by Allah Himself when He instructed the Prophet to marry Zainab. Thus, the
Prophet demonstrated practically the nullification of all adoption. Had adoption been of
any significance, it would not have been possible that the Prophet marries a former wife
of his former adopted son. The fact that the marriage took place and was specifically
ordered by Allah left no doubt whatsoever that adoption is totally forbidden in Islam.

• Adoption: Voluntary-care and guardianship
You say that adoption is prohibited in Islam. But in English
language, the word "adoption" means what you also say to be
permitted in Islam, namely the bringing up of another person's
child, and to educate and help that child. In my dictionary, the
word is defined as: "to take voluntarily into any relationship,
especially that of a son." The operative word here is "voluntarily."
There is no sense of anything legal taking place.
I have adopted children, and I believe I am bringing them up
voluntarily. I have no wish to take away their names from them.
Yet I had to go through the legal process of adopting them because
without the right sort of papers I would not be able to bring them
up and care for them. I would have had to abandon them. I have
my work here [in the Kingdom] and I could not have brought these
children with me unless they have my name on their passports. To
get such passports for them , there is no way other than to go
through a lengthy legal process overseas. While I do not disagree
with the logic of your reply on adoption, may I point out that you
define it in an excessively legalistic way, whereas in English it
merely means the voluntary bringing up of children who are not
one's own. I am saying this because I realize that simple
misunderstanding may often be the cause of major disputes.
I am grateful for bringing up this question which has great practical importance. Let me
first sort out the linguistic aspect. In the dictionary I have on my computer, which is a
Webster dictionary, the word "adoption" is shown to have six meanings. The one
mentioned by my reader is the third one. The two that precede it are: "1. to choose or
24                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


take and use as one's own: to adopt a nickname. 2. to take and rear (the child of others)
as one's own child, especially by a formal legal act." These two meanings of the word are
the ones which are forbidden in Islam when it comes to adopting children. It is taking the
child, whether he has known parents or not, from a hospital, or an orphanage, or an
agency, giving the child one's own family name and claiming that he is one's own child.
This is followed by a legal process, which can be very lengthy and complicated to ensure
that the child is legally recognized as belonging to the adopting couple as their own.

On the other hand, people may take into their family an orphan child, or one who
belongs to a very poor family, and bring it up, giving that child the sort of care and
education they would give to their own children. They have no motive to do so other than
to be kind to that child. They do not try to claim the child as their own, nor do they give it
their own family name. That is a great act of charity, for which God rewards very
generously.

My reader points out a practical problem when a family brings up an orphan child. That
is the problem of mobility. If the family wants to travel, what would they do with the child
in their care? In many countries, they would not be allowed to travel with the child, and
many would not give the child a visa, along with the rest of the family. But it is not
merely travel that may be an obstacle. There are similar problems that may have
repercussions for both the child and the family. Legal adoption, as practiced in Western
societies, would put an end to these problems once and for all, because it gives the family
the facility to produce documents and papers which would show the child as belonging to
that family.

I know a childless couple who were keen to do whatever they could to children who had
no family. They were regular visitors to an orphanage in their hometown, where they
helped the staff and looked after children. On one of their visits, they were introduced to
a new child who was brought in after her grandmother had died, with both her parents
having died earlier. They immediately fell in love with the child who also seemed to be
fond with them. She would not let go of them. They sought permission of the orphanage
authorities to take her home for a few days. Then it was emotionally impossible for them
to take her back to the orphanage. They decided to bring her up themselves. The idea of
legal adoption did not occur to them, because they knew that it was forbidden in Islam.
They arranged for special entries in the government offices concerned that they were
looking after the child, but that was the beginning of their troubles. Endless formalities at
every step meant that they were always going to and from the government offices, seeking
one permission to do this and another to do that. They tried hard with the authorities to
find a formula where they could be left in peace to look after the child and give her the
best upbringing they could, but that was not possible. What added to their problem was
the fact that the man was not based in his own country, as he worked for an
international company. When his problems mounted, he felt that the only alternative to
abandoning the child was to adopt her formally and to have her added to his passport.
When he did that, all his troubles came to an end.

This is the problem my reader is worried about, and is rightly so. Unfortunately it is not
an easy problem to solve because legal provisions are meant to protect the interests of
children who are in difficult situations. It is when a special case offers a better prospect
for the child than [what] the legal provisions are prepared to grant that [child], a problem
seems exceedingly difficult. What is needed for legislators is to introduce a situation
where a family can be recognized as the legal guardian of a child. With such status the
family should be allowed to bring up the child without claiming it as its own. It has to
have the freedom to look after the child properly with minimum interference from the
authorities. Such interference should aim only to ensure that the child is actually cared
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 25


for and not abused. If Muslim countries introduce such a position, it may make their
social welfare system more complete.

• Adultery: God's forgiveness and marriage
I have had a love affair with a cousin during which we transgressed
the limits of what is lawful. Without knowing what was going on
between us, our parents agreed to our marriage, while my parents
disagreed. They finally relented after much persuasion. My
question is whether God's forgiveness is open to us after having
committed such a grave sin? Can we escape His punishment for
what we have been doing?
The first thing you should understand is that adultery is not merely a grave sin, but it
can also preclude marriage altogether. An adulterer may not be married to a chaste
woman, even though she and her family agree to the marriage. The same applies to an
adulteress, who may not be married to a God-fearing man.

In the Qur'an God states this rule: "An adulterer may not be married except to an
adulteress or a non-believer, and an adulteress woman may not be married except to an
adulterer or a non-believer. Forbidden is that to believers." (24; 3)

So the first thing you and your cousin should do in order to be able to marry each other
is to repent for your sin, pray for God's mercy and forgiveness, and resolve not to commit
adultery at all in the future. What is encouraging in your letter is the fact that you realize
that you have been so deep in the wrong and you wonder whether you can still earn
God's forgiveness.

Let me tell you that God does not close the door to forgiveness as long as we believe in
Him and do not associate any partners with Him. Addressing every human being, He
says in a Sacred, i.e. Qudsi, Hadith: "If you come to Me with an earth load of sins, but
associating no partners with Me, I come to you with an earth load of forgiveness." So the
gravity of the sin is no barrier to God's mercy, provided that the repentance is genuine
and sincere, and also based on believing in God's oneness.

Moreover, repentance should be given credence, not only by avoiding committing the
same sin again, but also by doing good deeds, such as giving money to the poor, night
worship, doing the pilgrimage and the Umrah, voluntary fasting, helping people without
looking for any reward from them. The more you do of voluntary good action, the greater
your reward is. When your reward outweighs your sins, then God's forgiveness is
assured. To encourage you on the way to genuine repentance, let me remind you that
God credits every good action with at least 10 times its value, while He records against us
only those forbidden actions we may commit, as they are worth. That makes earning
God's forgiveness easy once a person is determined to achieve it.

• Adultery: Punishment and marriage
May I ask about the case when a man seduces a young woman to
have intercourse with him: how are they to be punished? Is there
any punishments for the girl's family, or her relatives who live in
26                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


the same city? Should they try to get the man to marry the girl?
Can she marry another person?
This involves an offense which carries a specified punishment in addition to one for
which the punishment is discretionary. It is stated in the Qur'an that the punishment for
fornication or adultery between unmarried partners is 100 lashes and the enforcement of
the punishment must take place in public. However, for such punishment to take place,
the legal system in the country must be the Islamic system. Moreover, guilt must be
established in accordance with Islamic requirements which are very stringent indeed.

In the case of adultery, proof of guilt requires either a free confession or four witnesses to
testify under oath that they have seen with their own eyes the offense being committed. It
is not sufficient that they testify that the couple were in bed in a condition which makes
it very reasonable to assume that adultery had taken place. In such matters Islam does
not accept any subjective judgment by anyone. The testimony must be based on hard
facts. If witnesses are found to testify to adultery but they have not seen the offense being
committed then they incur the punishment of "false accusation of adultery" which is 80
lashes and the deprivation of the right to testify on any matter whatsoever.

Having said that, I should add that Islamic punishments and the Islamic legal code
generally may be carried out only by a government authority that is committed to the
implementation of Islam as a whole. Hence, in this case, if the local government does not
implement Islamic law, there is no way for the girl's family to seek its implementation.
They need not be over concerned with that because the enforcement of punishments is
not a serious issue.

If the man concerned has taken advantage of the girl and left her high and dry, the family
must consider the option which ensures least damage to the girl and her family. The less
publicity given to the whole matter the better. What the family should do on the other
hand is to review the whole situation in order to determine where they went wrong and
made it easy for a man to seduce their daughter. They may discover that they had not
given their daughter a solid Islamic education to protect her against any one who may try
to take advantage of her tender years. As for the possibility of the girl marrying another
man, there is no barrier to prevent that if the girl has repented of her slip and wishes to
lead a virtuous type of life, in accordance with Islamic teachings and principles.

• Adversity: Attitude toward
I was told by a learned person that any mishap that befalls a
human being serves as a "processing factor." Please comment.
In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet, peace be upon him, says: "I have wondered at the
situation of a believer, which can only be claimed by a true believer and no one else.
Whatever befalls him is for his own good. If something good occurs in his life, he thanks
God, and that is to his own good. If he, on the other hand, suffers a misfortune, he
remains patient in adversity, and that is to his own good." In both cases of gratitude for a
favorable development and perseverance in the case of misfortune, a believer receives
reward. If that is what your learned scholar meant, then he is certainly right.

• Advice to parents, elders
How can I advise my parents and elders to offer their prayers
regularly and to fast during Ramadhan?
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 27


The Prophet says: "Good faith is to give good counsel." In his reply for a clarification as to
whom good counsel should be given, the Prophet included the leaders of the Muslim
community and everyone in that community. Encouraging anyone to attend regularly to
his prayers and Islamic duties is certainly to give him good counsel. If one's parents are
lax in observing such duties, it is certainly required of their son to try to persuade them
to do so. In so doing, he should be gentle and kind and should remind them of the
gravity of incurring Allah's displeasure. He should also show them that it is very easy to
observe such duties. One should not give the impression that he is a better person than
the one he advises. This is particularly offensive if it is addressed to a parent or an elder.

• Airlines and women's charms
It is well known that Islam requires women to dress modestly when
they appear in public. How do you view the advertisements
inserted by certain national airlines of Muslim countries in these
terms: "A superb in-flight service is assured by our charming air
hostesses"?
Such advertisements cannot be accepted by Islam. It is sad that national carriers of
Muslim countries feel obliged, in order to compete with other airlines, to try to highlight
such aspects of their service. Indeed, they do not need to go to these lengths. When a
particular airline provides good service, that service will speak for itself, without the need
to stress that at the delivery point of the service there is a "charming" hostess. The
overwhelming majority of passengers are interested in the service itself, not in the person
who gives it. Such advertisements are an example of how much we have borrowed from
Western civilization, without scrutinizing what we are getting in the process.

[Added: Why not look at the advertisements of other foreign airlines who emphasize on
the technical supremacy in providing on time schedules and avoiding delays and
hazards. That should be something to follow.]

• Alcohol: In soft drinks
I attach copies of two letters from the manufacturers of Coca-Cola
and Pepsi-Cola which clearly indicate that alcohol is a part of the
basic formula of both of these drinks. In the light of this
information, is it permissible for Muslims to consume these
drinks?
Thank you for attaching copies of these two letters. I will begin by quoting the relevant
parts. The manufacturers of Coca-Cola in Britain say in their letter: "Some of the flavors
in our products are produced by an alcohol extraction of natural substances. However,
the extremely small amount of alcohol involved in the process becomes insignificant in
the beverage."

Schweppes International which produces Pepsi-Cola says: "Pepsi-Cola contains only a
small amount of alcohol, which is present in order to dissolve the flavoring. The
composition of the natural flavoring is confidential and it is only known to a few
individuals of the Pepsi Headquarters in U.S.A."

Both letters indicate clearly that alcohol is used in the preparation of these beverages.
Hence, it is right to ask whether they remain permissible or not. In order to answer this
28                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


question clearly, it is important to remind ourselves that what Allah has forbidden is
what intoxicates, not a substance. No Qur'anic verse or Hadith refers to alcohol as
forbidden, but we have several Hadiths, in addition to the Qur'anic orders, which make it
clear that any drink that intoxicates is forbidden. The Prophet explains that when
intoxication is produced by taking only a very large amount of a particular drink, then it
is forbidden even to have a sip of it. The important thing is, then, to know whether a
drink intoxicates or not.

Human experience shows that no one begins to feel any intoxication after drinking any
amount of Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola. Besides, there is no indication whatsoever that any
cola drink is habit-forming, or that the continuous consumption of that drink leads to
dependence on it. If there was a sign of any of these or other aspects of intoxication, then
we would have attributed that effect to the alcohol used in these beverages, and we would
have concluded that they become forbidden as a result.

What is clear, therefore, is that the alcohol dissolves during the chemical interaction
which results in the production of a new substance. We have then to apply the Islamic
rule which states that a change of substance may lead to changing its position with
regard to permissibility or otherwise. This rule applies to all substances and it is
universally agreed by all Muslim scholars. In this connection, I may mention that when
any intoxicant drink is turned into vinegar as a result of a chemical process, it becomes
permissible to use by Muslims. What we are using here is vinegar, not an intoxicant
drink. If this applies to wine and other intoxicants which people may use in order to get
drunk, then it certainly applies to other liquids and beverages. The thing in which we are
interested here is the end product which human beings use. We do not start by
classifying the ingredients or go further to identify the elements that are part of the
makeup of every ingredient, because that would lead to the prohibition of numerous
things that are perfectly permissible. In this regard, I may give the example of milk. If we
were to consider the place at which it originates, we would have concluded that milk is
forbidden to drink. There is no Muslim scholar who suggests that because there is a clear
indication in the Qur'an that it is perfectly permissible and there are numerous reports
that Prophet always enjoyed a drink of milk. Verse 66 surah 16, entitled The Bee, may be
translated as follows: "In cattle too you have a lesson. We give you drink of that which is
in their bellies between the bowels and the blood streams: pure milk, pleasant for those
who drink it." You note how Allah refers to the place at which the milk originates and the
substance in-between where is produced, what is in the bowels and the blood streams.
Such stuff is forbidden to consume, but the milk that results from their interaction,
possibly with other ingredients, is perfectly permissible.

In the light of the fact that no amount of a pure cola drink produces any sign of
intoxication, we conclude that such beverages as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola are
permissible.

• Alcohol: Misconcepts about the curative power of alcohol
A commentary by Dr. Muhammad Albar - special to Arab News
Since antiquity, alcohol has been used not only as a social lubricant but also as a remedy
for many different ailments and diseases ranging from insomnia and indigestion to heart
attacks and as an anesthetic. The list of diseases for which alcohol was used as a remedy
was indeed very long.

The Arabs of Jahiliyya (pre-Islam) period used alcohol to boost courage and benevolence.
The poet Hassan ibn Thabit Al Ansari before he embraced Islam said: "When we drink
    Our Dialogue             SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              29


liquor we become like kings (in our benevolence) and during fight we become lions who
never waver or falter from confrontation."

They also used it as a remedy for their ailments and diseases. The authentic narrators
quote many Hadiths to show how the new converts tried to convince the Prophet, peace
be upon him, that they used alcohol only as a remedy, and asked for his permission to
continue doing so. The Prophet, peace be upon him, emphatically denied the benefits of
liquor as a remedy and clearly mentioned it as a case of ailment and disease and not a
remedy for any disease.

Muslim, Abu Dawood and Tirmithi narrate the following Hadith: A man called Tariq Al
Joofi came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and asked permission to consume liquor
(alcohol). The Prophet, peace be upon him, refused. The man said: I use it and prescribe
it as a medicine. The Prophet, peace be upon him, answered: It is no medicine. It is a
disease and ailment.

Another Hadith says that a man called Tariq ibn Swaid Al Hadrami came to the Prophet,
peace be upon him, and said: "O Messenger of God, in our land we have vineyards and
we make wine and drink." The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Stop drinking." The
man proclaimed: We use it as a remedy for the ill and diseased. The Prophet, peace be
upon him, said: "It's no remedy. It is an illness itself." Narrated by Muslim.

The people of Yemen who came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked him to allow
them to drink because they lived in a mountainous cold area, and they drank liquor to
fight the cold weather and to help them in their hard jobs. The Prophet, peace be upon
him, asked if that liquor (made from wheat) was intoxicating. The man, who spoke for the
Yemeni delegation agreed. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: Then you have to stop
drinking.

Abu Dawood narrated this Hadith: "God has made for every illness a cure, but never seek
your cure by things prohibited." Al Bukhari narrated a similar Hadith in which the
Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "God didn't make your remedy in any of the things
prohibited." This shows that Arabs at the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, were
strong believers in the medicinal powers of liquor. However, the Prophet, peace be upon
him, emphatically denied that power. Instead he repeatedly stated drinking liquor even in
small quantities was a cause of illness and disease.

It is, therefore, quite strange to find that the great medieval Muslim physicians and
philosophers like Abu Baker Al Razi and Ibn Sina, commended the use of liquor in
moderation to keep good health. What is even more astonishing is that highly esteemed
men of religion like Ibn Katheer believed in the medicinal and health procuring powers of
the intoxicating liquor. This misconception still persists though science and medicine
have proved beyond doubt the fallacy of the medicinal powers of liquor. The modern
scientific findings have also proved how baseless are the claims that alcohol heats the
body and therefore is good remedy for cold weather, that it helps the digestion, and that
it is a stimulant of the brain.

Imam Jaffer Al Sadiq, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was
asked by a man suffering from severe bleeding piles to allow him to drink liquor as his
physician prescribed it. The imam refused and said: "God has never made your remedies
in things that were prohibited." He also rejected emphatically the suggestion to dissolve
the ingredients of medicines in alcohol.
30                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


Ibn Al Qaim, one of the renowned jurists of the seventh century of Hijra wrote many a
chapter in his books to refute the arguments in favor of the medicinal uses of alcohol
claimed by the physicians of his time. There is a saying to the effect that "We are what we
eat." This is true to a great extent, as the food and drink we consume is transformed in
our bodies by the processes of anabolism into the cells of our bodies, and the processes
of catabolism into the energy that we need to perform the functions of our life. Therefore
it is no wonder, that alcohol when it enters the body, affect both the psyche and the soma
badly."

That was what Ibn Al Qaim was explaining to his contemporaries including the
physicians of his age. He was denying emphatically the benefits of alcohol claimed by Al
Razi and Ibn Sina and the whole medical profession in his days. At his time there was
little proof of what he said except that it was clearly stated in the Prophet's sayings
(Hadith). Now we have ample evidence for what he was trying to prove. The ill effects of
alcohol on both psyche and soma are well documented. They are taught in the schools of
medicine all over the world.

The learned men of religion (jurists) agreed that liquor should never be used as a drug for
medicine, or to quench the thirst. However, the jurists allowed the use of alcohol as a
solvent of drugs provided that: (a) there is no other available drug which does not contain
alcohol; (2) the amount of alcohol as a solvent is minute and does not cause
drunkenness; and (c) it is prescribed by a competent Muslim physician.

Ibn Qudama Al Madgsi states this quite clearly in his book Mughai Al Muhtaj: "The use of
liquor as a remedy is prohibited in our religion. However, the use of drugs which have
been mixed with liquor as a solvent is another matter. It is permissible to use that drug
provided the liquor (alcohol) used is very small in quantity and provided that a competent
good Muslim physician has prescribed it."

The medical and pharmacological profession in the Muslim world are strongly called to
replace the drugs containing alcohol with others which are alcohol-free. Most of the
drugs containing alcohol found on the counter e.g. tonics, etc. could easily be replaced by
alcohol-free drugs.

A ban could be imposed if the governments do agree.

(The author of this article, Dr. Muhammad Albar, DM., M.R.C.P., is consultant of Islamic
Medicine, King Fahd Medical Research of King Abdul Aziz University.)

• Alcohol: Physical use of
Some of the substances which a woman uses as part of her
makeup, such as perfume, hair spray, anti-deodorants and facial
and body powder may contain alcohol. What should she do, if she
wants to offer her prayer? Some women pray wearing their full
make up, including lipstick. How far is this correct.
What seems to be the point at issue in the first part of your question is the fact that
alcohol may be an ingredient of the substances used. It is well know that intoxicants, all
of which are alcoholic drinks, are described as impure. The question is whether such
impurity is imparted to other substances in which alcohol is an ingredient.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 31


To answer, I would like to point out that the weightier opinion is that the impurity of
alcohol is not physical. In other words, if alcohol is dropped on someone's clothes and
then it dries up, the person concerned need not wash his clothes to remove the impurity.
He may use them in prayer without having to wash them first.

Hence, if a man or a woman uses perfume or after-shave or anti-deodorant spray or any
similar substance which includes alcohol, they need not worry about offering their prayer
in the normal way just on account of having used such substances.

In matter of using makeup, Islamic rulings appear to take account of the fact that women
need to use such substances more than men. For example, it is not possible for a man to
offer prayers, if he has used saffron over any part of his body. There is no such restriction
on women. A man, however, may use saffron over his clothes and offer his prayers. The
Prophet used to do that, because saffron gives clothes a better appearance.

If a woman wants to go to the mosque to offer her prayers, she may not go wearing
perfume, unless its smell has disappeared. This restrictions is not made on account of
the substance of perfume itself, but on the basis of the fact that its smell may attract
attention to her. As you realize, when a Muslim woman goes out, she must dress in a way
which does not attract passers by. If she is praying at home alone or with a group of
Muslim women, she may offer her prayer without removing her makeup first. If she
removes some of her makeup which stands out as particularly noticeable, such as
lipstick, this is preferable according to some scholars.

• Al-Fatihah in congregation
Is it compulsory for a person in congregation prayer to read the
Fatihah? Is the prayer valid without reading it?
Scholars have different views about the reading of the surah Al-Fatihah by a worshipper
who has joined a congregational prayer. Those who say that it is not required rely on a
Hadith which suggests that the recitation by the Imam is sufficient for the whole
congregation. Those scholars who take the view that it is necessary for everyone in the
congregation to read the Al-Fatihah in every rakah rely on a Hadith which says that
prayer is invalid without reciting Al-Fatihah. Both Hadiths are authentic. If a person
takes either view, his prayer will, God willing, be accepted.

• Allah's 99 names
I read in a note posted in a mosque that the person who memorizes
Allah's 99 names is certain to go to heaven. I am always repeating
those 99 names after Fajr and evening prayers. [Please comment].
Most of Allah's 99 names denote His attributes. Thus, a name like Al-Khaliq denotes the
attribute of creation which belongs to Allah, since Al-Khaliq means, "the Creator". Al-
Raziq on the other hand, denotes the attribute of providing sustenance to his creation,
since Al-Raziq means, "the Provider". The same applies to Allah's other names. Hence,
knowing them all helps us formulate a clear concept of Allah and His essential attributes.
This is important for a Muslim to have. Moreover, it helps him adopt the right attitude
when he is faced with a problem or a difficult situation. Say, for example, a person finds
himself in a situation where he is in bad need of even a small amount of food, as in the
case of refugees who flee from their homes as a result of war or famine. A refugee who is
well aware of Allah's attributes realizes that it is Allah who provides sustenance for all His
32                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


creatures. Hence, he turns to Him for help and prays Him to provide him with such
sustenance.

Having said that, I should add that there is no great virtue in repeating Allah's attributes
like a parrot. Islam tries to make its followers fully aware of their position and
responsibilities. This is not done through the memorization of the verses of the Qur'an or
Allah's names, but through acting on them. Hence, it is a great virtue to be aware of
Allah's attributes, but that virtue is not obtained through repeating His attributes like a
parrot.

• Allah's entity and human perception
I have been thinking of a scientific explanation of God's existence
and I would be grateful for your comments. Time is eternal. It has
neither a beginning nor an end. When there was nothing in the
universe, there was time, which will still remain when there will be
nothing as well. This is the universal time, not the one which we
know, because our time is relative. Space is also eternal, without
any end line. From time immemorial, there was space and after the
destruction of the material universe, there will be at least space.
Energy can neither be enacted nor destroyed, but it can change
from one form to another. According to scientists, mass can be
converted into energy, and energy into mass. All forms of energy,
whether in gravitational, electromagnetic, nuclear form, etc. are
derived from God Himself who remains the only source of energy.
I am not a scientist to be able to make any critical judgment of this approach, although it
sounds to me much too simplistic. What we have here is a statement of certain scientific
facts in order to assert or prove God's existence. But there is a big question mark that
arises. The conclusion where it leads actually makes a definition of God in terms of time,
space and energy, or indeed a combination of all three. From the Islamic point of view,
such a definition is not particularly appealing, because we believe that God cannot be
limited or confined within any particular framework. I realize that the framework which
we have here is eternal in all its three dimensions of time, space and energy. But then,
how do you account for God's other attributes such as absolute knowledge, compassion,
provision of sustenance, etc.? Scientists tell us that a source of energy need not have a
will of its own. How can a combination of all three dimensions explain God's will which
works according to His elaborate planning and faultless designs?

I am only asking these questions to show that we cannot think of God's nature except in
terms that are familiar to us. We have to perceive things in order to create an image or
define a particular identity. But God's nature, and indeed His existence, are not limited to
what is familiar to us in our small corner of the universe. It is for this reason that the
Prophet has ordered us not to think about God's entity. Such a pursuit will lead us
nowhere.

The explanation that my reader has presented seems to be appropriate, and it may, when
elaborated, appear to many people as both convincing and conclusive. However, some
scientists who prefer an agnostic or atheistic approach may have some counter
arguments which may appeal to other people as also convincing. Where will we stand
then? If we are to require a scientific explanation for God's existence and, consequently, a
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 33


scientific argument in support of faith, then we are likely to put ourselves in a very
difficult position. One reason for that is the fact that science is in a continuous process of
development. It proves today what it used to deny, and may reject tomorrow what it
accepts today. Hence scientific arguments are not to be taken as final in matters which
relate to God, His existence, power, will, etc.

It is far simpler and more appropriate to say that the entity and nature of God are
questions that relate to what lies beyond the reach of human perception. Therefore, we
do not involve ourselves in discussing them in terms that relate to our own world. That is
simply not possible. As an English poet puts it: "How can finite reach infinity." Our own
minds have a finite scope, but God is infinite in His attributes. Hence, our minds cannot
truly perceive the exact nature of God or His entity.

That, however, does not make believing in God difficult at all. There are numerous signs
and pointers in the universe around us that indicate not only God's existence but many
of His attributes as well. God says in the Qur'an: "We will show them our signs in all
fields and within themselves until they come to realize that it is the truth." Numerous are
the phenomena which cannot be explained except by saying that God has willed them to
exist and to function in their particular ways. Within ourselves, and how we exist and
function in our own world, there are numerous aspects testifying to the greatness of the
Creator. These must be studied and we can immensely benefit from understanding them
to confirm our belief in God's existence and His overpowering will. But we do not take
these as indicative of His nature or assume they point out His entity. These are matters
that we will not be able to perceive. Why, then, indulge in such an idle pursuit? There
need not be any scientific theory or argument to prove or indicate God's entity. We accept
the fact of His existence and the fact that He is in absolute and free control of the whole
universe without questioning. That is all that is required for us to have peace with
ourselves, our world and the universe around us. Hence we stop at this.

• Allah's existence
What is the most convincing way to prove the existence of Allah,
the Almighty? Also, what is the proof of the existence of the
Prophet?
Do we really need to prove Allah's existence? Perhaps thirty years ago, I might have
warmed to such a question and could have written a treatise providing methodical
discussion of the subject and giving arguments that the opponents of religion would find
very difficult to refute. Now, with the benefit of my life experience, I am more inclined to
say that we do not need such a proof any more than we need to prove that the sun gives
us heat or that a full moon gives the night superb brightness. Perhaps the best proof lies
in the fact that when human nature is free from prejudice, it tends to be a believing
nature. Before anyone accuses me of being too subjective, I would like to relate this
interesting story.

Imam Al-Ghazali was a highly renowned scholar who rose to fame in an age which was
characterized by its great variety of intellectual and philosophical schools of thought.
Many Orientalists consider him the greatest philosopher in Islamic history. Yet he was
the one who brought about the decline of philosophical trends in the Muslim world.

It is said that Al-Ghazali was once walking along the street and people were keen to
express their admiration and respect of him. A very old woman was not particularly
amazed by what she saw. She asked who the man was. Someone answered: "Do you not
know him? He is the one who knows one thousand proofs of Allah's existence." The old
34                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


woman answered: "So what? Had he not had one thousand doubts, he would not have
had one thousand proofs." Al-Ghazali overheard this reply. He smiled and offered a little
prayer in these words: "My Lord, grant me the strength of faith old people have."

The story is significant in the sense that it is man who determines the level of evidence he
requires in order to believe in Allah. If he allows his nature to look freely without
restraining or checking it by prejudices, social prejudices, personal desires, or interests,
he will be so much closer to faith. This is indeed the message we understand from the
Qur'an. As you realize the Qur'an is above all a book of divine guidance. It concentrates
first of all on the basic issue of faith: The belief in the Oneness of Allah and His control of,
and supremacy over, all the universe. The Qur'an draws our attention to the world
around us and invites us to contemplate on every aspect of creation. It tells us that there
are pointers and indications in the universe which prove without any shadow of doubt,
that there is no deity save Allah, the Creator of all. If we were to reflect on these, the only
conclusion we would derive from them is that Allah is the Creator of all and the Lord of
all.

Such indicators are everywhere in the world, but we tend to overlook them because they
are so familiar to us. If you consider how a big tree comes from a small seed and the
process of planting the seed, its producing a shoot out of the soil, the way it establishes
its roots, and how it grows, blooms and yields its specific brand of fruit, you will conclude
that only Allah could have given the seed all these characteristics. But we do not tend to
reflect on this, because the planting of trees and plants and waiting for their yield is so
familiar to us that we tend to think of it as a simple natural process. It may be so, but
who made it so natural? Similarly, the birth of every child is a miracle, but we tend to
accept it as the most natural thing on earth. Such birth is certainly a natural
phenomenon, but who said that natural phenomena are not miraculous? Since it is
beyond man's control, it is definitely subject to the will of a different power, i.e. that of
Allah. Man has been studying this process of conception, pregnancy, and birth for
centuries on end, but he still cannot influence, amend or change this process. Nor can
man determine when to start it or influence its outcome. Not even the best techniques of
helping women conceive change the fact that all efforts of man do not amount to more
than inducing the start of the process and allowing it to take its course. Otherwise, can
man conceive of any method which would bring children into being, without relying on
the process of fertilizing a female egg with a male sperm?

You ask how can we prove the Prophet's existence. Do we need to prove it? How to prove
the existence of any historical personality? Is it not by the reports we have about him and
the events in which he took part or he helped accomplish? We have a full record of the
life of the Prophet. We also have reports of all his actions, from the most private ones to
those of state and public interest. In the case of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,
however, we also have the radical change in the Arabian society and in human life as a
whole which he brought about.

Perhaps what you actually mean is how to prove that he actually was a messenger of
Allah and that his message was the final one addressing mankind as a whole. In this
case, I have to refer you to the Qur'an which is the ultimate proof of all that. I have
several points to make here but I can only refer to them very briefly, because of the
limitation of space. The Qur'an was revealed at a time when the Arabs gave so much
importance to literary excellence, particularly in poetry. A poet of high standard was a
source of pride for his tribe. In the tribal warfare, poetry was as important a weapon as
swords, spears and arrows. When the Prophet received his revelations and recited them
to the people of Makkah, they listened to something totally new. It was not poetry, but its
literary excellence surpassed everything they knew. They realized that it could not have
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                35


been composed by a human being. Even the staunchest of the enemies of Islam
acknowledged that. Moreover, the Qur'an was so different in style, rhythm and use of
imagery from the Hadith which was the Prophet's own expression. It is not possible for
any human being to use two widely different styles to express the same subject matter
and to do that so consistently over a period of 23 years, which was the length of the time
during which the Qur'an was revealed.

Moreover, the Qur'an mentions certain facts which were totally unknown to mankind at
the time of its revelation and only very recently we started to discover them. One example
is the details the Qur'an gives about the various stages of the development of the fetus,
from the moment it is conceived to the time of its birth. These details are now
scientifically proven by the use of sophisticated technology, such as ultrasound scanning.
The Prophet had no means of knowing these, except through revelation from Allah, the
Creator of man and the universe. Another example is the clear reference to the fact
recently proven by scientists: When a strait separates two seas, as the Red Sea is
separated from the Indian Ocean by the Strait of Bab Al-Mandab, the two seas are
actually separated to the extent that the maritime life in one is so different from that in
the other. In Verse 61 of Surah 27, the Qur'an refers to Allah as having "placed a barrier
between the two seas." In Surah 55, Verses 19 and 20, which may be rendered in
translation as follows: "He has given freedom to the two seas so that they might meet; yet
between them is a barrier which they not transgress." If Prophet Muhammad, peace be
upon him, did not receive this from Allah Himself, how could he have known it when he
never came near the sea in his life?

Moreover, the Qur'an laid down new legislation in various social matters which
represented a great departure from what prevailed in Arabia and in surrounding
countries and states. Yet there was no earthly reason for the enactment of such
legislation which any reformer would have hesitated to introduce because they were
bound to upset the social balance. Perhaps, the best example of these is the high position
Islam gives to women, bring them to a level of equality with men, with only a few
differences of secondary importance, necessitated by the different role they have to fulfill
in human life. In pre-Islamic Arabia and in most societies at the time of the Prophet,
women were considered far too inferior to men. Some Arabian tribes considered a widow
part of the estate of a deceased man, to the extent that the chief of the clan could do with
her whatever he wanted: He could marry her if he wished, without even bothering to ask
her or he could pass her to someone else in his family if he so preferred. Women had no
share in inheritance. Islam gives them their rightful and fair shares. Furthermore, it gives
the woman all the rights to own any type of property and to invest it or spend it as she
pleases, without any intervention by her father or her husband or any other man. Why
would Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, make such a great departure from the
prevailing tradition when no woman in Arabia raised her voice calling for a reform?

As you realize, the Qur'an is preserved intact. Allah has guaranteed that it would remain
in its original form for all time. We recite it in prayer and at other times. Its recitation
earns us reward. Yet the Qur'an contains a reproach to the Prophet for a step he made. If
the Qur'an was of the Prophet's own composition, would he have included such
reproach? If he recognized his mistake, would it not have been courageous of him just to
admit it? Would he have included such reproach in his book of worship? Read, if you
wish, this reproach at the opening of Surah 80. A passage which would also make a very
interesting reading is the one included in Surah 69, which describes the Qur'an in these
terms: "It is indeed the word of a noble messenger, and is not -- however little you may be
prepared to believe it -- a word of a poet and neither is it -- little you may be prepared to
take it to hear -- the word of a soothsayer; it is a revelation from the Lord of all
worlds."(40-43). This description is followed by this threat: "Now if he (whom We have
entrusted with it) had dared to attribute some of his own sayings to Us, We would indeed
36                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


have seized him by his right hand and would have indeed have cut his life vein and none
of you could have saved him." (44-47) If the Qur'an was of Muhammad's own invention,
far be it from him to do so, would he have included such a threat to himself?

Moreover, I want also to refer to the fact that the Prophet demonstrated his absolute faith
in the Qur'an as the word of Allah. The Qur'an tells the Prophet that he had nothing to
fear from human beings because Allah protects him. Verse 67 of Surah 5 may be
rendered in translation as follows: "Messenger, announce that all that has been bestowed
from on high to you by Your Lord; for unless you do that, then you will not have delivered
His message. Allah will protect you from all people." In the battle of Hunain, the Muslim
army was in retreat and the Prophet in a highly vulnerable position. The disbelievers
would have sacrificed any number in order to kill him. Yet, he stood on his horse, calling
on his companions to rally to the cause of Islam. He drew very close to his enemy on
purpose. Anyone else in his position could have been easily killed, but he did not even try
to have any cover.

This sort of attitude demonstrated the strength of his faith. When Allah tells him that he
will be protected, he was certain that nothing would happen to him and he went
extremely close to his enemies as if he was inviting them to kill him, hoping to persuade
them of the truth of his message when they related his action to what is said in the
Qur'an. No one other than a messenger from Allah and a prophet would have done that.

These are only a brief examples of what the Qur'an contains of evidence proving that the
message of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was truly and genuinely a message
from Allah.

[But again as was earlier said it is man who determines the level of evidence he requires
in order to believe in Allah. If he allows his nature to look freely without restraining or
checking it by prejudices, social prejudices, personal desires, or interests, he will be so
much closer to faith.]

• Allah's name, its origin, and equivalent in other languages
May I ask what is the name of Allah, and where has this word
come from, and what does it mean? What is its equivalent in
English? What are the correct names of the Prophet Abraham and
Jesus? Why have they changed from their correct versions?
The word Allah is the Arabic name of God. Etymologically, it consists of two words: ―Al‖
and ―Ilah.‖ The first one is the definite article, while the second means ―the being who is
worshipped.‖ When the two words were joined, the glottal stop ―i‖ at the beginning of the
second word was omitted for easier pronunciation and the two words became
inseparable. Its full meaning is ―the supreme being to whom all creation turn for the
accomplishment of all their purposes, and to whom they appeal to alleviate their
hardship, and whom they address in all their needs, just like a little child does to his
mother.‖ We cannot ask where has this word come from because this is not asked about
any word in any language.

In English we use the word ―God‖ to refer to the Supreme Being. It has practically the
same connotations although in a Christian context it may refer to The Trinity. There is
nothing wrong with using the terms other languages use when we refer to Allah. There is
no need to retain the Arabic version. Thus, the French-speaking Muslims may use the
term ―Diem‖ while those who speak Urdu may use ―Khoda,‖ etc.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  37


In the Qur'an the name of ―Ibrahim‖ is used to refer to the Prophet Abraham, and the
name ―Eissa‖ refers to the Prophet Jesus. You may realize that Ibrahim was raised among
people who spoke an old Semitic language, perhaps Aramaic. How his name was
pronounced in that language, we have no means of telling. However, since, the Qur'an
uses ―Ibrahim‖ we must conclude that it is very close to the original pronunciation of his
name. The same applies to Jesus' name in Hebrew.

That these names have different versions in different languages is not surprising,
because every one of us will hear his own name pronounced differently by people
speaking different languages.

• Allah‘s will and consequences of our actions
Verse 99 in Surah 10 states that all people on earth would have
been believers had it been God‘s will for them to be so. Hence no
compulsion should be exercised to make them believe. In
commentary on this verse, the translator speaks of man‘s limited
free will. I want to think that man‘s free will is unlimited. It is up to
man, with much freedom of will, to accept God‘s messages or reject
them. Please comment.
Some people try to shift the blame for their lack of faith away from themselves. They like
to think that it is God‘s will that they should be disobedient to Him, or unbelievers. They
say: ―Had it been God‘s will for us to be believers, He would have guided us to believe.‖ In
saying so, they confuse issues.

[The verse 99 read with verse 100 of Surah 10 may be rendered in translation as:

    Had your Lord willed (that all the people of the world should be believers) all the
    dwellers of the earth would have believed in Him. Will you, then, force the people to
    become believers? No one can believe without Allah's permission and Allah's way is
    that He throws filth on those who do not use their commonsense.

What these verses contain is the firm statement of the Authority of Allah and His Power,
which cannot be denied. It cannot be construed to mean that Allah has predetermined
the faith of His creatures. ]

If we were to say that it is God who makes a person believe or disbelieve, then we are
saying that He predetermines that some of His creatures will suffer in hell by His will,
while others will enjoy heaven by His will. That makes the destiny of mankind beyond
their control, or, in other words, the result of God‘s predetermination. That would lead us
to ask how justice is done when people have no control over their fate? The fact is that
people do have that control, because they take the actions which leads them to either
heaven or hell. It is a human being‘s own choice whether to be a believer or not. God has
given us guidance, and placed numerous pointers and indicators in the world around us.

He has also made us all equally susceptible to belief. It is in our nature that we should
seek to know Him and to believe in Him. He has also given us our free will so that we
determine our choice whether to accept His faith, which He has given us through His
messengers.
38                            SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


Moreover, God gives every person a number of occasions when the issues of life and faith
are clear in front of his eyes. If in spite of all this a person denies Him, then he does so by
his own will. He deserves the fate he is certain to experience.

Now, is a human being‘s will limited or unlimited?

The answer is that it is free in certain matters and restricted in others. It is not within
man‘s ability not to be influenced by the world around him and the natural phenomena
that are in his environment. Moreover, his choices are limited by the abilities he has been
given. A human being may wish to fly but he cannot do that, no matter how strong is his
will to do so. But in matter of belief and actions, his will is certainly free. Hence, it is only
fair that his destiny should be determined on the basis of his choice.

God addresses the people of heaven saying:

       “This is heaven which you have inherited as a result of what you used to do.”

It is clear from this verse that the basis of admitting anyone to heaven is his or her
actions in this life.

• Allah's will and His foreknowledge
A person who loses his job or money as a result of his negligence
may blame Allah for that, saying that it is His will. The total
earnings of a person in his lifetime are already determined by
Allah. Why should a man work, then? Please explain what powers
Allah has given to man. Normally we find hard workers well off
while lazy people are poor.
Sometimes people find it easy to put the blame on Allah's will for what happens to them
through their own faults. The example you have mentioned is a typical one. A person may
be warned once or twice by his employers about negligence, but pays no heed. Eventually
he finds himself out of job. He then starts to justify the whole thing as something that
would have happened anyway, because it is Allah's will which cannot be stopped. But
what is Allah's will in the matter?

What we have to understand is that Allah has placed man on earth and charged him with
the task of building human life. He had given him his freedom of choice which makes him
able to choose, in any situation, his course of action. This ability of man is part of Allah's
will. Hence, it has to operate in human life. If it did not, then man would have been
exactly like animals who have no say in how they live and how they are affected by the
world around them. Allah has also willed that the law of cause and effect will operate to
the full in human life. Thus, if a man exposes himself to severe wintry weather, he gets
cold and he feels himself in need of having a fire or a source of heating nearby. It is
Allah's will which makes man affected by weather conditions. It is also Allah's will to give
man the ability to think about what sort of action he could take to reduce the severity of
the situation in which he finds himself. He thus thinks about having some sort of
heating. It is Allah‘s' will to make the man able to decide whether to switch the heating on
or not. But whether man chooses to switch it on or not is his own action, determined by
his free choice. If he does, he gets warmer. If he does not, he continues to suffer in the
cold. There maybe some constraints which motivate man to act in a certain fashion, but
it is he who weighs up the possibilities open to him and makes his own decision. If a man
decides not to switch his heater on, he cannot blame Allah's will for being cold.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                39


You can say the same thing about almost everything in life. A person who stays at home
doing nothing will earn no wages from anywhere. He cannot blame Allah or His will for
not having enough to live on. It is his own decision not to go out to work and,
consequently, not have any wages. Had he sought some employment or started some
trade and, having had it, continued to discharge his duties and do his work to the best of
his ability, he would have his salary or profit, as the case may be. It is Allah's will to
organize human life in such a way as to make work a means to earn a livelihood. But it is
a man's choice whether to work or not.

We have to differentiate here between what Allah knows beforehand of what will happen
to us during our lifetime and what He has predestined for us. He has certainly
determined in advance the life duration of every one of us. He has written when and how
each one of us dies. According to an authentic Hadith, when a human being is still an
embryo in his mother's belly, an angel is sent to him to breathe spirit into him. The angel
also writes down his life duration, livelihood and whether he will come out of this life
happy or miserable. But this does not mean a predestination with regard to what a
person may earn in his life. This is only a reference to Allah's advance knowledge of what
will happen to each one of us. As you realize, time, as we know it, does not apply to Allah.
The succession of night and day, by which we calculate months, years, etc. is a natural
phenomenon caused by the position of the earth in relation to the sun and the fact that
the earth is in a continuous movement round itself and, at the same time, moves in orbit
around the sun. Hence, time is a very accidental phenomenon. It does not apply to Allah.

Allah's foreknowledge of a man's livelihood does not mean that a man will end up having
the same amount of money, whether he works or not. To believe this is to take a very
naive attitude. The fact is that man's earnings are dependent on his work, but Allah who
has full knowledge of everything knows in advance what sort of work every person will do
and how much he will earn for it. The knowledge of Allah does not impose on a man a
certain level of earnings.

We can compare this to the productivity of the earth. Allah has given the earth the ability
to be cultivated and to yield all sorts of agricultural produce. If man makes use of this
quality which Allah has given to the earth, every one will have enough to eat. However, if
man does not cultivate the earth, its surface will be covered with wild plants, few of which
are edible and many are not. If man then goes hungry, he cannot put the blame on Allah.
If two neighbors share a plot of land and one of them plants apple trees in his part, while
the other does not, the latter cannot say that Allah's will has prevented him from having
apples in his land. Indeed, it is Allah's will which has given the first one his apples, but
the realization of Allah's will has come about through man's effort.

• Allah's will and Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
As I understand it, everything [that] takes place in the world comes
from Allah. Does this apply to events such as one country invading
and occupying the other?
When we say that everything comes from Allah, we mean two things: Allah knows of it
before it takes place and it happens according to the laws of nature Allah has set in
operation. Our actions, however, are done by us. Hence, we are accountable for what we
do. We cannot put the blame on Allah for our wrong actions. It is we who take such
action and we are responsible for them. Allah, however, has created us and He created
the world in which we live and has given us our minds to think, reflect and decide what
actions to take. He has told us that stabbing a person with a knife close to his heart or in
his abdomen may result in his death. Therefore, if a person stabs another and kills him,
40                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


he may face the capital punishment for the murder he has committed. He cannot defend
himself by saying that this has come from Allah. Allah has made the law which causes
the death of a person when he is stabbed in these areas. But the stabbing was an action
taken freely by the person who has committed it. Hence, he is accountable for it. The
same applies to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. The Iraqi ruler took his decision when he
was conscious of its effects. He is, accountable for it. We cannot condone his actions as
something that has come from Allah. It is his own doing.

• Allah's will and man's choice
When something happens, we say that it has happened by Allah's
will. But then we say that man is required to abide by Islamic
teachings and he will be either rewarded or punished for his
actions. I realize that certain things like health and illness, birth
and death, etc. are out of our control. But I have also heard it
being said that with regard to financial earnings, a man cannot
exceed what Allah has fixed for him. It is up to him to earn his
money through legitimate or illegitimate means. At the same time,
when someone has a large number of children, people will say
Allah will provide for them. Could you please comment on these
points.
No believer will question the fact that it is Allah who has created the universe and who
has set all the rules of nature in operation. On the basis of this common acceptability,
everyone agrees that weather conditions, birth and death as well as effects of natural
forces and conditions on man happen by Allah's will. We are not considering here the
argument of non-believers who try to explain these phenomena away, by saying that they
are the product of natural forces and natural laws. When you ask them who has devised
these natural laws and set them in operation, they have no convincing answer. But to a
believer who accepts that all these have been put into existence by Allah's will, no conflict
arises between the divine will and his own choice.

What is very important to remember is that it has been Allah's will to create man with the
ability to determine his own actions. Moreover, human life is made in such a way that
man is influenced by his own actions. When you do something, its results must affect
you in one way or another. If they were to have no effect at all on you, then you lose the
motivation or the incentive to do anything at all.

The point you have mentioned with regard to a person's earnings is rather misleading. A
government employee who can get away with embezzlement of funds and remains in his
job for several years will be able to amass a wealth which he could not hope to have
received otherwise. We cannot say, therefore, that he would have ended up with the same
amount of money whether he resorted to embezzlement or chose to be honest and not to
take a single riyal in an illegitimate way. If this is true, people will sit idle and wait for
their provisions to come to them. Similarly, a person who drinks or smokes will have the
ill-effects of both substances. A smoker is likely to develop lung cancer or heart disease or
any one of the other diseases associated with smoking. If he does not smoke, the
likelihood of him suffering any of these diseases is greatly reduced. The same applies to
alcoholic drinks and their effects on health. We cannot, then say that whatever man
does, he will end up suffering the same diseases. Nevertheless, you have accepted that
our health condition is part of Allah's will. How can we reconcile these two sets of facts?
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 41


The answer is simple. Everything operates according to Allah's will. Nicotine, which is the
poisonous substance in tobacco, produces its effects by Allah's will. It is He who has
given it its qualities. Therefore, when man inhales this substance, he cannot escape its
cumulative effects on his health. This effect is, therefore, produced by Allah's will. What
this means is that when man inhales nicotine he sets up Allah's will to operate on him in
a certain manner. When he refrains from smoking, he sets it to operate in a different
manner. In both cases, he is subject to Allah's will, but the end result is widely different.

The other point which we have to clarify here is Allah's advance knowledge of what we are
going to do in our lives. Allah knows before He creates any man or woman or indeed any
creature what this creature will do and what others will do to it and what will happen to it
at every moment of its life. He knows who of us will be a chain smoker and who, like
myself, cannot stand the smell of tobacco. He similarly knows who will have lung cancer
as a result of smoking and who will be spared that agony. This knowledge does not
interfere with man's choice. It is not the way that Allah has created a particular person
that influences which make him take up this dangerous habit. In the final resort, it is his
choice which determines what happens to him.

As you see, there is no conflict between Allah's will and man's choice. Man's choice is
indeed part of Allah's will, in the sense that it is He who has given man this ability, told
him of its effect on him and allowed him to exercise this freedom of choice throughout his
life. This is what makes man accountable for his choices. If his choice was not a free one,
accountability would not come into it, in the same way as all animals are not accountable
for their actions. They do not have free choice.

As for children and what Allah provides for them, again this is a simple matter. Allah tells
us in the Qur'an that everything that walks on earth will have its provision set for it by
Allah. Nevertheless, if we were to stop working and consume what the earth produces of
vegetables, fruit and cereal, etc. we will very soon go through all that is available on earth
and find out that we have nothing to sustain us for another day. At the same time, when
we work we are able to increase production manifold.

If you were to ask any scientist one hundred years ago whether the earth will be able to
support five billion people, his answer would have been a decisive 'no'. Nor would he have
imagined that the population would reach this figure in 1988. His answer was most
probably according to his knowledge of the potentials of the earth. He could not have
imagined the effects of electricity and other sources of energy on man's productivity. The
earth could not have supported this number of people if we were still using the same
agricultural and industrial techniques we were using one hundred years ago. In this
example, man's work is a very important factor in the equation of productivity and
consumption. It is the means with which we are working that make all the difference.
Allah has certainly given us the potential to earn our living and the living of our families.
But He will not just send us an extra sum of money every month, which will come to us
through a special post simply because we have another child. When you have a large
family you have to work harder in order to earn more to support your wife and children.
When you do work harder, Allah gives you the fruit of your work.

Having said that, I must clarify that I include within "working harder" what every one of
us tries to do when he is coping with a greater responsibility, namely, to look for more
opportunities to help one's family. That such opportunities do occur is part of Allah's will.
Whether we take them up or not is our choice.
42                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


• Allah's will and man's doing
Allah has committed Himself to grant victory to those who support His cause and fight to
defend His faith. But this is conditional on certain things: that the whole concept of faith
must be deeply entrenched in their hearts, that the practical implications of faith must
manifest themselves in their organization and behavior and that they must equip
themselves with all the means to achieve victory and exert their maximum effort. This is
the law of nature which Allah has set in operation and which gives favor to no one. When
the believers fall short of meeting any of these conditions, they have to accept the
consequences. The fact that they are Muslims does not mean that the laws of nature
should be suspended or abrogated for their sake.

Everything in this world takes place in accordance with Allah's will and His
predestination, and serves His overall purpose. Man's thoughts, movement, action and
will are part of Allah's law, which He uses in order to accomplish whatever He wishes.
Nothing of man's thoughts, movement, action or will lies outside of, or in confrontation
with, the law and rules of nature.

• Angels recording our deeds and the need for such a record
I have read in my school book that Allah has assigned two angels
to each one of us who are called "writing angels". They record
everything we do. My question is: Since Allah can see everything
and knows everything, what need is there for angels to be on our
shoulders to write down what we do? May I add that I am a ten -
year-old student.
I will start my answer by giving you this example. Suppose you are playing a game with
your friends who are all the same age group as you. Some indeed may be a little older
than you. Suppose again that the game itself is not suitable for those who are under 9
years of age, because they cannot get to learn it well. Now suppose that your 6-year-old
brother comes over and sees you playing. He asks you imploringly to allow him to take
part in the game. You will certainly try to persuade him that he cannot join you because
the game is unsuitable for his young age. Nevertheless, he insists and asserts that he can
play as perfectly as anyone in the group. Your friends are bothered and want to get on
with the game, but your brother persists and starts to behave improperly. Because you
love your brother, you do not want to upset him. Since you are kind to your brother, you
do not think of beating him up for interrupting you in this irritating fashion. What do you
do?

It is very likely that you may invite him to try the game. You may even tell him what he
needs to do in order to play it. You may request your friends to be patient with him a
little so that he can have a full try. Soon afterward, he realizes that the game which
seemed so appealing to him when he saw you and your friends enjoying it is not so
enjoyable after all. He leaves you to get on with the game and goes to find a different sort
of entertainment.

May I ask why did you allow your brother to have a go at a game when you were
absolutely certain that he would not know how to play it? You may say that although you
were absolutely certain of that fact, your brother would not accept it, therefore, you
wanted to demonstrate to him that he cannot play it. So, when he had a go at it, his
attempt did not give you any information which you did not know beforehand. It was
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               43


useful, however, for your brother's sake. He was soon convinced that you were not
denying him any share of your fun. That share was not there for him to take. But he
could not have been convinced of that unless he tried it himself.

This example is similar in some ways to what you are asking about. Your question is that
since Allah sees and knows everything, why He sends angels to write things down. Let me
tell you that Allah knows everything before it happens. You were certain, in your
example, that your brother will not be able to play the game before you offered him a try.
Your certainty was based on your knowledge of the game and your knowledge of the
ability of your brother. Allah has created us and the universe around us. He knows
everything fully well. He knows us and our abilities even before He creates us. He does
not need to see our action in order to know them. He actually knows them before we start
doing them. Yet, He sends to each one of us these two angels to record what we do. Since
He does not need that record, there must be a different use for it.

You know that on the day of judgment, everyone of us will be asked about his deeds. We
will be rewarded for our good ones and punished for bad ones, unless Allah forgives us.
When we stand in front of Allah on the day of judgment, He will tell us that we have done
so and so. Some of us may think that they could escape punishment by a simple denial
that they did any bad deeds. They will begin to swear in front of Allah that they did not
do those bad things. Allah will then command the angels to produce those records. When
we will see them, none of us will be able to deny anything. This means that the record is
kept for us, not for Allah's sake. Allah does not need them, but we would be shown that
everything is documented as it took place.

May I tell you that we do not know the nature of these records. They are certainly more
than a simple description of the actions we do. The record may be in the form of a book
supported by a panorama which shows every action of ours and how it was done. This is
the reason why Allah tells us that when the record is opened, sinners will find a sense of
fear, because they realize that it shows everything in full details. They cry out: "Doomed
we are. What sort of record is this. It leaves out no major thing or minor detail. It takes
down everything."

You seem to be a little worried about the angels being on our shoulders. Remember that
we do not know exactly the nature of the angels, except that they are made of light. We
certainly do not feel their presence. But they are certainly with us, although we may not
be carrying them physically on our shoulders. We know that angels have wings and it
may be that they hover close to us so that they fulfill their task Allah has assigned to
them. As you are well aware, angels do not disobey Allah. They do everything that He
requires them to do.

These matters should not trouble you, because Allah has arranged the world in this way.
You should be sure, however, that it is enough for every one of us to try his best to do
what is good in this life. When we try that, concentrating our efforts on doing what Allah
has ordered us to do and avoiding what He has forbidden us, then we shall have nothing
to worry about on the day of judgment. We are certainly liable to commit mistakes, but if
we also do good deeds, then Allah will erase our mistakes and reward us for our good
deeds. He will then give us the utmost blessings of all: Admission into heaven. Let us
pray that we are included among those on whom Allah bestows that blessing.

• Anger
How far is anger forbidden? Is there any method to overcome
anger?
44                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


Being angry is a condition which cannot be described as permissible or forbidden.
Prohibition applies to actions which a person may do of his own free will. Anger is a
reaction to some sort of an event which is particularly displeasing to a person.

However, anger tends to cloud one's vision. It causes a person to do things that he may
not choose to do in normal circumstances. Therefore, one should try as much as possible
to cool one's temper, and not allow his anger to get the better of him. The Prophet has
spoken about the need to control anger. He says: "Strength is not the physical ability of a
person to overcome others, but strength is to control one's anger."

It is mostly through common sense that a person can resist acting in anger. If he is made
angry in a particular situation, it helps if he walks away from it and stays away until his
temper has cooled down. [It is recommended to drink some water or perform ablution. It
helps to cool down.] It is also a very good advice to refrain from doing anything when
angry. One should neither say nor do anything while angry. Even if he is angered by the
behavior of a person over whom he has full authority, it is better for him not to react in
anger. Let him first of all cool down, then he can deal with the situation in a sensible
manner. That is straightforward wisdom.

• Animals for sacrifice — accidental death of
Last year, I intended to sacrifice a sheep on the Eid day. However,
after buying the sheep, it got electrocuted through coming in
contact with a live electric wire and was killed within two minutes.
Do I have to sacrifice another sheep in place of it?
A sacrifice on Eid day is strongly recommended. When we do the sacrifice and give some
of its meat to poor people and make presents of some of it to relatives and friends,
retaining a portion to ourselves, we earn reward from Allah.

The Prophet says: "Actions are but intentions," which means that when you intend to do
something good, you are rewarded for your intentions. When you carry it out, your
reward is increased. Now you intended to make the sacrifice and bought the sheep and
brought it home, ready to make the sacrifice when it falls due. The fact that it was killed
makes its meat forbidden to eat and you cannot sacrifice it. However, Allah rewards you
for your intention and for the money you have spent. It is not necessary to buy another
sheep, since the occasion has lapsed and it is, in the first place, a recommendation - not
an obligation. However, if you had bought and sacrificed another sheep, you would have
earned greater reward from Allah. When you did not, it was perfectly in order.

Now it is better that you wait till next Eid, when you do another sacrifice, if you so wish.

• Anniversaries: Observing death anniversaries
Is it proper to commemorate death anniversaries of one's
forefathers by conducting feasts or giving charity and reciting parts
of the Qur'an with the help of other people, including professional
reciters of the Qur'an, as it is customary in certain parts of the
Muslim world?
Let us ask ourselves why should we commemorate the death of any person? Is it to
remember them and renew our sorrow for their departure? Or is it to organize some sort
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                45


of occasion which we assume to generate some reward from Allah and hope that this
reward will go to the deceased person? If it is for the first purpose, then such
commemorations are unnecessary. If the deceased person is dear enough to us, we will
always remember him or her. Every time we do, we can pray for the deceased and
supplicate to Allah to forgive him or her. If it is for the second purpose, then we have to
examine it in the light of Islamic teachings.

The Prophet states very clearly that when a human being dies, "all his actions come to an
absolute end, except in one of three ways: a continuous act of charity, a useful
contribution to knowledge or a dutiful child who prays Allah for him." The first two are
matters that the deceased would have done during his life. A person may decide to make
a continuing act of charity, such as by allocating certain capital and ensuring that the
proceeds of that investment or capital goes to charity. If, for example, a person decides
that certain orchards that he owns should go to charity, he should make it clear that the
orchard itself should not be sold. It is kept but the fruits that are produced are either
given to the poor directly or sold and the price is given to the poor. Every time this is
done, his reward from Allah increases.

The third of these possibilities is prayer by a dutiful child. Now this should not be
confined to annual anniversaries of death, but a dutiful child will continue to pray for his
deceased parents every day of his life.

If he recites the Qur'an, or passages from it, and prays Allah to give the reward of his
recitation to his deceased parents, then it is hoped that this is acceptable to Allah. But it
is only in such ways that a human being can do something good to a deceased person.
Hiring professional reciter of the Qur'an is certainly not one of them. It is a practice that
cannot be sanctioned by Islam.

• Apostate: When an apostate returns to Islam
Is it a condition that a non-Muslim should obtain the parent‘s
permission to convert to Islam? If a Muslim woman who had
renounced her faith declares that she wishes to be Muslim again,
together with her non-Muslim husband, how should she be treated
by her family? What if the elders in her family decide to boycott the
couple as punishment for the woman‘s previous conduct, and to
make of her an example to youngsters in the family? How can we
stop Muslim women from eloping with non-Muslim men? How far
are family elders answerable to God for such acts?
I have never thought I would be asked the first question in this letter. Is a parent‘s
permission necessary for a young person to declare his or her acceptance of Islam? Every
Muslim knows that Ali was the first young person to embrace Islam in its very early days.
At the time Ali was only 10 years old. His father Abu Talib, who was the Prophet‘s uncle
never embraced Islam as a faith despite his protection of the Prophet, peace be upon him,
against his enemies.

Has anybody heard that the Prophet, peace be upon him, told him to consult his parents
first? The whole idea is absurd. If one wants to believe in God, would he wait for anyone‘s
permission? If the permission is not granted, would he continue to follow his old faith,
whether it is pagan, polytheistic or whatever? The Qur‘an denounces the non-believers in
Arabia who declared that they would continue to follow the faith of their forefathers,
46                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


putting to them the question: “What if your fathers are devoid of knowledge and
understanding?” When a person declares his acceptance of Islam and states that he
believes that ―there is no deity except God, and Muhammad is God‘s messenger‖, that
person is a Muslim no matter who objects and who is happy.

If a Muslim woman elopes with a non-Muslim and marries him according to the civil law
in the country, that marriage is not valid from the Islamic point of view. If she declares
herself to be a believer in that man‘s religion, then she is an apostate. She is no longer a
Muslim, and her marriage is of no concern to Islam. However, if she decides to come back
to Islam, her decision must be based on conviction that Islam is the true faith. When she
declares herself to be a Muslim again, we take her word as true. If she persuades her
husband to do likewise, we should accept both of them as new Muslims.

Every possible help should be extended to them to make their settlement in their new life
as a Muslim couple smooth and easy. In fact, whatever may help them to establish a new
Muslim home should be given to them. Their marriage needs no new solemnization, as
the Prophet, peace be upon him, accepted all marriages of non-believers as valid when
couple accepted Islam together. He did not order any couple to remarry each other, as it
were. If the couple have decided to come back to Islam, the woman‘s family should accept
her and her marriage, putting no impediment in their way. An authentic Hadith states
that ―embracing Islam wipes away what was done previously.‖ This means that when the
woman has returned to Islam, she is to be treated as new Muslim. Her past error should
be forgiven. It is wrong of her family to try to punish her in any way.

Setting an example to others should never come in the form of a punishment to that
woman. In fact the family elders would be committing a gross error if they take any
action against the woman because they could be driving her and her family away from
Islam again. If they wish to be answerable to God for them, that is their business. But I
would tell them that God‘s reckoning would be too tough. If the elders are really
interested in keeping the family honor and guarding against similar trouble, they should
try to impart to all young people in the family, boys and girls, better Islamic education so
that these young people will be able to judge the likely effects of their actions before they
take them. It is only when young people are aware of the principles and values of Islam
that they will adhere firmly to them. When the elders have done their duty by educating
the young well, they are not answerable when a young person chooses nevertheless to
disobey God.

• Appearances & true piety
I am a regular reader of your column, although I am not a Muslim.
I recently came across a Hadith, mentioned by Al-Ghazali, which
quotes the Prophet, peace be upon him, as saying in his
supplications: "We seek refuge in God from the Chasm of Grief."
When asked about this Chasm of Grief, the Prophet, peace be upon
him, said: "It is a part of hell which God has prepared for the
ostentatious reciters of the Qur'an." It appears that the Prophet,
peace be upon him, himself recognized that overzealous piety is
also a sin. Please comment.
I am very grateful to you for the kind words you have said about this column. I only try to
present Islam as I learned it: a religion revealed by God, Whose wisdom and knowledge
are limitless, and Who wants this religion to shape human life in a reasonable manner to
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 47


bring happiness to mankind. Extremism is alien to the nature of this religion, as it is
indeed to all divine messages.

What you have pointed out is certainly correct. Ostentation [display or bragging] is
shunned in all matters, but most of all in religious practices. Moreover, we are instructed
not to judge people by the appearances they put out. A man spoke highly of a person he
knew in front of the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab. Umar questioned him about how well
he knew the other person, asking if he was his next door neighbor, or if he had any
financial transactions, or gone on a trip with that man.

When he answered in the negative to all three situations, Umar said, "Then you might
have seen him in the mosque moving his head up and down as he recited the Qur'an?"
This time the man answered in the affirmative. Umar told him: "You do not really know
him."

In this case we have a testimonial rejected by Umar, who was endowed with an
exceptional insight into the Islamic faith, simply because it was based on an
acquaintance in the mosque where the person concerned was in the habit of reciting the
Qur'an.

It had no basis in actions and practices that relate to dealings with fellow human beings.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, defines true faith as how a believer deals with other
people. That is the true test of whether a person is truly religious or not. It is always easy
to pray and fast, but to observe a strict code of values in day-to-day affairs, overcoming
the natural tendency to put one's own interest first, is not so easy.

Worship is meant to enhance one's consciousness of God so that one always remembers
that he will inevitably face the reckoning on the day of judgment when God will ask him
about his actions. Only those actions which are undertaken purely to please God earn
the highest reward.

Hence the Prophet, peace be upon him, encourages us to keep voluntary worship private.
In Islam, the obligatory part of worship may be done in public. Congregational prayers
are held in mosques for the obligatory prayer, but voluntary prayer is better done at
home. If you are fasting voluntarily, as all of us are encouraged to do, it is reprehensible
to talk about your fasting to others.

The most rewarding voluntary prayer is the one done at night, in the privacy of your own
home, when other people are asleep. In such a situation, you appeal to God feeling that
you are so close to him. The Prophet, peace be upon him, says: "The best type of
remembering God is that done in secret." As you may be aware, we are all encouraged to
remember God all the time, glorifying and praising Him, but such remembrance produces
the best effect on us when no one sees or feels we are doing it. If it is left between a
person and his Lord, it is bound to improve his behavior. It also earns the richest reward.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, also mentions seven types of shelter on the day of
judgment, when there is no shelter other than the one He provides for those with whom
He is pleased.

Among these are "a person whose eyes are tearful when he remembers God in private."
His tears are a mark of his firm belief in God and the day of judgment. If his tears flow
when he remembers God in the company of people, he may be pretending, or he may be
trying to demonstrate that he is a firm believer.
48                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


But when he is tearful at a time when no one sees him other than his Lord, he is a
genuine believer who worries that his sins may be too grave and numerous to merit
forgiveness by God.

All this confirm the view you have expressed that ostentation is shunned. A moderate
and sensible approach to religion is the one God wants of all of us.

• Aqeeqah: Is it obligatory?
Is the aqeeqah obligatory? What if a person cannot afford to buy
the sheep to slaughter? How does it affect the child?
The aqeeqah refers to a sacrifice given by a family on the occasion of the birth of a son or
a daughter. One sheep is adequate for the aqeeqah for either a girl or a boy. Relatives and
neighbors are invited, because this is a joyous occasion to be shared with the immediate
community. The aqeeqah is a Sunnah, which means that it is strongly recommended. Its
time is in the early days of the birth of the child. When we say it is strongly
recommended, this means that it is not obligatory.

If a family cannot afford to sacrifice a sheep, then no blame is attached to it for failing to
do so. "God does not charge a soul with more than it can reasonably undertake." This is
the translation of a Qur'anic statement. A poor family that finds it difficult to make both
ends meet is not expected to observe the aqeeqah. The child will not be affected in any
way for his parents' failure to observe a Sunnah, even when they can afford it.

• Aqeeqah: It's necessity and the time limit
Is aqeeqah necessary for all Muslims?. If so, does it have a time
limit?
The aqeeqah     is a sunnah. When a child is born to a family, the father is strongly
recommended by the Prophet to slaughter one or two sheep and to invite relatives and
neighbors to a meal, in order to allow the community to share in the happy event. The
aqeeqah is recommended to be carried out shortly after the birth of a baby, preferably on
the seventh day of his birth. It may be delayed for a week or two or perhaps a little
longer. However, when it is delayed for a long time, the very purpose of it is lost.

• Aqeeqah: the purpose of
When my son was seven days old, I gave him the name of Er-Rafi'
and did the "aqeeqah" on his behalf. Recently, I was told by a
friend that this name was one of attributes to Allah, and I should
change it. I did that, but a scholar in our community told me that I
should do another 'aqeeqah' for the other name. Is this true?
Let me say first that Er-Rafi' is an attribute of Allah, but it is not one of those which may
be used only with Allah. If you had retained your son's name, that would have been
appropriate. Now that you have changed it, your action itself is permissible. The opinion
of the scholar who told you that you need to have a fresh aqeeqah for your son is perhaps
mistaken. Aqeeqah is the slaughtering of one or two sheep to organize a party to which
neighbors and relatives are invited so that they join in the celebration of the new arrival
and share in the joy of the family Allah has blessed with a son or daughter. Therefore, the
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                49


aqeeqah is offered for the child, not for the name. No fresh aqeeqah is recommended in
your case.

• Arabic: Can non-Muslims teach Arabic?
In my village in India, a young woman who is not a Muslim was
appointed by the government as a primary school teacher and was
given the task of teaching Arabic, since she is a graduate of Arabic.
Muslim parents have refused to allow her to teach their children
the language of the Qur'an as they claim this is not allowed by
Islam. Is this true?
It is examples like that which strengthen my belief that the most important thing
Muslims need these days is a good knowledge of Islam. You have here a situation where
Muslim parents prefer their children not to learn Arabic because the teacher is a non-
Muslim. From where did they get the notion that a teacher of Arabic must be a Muslim. I
do not know. The notion is highly mistaken. It cannot be supported by any logical reason.
These parents may think that because Arabic is the language of the Qur'an, it is sacred.
There is no such thing as a sacred language. Indeed, Islam does not speak of anything as
sacred or holy. These parents may think that an Arabic teacher will have to teach their
children passages of the Qur'an. As a non-Muslim, their teacher is not allowed to read
the Qur'an, or so they think. Little do they realize that Allah has addressed the Qur'an to
non-believers on every occasion, so that they might listen to its argument and realize the
truthfulness of its message. If we were to stop non-Muslims from listening to the Qur'an
and learning its message, how do we expect them to have a favorable view of Islam?

Nor is there any evidence to support the view of these Muslim parents. Indeed, we have
evidence to show the fallacy of their view. After the battle of Badr, the Muslims were left
with 70 prisoners of war. The Prophet decided to allow their relatives to buy their
freedom. However, to those prisoners of war who were able to read and write, he made
the offer that they could buy their freedom by teaching ten Muslim children to read and
write. Obviously those teachers were teaching Muslim children Arabic writing and
reading. They worshipped idols and associated partners with Allah. They indeed were
polytheists. But that did not stop the Prophet asking them to teach Muslim children their
Arabic language. Some of these polytheists accepted the Prophet's offer and completed
their task of teaching Muslim children writing and reading, and then they were set free.
You may tell those Muslim parents in your village this example, to help them benefit by
the services of the Arabic teacher. Otherwise, their children may not be able to learn
Arabic.

Having said that, I realize that if the Arabic teacher in your village was a good scholar of
Qur'an, he or she can be an infinitely better teacher. But if such a person is not available,
let us make use of the facility which is available.

• Arabic: Is it a divine language?
Should Arabic be considered a divine language, being the language
of the Qur'an and the Sunnah? Should it be made compulsory for
all Muslims throughout the world? Is it true that Islamic scriptures
cannot be understood properly except in Arabic?
50                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


No. Arabic is a human language. It is true that Allah has chosen it for His final message
of mankind. Moreover, the Prophet expressed his Sunnah in Arabic, his mother tongue.
But this is as far as it goes. Arabic is a language of human beings. That Allah has chosen
a human language for His message is perfectly logical, because His message is meant for
human beings.

As for making it compulsory for all Muslims, this is a rather complex question. It is Allah
who has made us speak different languages. He says in the Qur'an that this is one of His
signs which manifest the greatness of His creation. He puts it on the same level as other
signs such as the creation of the heavens and the earth. He says: "And of His signs are
the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and your
complexions. In all that there are signs for those who are endowed with knowledge."
(30;22). What is required of every Muslim is to be able to read the surah entitled "Al-
Fatihah" and some other passages of the Qur'an in Arabic to enable him to offer his
prayers.

However, it is to the advantage of every Muslim to understand Arabic, because that would
enable him to have a better insight into his faith. There is no doubt that you will
understand the Qur'an and the Sunnah better, if you know Arabic. This applies to any
work which you may be able to read in its original language or in translation. No
translation could give an exact meaning of the original text because of the different
associations and connotations of the words used in each language.

• Athan: Change of wordings
Is it permissible to leave out the words that mean "prayers are
better than sleeping" in the call to Fajr prayer? Are there any
Hadiths in connection with this? Who inserted these phrases in
the call to prayer?
A famous report suggests that when Bilal was taught the wording of the Athan on the
instructions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, he inserted the phrase, "Assalah khairun
min annawm" when he said the Athan for the Fajr prayer. The Prophet approved his
action. If this report is true, then the inserted words were sanctioned by the Prophet and
have become a Sunnah to be included in the call to Fajr prayer.

An authentic Hadith is reported by Abu Muhthurah, a companion of the Prophet who
was a late comer to Islam. He mentions that the Prophet taught him the words of the
Athan and told him to go and make the call to prayer in Makkah. That was after the
Battle of Hunain which followed the conquest of Makkah. He mentions that the Prophet
instructed him to say this phrase in the first call to Fajr prayer. This Hadith is related by
An-Nassaie and Abu Dawood.

There is no doubt, then, that the Prophet had sanctioned the inclusion of this phrase in
the Athan of Fajr prayer and, as such, this phrase is part of the Athan. Indeed, Abu
Muhthurah used to call the Athan in the presence of the Prophet. He used to say this
phrase twice in the first call to Fajr prayer. Leaving this phrase out deliberately in the
Fajr prayer means that one declines to follow the Sunnah. That is not the attitude of a
good Muslim. [Please read also: Prayers advanced on a rainy day.]
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               51


• Athan: For the newborn
Is there any authentic Hadith to confirm the desirability of the
practice of calling the Athan at a short distance from the ear of a
newborn baby?
Abu-Rafi, a companion of the Prophet reports: "I saw the Prophet, peace be upon him,
calling the 'Athan' close to the ear of Al-Hassan ibn Ali (the Prophet's grandson) when his
mother Fatimah (the Prophet's daughter) gave birth to him." (Related by Abu Dawood,
Ahmad, At-Tirmithi and others). You see there is a Hadith which is related by quite a few
of the best known scholars.

There is another Hadith reported by Ibn Abbas which gives further support to this one.
This means that the practice is recommended. If someone does not do it, he misses
reward from Allah for not practicing what is recommended. However, he violates no
principle of Islam.

• Athan: Laws prohibiting use of loudspeakers
In some non-Muslim countries, the use of loudspeakers is
prohibited by law. How can Muslims in these countries make their
call for prayer?
Muslims in these countries should abide by the law of their country. Islam does not
encourage civil strife or conflict with authorities.

Moreover, there is no requirement in Islam that requires the call to prayer to be through
loudspeakers. At the time of the Prophet, the call to prayer was made by Bilal or other
companions of the Prophet who used to climb on the roof-top of the mosque and make
the call to prayer by word of mouth. They did not employ any device which was likely to
make their voice heard over a longer distance. The use of loudspeakers in Muslim
countries was introduced only recently, when cities became densely populated and a call
to prayer was heard only in the immediate vicinity of the mosque. However, if there are
certain factors which prevent the use of a loudspeaker, it should not be used. No one will
be accountable to Allah for not using a loudspeaker to make the call to prayer. If the call
to prayer is made in the mosque, it is well and good.

It is perfectly in order, however, that the Muslim community in a particular country or
city should approach the authorities for a permission to use loudspeakers in mosques to
make their call to prayer. If their request receives a good response, and permission is
granted to them they may go ahead and use loudspeakers. If not, they can continue to
call for prayer without this additional device.

• Athan: Without ablution
Can one call the Athan without having had ablution first?
Athan, or the call to prayer, is part of zikr, or the remembrance of Allah. For any type of
this remembrance, it is preferable or recommended to have ablution. However, if a person
calls the Athan without having had ablution, the Athan is valid and he has not violated
any Islamic rule. The Athan is not part of prayer itself, because if a person offers his
prayer after its time has fallen due, without making the Athan or hearing it called, his
prayer is valid. He needs ablution for his prayer, but not for the Athan which is the
announcement that the prayer has fallen due.
52                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


• Aulia: A status or a title
I have read in a book published in India that God may give some of
his special servants a position which enables them to give any
order for anything and their orders will be immediately
implemented. This has happened with so many people in the past.
In commenting on this, a leading authority is quoted to have said
that those highly honored servants of God would prefer
nevertheless not to use this power and to limit themselves instead
to saying, "In God's name". Thus, they emphasize that things
happen by God's will, not theirs. Please comment.
Let me first of all remind my readers that whatever claim is made concerning the religion
of Islam must be supported by proper evidence from the Qur'an or the Hadith. Otherwise,
it simply cannot be accepted. We simply cannot take the word of any person, no matter
what position or honor he commands, unless it is supported by such authentic and clear
evidence. This is only logical because God has not left it to human beings to develop their
concepts of faith, nor has He stopped at giving them broad guidelines so that they can
formulate their essential beliefs. He has sent them a messenger with a clear message,
contained in a book that God Himself has guaranteed to preserve intact.

Everything in that book is of absolute clarity and further supported by explanations
made by God's messenger who was known even in his youth as "The Trustworthy". The
messenger had called on people to believe in the faith as it is laid down in the Qur'an.
The central point in that passage is the Oneness of God and that He admits no
partnership with others, be they human beings, angels or other creatures. Moreover, the
requirement to accept the faith and implement it in one's life is the same to all beings,
men and women alike. This means that God has made the same requirement of us all,
and made us equally susceptible to accepting the faith preached by His messenger.

People may vary in their degree of faith, but this difference is largely of their own making.
Some excel in their willingness to do their duties and strive to earn more reward through
doing what is recommended, or, to use the Islamic terminology, Sunnah. Such people are
certainly given rich rewards by God. The reward is preserved mainly for the life to come,
but some of its aspects may be granted in this life. This could be in the form of being
honored by other people. You always find that those who are dedicated believers are loved
by those who come in contact with them. But we must be clear in our minds that this
comes as a natural process. A person who is dedicated to obeying Allah does not make
this dedication public. He simply goes about the fulfillment of his duties and adding what
is recommended to him without any publicity. However, this dedication reflects on him
and his behavior, making him a likable person. The more you know of him the better you
like him.

Such a person with strong faith and determined dedication to God's cause is known as
"Wali" with a plural as "Aulia", which means a friend or ally of God. This is a status, not a
title. We do not confer such a title on any person at all. It is a status which God
recognizes. It is a status normally associated with readiness to sacrifice what is precious
to serve God's cause. Therefore, a Wali could be a scholar, but he could also be an
ordinary person, probably with limited knowledge, but with a strong faith and confirmed
dedication. This applies to men and women alike. We may recognize such a Wali and may
not. He himself may not recognize it. Indeed, he is hardly likely to ever think of himself as
such, because he realizes that this is a position of honor conferred by God. It is true that
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                53


he aspires to achieve such a status, but a good believer normally thinks himself unlikely
to merit such a status.

As I say, such people are honored by God. The honor may take the form of bringing
about something miraculous to benefit a particular person or a community. This is what
is known as "karamah", or an act of honor granted to such a wali. But this takes place by
God's will, not by that person's desire. It takes place when he does not expect it, although
he may pray hard for it. His prayer would be in general terms, such as praying for a
group of people to be rescued from danger. How the rescue will come about, he cannot
tell.

God may respond and rescue those people without any intervening action on their part.
The rescue takes place by God's will and in the way He determines. To do something
miraculous or supernatural is easy for God. When He wills something to happen, He
needs only to say to it, "Be", and it is there.

Now the extract from the book you have sent me claims that such Aulia are given the
authority to will anything to be and it happens.

I tell you in the most unequivocal of terms that this is absurd. It is an assumption that
those people are given an authority which belongs solely to Allah Himself. There is simply
no evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah to support this claim. Nor can there be any
logical argument to support it.

Moreover, Islamic history shows clearly that those who had the greatest status as
dedicated believers were not given such a power. We have not heard of anyone of the
Prophet's companions, or those who succeeded them, having been given such a power.
Nor indeed was this granted to any of the great servants of Islam, whether scholars,
fighters, etc. It is claimed that those who are given such an authority do not use it, as a
gesture of deference to God's authority.

But this is ridiculous, because a believer who is given some sort of authority or power
should use it for the benefit of the Muslim community. Besides, is it possible that such a
privilege is given to a single person in the Muslim world and he decides not to use it to
relieve the plight of Muslims in such places as Somalia, Bosnia, Kashmir, Philippines or
Palestine? Why not? Is it a privilege he uses for his own benefit? That would bring him
down in status to the position of a selfish person.

Moreover, how would we know that a person has been granted such a privilege? The book
tells us that those who are given the privilege do not use it. From where, then, do we
derive the knowledge that they have it. We have nothing mentioned in the Qur'an or
Hadith about any person being given such a privilege.

If he keeps quiet about it and does not use it, then where does the information come
from? Do you not see that there is something suspicious about the whole claim? Let me
tell you that if any person, regardless of his position, makes the claim that God has given
him such a privilege, then he is a liar. As I have explained, when God grants someone or
a group of people an honor causing something miraculous to happen to them or to others
through them, the event will have all the mark of being an accomplishment of God's will.
It comes in a way which is least expected by us. If it happens and someone claims that it
is an honor granted to him, then he is a liar. If other people claim it for him, then he
should stop them. If he does not then he is allowing his ego to express itself. That is not
the attitude of a wali, or a friend of God.
54                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


Besides, how would any person attain such a privilege? By strenuous worship? Definitely
not. By fighting for God's cause? How, when we know that the Muslims lost many battles
and countless martyrs? I tell you clearly that this claim is no more than an illusion.
Whoever makes such a claim for himself is a liar. We doubt whether he actually believes
in God. If it is claimed for other people, then the claimant simply betrays his ignorance.

• Aulia: Miraculous powers
In the India-Pak region people visit tombs of holy men (Aulias)
whom they believe to have personal or spiritual powers called
'karamats'. People who visit these tombs believe that those who are
buried in them can give relief or remedy of physical or spiritual
illness, or can accomplish other things as well. Is this correct from
the Islamic point of view? I found no such practices in the Arabian
world, apart from the fact that people visit the Prophet's tomb in
Madinah.
Islam does not recognize any powers, miraculous or otherwise, to any dead person, no
matter how good or 'holy' he was in his life. For one thing, we cannot judge any person
fully. It is only Allah who judges people according to what He knows of their intentions
and their actions. No human being can pretend to know the intentions of another. As you
realize, it is easy to have wicked intentions behind some action with appears to be good.

Apart from this, the Prophet has stated unequivocally that when we die we lose our power
to do anything. He says: When a human being dies, all his actions come to an end,
except in one of three ways: a continuous act of charity, or a contribution to knowledge
which benefits mankind, or a good child who prays for him. Reading his statements of
the Prophet, one is bound to realize that no dead man can relieve or cure an ill person, or
be indeed of any benefit to him, apart from the first two ways which the Prophet spelled
out.

We derive our teachings from the Prophet, not from any other source. This is what Islam
requires of us. No one can add to what the Prophet has conveyed to us as Allah's
message to mankind. Any addition is thus rejected. I am afraid visits to tombs of 'holy'
men wit the aim of asking them to exercise their assumed powers is not part of Islam.
They cannot be of any benefit whatsoever. All this is innovation which cannot be
condoned.

When we go to Madinah, we visit the Prophet's Mosque. This is because praying in the
Prophet's Mosque earns us for every prayer we offer there the reward of 1,000 prayer
offered elsewhere, apart from the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

We also greet he Prophet in his grave, acknowledging that he has conveyed to us Allah's
message and given us sound advice. We also pray Allah that the Prophet may intercede
on our behalf on the Day of Judgment. We do not ask or pray the Prophet to cure our
illnesses, because he cannot. Only Allah can cure such illnesses or answer our prayers,
whatever they are. I strongly recommend you to forget all about 'holy' men and their
special powers, for they have none.

• Ayat-ul-Kursi
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  55


Allah: there is no deity save Him, the Ever-Living, the Eternal
Master of all: Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. His is all
that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. Who is there that
can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows all
that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them,
whereas they cannot attain to anything of His knowledge save such
as He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth,
and the preservation of both does not weary Him. He is the Most
High, the Most Great. (The Cow, "Al-Baqarah" 2:256) Commentary
by Sayyid Qutb — Translated by Adil Salahi & Ashur Shamis.
Every attribute of Allah contained in this verse outlines a basic principle of the clear
Islamic concept of Allah and represents a cornerstone of the clear Islamic constitution.

Allah: there is no deity save Him. This decisive statement of the Oneness of Allah leaves
no room for any sort of deviation or confusion of the sort which crept into earlier
religions, such as the concept of trinity which church councils invented after the time of
Jesus, peace be upon him. There can no longer be any confusion which colored pagan
philosophies which leaned toward the concept of the Oneness of Allah, adding to it some
legendary concepts. The ancient Egyptians believed at one time in the Oneness of Allah,
but then confused it by considering that the sun represented Allah, and alleged that
there were a number of junior gods who were happy to fulfill His bidding.

The uncompromising principle of the absolute Oneness of Allah provides the foundation
of the philosophy of Islam, and the basis for the formulation of the Islamic way of life. The
concept lays down that both submission and worship must be offered to Allah alone. No
man should submit to anyone other than Him. Allah alone is to be obeyed, and His
pleasure is the one to be sought. From this concept, we also derive the principle that the
authority to legislate belongs to Allah alone. No one else may lay down laws for man.
Whatever laws people enact must be derived from Allah's law. From this concept alone,
we derive the principle that all values must be approved by Allah. No value has any
significance unless it is approved by Allah. No situation, tradition or regime has any
validity or legitimacy if it contravenes Allah's constitution. The same applies to all feelings
generated within man or practical methods for application in human life which have any
relevance to the meaning and significance of the principle of the Oneness of Allah.

The Ever-Living, the Eternal Master of all. When Allah is described as Alive or Ever-
Living, the description refers to a self-sustaining life which is not derived from any
outside source as in the case with the lives of creatures which are granted them by the
Creator. Hence, Allah is the only one which can be so described as "Ever-Living."
Moreover it is sort of eternal life which neither starts nor ends at any point in time. It is
totally divorced from the concept of time which is always attached to the lives of creatures
which run for limited periods, starting at one point in time and ending at another. Again
this aspect of life of Allah is applicable only to Him. Moreover, His life is unrestricted by
any of the qualifications or characteristics with which people define life. For there is
nothing and no one similar to Allah. Hence, His is a life which is absolute. All legendary
concepts about Him are thus invalidated.

The other attribute given here is translated as: The Eternal Master of all, means that He
has the power over all creation. It also means that the lives of everything that exist are
sustained by Him. Hence, nothing can take shape or come into existence unless He
56                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


supports it. This is the exact opposite of the notion advanced by Aristotle, the most
distinguished of Greek philosophers, who suggested that Allah does not give any thought
to any of His creation, because He is too grand and sublime to think of anyone other than
Himself. Aristotle thought that as he severed all relations between Allah and His creation
he has made Allah more sublime and more exalted. Unlike this negative concept, the
Islamic concept of the Divine Being is a positive one. It is based on the principle that
Allah actively sustains everything, and that nothing can exist or survive except by His will
and permission. This concept makes the conscience of every Muslim, his life and
existence, as well as the existence of everything around him directly related to Allah who
conducts all affairs according to His wisdom and planning. This provides the motive for
man to conduct his own life according to the constitution drawn by Allah in His wisdom
and according to His planning. He thus derives his own values and standards from that
constitution and he watches Allah as he applies these values and standards.

Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. This statement reassures that Allah sustains
everything. Its mode of expression helps our human intellect to appreciate the principle
that Allah, for all time, is the master of everything and everyone that lives. At the same
time, this statement expresses the basic fact that Allah is unlike anything: Nothing and
no one has any similarity to Him. It states that no light or deep sleep can overtake Him,
in any form or situation.

When we consider the fact that Allah is the active Master of the universe who controls
everything in it, large or small, all the time and in every situation, we are bound to feel
how awesome this fact is, especially when we try to imagine, limited as our imagination
is, what this vast universe contains of creatures and events. We can only perceive that all
these creatures and events are directly controlled by Allah, and are subject to His
planning, only in a very very limited way. Nevertheless, our attempt to visualizing it is
bound to make us feel dizzy with amazement. It also gives us endless assurance.

His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. His ownership is total and
absolute. It is subject to no restrictions or qualifications or partnerships in any form. This
is again a principle of the Oneness of the Divine Being. Allah, the One is the only One
who is Ever-Living, Eternal Master and Owner of all. This negates any sharing or
partnership which can be imagined by people. It is also useful in the formulation of the
meaning of ownership in our own world. When we consider that real ownership of
everything in this Universe is Allah's, we are saying in effect, that people do not own
anything initially. They are put in charge of what they have by the Original Single Owner
Who owns everything. Hence, they must abide by the conditions stipulated by the owner
who has given them their charge and explained in His Divine Law. They are not supposed
to contravene these conditions, or else, their ownership, which originates with the
covenant which puts them in charge of what they have, becomes invalid. Whatever they
do becomes invalid and must be repelled by those who believe in Allah. Here we find
Islamic philosophy formulating Islamic legislation and giving shape to the practical life
which Islam establishes. When Allah states in the Qur'an: His is all that is in the heavens
and all that is on earth, He does not merely state a basic fact of faith, He is also
establishing a basic concept of constitution. He lays down for human life and the nature
of relations which it creates.

From another point of view, when a person genuinely feels that Allah is the true owner of
all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth, and that he himself does not actually
own anything of what he is said to own, but that the true owner is the One who owns the
universe, when he feels that whatever he has is lent to him for a limited period; after
which its true owner will claim it back; when he truly feels all this he is bound to be less
greedy and less keen to add to his wealth by any means. He is bound to be more content
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               57


with what he has, and more generous to others with whatever he possesses. He is bound
to feel happy whether he is rich or poor. He will not feel envious of others because they
own more than he does, and will not feel any grudge against them as a result of that.

Who is there who can intercede with Him except by His permission? This is another
attribute of Allah which delineates the two positions of the Master and the servant. All
creatures stand in the position of servants to the Divine Being and they never try to
exceed that position. They stand humble in front of Him, unable to say anything or to
intercede for anyone unless they have the permission to do so. When they are permitted,
they do whatever they are allowed to do within the limits allowed them. Some of them are
certainly better than others and some attain higher grades with Allah, but they all stop at
the limits which no servant of Allah is allowed to exceed.

The general impression here is one of submissive respect to Allah in His great Majesty.
This impression is further enhanced by the mode of expression used here which is a
mode of rhetoric question, implying that this is something that cannot take place. For
who is it that can intercede with Allah unless he has prior permission to do so?

When we appreciate this fact, we are bound to feel the vulgar absurdity of all the deviant
concepts advanced by those who came at different times after Allah's messengers,
confusing the concept of godhead with the concept of servitude to Allah. Some of them
allege that He has a partner who shares His authority, either on the basis of being His
son or on some other basis. Others allege that He has equal partners who intercede with
Him and that He necessarily accepts their intercession. Still others allege that He has
human deputies who derive their authority from being His relatives. To say that such
concepts are absurd is certainly an understatement. When we consider the Islamic
concept of the relation between Allah and His servants, such ideas and concepts cannot
be entertained for a moment in any way or form.

Such is the clarity which distinguishes the Islamic concept. It leaves no room for
confusion or ambiguity. Allah is God, the absolute. His servants are His servants. There
is no way that the nature of Allah can be confused with the nature of His servants.

As far as the relationship between the servant and their Lord, the mercy his Lord shows
to him and His closeness to him and the compassion and support He gives him, all this is
stated clearly by Islam. Moreover, it establishes this fact in the heart of the believer to
enable him to enjoy its blessings without any need for confusing the nature of the
Lordship of Allah and the nature of servitude of man.

He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them, whereas they
cannot attain to anything of his knowledge save such as He wills. Both concepts of this
statement contribute to the elaborate concept of Allah a Muslim should have, and define
his own position toward his Lord. Allah knows everything which lies open before men and
everything which remains hidden from them. In short, His knowledge is absolute and
most detailed of everything in their world. It includes their present and whatever
remained unknown to them in the past and whatever will remain unknown to them in
future. We cannot think of a better expression to indicate the totality of Allah's
knowledge. As far as human beings are concerned, they know nothing except what Allah
allows them to know.

This part of the fact expressed in this statement, i.e. Allah's total knowledge of what
people know and what is beyond their knowledge, is bound to shake man when he thinks
that at every moment he stands in full view of his Lord who knows everything about him.
He knows what man conceals in the same way as He knows what man chooses to make
58                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


known. His knowledge of what man knows is the same as His knowledge of what man
does not know. Moreover, He knows the past and the present as well as the future of
which man knows nothing. One has only to contemplate this to be overwhelmed by awe
as he realizes that his Lord knows his innermost soul. This should prompt any intelligent
person to submit himself to the One who knows everything in its reality.

The second part of this statement which indicates that men can only know what Allah
wills them to know is worth deliberate consideration, especially in our age when the
discoveries of science in a small area of life, and in a little corner of the universe, have
fancied people and left them dazzled. They cannot attain to anything His knowledge save
such as He wills. He is the only one who knows everything. Moreover, His knowledge is
total, perfect and absolute. Out of His grace, He makes part of His knowledge available to
His servants, in fulfillment of His true promise: We will indeed show them some of our
signs in the horizon and within themselves so that they will come to know that this
(message) is the truth. They themselves, however, forget this fact and allow themselves to
be fascinated and dazzled by what Allah reveals to them of His knowledge, whether it is
part of the laws of nature which Allah has set, or being made aware of a certain part of
what Allah has previously kept for Himself. They are dazzled by this or that, so that they
forget the original permission which enabled them to have their knowledge. They neither
remember nor show any gratitude. On the contrary, they become arrogant and may reject
the truth and disbelieve in Allah.

Allah has granted man knowledge ever since He decided to appoint him as vicegerent on
earth. He also promised to show him some of His signs in the horizon and in people's own
constitution. His promise always comes true. He has indeed fulfilled His promise to man
and revealed to him, day after day, generation after generation, in a curve which goes up
almost all the time, some of the forces and capabilities and the laws of nature which man
needs for the fulfillment of his mission on earth, so that he can attain the highest degree
of excellence allowed him in his well-defined journey.

Just as Allah has allowed man to know this, and revealed it to him, He has also kept
from him certain secrets which he does not need for his mission on earth. He has kept
hidden from him the secret of life which remains absolutely impregnable. All human
attempts to find out the secret remain nothing more than groping in the dark. Allah has
also kept hidden from man the secret of the next moment. This is something that man
will never attain. The curtain drawn over it are too thick for man to be ever able to lift.
Occasionally, by special permission from Allah, a flash opens up from behind the
curtains to an individual heart before they are drawn again. Man remains in his position
and within his limits. Many secrets are kept hidden from man. Indeed, everything that is
not related to man's mission on earth remains unknown to him. After all, the earth is just
a small little planet floating in space like a particle of dust.

Man, nevertheless, allows himself to be dazzled by the limited knowledge which has been
given him by Allah's permission, is so fascinated and conceited as to think himself a god
on earth and to deny the existence of Allah who has created the universe. In this
twentieth century, however, scientists are beginning to show a certain measure of
humility, recognizing that they have been granted only a very little amount of knowledge.
We still have, however, a group of ignorant people who are happy to think that they have
opened up all the gates of knowledge.

His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both does not
weary Him. Here we have another example of the unique Qur'anic style which expresses
an abstract idea by means of a physical image to enable the idea to be well absorbed and
thoroughly understood. Arabic word which is used here for ―the throne‖ is the literal
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                59


translation of the word ―seat‖ or ―chair‖. The two are synonymous where they refer to the
seat of kingdom. If Allah's throne extends over the heavens and the earth, His authority
must extend over them. This is the abstract idea stated here, but we have a fuller grasp
of it because it is expressed in a physical image. The same applies to the next expression:
And the preservation of both does not weary Him. The point here is to express Allah's
absolute power. It is given through his physical image of lack of any effort or trouble in
the preservation of the heavens and the earth so that the notion becomes much more
tangible and, consequently, better appreciated.

We need not go into any aspect of the controversy which has arisen about such
expressions in the Qur'an. We need only to understand the Qur'anic style and mode of
expression. Furthermore, we need not borrow anything of Western or alien philosophies
which prevented some of us from appreciating the simplicity and clarity of the Qur'an.

It is pertinent to add here that I could not find any authentic traditions which define
exactly the meaning of the ―chair‖ and the ―throne‖. Hence, I prefer not to add anything
to what I have just said.

He is the Most High, the Most Great. These two final attributes of Allah expressed in this
verse delineate a certain truth which is imparted to the human heart. The truth is that
Allah (glorified be He) is the Most High and the Most Great of all beings. The mode of
expression here adds the connotation that these two attributes belong to Allah alone. We
are not told here merely that Allah is High and Great, but we are told that He is ―the Most
High, the Most Great‖ in order to understand that He has none to share with Him these
two attributes.

Highness and Greatness belong to Allah in their totality. None of His servants aspire to
achieve such a position but will be humiliated by Allah, and made to suffer grave
punishment and endless humiliation in the Hereafter. Furthermore, Allah says: As for
that happy life in the Hereafter, we grant it only to those who do not seek to exalt
themselves on earth, nor yearn to spread corruption (28:23). He also describes Pharaoh
in connection with his destruction that he used to think of himself as ―uniquely high‖.

No matter how great, or high man becomes, he remains a servant of Allah the Most High,
the Most Great. When this fact is firmly established in man's heart, it ensures that he
remains a servant of Allah and protects himself against pride, conceit and transgression.
He will continue to fear Allah and be in awe of His power and His majesty. He will know
his place in relation to Allah and will think twice before he shows any arrogance in his
dealings with fellow creatures. The matter is then not merely one of belief, but also one of
action and behavior.
60                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                    Our Dialogue




• Ba'it or pledge of loyalty to spiritual leaders
In a book entitled "Saviors of Islamic spirit" by Abul-Hassan Ali
Nadwi, the practice of taking a pledge of loyalty, or ba'it is
mentioned in the chapter on Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani as
something that follows "the procedure and technique" of the
Prophet. In one of your answers you said that it was not the
practice of the Prophet to take such a pledge. Could you please
explain the contradiction? My brother argues that to achieve
spiritual success one must take ba'it and follow a spiritual guide.
May I ask whether the Prophet did take an oath of allegiance from
his followers to practice the tenets of Islam? If so, can this oath be
compared to the ba'it one takes to follow the teachings of Islam
under a spiritual guide? May I also ask what is the difference
between mysticism and asceticism.
It is often mentioned in books on the life of the Prophet and books of Hadith that a
person might have come to the Prophet and spoken to him. The Prophet would explain to
him the principles and basic facts of Islam. The man would then declare his acceptance
of Islam and pledge to the Prophet that he is a Muslim. The phrase used here means that
the newcomer to Islam would give a pledge or a word of honor or an affirmation that he
would follow Islam. The phrase normally used in this connection practically means a
pledge to be a Muslim.

The Prophet also took a special pledge from the Ansar, or the Muslims of Madinah, on
two separate occasions. The first was similar to the pledge given by women when they
became Muslims. The second known as "ba'it al-Aqabah" actually assured the Prophet
that the Ansar were ready to defend Islam with their lives, and fight any enemies that
might raise an army to attack the Prophet or his followers.

It was confirmed that the Ansar would always be ready to come to the defense of the
Prophet, willing to sacrifice their lives in order to protect Islam. At that particular
moment, one of their members tried to make the import of that pledge clear in their
minds.

He stopped and asked: "Do you know what you are pledging? You are actually affirming
that you would support the Prophet through thick and thin, even if that would mean that
your leaders would be killed and your property looted". They confirmed their readiness to
make such a pledge with all that it entailed.

The Prophet also took a pledge, or ba'it, from his companions just before he signed the
peace agreement at Al-Hudaibiyah. The Prophet had marched from Madinah with
fourteen hundred of his companions, lightly armed, aiming to go to Makkah to perform
the Umrah. Just before arriving there, Quraish, the major Arab tribe residing in Makkah,
made it clear that they would prevent them from entering the city with all their might.

There were negotiations and emissaries to discuss the situation. Then the Prophet sent
his companions Uthman ibn Affan to the chiefs of Makkah to make it clear to them that
all that the Muslims wanted was to worship at the Ka'aba. Soon a rumor circulated that
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 61


Uthman was killed by the peoples of Quraish. At that moment, the Prophet took a pledge
from his companions to fight to the end. They all gave their pledges, knowing that it
would mean fighting to the last breath. Their action is commended in Surah 48 of the
Qur'an.

These were the pledges that the Prophet took from people on different occasions. We thus
have the normal pledge which signifies little more than a solemn affirmation that a
person has become a Muslim. There is also the pledge of the Ansar which assured the
Prophet that he had a solid base to move to. Lastly, the pledge at Al-Hudaibiyah was a
pledge to fight to the end when Muslims were very heavily outnumbered.

None of these is similar to the ba'it or pledges given to mystics or spiritual guides by their
followers.

At no time was it reported that the Prophet took a pledge of loyalty or complete obedience
from someone who had already been a Muslim for some time. The fact that a person
accepted Islam as a faith meant that he would obey God and the Prophet in all matters.
That is the import of the second part of the declaration that any person makes when he
becomes a Muslim. The declaration is known as the "shahadah", and it states, "I bear
witness that there is no deity save God and that Muhammad is God's messenger."
Obedience to God cannot be put into practice without following the Prophet's guidance.

A pledge might have been given individually by one of the Prophet's companions after a
serious slip. But that was always part of a declaration of repentance. It was simply a
renewal of the first pledge and an affirmation that the repentant companion would
resolve never to go back to his act of disobedience. No special formula was required by
the Prophet at any time. He always advised his companions, who might have slipped, to
repent and mend their ways. If any of them told that his offense was very serious, he
renewed his pledge of obedience to emphasize that he has come back to the fold.

What mystics or Sufis require from their disciples is something totally different from what
actually took place in the times of the Prophet. They give themselves a position of a
spiritual guide. The ba'it or the pledge given to them is one of total obedience in all
situations.

We have seen many of these disciples unable or unwilling to question any piece of
instruction given to them by their guide or mentor. They blindly trust that what they are
told is correct. Their obedience is felt by them to be all that is required of them to ensure
admittance to heaven in the hereafter.

They believe that the short way to heaven is to follow their sheikh, or pir or mystic or
whatever they call their spiritual guide. They do not even question the ability or the
knowledge or the honesty or the behavior of their mentors. They simply accept the
position of blind followers feeling that it is all that is required of them.

In this way, the disciples are practically abdicating their responsibility. God has made
everyone of us responsible for his actions, making him the one who strives to gain
admittance to heaven by following the Qur'anic teachings and the guidance provided by
the Prophet; or the one who earns for himself the punishment of hell through hardened
disobedience to God and His messenger. This is a position of honor God has given to
every man and woman. By assigning that responsibility to a mentor or a spiritual guide,
a person rejects the position of honor God has given him and adopts instead a position of
blind following that is totally unbecoming of a thinking human being.
62                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


The Prophet did not recommend or suggest that such an action of following a spiritual
guide is required, desirable or even acceptable. On the day of judgment, God asks us
about following the Prophet, not about following a spiritual guide. Many of those who
appoint themselves to such a position are probably unable to ensure their own salvation,
let alone the salvation of others.

Many yield to the temptation of wealth or authority. How can they provide others with
something they themselves lack? The only way to win God's pleasure and His acceptance
of our work is by following the guidance provided by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be
upon him, not by following anyone else.

You also ask about the difference between mysticism and asceticism. In the context we
have been talking about, a person is a mystic if he seeks by contemplation or self-
surrender to obtain union with or absorption into the deity, or if he believes in spiritual
apprehension of truths beyond the understanding. This description applies to most sufis.
It is easy to understand why going deep into mysticism or sufism can lead a person
astray. If he begins to think of a union with the deity, then he certainly goes beyond
Islamic concepts.

The Qur'an is always described by God Himself as plain and manifest. Why do we need to
seek a hidden meaning for its words claiming that it requires a great deal of effort to
uncover? Let me remind you that a Bedouin Arab might come to the Prophet and sit with
him for an hour or so, when the Prophet would have explained to him the basics of Islam.

The Bedouin would then declare that he is a Muslim and might go to his people and
explain to them his new faith. Many of them would respond to his call and adopt Islam.
That might have represented all their Islamic education, and they would nevertheless be
good Muslims and through conscientious following of the principles of Islam secure for
themselves admittance into heaven.

Asceticism calls for severe abstinence and austerity. An ascetic person is one who
practices severe self-discipline, and may retire into solitude for this purpose. This is also
against Islam, because Islam wants its advocates to mix with people and call on them to
correct their behavior and adopt what is certain to earn God's pleasure.

• Babri Mosque and killing by Muslims
At the time when the Babri Mosque was destroyed by Hindus and
there were many casualties in communal conflict, certain
questions were in my mind. A Muslim should be ready to protect
anything which relates to his faith. However, should he kill anyone
in order to prevent the destruction of a mosque or to avenge it? I
am referring to the killings that occurred in places far afield. I feel
that a Muslim should not kill even the person who is engaged in
destroying the mosque. I would be grateful for your comment
which may explain when killing is permissible.
What we have here are two separate points. The easier one to sort out is the one which
concerns the events that took place in the aftermath of the destruction of the Babri
Mosque, in places very far apart but where Muslims and Hindus live side by side. It was
tragic that people who were hundreds of miles away from the scene of the Babri Mosque
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 63


should lose their lives as a result. But blind fury can easily cause that. Yet it is not right
that Muslims should allow themselves to be driven by blind fury into killing other people.

The destruction of the Babri Mosque was a crime which cannot be easily forgotten or
forgiven. A mosque is a place of worship, and worship is addressed to God, the Creator of
the universe. As such, a mosque has its sanctity which should be respected by all people.
That Hindus have their own view about what sort of temples should be erected in that
spot is of little concern. They should have realized that no religion worth the name should
motivate people to destroy mosques or kill other human beings. That Muslims
throughout the word should express anger at what had happened at Babri is
understandable, but for Muslims to attack Hindus simply because they belong to the
same faith as those who destroyed the mosque, is from the Islamic point of view,
unacceptable.

The other point you have made is that a Muslim should be ready to sacrifice his life in
defense of the mosque, but should not kill anyone else. The life of a Muslim is something
very precious. Indeed, the Prophet tells us that the sanctity of a believer is, in God' sight,
greater than the sanctity of the Ka'aba itself. Therefore, a Muslim's life is too precious to
be allowed to go undefended. Suppose that a few hundred or thousand Muslims were
alerted to the designs of the Hindus just before they attacked the mosque. Those Muslims
would rush to the mosque in order to defend it. What you are saying is that those
Muslims defending the mosque should be ready to die in order to protect it, but they
should not kill those who are trying to kill them in order to reach the mosque and destroy
it. This is a sign of weakness which would tempt the attackers. They will not only destroy
the mosque but will also kill as many of its defenders as possible. Islam does not believe
in such a lopsided philosophy. If enemies of Islam are prepared to kill human beings and
destroy their mosques, then such people should be confronted with equal means, and
should be made to taste their own medicine.

Let me remind you that the concept of jihad is essential to Islamic philosophy. That
concept is based on confronting the enemies of Islam who try to suppress the call of faith
and subjugate Muslims with adequate means to ensure that their purpose is defeated
and their schemes came to nothing.

If those enemies of Islam use force, then Muslims must use force. At the time of the
Prophet, the enemies of Islam launched several attacks on Muslims trying to eliminate
them altogether. The Prophet confronted them with smaller armies, but these were the
only forces available to him. He engaged in battles that invariably ended in great
triumphs for the advocates of divine faith. The same was true of subsequent generations,
and Muslims were always defending their faith, their land and their lives with adequate
means. If that means going to war, with the inevitable killing of soldiers, then they did
that.

Today we see of the starkest examples of what may happen to a people who are deprived
of the means to defend themselves. The Muslims in Bosnia have suffered aggression by
the Serbs who killed and raped and were able to boast about their crimes. Had the
Muslims been better equipped, they would have repelled that aggression. What happened
in Palestine is a tragedy of similar proportion. If Muslims were to refrain from repelling
aggression, then all their land would be overrun and they would be killed in large
numbers. Islam does not accept such an attitude. Indeed, Islam grants the status of a
martyr to a person who dies defending his life, the women in his family, his land and
property. Similarly, the Muslim community should be quick to defend its existence and
its land.
64                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


A Muslim may be killed [after pursuing the due process of law] in punishment for murder
or adultery.

• Backbiting or honest testimony
It is well known that Islam forbids backbiting. What if a person
happens to be dishonest or a petty thief? Should not people be
warned of the fact, so that they be on their guard when they deal
with him? Similarly, should not people in the neighborhood be
warned that certain individuals of the wrong types of character
have moved into their area?
Backbiting is certainly one of the actions Islam forbids. Its effect on individuals and
communities is all there to see. It creates ill feelings and mistrust. Moreover, it betrays a
cowardly attitude, as the backbiter takes the opportunity of the absence of another
person in order to speak ill of him, giving other people a bad picture of him. Had he been
speaking the truth, he would not have chosen to speak of him in such terms when he is
away. He actually acknowledges that he does not have the courage to face him with
similar statements. Indeed, I do not have to dwell on the evils of backbiting and how they
affects society. Those are well-known to everyone. I only wish to add that backbiting also
gives a bad image of the backbiter himself.

However, there are cases when pointing out the faults of another person is permissible.
Suppose that people come to you to ask for information about a man you know
intimately. They tell you that he has proposed to marry their daughter, or to go into
business partnership with them. In such a case, you have to give them all the
information which is likely to influence their decision one way or the other. You must
point out the faults you know of that person in order to make an honest testimony. For
example, if you know him to be stingy or hot tempered or negligent of his family duties,
you must tell them of all that because these are qualities which influence a decision on
accepting a proposal of marriage. If you know from your long association with that
person, that, for example, he had entered into a business partnership with others and
the business collapsed and there was some suspicion about his honesty, or his handling
of the affairs of the business, or that he did not have a sound business sense, you must
tell that to the inquirers. In such cases, you are not indulging in backbiting; you are
simply acting as a witness who must give an honest testimony.

There are, however, certain things to take into account when you are called upon to give
such information. The first thing is that you give it only to the people who need it. You
must not publicize it. The second is that you give only the information which is
necessary. Thirdly, you must be very objective. You must not allow your own prejudice to
either exaggerate or make little of what you know. Fourthly, you should give the
information in the least offensive way. You should use the words that give a clear idea of
the man and his standing and that are not too personal. That is not backbiting by any
measure.


• Bank employees: Misgivings about working in a bank
1. Is it permissible for me to work as an accountant in a bank or
an insurance company, or to work as an underwriter in the latter,
or in any other capacity?
    Our Dialogue                SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  65


2. For a long while I have been troubled with the fact that I am
deeply involved in interest due to the fact that I work in the
investment department of a commercial bank. I have thought
frequently about leaving my work, but with my qualifications and
experience, it is not easy to get away from interest, particularly
since most companies deal with banks and borrow or invest money
in interest-based transactions. Even if I go into teaching, I can only
teach mathematics or accountancy, and both have much to do
with interest. I will be grateful for your advice.
The attitude expressed by my two readers is the one Islam aims to cultivate in its
followers. When a person is involved in some sort of action, whether on a regular basis,
as it is the case with these readers, or occasionally, as happens with all of us, that person
must first find out whether that action is acceptable or not from the Islamic point of view.
It is an attitude we must all cultivate that whatever we do must always aim at earning
God‘s pleasure. We benefit both in this life and in the life to come when we make that aim
our guiding principle because God is always pleased with what is useful to His creatures.
He has only commanded us to do what serves our own best interests and those of our
fellow human beings. The Prophet says: ―The dearest of all people to God are those who
bring most benefit to His servants.‖ When we try to conduct our lives in accordance with
the laws He has enacted, we benefit both by being obedient and by the fact that what He
has commanded us is meant to serve our best interests.

Another point which I would like to make clear at the outset is that we read in the Qur‘an
very strong condemnation of usury. This is further emphasized in many pronouncements
by the Prophet. Some people who tend to be strict often equate interest as it is practiced
in the modern banking system with usury to the extent that they tend to see the one as
synonymous with the other. When translating Islamic statements dealing with usury,
they invariably use the word ‗interest‘ for ‗usury.‘ I feel that this view is rather too narrow.

There are undoubtedly similarities and differences between the two which make it
necessary that we deal with each of them separately. Before anybody jumps to any
conclusion, I would like to make it clear that I think we are justified in saying that the
similarities are sufficient to make us consider most interest-based transactions usurious
in nature. Hence, they are forbidden. However, we still need to look at every type of
banking transactions separately, in order to know whether we can say it is acceptable or
not.

Both readers are worried about getting involved with interest when they do their jobs.
They realize that interest is not lawful and they want to steer away from it. I may remind
my readers here of the Hadith in which the Prophet emphasizes that God curses ―the
person who devours usury, the one who pays it, the writer of the contract between the
two parties and those who act as witnesses to the contract.‖ So the prohibition is very
strict indeed. Moreover, it applies to the peripheries of the transaction as well as to its
substance.

However, when we consider whether working in a bank is legitimate or not, we cannot
slam a blanket ruling and say that all jobs a bank offers are forbidden, because some of
them may not be. It really depends on the type of job one does, rather than the
institution he works for. There are bank jobs, some of which are senior ones, which have
little to do with earning or paying interest. We cannot pronounce these as forbidden.
66                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


There is nothing in Islam to prevent a Muslim from working for a Christian, although the
latter may firmly believe Jesus Christ to be the son of God. Which is a great offense
against God: to devour usury or to falsely allege that He has a son? What we say is that if
a person works in a bank and his job does not involve conducting or facilitating interest
transactions then it is permissible for him to hold such a job and his salary is perfectly
legitimate to earn.

In modern banking, there is a variety of services that are permissible, while others are
not within what is acceptable from the Islamic point of view. For example, depositing
money to earn interest is not acceptable, because there is much akin to usury in such
deposit accounts. On the other hand, deposits that are invested in commercial projects
and earn a percentage of the profits made by such projects or incur a portion of the loss
are lawful.

Moreover, if he is doing some job that involves interest merely to gain banking experience
and his aim is to be able to develop an alternative system which is more in line with
Islamic values and principles, then he is to be encouraged. He should leave his job when
he has gained all the experience he needs.

On the other hand, if a person works in a bank only because this is the only job he could
get, and he is certain that quitting means that he would be unemployed for a while, then
we tell him that he should stay in his job and keep on the look-out for an alternative.
Once he has secured another job which is more satisfactory from the Islamic point of
view, he should leave immediately. There is no virtue in being unemployed or leaving
one‘s family in need of what charity others may give.

The writer of the second letter is not particularly worried about having another job. He is
highly educated, and knows that he can work as a teacher or an accountant. He is
worried that such jobs also involve working with interest. He has a very valid point. The
Qur‘anic threat to believers to quit all dealings with usury wants that unless the system
is abandoned, God and His messenger will declare war against them. This threat is not
meant for individuals only, but also for communities and societies. The community which
operates a system of usury will be at war with God and His messenger. That is a very
serious threat indeed. Yet he is carrying things too far. A teacher of mathematics who
teaches percentage and gives examples of how interest is calculated is not the same as
one who works in a bank and is heavily involved in carrying through transactions that
are interest-based. Nor is an accountant in a private company so much involved either,
even when the company does not have any scruples about earning or paying interest.
That part of his work which deals with interest will always represent a small part of his
duties, unless he happens to work in a finance company, which is probably worse than
working for a bank.

If he is so troubled by the fact that he works for a commercial bank which does not
implement the Islamic system, he should try to change his job. If he takes up a teaching
or accounting job, God will reward him indeed for quitting his job in order to live in
accordance with Islamic teachings. We may all be contaminated with the banking system
that is based on interest, but many of us are not so heavily involved, and those are
certainly in a better position than whose who help to operate that system.

Working for an insurance company is not objectionable unless there are particular
reasons to make it otherwise. What we are talking about here is how does the insurance
company invest the money it receives from its customers as premiums. If it invests them
in a usurious way then working for it is the same as working for a bank. If it invests them
in legitimate businesses, then there is nothing wrong with working for it. Many people
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                67


tend to think that insurance is forbidden. I have explained on several occasions that it is
not.

• Bank employees: Prayers at the Bank's premises
Some magazine contained an article saying that the fact that a
bank pays and receives interest on its loans and deposits makes it
forbidden to pray there. How does a bank employee solve this
problem. Some employees offer their prayers at the Bank while
others are influenced by the statement that bank is a forbidden
place for prayers.
If you are working for a bank which runs its business on usurious basis, then you must
try to get yourself moved to a job which does not involve much handling of usurious
transactions. There are certain aspects to the work of any bank which may have very
little to do with interest or usurious charges. If one does a job of this type, no blame may
be attached to him. It is even better to try to find an alternative job, away from a usurious
bank. One need not leave his job in the bank until one has another job lined up.

As for prayers within the bank premises, the Prophet says : "The whole earth has been
made a prayer place and a source of purification for me." That obviously includes his
followers in all generations. Every place on earth may be a prayer place for a Muslim.
Similarly, every spring of water can be a source of purification. In the absence of water,
we may resort to dry ablution ( Tayammum ), which uses clean dust for purification.

What the argument entails is that the actions done in a particular place may render it
unfit for prayer. Such a view cannot be given haphazardly. It must be supported by firm
evidence. The fact is that only the absence of purity in a particular place renders it unfit
for prayer. If some impurity falls on a particular spot, we must not pray in that spot until
the impurity has been removed. Here we are speaking of physical impurity. This does not
apply to what may be considered mental impurity, such as forbidden practices.

There is no statement in the Qur'an or in the Hadith which suggests that the home or
office of a money lender is unfit for prayer. We may have to adopt a certain position
towards people who are engaged in forbidden practices, but that is a different matter
altogether.

Those who pray in the bank do better because they are keen to offer their prayers on
time. To leave obligatory prayers, is certainly wrong.

• Banking; An overview of the system
Are 'riba' and interest synonymous? There exists a general
impression that transactions involving all forms of interest are
forbidden in Islam. Perhaps an international debate amongst
Muslim scholars and religious leaders on this important issue is
necessary. What is submitted here are thoughts of a layman who,
like most others, is beset with many doubts concerning this rather
complex matter. Almost every one agrees that Islam desires the
development of a fair economic and commercial system that will
68                   SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah          Our Dialogue


prevent wealth from being inactive or concentrated in the hands of
a few. Instead it encourages its continuous circulation and
utilization so that the whole society becomes prosperous.

Circulation and utilization of wealth presupposes an arrangement
that will permit the pooling of our individual resources in some
shape or form, especially in an industrialized society. Not everyone
that possesses capital can become an entrepreneur, nor does
everyone with commercial acumen possess enough wealth to
finance all the projects he may be able to manage efficiently. Thus
a way has to be found which will enable the entrepreneur to
borrow funds from those who cannot put them to good use, and,
most importantly, make him share the profit of this venture with
the lender on an equitable basis. Now, it is obvious that not
everyone with money to spare can find an entrepreneur whom he
can trust and who needs exactly the amount that is available for
investment. This is particularly [true] of small savers (e.g. widows,
peasants, small income earners, etc.) not well versed in business
matters. Also if the entrepreneur needs to locate and enter into
partnership with a large number of small investors, he may find
the task wearisome and would not have much time left to attend to
the business. Therefore, it seems that a pooling center or a clearing
house would need to be set up to bring together the investor and
the entrepreneur, ensuring that the legitimate interests of both
parties are adequately safeguarded. Without such an arrangement,
it would not be possible to collect funds from small savers and
make them available to those who need them, especially if this is to
be done after due scrutiny and securing reasonable guarantees.
This process requires financial and business expertise which can
only be provided by a group of properly qualified professionals and
not by individual investors themselves.

In the system that prevails in almost all countries today, this
function is provided by the banks, that secure deposits from
individuals and then give loans to businessmen after due scrutiny.
The bank charges interest on the money loaned and after
deducting its own expenses and profit, passes it on to those whose
money it had so utilized. Current practices also allow for the rate of
interest charged and paid out to vary according to the market
conditions, and the rate does not necessarily remain fixed at a
predetermined figure. Thus, both the saver and the entrepreneur
   Our Dialogue        SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                   69


gain or lose as a result of the market conditions and this, perhaps,
satisfies the requirement of a partnership between the borrower
and the lender where the profit or loss is shared equitably.

Needless to say, the interaction of a bank makes all lending and
borrowing deals impersonal and virtually eliminates the chances of
disagreements and disputes between individuals. Also the banking
institution is able to cater to the changing demands of the lender
and borrower, both with regard to the amount and period involved,
which simply will not be possible if the borrower has to deal
directly with the lender. All this makes for more efficient utilization
of available resources. But not even banks can really become full
partners in all business ventures they finance for two reasons.
First it is not their line of business and secondly the overheads
would become too much of a burden.

Now the objection against the current banking system is that it is
based on interest which is forbidden in Islam. Perhaps here we
need to consider the matter carefully and dispassionately and
determine what is the real substance of what is forbidden. The
word used in the Qur'an is 'riba' which has not been defined but,
perhaps, an insight into its meaning can be gained by examining
its context. Many scholars are of the view that an essential
component of 'riba' is an exploitation of the needy borrower by a
lender. If, for instance, a widow or an orphan or an unemployed
person is loaned money by an individual on the condition that the
amount returned would be greater than the amount borrowed,
then it would be an attempt to benefit from someone's misfortune
and this would certainly fall within the ambit of 'riba', but if a
businessman obtains a loan to expand his business and increase
his profits, surely there is no element of exploitation in requiring
him to pay a charge for use of money given to him. After due
deductions, this amount is passed on to the individual depositor.
Thus, there is no suggestion of any exploitation of a borrower or a
lender in such a deal. Indeed, this is a simple business or
commercial deal where both the borrower and the lender are
subject to the vagaries of the market-place. This becomes even
more so when one considers the modern phenomenon of inflation
which causes the purchasing power of currency to vary as a result
of market forces and even fixed rates of interest do not really
remain fixed.
70                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


The saving schemes floated by various governments also fall under
business loans as the money collected is spent on development
schemes and infrastructure which, in turn, spur greater
commercial activity and create more employment. Again, there is
no question of the saver taking undue advantage of the borrower.
Another element that needs to be considered is that hardly anyone
objects to letting out a house or shop on rent although the rent is a
fixed amount. Now, it may be argued that basically a building or
money are various forms of the same commodity capital. Thus, if
rental of a building is permissible and does not contain an element
of exploitation of the poor and the needy, why should borrowing
money be otherwise.

We Muslims have generally started equating all forms of interest
with 'riba'. What may have been understood by learned and pious
men hundreds of years ago, however valid in the conditions
prevailing at that time, may not necessarily be rigidly applicable to
situations and forms of transactions that have evolved only
recently. Many discerning people are of the view that perhaps the
nearest equivalent of 'riba' in current parlance is usury where
money is loaned at exorbitant rates to those in a tight corner in an
effort to profit from their misfortune. They do not think that the
term 'riba' can really be applied to the current form of commercial
interest charged or paid out by a financial institution. Surely what
we need to do is to understand the spirit and the essence of the
original Qur'anic message, and not put ourselves into a straight
jacket of semantics. Occasionally a term used in one language does
not have an exact equivalent in another. Therefore, we should not,
I think, attempt at translating an essentially untranslatable term,
'riba', into a multifaceted term in another language, 'interest'.
It is very interesting to receive a letter like this one in which a reader argues a case in an
orderly relaxed manner, defending his point of view and airing thoughts that are
inevitably shared by numerous other readers.

My reader argues that the role of the bank these days is that of a medium, facilitating the
all beneficial need of introducing savers to businessmen. Thus the money of the first is
made available to the second who are thus able to utilize their expertise and business
acumen in order to ensure the growth of the investment. He argues that there is a strong
need for this service which is provided by banks which actually act in this respect as
clearing houses. That there is such a need cannot be doubted. But whether the system
operated by the bank satisfies Islamic requirements is a totally different matter. My
reader tries to show that it does meet its requirements, particularly the changes required
in the rate of returns on investment.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 71


When the objection is raised to the interest system on the basis that the returns are fixed
in advance, some people think that if the rate of interest changes then that objection is
met. We find this argument clearly exposed by our reader, who goes to the extent of
saying that if the rate of interest drops, then both the depositor and the borrower lose. If
the rate of interest goes up, both of them are bound to benefit.

To start with, this is not correct. Fluctuations in the rate of interest affect depositors and
borrowers in opposite ways. If the rate of interest drops, the borrower is pleased because
the charge he has to pay to the bank on his loan becomes less, and he benefits as a
result, while the saver or depositor receives less on his money, which is something
definitely unwelcome to him. The same is true when the rate of interest goes up. The
depositor is pleased because he receives more, but the borrower is displeased because he
has to pay more. In business, partners either profit together or lose together. If you are a
sleeping partner in a business, your share increases at the same time as that of the
active partner, because the income comes from a better performance in the business.
When the business does not do all that well, both your shares drop.

Moreover, changes in the rate of interest do not reflect the performance of the particular
business project in which your money has been placed, they only reflect the situation in
the money market which is affected by considerations totally different from how
individual businesses are performing. Changes in interest rates are determined by central
banks which have a totally different role from that of ordinary banks and in isolation of
individual business performance.

Moreover, the depositor will never share in the loss of the business in which his money is
invested. Suppose you have deposited a certain amount in a bank and the bank gives
this total amount to a borrower who runs a particular business. It so happens that the
project in which money has been invested fails and makes considerable loss. What is
your position at the end of the year? You will still receive the interest agreed upon
between you and the bank, allowing for any changes in between, and you will not even
bother to know to whom your money was lent and what sort of performance it made. We
cannot in any way associate this banking transaction with the partnership approved by
Islam in which both investor and borrower are actual partners and they share in any
profits or losses. The fact is that there is no partnership whatsoever in the arrangements
made between the bank and its depositors on the one hand, or between the bank and its
borrowers on the other. There are two separate transactions which the bank is happy to
run, because at the end of the day, it stands to make much profit. You need to look at the
announced performance of leading banks in most countries to discover that they actually
make huge profits which come mostly from their running this facility.

Besides, one of the basic functions of a bank is to make money available to those who
need it. This raises questions on the whole operation because it facilitates for its
depositors taking the position of lender. Muslims generally would rather not have the
dubious privilege of becoming lenders either to business projects or indeed for any other
purpose. It is far easier for us to consider an "investment" role for banks. But this relates
to a different aspect of banking operation. Leading banks nowadays operate systems for
investing the money of their depositors, putting it in shares and stocks. Such systems are
much easier to sort out so that they become acceptable from the Islamic point of view.
But when the bank is lending out our money at a profit, then it places us in a position of
a lender who gets back more than the principal he lent. The fact is that when you lend
someone else an amount of money and you agree with him either explicitly or implicitly
that the amount he will return to you at the end of the period of the loan will be more
than what you paid him, then this transaction is 'riba', or, to use the proper English term
for it, "usurious". The Prophet says: "Every loan that brings in a gain is usurious." It is
72                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


perfectly permissible that a person who has borrowed money from another pays it back
and gives the lender something extra, a gift perhaps or an increase in the amount, but
this must not be the result of any prior agreement between them, either explicit or
implicit. Indeed, there should be no hint that the lender will be getting anything other
than the amount he had advanced. My reader makes much of the differences between
what a bank does and the money lender does, to the extent that he prefers to use the
Arabic term, 'riba' and makes it clear that he is against usury. At the end of his letter he
claims that 'riba' is "an essentially untranslatable term." In this he is totally mistaken
because riba is a simple Arabic term which means, from the linguistic point of view,
"excess."

In a financial transaction, 'riba' refers to the payment of something over and above what
has been given in the first place. Early Muslim scholars have told us what is exactly
meant by 'riba', when they said that the person would borrow some money for a specified
period. At the end of that period he would go to the lender and tell him that he is unable
to repay the loan and requires an extension of it. The extension is granted on condition
that the amount he repays will be higher. Is this not practiced by banks today? Does the
bank charge you the same amount if you repay your loan over three months or six
months or a year? Do you not pay much more interest when you make your repayment
over an extended period?

Besides, who says that banking arrangements do not exploit the weakness of those who
need the money? My reader gives the case only of people who have business acumen, but
what about borrowing from a bank for a specific purpose which is not expected to
generate income, such as buying a car, or indeed a diamond ring for your wife? What
does a bank do after the collapse of a business project to which it had made some
advances? Is it not true that there is no consideration of the weakness or the status of
the borrower? Instead, receivers and liquidators are called in without any regard to the
terrible position in which the borrower finds himself.

Nevertheless, I have said in the past that the interest system is not exactly synonymous
with the usury as it was practiced in the pre-Islamic days. Nevertheless, there are aspects
of similarity between the two which are, in the view of most Muslim scholars, sufficient to
make the interest system forbidden from the Islamic point of view. If banking facilities are
to be made lawful, the first thing that is required is a thorough discussion of the various
aspects of the banking system, to be conducted between bankers, economists and
Islamic scholars. Who will bring about such a discussion, and when, is far from clear. We
can only hope that someone will start the ball rolling.

• Banking: PLS Bank Accounts in Pakistan
I have not made any judgment on that [ the banking ] system as such. I have answered
readers' letters which spoke about certain accounts and transactions. Let me say clearly
that I do not have sufficient information about the banking system in Pakistan to make a
judgment. What I know is that the government has declared that it is bringing that
system into line with Islamic teachings. How far has it gone with its declared objective, I
am not in a position to judge. When a reader tells me that he has deposited some savings
into a profit and loss sharing account, I give him my opinion that it is permissible to
accept any returns on these deposits. What this means is that we accept at face value
what an institution like a bank in Pakistan tells us. If that institution tells us that we will
have a share of profits and we will bear a share of any loss, then the transaction is
permissible. If, however, it transpires that the claims of the bank or the financial
institutions are merely made to attract deposits, while the system itself remains the same
as the Western type of banking, then that claim should be rejected. Our attitude should
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               73


be based on two elements which we apply concurrently; trust and reasonable inquiry. We
accept on trust the statements by a bank but we should also undertake a reasonable
degree of inquiry to determine whether the claims of the bank are correct or not. We do
not reject such claims out of hand, nor do we accept them blindly.

• Bath with pants on
Some people insist on having their pants on when they take a bath
for grand ablution. Is this correct?
When we take a bath as a religious requirement, such as to remove the state of
ceremonial impurity or on a Friday, we should make sure of properly washing every part
of our bodies. At the same time, when a Muslim takes a bath, he should not allow his
private parts and the area close to them to be seen by anyone. If one is taking a bath in
the type of bathroom which we have nowadays in our houses, there is no need to keep
one's pants on while taking a bath. Indeed, it is better to remove them, in order to make
sure that every part of one's body is properly washed. On the other hand, if one is doing
his grand ablution by a dip into the sea or a swimming pool, or indeed having a bath
outdoors, he must make sure that he is properly screened. Otherwise, he may wear
something to prevent himself being seen.

• Becoming a Muslim: How to become a Muslim
What are the procedures and requirements if one wishes to convert
to Islam?
The adoption of the religion of Islam is very simple. Nothing is required except a
declaration by the person concerned that he believes in Allah as the only God and in
Muhammad, peace be upon him, as His messenger. What this declaration actually
means is an acceptance that worship can be offered only to Allah and that the authority
to legislate rests solely with Allah. Man's position is to obey and implement Allah's laws,
whatever they are. Should the law of any authority, government, parliament, society or
tribal council clash with Allah's laws then the latter must be implemented without any
question. The Prophet says what may be translated as follows: "No creature may be
obeyed in what constitutes disobedience of the Creator."

Now, how do we know Allah's legislation? The second half of our declaration provides the
answer to this question. Our acknowledgment of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon
him, as Allah's messenger means that we accept him as the man through whom Allah
has conveyed to us the code of legislation He wants us to implement in our lives for our
own benefit. It is through Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that the Qur'an has
been sent down to us as the book containing the divine constitution for human life.
Prophet Muhammad's own pronouncements serve as an explanatory memorandum for
the Qur'an, providing the details of what the Qur'an may state in general terms, and
giving us guidance on how to implement the Qur'an in our lives. Thus, obedience to Allah
necessitates obedience to His messenger. Indeed, Allah commands us: "Whatever the
messenger gives you, accept it, and whatever he forbids you, refrain from it."(59;7)

Thus the declaration means that Allah is the only God to be worshipped, that obedience
to Him and submission to His law is an essential part of worshipping Him and that
Muhammad, peace be upon him, His messenger, is the one who has taught us how to
worship Allah and conveyed to us His laws.
74                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


Anyone who makes this declaration, fully convinced of it, is a Muslim. The Arabic
wording of the declaration is: "Ashhadu an la ilaha illallah, wa Ashhadu anna
Muhammadan rasolullah." This translates as follows: "I testify that there is no deity save
Allah and I further testify that Muhammad is His messenger." Once this declaration is
made by anyone, in full consciousness of its significance, then the person making it
becomes a Muslim. Anyone who is embracing Islam is required, however, to have full
ablution, that is, a complete bath at the time he makes the declaration. This is a gesture
which symbolizes washing off all one's past misdeeds. No Muslim is held accountable for
any thing he or she did before adopting Islam.

When one becomes a Muslim, one is required to do all the things Muslims do and to
refrain from all those things which are not allowed to be done. This should not prove
difficult as many people do observe Islamic teachings throughout the world. It requires,
however, a fair measure of determination to conduct one's life in the manner which is
sure to win Allah's pleasure.

To give a brief sketch of what is required of a Muslim, we mention the five pillars upon
which the structure of Islam is built. The first is the declaration we have already
mentioned. Secondly, a Muslim must attend regularly to his or her prayers. These have a
specific form which must be learned. A Muslim prays five times every day of his life. This
may sound quite a heavy burden but hardly any practicing Muslims finds that prayers
interfere with his work. What is required here is a reasonable amount of adaptability.
Prayers are invaluable in maintaining one's consciousness of Allah and reminding one of
the need to obey His commandments at all times and in all situations.

Thirdly, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk throughout the lunar month of Ramadhan.
When they fast, Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex. Fasting is a great exercise of
self-discipline and it is greatly beneficial to the individual and to the community.

Fourthly, Muslims who own more than the equivalent of 634 gm. of silver are required to
give away every year a portion of their wealth, not less than 2.5 percent, to the poor.
Eight class of people may benefit from this share which is termed zakah, or purifying
alms. When we remember that this payment share is imposed on capital, not on income,
we realize that the amount raised is substantial and it goes a long way toward wiping out
poverty.

The last pillar of our religion is pilgrimage, which must be performed by those who have
the physical and financial ability to do it. The requirement is to offer pilgrimage at least
once in one's lifetime. A Muslim must also refrain from all sinful acts such as murder,
adultery, drinking, lying, stealing and all corruption generally. Islam is a religion of
serious morality and strict discipline. So, a Muslim must always weigh up his actions
before doing them and avoid all kinds of sin. Should he yield to temptation and commit a
sin, he should repent and pray for Allah's forgiveness.

According to Islam, all Muslims are equal and should be treated equally. The Prophet has
emphasized this on many occasions and Allah lays down the only criterion of distinction
among Muslims. He says in the Qur'an: "The noblest among you, in the sight of Allah, is
the most God-fearing." (49;13). Yet people may not live up to this very important
requirement. Family or tribal or national considerations may lead to different modes of
discrimination. Islam shuns such practices. It is often the case, however, that people's
practices fall short of their ideals. We have, therefore, to distinguish between what Islam
lays down and what Muslims do.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                75


A point which is often raised by readers is that which concerns one's family. This is a
tricky question which I am attempting to explain.

Obviously, there is no problem when both man and wife make the same decision
together. Their children should be brought up as Muslims. If the children are of age, they
should not be forced to follow their parents' example but they should be encouraged to
learn about Islam and make their own decision.

Problems arise, however, when either husband or wife decides to go for it alone and
embraces Islam. It is always to be remembered that Islam lays down that the adoption of
faith must come through personal conviction. No compulsion or pressure should be
exercised on one's partner. That does not preclude wise counsel and friendly persuasion.
When such caring efforts go in vain then one has to make up one's decision according to
one's own circumstances.

The easiest of these cases is when the husband decides to adopt Islam but his wife
decides to stick to her own religion which happens to be either Christianity or Judaism.
Islam has enough common grounds with these two divine religions to allow marriages
between Muslim men and Christian or Jewish women. It only asks the husband in such
a marriage to bring up his children in the same way as all Muslim parents bring up their
children. There is, therefore, no reason for a new convert to Islam to divorce or separate
from his Christian or Jewish wife. They may continue to live together for the rest of their
lives.

When the wife follows any religion other than these two, or if she does not believe in Allah
at all, then the marriage is automatically nullified. Allah commands us in Qur'an: "Do no
hold on to your marriages with unbelieving women." (60;10). This is because the family is
of prime importance as the basic unit of society. It is the mother who looks after the
children who, in turn, form the future generation. An unbelieving mother cannot be
trusted to enhance in her children the natural tendency to believe in Allah. As we say in
Arabic; "He who has not got something cannot give it to others."

Should the wife only decide to become a Muslim, her marriage to her non-Muslim
husband is considered null and void the moment she makes the declaration which
makes her a Muslim. This ruling applies whether the husband is a Christian or a Jew or
a follower of any other belief. There is no disagreement among the various schools of
thought as to the nullity of the marriage if only the wife adopts Islam. Some, however,
enforce an immediate separation for a period equivalent to a divorcee's waiting period
(nearly three months), before the marriage is declared null and void.

The idea here is that in any family the man is the master. He is in charge of the house
and the protector of his wife and children. For a Muslim woman to be in such a
relationship with an unbeliever is not acceptable.

This question has been the subject of a great deal of discussion in recent years as more
and more people adopt Islam and the problem becomes increasingly common. The fact
remains that no one has come up with a different ruling supported by the Qur'an or by
some pronouncements of the Prophet.

Allah declares in the Qur'an on the question of relationship between believing women
who have recently accepted Islam and unbelievers: "They (the women) are not lawful to
them in marriage nor they (i.e. the unbelieving men) are lawful to them (as husbands)." It
is an established rule of Islam that no ruling made by Allah in the Qur'an or by an
authentic pronouncement of the Prophet may be challenged by any argument, no matter
76                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


how logical it may sound. For Allah has taught us what remains best for us in all ages
and societies.

• Becoming a Muslim: Reluctance - the do‘s & donot‘s
I am a Christian who practices her religion at home and maintains
good conduct, although I rarely go to church. I believe in the
miraculous birth of Jesus Christ and that he was a true messenger
of God, but I do not believe that he was son of God. I understand
that Muslims too believe in Jesus Christ, but they also believe that
Muhammad was the last messenger of God. I may begin to share
their faith, not for any worldly gains or for the purpose of marriage,
but for my own salvation. Indeed, I have no intention to get
married; I wish to continue to serve my parents, as I am their only
daughter. However, I understand that if I become a Muslim, I shall
be bound by many "do's" and "don'ts". I fear that I may not be able
to fulfill that, and thus commit more sins, which will run counter
to my whole purpose. I will have to take a new name and I do not
know how I shall react to my new identity at this stage of my life.
Above all, I fear that the effect on my parents may be very negative,
as they may be unable to withstand the taunting of my relatives or
other people in general. I shall be grateful for your advice as to
what my course of action should be. Can I remain a Muslim at
heart, without observing the ritual prayers or fasting.
It seems to me that you have not learned enough about Islam to help you make up your
mind whether you wish to adopt it as your faith. Your approach so far seems to be a
rather emotional one. You see certain areas which are common to your own faith, as
distinguished from mainstream Christianity, and the Muslim faith, particularly as it
relates to the position of Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be on him). However, your desire to
be on the correct lines is genuine. Therefore, it is important for you to learn more about
the Islamic faith before you make up your mind whether you wish to adopt it or not. I
cannot give you in this column more than hints which you may wish to pursue in order
to help you determine your next step. Before we speak about Jesus Christ and
Muhammad (peace be upon them) as messengers of Allah and prophets, there is a
principle of Islamic faith which must be very clear in our minds. What Islam requires of
its followers is to submit themselves wholly to Allah. That submission is reflected in our
actions, as well as in their beliefs, thoughts and ideas.

Islam is based on the principle of the Oneness of Allah. That is what you actually say
when you make your declaration which brings you in the fold of Islam. You say: "I bear
witness that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger." The
first part of this declaration places the strongest emphasis on the Oneness of Allah.

Godhead means authority. In relation to Allah, that authority is total, all embracing. In
every sphere of life, in every affair, in every case and situation, Allah's authority is
supreme. He does not only determine when we are born and the time of our death, but
also decides how we should conduct our lives. He has given us a message and a complete
way of life for us to implement. What that means is that He has total authority to legislate
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  77


to us in all matters and in all spheres. The prophet conveys to us Allah's message and we
accept it without hesitation. This acceptance, coupled by the determination to do what
Allah has bidden us, no matter how difficult it may appear at times or how costly it is, is
a manifestation of our submission to Allah. This is indeed the very meaning of the term
"Islam". In Arabic, it means "to surrender". We surrender ourselves to Allah, in the sense
that we determine to do His bidding in all situations and in all affairs. If we make the
declaration that we believe in the Oneness of Allah, but have no intention of following his
orders, our declaration is without value. Therefore, if one wants to be a Muslim, one
should know what being a Muslim entails. That is the least expected from a person
intelligent enough to decide what faith to follow on the basis of his or her choice.

You seem to be worried about the requirements of the Islamic faith. What you have to
remember is that Islam is a complete way of life. It provides us with guidance in every
aspect of life. It does not make a lengthy list of duties and prohibitions just for the sake of
giving orders. Nor is there any arbitrary prohibition of duty. Everything that Islam
requires of its followers to do or to abstain from has a reason behind it. In their real total
sum, Islamic duties work for the benefit of man and help establish human life on a very
happy basis.

If we look carefully at the duties and prohibitions a Muslim is required to observe, we find
that they fall into three main divisions. Some of them relate to basic beliefs, such as the
duty of worshipping Allah alone, and the prohibition of associating any partner with Him.
We can also include in these the acts of worship; such as prayers, fasting, etc. These are
meant to enhance the good character of a person. When we think of prayer and how it
provides a real and continuous relationship with Allah, we are bound to recognize that it
sharpens a Muslim's sense of what is appropriate and what is not. The Prophet says: "A
faith which does not require its followers to pray is devoid of goodness." Fasting molds
the character of a Muslim to be able to with-stand any sacrifice which he may be called
upon to render.

Other duties and prohibitions of Islam relate either to moral values or to day-to-day
transactions between people. They ensure that a Muslim does not take advantage of
others or usurp their right or property. Together, they provide safeguards which ensure
that every one of us receives what is due to him or her. Allah does not benefit by
restricting our movements or our actions. The benefit of Islamic duties and prohibitions
is reaped by us. Allah tells us that if every single one of us was as pious and God-fearing
as the most righteous amongst us, we will not increase His kingdom in any way, nor will
we decrease it in any way if every single one of us was as wicked and disobedient as the
most evil person that has ever lived.

Islamic duties and prohibitions are not difficult to observe. There is nothing in them
which is included arbitrarily. They all serve a common purpose of making human life
easy, happy and fair. No Muslim has ever complained that to observe his Islamic duties is
difficult. It is true that every one of us may at times yield to temptations to violate Islamic
teachings, but we can always repent and pray to Allah for forgiveness. He is the most
merciful, the most forgiving. He finds no pleasure in punishing us for our mistakes.
Indeed, he loves that we repent and declare our regret for having committed a sin. When
we do that, He forgives us. When we declare that we believe in Him, we must always try
as hard as we can to observe His teachings. When we make an error, as we all do, we try
to rectify it. Furthermore, we know that our observance of what He requires of us will
ensure for us great reward. The total sum of that reward is admittance into heaven.

Furthermore, what we are required to do is to try to be as obedient to Allah as we can. If
something is prohibited, we should refrain from doing it. When we are required to do
78                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


something, we will do it to the best of our ability. If we have that approach, we can easily
earn Allah's pleasure.

Many new Muslims prefer to have Islamic names. This is, however, not always required.
The Prophet changed the names of some of his companions, because their names had a
bad meaning. The overwhelming majority retained their names. I do not see any reason
for you to change your name.

As for the effect on your parents on your becoming a Muslim, I feel that you should
handle this in a careful way. You may start by speaking to them about Islam, in order to
dispel any lingering prejudices they may have about it. The problem may be no more
than being not fully aware of what sort of faith Islam is. If you are able to persuade them
that Islam is totally unlike the distorted picture Western culture paints of it, they may
have no objection to your becoming a Muslim. As for the taunting of other people, I am
afraid that you may be exaggerating these. Anyway, you should balance the pros and
cons of any major step you wish to take.

As far as becoming a Muslim at heart, without revealing the fact or practicing Islam, I am
afraid this is not acceptable. Many people asked the Prophet to allow them a relaxation of
certain duties, but he told them that that was not up to him. Islamic duties are imposed
by Allah, and He alone can forgive anyone who is lax in fulfilling them.

You may choose not to publicize the fact that you have become a Muslim, but you cannot
just overlook your Islamic duties.

• Begging in an Islamic community
Giving alms and charity and feeding the poor is highly
recommended in the Qur'an and the Hadith. Does it not encourage
pauperism in the community? As a result of this we frequently see
people who are physically and mentally fit and able to work but
they prefer to resort to pauperism as an easy way of making
money. There are always reports about beggars amassing a great
wealth out of what they get from other people. As you realize,
pauperism has been abolished by law in many civilized countries.
Why then is the Islamic world lagging behind in eradicating this
awful social evil which injures the human dignity to a great extent?
Can we set certain parameters to allow certain categories to live on
charity on a license?
Perhaps people have some justification in thinking that an Islamic community is one in
which beggars go around in the streets, able always to rely on Muslims' unfailing
charitable sense. It is indeed this permanently alert sense of charity that leads to the
cases which you have mentioned of those who beg, pretending to be very poor, yet
amassing a great wealth. But is this truly the sort of behavior Islam encourages or even
approves?

One thing is certain: Islam finds poverty repugnant and does not allow its followers to
accept it as a matter of fact, but requires them to take positive action to stamp it out.
Islam has in fact put in place specific legislation to combat poverty and ensure its
eradication. That legislation is embodied in the provision governing zakah which is the
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                79


third pillar upon which the structure of Islam is built. Every Muslim is liable to pay
zakah provided that he is in possession of an amount of money which exceeds the
threshold of zakah. A specific percentage is required to be put aside immediately once a
person becomes liable to pay zakah. It should be pointed out that zakah is not a favor
granted by the rich to the poor, nor is it a voluntary charity which makes the poor keenly
aware they need to receive favors from the rich. Zakah is indeed an act of worship
required of all Muslims provided that they meet certain conditions.

Some people may wonder how we can call the payment of money an act of worship. Islam
looks at worship in a much wider perspective than the strict sense of devotion and
rituals. In the fulfillment of this religious duty of zakah, Islam treats the person who pays
zakah and the one who receives it as equal. Both seek to win Allah's pleasure. The payer
by the fulfillment of his duty, setting aside every year the amount of zakah he is required
to pay and ensuring its payment to those who deserve it, and the recipient by trying to
maintain the straight path of Islam as he goes about meeting the needs of his family.
When we look carefully at the zakah system, as outlined in Islam, we can easily find out
that zakah is not a handful of pilasters, or halalahs, or a couple of Riyals given to a
beggar, nor is it some victuals to silence the pangs of hunger. Zakah is a complete self-
financing system which aims to eradicate poverty and achieve a fair distribution of
wealth.

The first thing about zakah is that it is a duty defined by Allah who will eventually
question people about its fulfillment. When the Prophet was once asked by some people
to give them a portion of zakah money, the Prophet told them that 'Allah has not
assigned the task of distributing zakah either to a Prophet given a message, or an angel
who occupies a high position. He Himself has ruled over its distribution, dividing it
among eight classes of people.' The Prophet then told those who requested to be paid
some money from the zakah fund that if they belonged to any of those classes, he would
willingly pay them, but he would not exceed that limit. He also stated that "No share of
zakah may be paid to a person who is self-sufficient or to one who is physically strong."
He meant that the one who is physically strong should find it easy to obtain a job and
earn his livelihood.

The eight classes of beneficiaries of zakah are outlined in verse 60 of surah 9 which may
be given in translation as follows:

    "Charitable alms may only be paid to the poor, and the needy, and those who
    are employed (to conduct its collection and distribution), and those whose
    hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of slaves, and relieving insolvent
    debtors, and for serving Allah's cause, and to help stranded wayfarers. It is a
    binding duty imposed by Allah, and Allah is well knowing, wise."

When you look at those eight classes of people, perhaps the first thing to draw your
attention is that those engaged in the collection and distribution of zakah are to be paid
from zakah funds. This is what we mean by the system being self-financing. The system
looks after those who are chronically attached to whom reference is made in the first two
beneficiaries, and it looks after those whose need is accidental, such as stranded
wayfarers and who have incurred debts but cannot pay them back. In addition to
payment for the freeing of slaves (and slaves no longer exist in society), the system also
addressed certain tasks that serve the Muslim community as a whole.

Islam does not like that a certain group in society continues to depend on zakah. It wants
poverty to be terminated. Hence, the poor are given enough to meet their needs.
Moreover, a poor person who is able to work is helped to find employment. Scholars have
80                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                    Our Dialogue


discussed how much a poor person is to be given of zakah. Many scholars are of the view
that he is to be given enough to satisfy his needs for the rest of his life. That does not
mean that his annual needs are calculated and then multiplied by the number of years
he is expected to live. Rather, he is helped to have a job which generates for him enough
income to meet his needs.

This is a far cry from the picture you have painted of paupers roaming the streets in a
Muslim community to be helped with a Riyal here and half a Riyal there. Indeed, Islam
does not approve of begging. It makes it a sin that a person should beg when he has
enough to satisfy his immediate needs.

All begging is forbidden in Islam except in one of three situations, as outlined by the
Prophet who says: "Begging is not permissible except for one of three: a man who has
taken upon himself a large payment (for a good purpose such as achieving peace between
two warring tribes), he may ask others for help until he can fulfill his pledge; a man who
has suffered a disaster that has left him without money, so he may ask other people's
help until he can meet his needs by himself, and a man who has suffered a financial loss
to an extent that makes three wise people in his community say that he has suffered
such a loss. He may ask other people's help until he can get his situation straightened."
(Related by Muslim)

This is clear that it is not permissible from the Islamic point of view to beg. We on our
part, must not encourage beggars unless we know that the person who is asking for help
belongs to one of the three types that are allowed to seek other people's help.

We can say with all certainty that if Islam is properly implemented in a community, that
community will steadily progress towards the eradication of poverty, until all its people
attain the standard of self-sufficiency.


• Behavior — unbecoming
1. I have been married for only a few months, yet when I go out
with my husband I noticed that he stares at other women in a way
which is so embarrassing to me. I have tried hard to persuade him
to stop this, particularly when I am with him, but to no avail. This
has caused me a great deal of misery. Please comment.
2. A friend of us is very keen to do his worship duties on time. He
always prays with the imam at the mosque, and frequently goes to
offer the Umrah, and wears a long beard. Nevertheless, he watches
movies which may have scenes that are totally unacceptable from
the Islamic point of view. He does not listen to the advice of people
who tell him that he should stop this, at least out of respect for his
beard. Please comment.
I have grouped these two question together because they are closely related in the sense
that they question behavior which falls short of our expectations. The lady is perturbed
by her husband's behavior, and rightly so, because it does not fit with her idea of how a
religious married man should behave when he goes about in the street or when he is in
public places. To her, his behavior is so embarrassing.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               81


In the second case we have a man who is expected to be consistent in his behavior
showing lack of consistency in his choice of entertainment. Yet the first thing which we
should remember is that we are all human beings and we are able to make mistakes,
slip, indulge in what gives us immediate pleasure, etc. The best among us, therefore, are
the ones who repent whenever they make such a mistake.

The other thing to remember is that we cannot place people in categories and expect
them to conform to the standards which we assign to each category. Notice how my
reader speaks of "respect for his beard." This suggests that a person with a beard may
not do things which are less unacceptable from one without beard. This is not the Islamic
way of looking at things. People may make all sorts of mistakes and they may remain
good people, if they always repent and try to bring their behavior in line with Islamic
standards. Besides, the whole question of watching movies is not to be equated with
grave sins. It belongs to much lesser categories.

The question of the lady is much more serious, not only because the action itself is
clearly forbidden, but because the husband in this case does not heed his wife's feelings.
He thus makes another violation of Islamic rules. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has
instructed all his followers to take good care of their women, and his action is clearly in
opposition to such instructions.

How do we deal with such situations? In general we can only remind the offender and
hope that one day he will come to see the offense he commits for what it really is. In the
case of the lady reader, she needs to be a little tactful with how she approaches her
husband. She should try not to make the matter personal. She should show her husband
that she is concerned for his position on the day of judgment [and even his position when
people observe his gaze.] He may respond better when he feels that she cares for him. He
may feel that he should at least show the same care for her. If he does not, she should try
to look at her situation in a wider perspective and determine the best method to influence
her husband's attitude. Her question does not have an easy answer. May God help her.


• Believers: What makes one a believer?
If a Muslim neither offers his prayers nor observes his other
Islamic duties, but expresses instead his doubts about God's
existence, and argues against Islamic teachings, claiming that
Islam does not maintain equality between people, what should be
his position in Islamic society? What should his wife do if she is a
good Muslim?
My objection to this question is the description of such a person as a Muslim. Islam is
not a matter of birth or belonging to a family or a nation. We cannot describe a person as
Muslim simply on the basis that he is born to Muslim parents or that he belongs to a
Muslim tribe or community. Being a Muslim is a matter of conscious and free choice. A
person is a Muslim because he chooses to believe in Islam and accepts its tenets
[ideology] and beliefs. If someone asks what brings a person into the fold of Islam, the
answer is the declaration that God is the only deity in the universe. He makes a
conscious choice to believe in his religion. If he accepts Islam only because he is brought
up as a Muslim, his faith remains deficient.

This person has been expressing doubts about basic Islamic beliefs. It is clear that he
does not accept these. How is he to be considered a Muslim? The proper thing to do with
him is to require him to come clean and own to his beliefs. If he says that he does not
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believe in God and His messenger, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, then he
is not a Muslim.

His wife cannot remain married to him for a second after that. She should request the
authorities to register the fact that her marriage is over on grounds of difference of
religion. She is free to be married to another person after she completes her waiting
period. During such a waiting period, if her husband declares his acceptance of Islam
and makes a serious commitment to live as a Muslim, she may be reunited with him in
marriage. If not, their separation is complete.

• Believers: Who is a true believer?
Who comes under the definition of a Muslim? There are people who
have Muslim names and say that they are Muslims because they
have Muslim parents. They rarely, if at all, practice Islam. Others
may attend to certain Islamic practices on occasions, such as
those who offer their prayers only on Fridays, and perhaps in
Ramadhan when they do fast. Please comment.
Once the Prophet asked a delegation who came to him in Madinah representing a tribe
how they defined themselves. They said: "We are indeed believers." The Prophet said:
"Everything has a substance, so what do you define as the substance of your belief?"
They said to him: "We have fifteen characteristics. Five we have been told by your
representative to believe in, and five you have ordered us to do and five are among our
traditions. We will maintain [them] unless you instruct us to the contrary."

The Prophet asked them about these. They told him that they believed in God, His angels,
His revealed books, His messengers and in resurrection after death. Those were the five
beliefs taught to them by the Prophet's representatives. The ones he instructed them to
do were the declaration that there is no deity save God, prayers, zakah, fasting in
Ramadhan and pilgrimage. The five among their traditions were: To be grateful in time of
plenty, to be patient in adversity, to accept God's will whatever it may be, to remain
steadfast in battle and not to show pleasure when calamity befalls an enemy.

The Prophet commended them on these and added five more to make their total twenty.
He said to them: If you are truly as you say, then do not amass what you cannot eat, or
build what you do not reside in, nor compete in what you will soon abandon. Fear God to
whom you shall return and work for what you will soon be facing."

Here we have an example where the Prophet makes it clear that there should be a
practical interpretation of beliefs. Otherwise, it will remain theoretical. Hence, he defines
faith as: "Something that is well established in people's minds and hearts, and to which
credence is given by practice." So, faith cannot be treated as an academic theory or an
abstract idea. Its practical effect has to be seen so that the claim of being a believer is
seen to be true. Hence, Islam is embodied in statements and practices. The Prophet says:
"Islam is built on five (pillars): the declaration that there is no deity save God and
Muhammad is His messenger, regular attendance to prayer, the payment of zakah, the
fasting in Ramadhan and pilgrimage to the Sacred House when a person is able to do so."

People who claim to be Muslims only because they have been born in Muslim families do
not provide a practical proof of their claim. Yet, if they genuinely believe in the Oneness of
God and the message of Muhammad, they are considered Muslims. If they do not go
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beyond that declaration, they are doing badly because of their negligence. They should be
advised that their faith is not complete unless they attend to their Islamic duties.

On the other hand, we must not allow ourselves to assume the mantle of judges who pass
judgment on people, claiming that certain people are true Muslims while others are not. If
a person tells us that he is a Muslim, we take his statement at its face value. But if he
does not confirm his statement by doing the duties God has imposed on Muslims, we
advise him that he is exposing himself to the risk of God's punishment. Some of these
people say that God is too merciful to punish them They are not doing anything bad,
they are simply not attending to their duties. This is a false argument.

A person who does not fulfill a duty God has imposed is certainly doing something bad.
What is worse than the deliberate negligence of a duty God has imposed? Besides, a
believer does not say that God will certainly forgive him. He certainly hopes for God's
forgiveness, but he does not behave as though it is a certainty. He must always balance
that hope with the fear that he might not be forgiven. That balance should provide a
motivation for him to attend to his Islamic duties.


• Believers & non-believers: Drawing clear distinction between
The term "believers" and "non-believers" draw a clear distinction
between people of this world. No one can deny the fact that God is
One. He is the Lord of all human beings, whether they are
Christians, Jews, Hindus or Muslims. His Oneness is recognized in
all religions. Therefore, a human being who believes in God is a
believer and only a person who does not believe in Him is a non-
believer. May I ask why Muslims consider themselves as the only
believers? The way Muslims behave makes it appear as if He is the
Lord of no one else on earth. This sounds rather eccentric. There
are surely among Muslims some bad people who do not follow the
teachings of their religion. By merely becoming a Muslim, a person
does not become a true believer. On the other hand, there are
among non-believers some noble people who devote their lives to
the welfare of mankind. These are righteous people by any
standard. Do you agree? Or do you ignore purity, morality and
righteousness among those who belong to any other conviction? Do
you not agree that the Qur'an should be explained and interpreted
by universal human virtues, not particularly what is acknowledged
by Muslims only? Please do not misunderstand me. I have great
respect for Islam, Prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an. If I lead a
clean and straight life, deeply believing in God, and following my
own religion, I see no reason why I should convert to Islam.
I appreciate the clarity and the honesty with which this letter has been written. I have
chosen to publish it in full because it expresses the feelings of many an honest non-
Muslim who may be irritated by the thought that every virtue has to be Islamic in order
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to be acceptable to God. Hence the accusation of patronization of God that is sometime
leveled at Muslims.

This question can only be sorted out if we go back to basic belief. The question of
believing in God is inherent in human nature. However, it is an aspect of God's grace that
we do not have to rely on this intrinsic tendency in our nature to formulate our concept of
Him. He sent messengers and warners to educate mankind and teach them how to
believe in God.

All these messengers emphasized God's Oneness and formulated the same concept of the
Godhead, warning their people against associating partners with Him. Messengers were
sent to all nations and communities.

God tells us in the Qur'an: "You are but a warner; We have sent you as an announcer
and a warner about the truth. There has been no community unless some warner has
passed among them." (35; 23-4)

This means that there were numerous prophets, messengers and warners who explained
to mankind how to conduct their lives in a way which would be acceptable to God. There
are about twenty-five of these mentioned by name in the Qur'an. However, God states in
the Qur'an that He has mentioned some of His messengers to His Prophet Muhammad,
while some He has chosen not to mention. Therefore, the great teachers of mankind who
strove to establish faith among their communities and to lay down concepts of morality
might have been prophets and even messengers. But we certainly cannot say with any
degree of certainty, because certainty about such matters can only be stated by God
Himself. Since He has chosen not to tell us about those people and their status, we
cannot say anything in this connection. We simply limit ourselves to the certain
knowledge God has revealed in the Qur'an. We do respect those great teachers of
mankind and what they have done.

However, God makes it clear that the Qur'an is His final message to mankind, and He
undertakes to keep it intact for the rest of time. "We ourselves have sent down the
reminder and We will indeed safeguard it." (15; 9) "It is for us to gather it and to cause it
to be read (as it ought to be read)." (75; 17)

But God also tells us in the Qur'an that earlier messages suffered distortion and twisting
of texts. This applies particularly to Torah and the Gospel. Therefore, although we believe
that these two books were originally revealed by God to the great prophets, Moses and
Jesus Christ, peace be upon them both, we also believe that any fundamental difference
between either of them and the Qur'an is the result of willful distortion.

The very fact that God has sent so many messengers and prophets to mankind to teach
them how to believe and conduct their lives makes it clear that it is from Him alone that
we should derive our concepts of God, faith, the position of man and how he should
believe in his Lord. The Qur'an denounces the pagan Arabs for having adopted the
concept of polytheism, establishing for themselves so many deities whom they considered
intermediaries between themselves and God. They did not reject God altogether, but felt
that He was too great for them to put their address to Him directly. Therefore, they
associated with Him partners whom they worshipped so that those partners could bring
them nearer to God. That was totally unacceptable to Him.

When we speak of believing in God, we have to acknowledge the fact that in order to be
true believers, we have to believe in Him in the way He likes. That is to say, the concept
we formulate of God should be the one He Himself outlines.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                85


This He did through the prophets and messengers He sent in all periods of history, up to
the final messenger, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. There can simply be no
conflict between what every one of those messengers preached about God. It is true that
there can be only one God. Different religions may offer different concepts of Him, but
there can only be one true concept.

That is the one He Himself has laid down in His messages to mankind. Since these were
subject to distortion, then that concept can only be derived from the message He
guaranteed to keep intact, namely, Islam. Hence, true believers must reject any concept
that is not in total agreement with the monotheistic concept of God stated clearly in the
Qur'an. There can be no truth in any concept of duality, trinity or plurality of the
Godhead.

The other part of your question tries to distinguish between a Muslim and being a
believer. The Qur'an also makes this distinction. Reflect, if you will, on the Qur'anic verse
which may be translated as follows: "The desert Arabs say: We believe. Say: You have not
believed, but say instead: We submit. Yet belief has not penetrated your hearts. If you
obey God and His messenger, He will not slight you in any of your actions. God is much-
forgiving, merciful." {49; 14)

The Arabic term used for the expression, "We submit," is "Aslamna," which is the verb
used to indicate acceptance of Islam. As you are probably aware the term "Islam" means
"submission to God." The Qur'anic verse thus distinguishes between submission, or
Islam, which is a practical attitude and having faith, or ―iman‖ which indicates a
conscious belief and a conceptual attitude. What the faith of Islam requires of all people
is far more than the practical attitude. It is to have faith deeply entrenched in one's mind
and heart.

It is true that some Muslims may not give, in their action and practices, full credence to
their faith. Some may not even distinguish between what is forbidden and what is lawful.
Some may have very little knowledge of right and wrong. The very fact that they were
born into a Muslim family does not ensure their salvation. Islam requires of everyone to
have a conscious belief in God, His Oneness and all His attributes. Therefore, true faith
can only come through deep thinking, reflective study and conscious acceptance of the
basic principles of faith. It then requires that everyone should conduct his or her life in
accordance with Islamic teachings. Salvation can only be ensured through faith and
action. Neither one is sufficient on its own.

There is no doubt that there are among the followers of other religions people of integrity,
honesty, high caliber and serious morality. Even among the pagan Arabs there were some
of these. The Prophet was asked: "Who are the best people?" He gave his questioners one
answer after another, but those answers were not the one they sought. He then
confirmed that they were asking about the different types of people. He then said to them:
"The best of them in pre-Islamic days are the best after having accepted Islam; if they
would learn it properly."

We cannot subject the Qur'an to different interpretations. We interpret it and explain it
the way Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has explained to us. Otherwise, we
would be imposing our views on the Qur'an. This is not open to anyone to do.

• Bible: The position of bible in Islam
How do we differentiate between the Qur‘an and the Bible? Is the
former revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, while
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the latter to Prophet Jesus? Is the Bible obligatory for Muslims to
read? What is the concept of the Trinity? How do we consider the
people who follow the true teachings of Prophet Jesus and neglect
those of Prophet Muhammad? What is the minimum and
maximum punishment of the people of hell?
The Bible is the term, which refers to the revelations, which should be held sacred by all
Christians. It includes the Old Testament, or the Torah, which was revealed to Prophet
Moses, and the New Testament, or the Gospel, (or the Injeel, to use Islamic terminology),
which was revealed to Prophet Jesus, peace be upon them both. Christians normally
concentrate on the Gospel with particular emphasis on the four books known as
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These books were either written or dictated by those
people to whom they are attributed as they learned the teachings of Jesus Christ from his
followers. They were not the exact words taught by Jesus himself.

The Qur‘an is the book that includes the revelations of Prophet Muhammad, peace be
upon him, as he received them from on high. It is written in the exact words of God
taught to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, by the Angel Gabriel. Moreover, it is
guaranteed to remain intact, free from distortion. That guarantee is given by no one other
than God Himself. You will find no differences among copies of the Qur‘an printed today
or those written by scribes in any period of history, ever since it was revealed. God tells
His messenger that He will guarantee that book will always remain intact, and will be
available to people in its original form. The Qur‘an is God‘s final message to mankind.
Hence it is important that it remains available to all people, as indeed it has been ever
since its first revelation.

God tells us in the Qur‘an that earlier books revealed from on high were distorted by
priests and rabbis and also by other people. The starkest example of such distortion is
the claim that God has a son, or that His son is Jesus. This is a wild claim for which
there is no proof whatsoever, either in the teachings by Jesus, or indeed from any other
source. We believe what God says of Himself in the Qur‘an, His final message which will
always remain true and free from distortion, that God has not begotten a son and will
never have one. Hence, we reject that claim altogether without need to go into its details.
Moreover, we accept that the Bible, in its Old and New Testaments, is true in its original
form. Since we have no access to that form, we say that whatever in the Torah and the
Gospel does not contradict any statement in the Qur‘an is true, and whatever contradicts
the Qur‘an is false, as it is the result of distortion. Hence, the Bible is not obligatory for
Muslims to read.

The concept of the Trinity is based on the belief in the union of three personalities (the
Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost) in one Godhead, or the threefold personality of the
Divine Being. This is an essential concept of today‘s Christianity which emphasizes that
Jesus was son of God and that he and the Angel Gabriel were in union with God who is
claimed to be the Father. This is a polytheist concept, which could have never been
preached by Jesus Christ, who was a noble prophet and a messenger of God ranked
among the messengers of the firmest resolve, which is the highest rank among prophets.

Since God has sent His final message to mankind, in the form of Qur‘an, all people are
required to believe in Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as God‘s final messenger
and to accept the Qur‘an as God‘s final message. They are required to implement it in
their lives. Those who do not, are not believers in the true sense of the word. They may
believe in God, but they do not formulate the true concept of faith which He requires
people to have. What He does with them on the Day of Judgment is His own business.
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As far as we are concerned, we say that such people have not believed in what God wants
us to believe. Hence, we cannot include them among true believers, because they do not
believe in the message of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

I do not know whether a true copy of Torah or the Gospel, as they were revealed to
Prophets Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them both, is in existence anywhere. Nor can I
give an answer to the last part of this question, concerning the minimum and maximum
punishment in hell. That is something which only God knows, However, there are
descriptions in the Qur‘an of the sort of punishment which those who are in hell will
suffer. These are given in examples in a language, which we understand. They suggest
unbearable suffering. The impression they give is sufficient for us to realize what will
happen to the dwellers of hell. May God spare us all such punishment and forgive us our
sins.

• Big Bang: Origin of the universe — the right approach
Articles and books have been published postulating about the "big
bang" as the probable origin of the universe some 10 billion years
ago. It will be appreciated if you could share with us some
thoughts about how religion in general, and Islam in particular,
view such a scientific research being pursued in an attempt to
approve this theory.
I am not particularly familiar with this theory, or its details. I have watched a television
program about it and read an article, but I am not in a position to speak about it in any
depth. What I would like to say about it, however, is that whether it is proved to be true
or false, it should not affect our view of religion in any way. Allah could have brought
about such a "Big Bang" to create the universe, if He wanted to do so. He could certainly
have created the universe in some other manner. Whichever way He adopted to create the
universe testifies to His limitless ability and overall control of the universe and everything
in it.

Where scientists reach the limits of their research, they are seen making attempt to make
such a theory a basis to negate or cast suspicion on what Islam says about creation. If
the universe came into being as a result of a Big Bang, does that mean that the bang
happened by itself, without any cause? Or does it mean that Allah caused it? If the latter,
well and good. If they opt for the first answer, saying that the bang just happened by
itself without a cause, we will ask for a proof. We will say: Was there anything before the
bang took place? Did it happen by a collision of physical entities, electric charges or other
sources of energy? If so, where did these come from? Who gave them their existence?
Such a line of questioning will inevitably lead us to decide our starting point.

Are we seeking an explanation for the existence of the universe in total isolation of the
concept of Allah's existence? In other words, does scientific research want to prove that
life could have come about without any need for a creator? If so, then we are simply not
interested in such an endeavor. Let scientists do what they like, they will never be able to
come up with any logical explanation that can be proven to be true and at the same time
negate Allah's role altogether. If Muslim scientists find enough evidence to suggest that
the Big Bang Theory explains how the universe came into existence, they would relate
that to Allah and His power. They would say that Allah has created the universe by
causing a big bang to take place and they would then carry on with their investigations.
Their research may lead them to great discoveries, but that does not negate Allah's role.
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The problem with scientists' research in the West is that it seeks to provide a theory
which can be used as an alternative to the fact that the universe is Allah's creation. As a
result, scientists go far astray. Moreover, they can produce no theory which can stand
the test of time. Take for example the theory of Charles Darwin on the origin of species.
There is nothing that an Islamic scholar or a man of religion can find wrong with the
observations about the gradation of species and that one species leads to the next which
is slightly higher. They noted that the gradation is observable in the plant kingdom as
well as in the animal kingdom. They have also mentioned that there seems to be two un-
bridgeable gaps, one between the highest plant species and the lowest animal type of life
and the other between the highest animals which are closest to man and man himself.
Their view is that it is Allah who has willed the system of creation to be such. Such a
gradation proves His great ability to anyone who reflects on what Allah has placed in the
universe. Muslim scientists have also spoken about the fine balance which we find in
nature and how no species is allowed to multiply in great numbers so as to swarm the
planet or dominate the universe. They attributed all that to the great hand of the
Supreme Lord. This is the logical explanation which uses natural phenomena as a proof
of the greatest fact of all, namely, Allah's existence, His Godhood and Lordship.

What the West did with Darwin's theory was something different. Scientists tried to show
that the great observations of Darwin indicate that there is a process of natural selection
which is set in motion and continues to operate forever. Hence, that process provided for
them a platform to announce their atheism and agnosticism and reject Allah's role
altogether. They could not explain how the process of natural selection operates. Is it
subject to the physical phenomena that exists in the universe? What made all species
acquire the ability to adapt themselves to such phenomena? As for the two gaps, Western
scientists who took over from Darwin tried to explain them away by saying that these
were two missing links. They have not come up with any explanation why these links
have been and continue to be missing? If the process of natural selection is self-
supporting and ensures its own continuity, why has it not tried to bridge these two gaps?
Whey does the missing link continue to be missing at those particular two points? In all
this, we find an arbitrary attempt to replace religion with science, making of it a new god
to which submission is required, even though it involves believing in some inexplicable
phenomena. Such scientists say that their alternative is more logical and reasonable, but
they cannot use it to explain everything that needs explanation. If scientists want to carry
their research a step further than studying what is available in the universe so as to
explain its existence, they must come up with a complete explanation that can be proved
throughout with facts that cannot be challenged. If science is to replace religion, it should
offer something which is complete, true, verifiable, unchangeable and absolute.

But we will not be interested if scientists say to us: This is what we can prove now. Take
it for the present as correct, and if we come up tomorrow with something that is more
reasonable or for which we can provide better evidence, you take that instead of what we
have offered you now. We do not want a Big Bang Theory to replace Darwin's theory,
leaving as many un-answered questions as its predecessor. On the other hand, we
welcome the Big Bang Theory and all other scientific research when offered in the right
approach. It then can tell us more about our planet and the universe in which we live
and how Allah brought it all into existence and continues to control it all.

• Bindiya: the use of
Is it forbidden to keep 'bindi' i.e. adhesive sticker or colored enamel
on our foreheads?
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               89


The general rule which governs the use of such material is that everything is lawful
unless pronounced otherwise. There may be some rules which restrict the use of certain
items and these rules may apply to other items by analogy. It is forbidden for a Muslim,
for example, to wear clothes or to have an article of equipment which bears a distinctive
mark of unbelievers. I am not sure what this bindi looks like, but I can say that it is
permissible in the first instance. However, if it is distinctive of women who follow some
other religion like Buddhists or Hindus, it becomes forbidden. The prohibition does not
come as a result of anything inherent in the article itself, but as a result of its being
distinctive of non-Muslim women. [Added: If you are living in a society where there are
both Muslim and non-Muslim women living and those non-Muslim women use 'bindi',
then it will be forbidden for the Muslim women to wear 'bindi'. However, in a purely
Muslim society, where a women is accepted and treated as a Muslim unless established
otherwise, there should be no restriction on its use. However, one may still say that it is
strongly discouraged.]

On the other hand, if this adhesive sticker or enamel is waterproof, then a Muslim
woman who wears it cannot have a proper ablution. It prevents the water from reaching a
part of her face which should be washed. Since her ablution is incomplete, her prayer will
be invalid. In this case, the prohibition is a consequence of its effect on prayer.

To sum up, if this enamel or sticker is not distinctive of non-Muslim women, a Muslim
woman may wear it provided she removes it when she wants to have ablution for prayer.

• Birth control: As national policy
Is it appropriate for a married couple not to have more than two
children because of their limited economic resources? Is it
acceptable that they take measures to prevent pregnancy after
having had two children?
During the time of the Prophet, some of his companions tried to reduce the chances of
conception and pregnancy, because they did not want any more children. The Prophet
was aware of that. Some referred to him while some relied on the fact that no edict was
given concerning the question of preventing pregnancy. The general rule is that
"everything is permissible unless pronounced otherwise." Thus, we have statements by
some of the Prophet's companions such as: "We resorted to contraception at the time
when the Qur'an was being revealed", and "We resorted to contraception and the Prophet
was aware of that but he did not stop us." These statements are clear in their import. If
the Prophet's companions had been doing something unacceptable to Islam, God would
have either revealed a prohibition in the Qur'an or the Prophet would have given an order
in a Hadith.

The fact is that the Prophet did not give such an order. Instead, when he learned from
one of his companions that he resorted to contraception, the Prophet said clearly that no
method of contraception would stop the creation of a child, should God will that the child
be born. As such, no method of contraception can stop God's will being fulfilled.

The method of contraception which was known at that time was coitus interruptus.
Modern methods are equally permissible, provided that they are safe and they prevent
conception. Sterilization of either the man or the woman is not permissible except when it
is made absolutely necessary for medical reasons. Thus, if doctors determine that any
pregnancy is likely to present a serious risk to the life of the mother, then sterilization
may be approved. But each case must be considered separately on its own merits.
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What I have said so far applies at the individual level only. A national policy of family
planning which aims to reduce the population is unacceptable because it is likely to have
serious repercussion on the health of the nation as a whole.

• Birth control: Coitus interruptus
You advised a young man to get married and delay having children
until he has finished his studies. This obviously means that he has
to resort to methods of birth control. In our community, most
scholars say that birth control is not acceptable from the Islamic
point of view. Please comment.
In ancient times, before the new methods of birth control were invented, people resorted
to coitus interruptus in order to restrict the number of children. This is a safe method,
because it does not involve the use of any substance or chemical compound. It is a
simple method which involves withdrawal before discharge. It is not highly effective,
because some of the sperms may be released before the actual discharge. These could
easily fertilize the female egg. This method was practiced in Arabia, as well in many other
places. The companions of the Prophet mentioned it to him and asked him whether it was
wrong. The Prophet did not forbid them that, but he told them that it could not stop
Allah's work. If He wants us to create something, or in this case, if He wants a child to be
born, the resort to contraception would not prevent the mother from getting pregnant.

We have reports from companions of the Prophet mentioning that he was aware of their
resort to contraception, but he did not forbid them that.

In the light of the foregoing, we can say that using a safe and effective method of birth
control is permissible, if it does not involve the use of a harmful substance. The couple
must check with their doctor if a particular method is safe for them to use. If so, then
they decide whether to use it or not.

• Birth control: Contraception & sterilization
I have four children and I am considering resorting to a
sterilization operation to be done for my wife. She is thin and weak
and can hardly cope with the demands of the family, especially
during my prolonged absence, away from home to work here in
Saudi Arabia. May I also say that my financial situation is not that
bright. Indeed, I can hardly cope with the great demands placed on
me.
Let us first of all deal with the financial aspect of this question. We know that Allah
provides sustenance for everyone of His creation. I personally have experienced an
improvement in my financial level with every child I have had. Indeed, that improvement
was very tangible in the case of one of my children. Some people may not have such a
tangible experience. It is true to say, however, that Allah will not neglect to provide
sustenance for any human being. It is up to the breadwinner of the family to make use of
the opportunities that Allah provides for him.

Having said that, I should also point out before attending to the question on sterilization
that resorting to methods of contraception which are safe and do not affect the health of
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                91


the mother is permissible. That must be kept at the individual level. By this I mean that a
family may resort to contraception in order to limit the number of their children if they
determine that such a thing is desirable in their particular circumstances. At the time of
the Prophet, some of his companions resorted to coitus interruptus, which was the only
method of family planning known to them, and the Prophet was aware of what they did.
He did not instruct them to stop, nor did he tell them that what they did was forbidden.
Therefore, it is permissible. Other methods of family planning have the same verdict
provided they are safe.

Sterilization which involves a surgical operation is a special case. Unlike other methods of
contraception it is permanent. Therefore it has to be viewed separately. Preventing
pregnancy by surgery is known as sterilization which can be performed for either the
husband or the wife. It is perhaps more accurate to say that we cannot make a general,
sweeping statement in order to say that such an operation is either forbidden or
permissible. Any surgery may be considered, from the strictly religious point of view, as
required, recommended, discouraged or forbidden, according to the different
circumstances of its person. If a highly competent doctor advises his patient that a
certain operation will not only cure his illness but also prevents a speedy deterioration of
his case, which is otherwise inevitable, then we can say that the operation is
recommended. On the other hand, if there is no strong medical grounds for operating on
a certain patient, but the doctor advises the operation only to get his fee, then the doctor
commits a sin by giving such an advice.

In the case of sterilization, what we have to look for is the effect of pregnancy on the
health of the mother. If a competent doctor determines that every pregnancy is likely to
pose a real threat to the life of the mother or to cause serious threats to her health and
that other methods of contraception may also have a bad effect on her health, then the
woman may have such an operation without any qualm of conscience. It is permissible in
her case. On the other hand, for a woman who asks her doctor to perform such an
operation because she feels that a pregnancy may spoil her figure or having children may
stop her from taking a lengthy holiday every few months, such an operation is forbidden.

In your particular condition, I do not think the reasons you have advanced for such an
operation constitute a sound argument to justify the operation. Your wife may be thin
and weak, but you can easily delay pregnancy by resorting to other methods of
contraception. On the basis of what you say in your letter, you are only with your wife for
a month or so every year. If you take adequate precautions, you can almost certainly
prevent pregnancy. Therefore, the operation is not required on medical grounds. Hence, it
cannot be lawful in your case.

• Birth Control: Through sterilization
Since birth control is not allowed in Islam, may I know if it is
permissible to try to elongate the period between pregnancies,
depending on necessity and on condition that both husband and
wife agree on that? Is it also forbidden in Islam to sterilize a man
or a woman in order to control birth?
You have started by saying that birth control is not allowed in Islam. I am afraid that this
is a very general statement which is far from accurate. I have often mentioned in this
column that the authority to forbid anything belongs only to Allah. No one can declare
anything forbidden without clear evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah. Therefore,
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anyone who claims that birth control is forbidden must produce his evidence. When he
tries, he will soon discover that his efforts are far from successful.

To start with, there is nothing in the Qur'an on this subject. When we look at Hadith, we
find several reports by companions of the Prophet saying that they used to resort to
methods known to them to delay conception and they told the Prophet about them, or
that he was aware of them, but he did not speak against them. Indeed, he told them that
such methods would not prevent creation of any human being Allah wants to create. On
the basis of these reports, contemporary scholars have given a verdict that new methods
of birth control are permissible, provided that they are absolutely safe. However, this
permissibility applies in individual cases.

Needless to say, proper spacing between pregnancies is perfectly acceptable from the
Islamic point of view, as long as it is done through legitimate means. When sterilization of
either man or woman is done for compelling health reasons, it is acceptable. Proper
advice should be sought from a competent, God-fearing Muslim Doctor. If he determines
that such a course of action is absolutely necessary to protect the person's life, then it is
permissible. Otherwise, such an operation involves a change of what Allah has created
and, therefore, it is forbidden.

• Birth, life and death — feeling of helplessness
May I start by saying that I adhere to Islamic teachings as much as
I can. However, I am bothered by the thought that I have no choice
as to the very basic step of coming into existence. It may be that
my parents wanted so much to have a baby, but why should I be
responsible for my birth? May I give the analogy of obeying one's
superiors in one's job. We all do this because we do not wish to
lose our jobs.
There is nothing wrong with thinking about one's existence. Indeed, we are invited to do
so by Allah because such thinking is conducive to strengthening our faith. When
sometimes our thoughts do not seem to fit in with our beliefs, we should be a little
careful. We should examine our premise and how our thoughts develop. There may be
something wrong in the process.

What seems to trouble you, in the line of thinking you are following, as you have
explained it to me, is the thought of choice which you seem to desire before coming into
existence. But this is the thought of a mature human being about a stage of existence
which is very different from his own. May I ask: At what point in time you think a human
being should be given this choice at the beginning or end of adolescence? In childhood?
Immediately at birth? At the time of conception? Or should the choice be given to the
male sperm or female egg separately? If anyone suggests that the choice should be given
to the sperm, then would it be fair to give it to every single sperm, although any one in
billions is destined to become a full human being? If one suggests that the choice should
be given at the time of conception, would a zygote be able to make a rational choice?

Perhaps it is more reasonable to suggest that the choice should be given sometime during
one's life, when one has known enough about human life to determine whether to
continue with it or not. One could then choose whether to continue with one's life,
obeying Allah's rules and taking the risk of punishment in the hereafter if he fails to do
so. Otherwise, one is immediately and finally obliterated.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  93


Suppose that such a choice is given, what sort of result would be expected from it? Would
you not think that every human being will opt for a continued existence, giving every
pledge to follow divine guidance? The love of life makes every single one of us cling to it
despite going through very difficult circumstances. We always hope that our situation
would improve and we would be able to enjoy a better life. On the other hand, if we say
that the choice should be given to us before we are born, would we be able to make a
choice based on mature judgment without ever being aware of the outcome of the choice
we make?

The fact is that we have a choice at every moment in our lives. While it is true that the
choice is not whether to live or not, but what sort of life we should lead. We should not
portray the choice in the way you have, as something we have to give in order to avoid
future suffering. That is certainly a grim picture if it was true. It is not. What is wrong
with the way you describe the choice is that it implies that we will be saved from suffering
in the life to come if we are willing to pay a price now, in the form of obeying certain rules.
That makes the benefit of our compliance accrue to someone else or indeed to Allah. This
is wrong because Allah does not benefit at all by our obedience or compliance of His
rules. Read if you will, the sacred ( or Qudsi ) Hadith in which the Prophet quotes Allah
as saying:

  "My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and you will not
  attain benefiting Me so as to benefit Me. My servants, were the first of you and the
  last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious
  heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in any way. My
  servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of
  you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not
  decrease My kingdom in any way. My servants, were the first of you and the last of
  you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a
  request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not
  decrease what I have, anymore than a needle decreased the sea if dipped into it. My
  servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for,
  so let him who finds good praise Allah and let him who finds other than that blame
  no one but himself." (Related by Muslim, At-Tirmithi and ibn Majah)

If our worship and compliance with Allah's orders does not benefit Him, why are we then
required to do it? The answer is: For our own benefit, Allah has created us the way we
are, and has sent us messengers to show us how to lead a happy human life. Their role is
to point out to us what benefits us and what spares us problems and misery. What they
have conveyed to us is a complete message which outlines an integrated system, devised
by Allah, who has created man and who knows what benefits us and suits him, to be
implemented in human life and to bring man happiness. Thus, when we obey Allah's
rules, we are beneficiaries. The benefit is immediate, because the rules are made so that
they spare man affliction, contradiction and confusion. You say that you try to live by the
Islamic code. Have you asked yourself: What benefit to Allah are your prayers and your
fasting? When you think deeply about it you are bound to conclude that they can benefit
Him in no way. But prayers certainly benefit you by keeping you always on your guard
against temptation and falling in sin. Fasting also teaches you self-discipline. When a
human being puts Allah's constitution behind his back, it is he who suffers. He does not
harm Allah in any way. So the choice we have in this life is whether to do what is right
and enjoy its benefits immediately in this life, or to reject it and suffer the consequences
of this rejection.

Moreover, complete obedience to Allah is not possible, not even by the best human
beings. Everyone is liable to error and every one errs. But when we do, we seek Allah's
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forgiveness and it is forthcoming when our request is genuine. Let us not forget that a
human being may be in error throughout his life, but then he realizes his mistake and
repents them, seeking Allah's forgiveness. He may die shortly after that, but he is
forgiven everything he has done in his past. If you take this example and that of a person
who lives the most pious life and put them together, what do you get? You will find that
even the most pious person slips often enough to incur punishment. He cannot thank
and praise Allah enough for His blessings, yet he disobeys Him. If Allah were to treat him
according to the merits and demerits of what he does, he would throw him in hell., But
Allah does not do that. He forgives everyone who turns to Him in genuine repentance,
even the most wicked of mankind.

Therefore, we must not view our obedience of Allah's message as something which is
sufficient to ensure our salvation. Our salvation is attained only through Allah's grace.
But the choice is ours throughout our lives. The choice is to adopt a responsive or defiant
attitude. Although when we make the right choice, we do not live up to it, Allah's grace is
so great that our choice ensures our salvation.

• Birth — the purpose of our birth
Is anything mentioned in the Qur'an regarding the purpose of our
birth? It seems that we are born to eat, work, sleep and get
married, and perhaps pray but to create problems for others as
well. Are we, Muslims, doing anything good for the benefit of
human beings, as the West is doing? It looks as if we are living our
lives without any specific purpose or goal.
You may be true about the condition of Muslims nowadays, the large majority of whom
do not seem to have any specific purpose in life. But that is their own fault as they seem
to neglect looking into their main sources of faith to determine their duties and their
mission in life.

However, it is clearly mentioned in the Qur'an that God has created us to put us to a test
so that we may prove who of us can utilize his life to the best purpose. God states in the
Qur'an:

     "He is the One who created the heavens and the earth in six days. His throne
     rises over the water, so He may test you: Who is finest in action." (11;7)

In the system of God's creation, there are the angels who can do only what is good. At no
time can an angel do something evil or disobey God. On the other hand, Satans are the
opposites: They can do only evil. Man is given the power of choice and he determines for
himself whether to follow the guidance provided by God through his messengers or to
indulge in satisfying his wanton desires. The test is made clear for man right from his
early years and the chance to rectify his attitude and choose what is good for him is
offered at every juncture. In fact, if he errs, he can at any moment correct his error,
repent and turn to God for forgiveness. If he does so, then he is forgiven. When people
abandon God's guidance, their lives on earth seem to be nothing more than eating,
drinking and self-indulgence. God says in the Qur'an:

     "God will admit the ones who believe and perform righteous deeds into gardens
     through which rivers flow, while those who disbelieve will enjoy themselves and
     eat just as animals do, and the fire will be their lodging place." (47;12)
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                95


You add that some people who pray also create problems for others. I am afraid that not
many people do pray, but quite many of them are guilty of mischief, and try to take
advantage of others, paying no attention to other people's interest.

You ask whether we do any good for the benefit of other human beings, citing the
example of Westerners as do-gooders. I can say that as a community, a nation, or
followers of a great faith, most of us do not do much good.

However, some of us, in our little way, do a great deal for other people. Nevertheless, the
example you have chosen does not serve your purpose well. In order to be clear, I
acknowledge without hesitation that as individuals, the majority of Western people are
good in their own way. But when we speak of a society and a government, then it is the
West which has spent and is still spending so much on arms of mass destruction, selling
them to countries in the Third World and encouraging them to make their countries
experimental battle fields, thus sapping their resources and keeping them in continuing
poverty. I realize that we should not blame the West for our own mistakes, but when we
speak of the West as governments and societies working for the benefit of mankind, then
our argument may be heavily lopsided.

• Birthday of the Prophet, peace be upon him: Celebration of
In many Muslim countries, the Prophet's birthday is celebrated
with functions which include chanting slogans and poems. Since
some scholars participate in these functions, it is assumed that
they are appropriate. Please comment.
Neither the Prophet nor any of his companions celebrated or marked his birthday in any
way or manner. Hence, we cannot attribute any particular significance to such an
occasion. What we have to remember is that our religion, as conveyed to us by the
Prophet, is complete. Nothing can be added to it. Allah Himself says in the Qur'an that He
has completed and perfected our religion for us. If something has been perfected by
Allah, it cannot be made "more perfect" by man through any additions or amendment.
The question is simple and straightforward. If the Prophet and his companions
considered celebrating the Prophet's birthday to be part of our worship, then why did
they not do it? They cannot be accused of any omission, since the Prophet conveyed
Allah's message complete to us. His companions were keen to fulfill every obligation and
recommendation he pointed out to them. Since none of them celebrated the Prophet's
birthday, it follows then that it has no particular significance.

Those scholars who take part in such activities either do this in order to keep traditional
practices, or they are not scholars at all. If they know that such celebrations are not part
of Islamic worship, then they should try to enlighten people, not simply do what the
people like them to do. Otherwise, they would not have fulfilled their trust. If their
knowledge is incomplete, we should seek guidance from learned scholars.

• Birthday of the Prophet, peace be upon him: Significance of
The month of Rabi Ul-Awal, which is the third month of the lunar year, has a special
significance for Muslims. According to the more authentic reports, Prophet Muhammad,
peace be upon him, ibn Abdullah was born in that month, ..... His birth signaled a new
stage in human history, since he was destined to be the man who would receive and
convey Allah's final message to mankind. With him the process of divine revelation was to
reach its climax, for it was through Muhammad, peace be upon him, that we received the
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Qur'an, which provided a complete and final constitution for human life on earth. Allah
has taken it upon Himself to preserve the Qur'an intact in order that all human
generations should have the same divine guidance.

The occasion of the birth of the Prophet was, then, a great one. Yet we do not celebrate
his birth in any formal or ritual manner. This is because we have received our religion of
Islam from Allah through Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Allah has given us
our religion complete, and by doing so, He has perfected the grace He has bestowed on
us, as He expressly tells us in Verse 3 of Surah 5: "This day I have completed your
religion for you and perfected My grace on you and have chosen Islam to be your
religion." What is complete and perfect can admit no addition. The Prophet did not
celebrate his birthday, nor did he ever hint that its celebration was of any religious
significance. His companions, who provided the perfect model of how Islam should be
practiced, did not celebrate it either. Hence, we cannot make of the Prophet's birthday a
religious occasion.

It is always important, however, to remember the Prophet and give him the love and
respect he deserves. He was the means through which we received Allah's guidance.
Equally important was the fact that he provided for us the perfect example of how to live
in accordance with that guidance. Every thought, every feeling and every deed he had or
did was conceived within the framework of the guidance Allah chose for man. Every
utterance or statement he made had the single aim of getting people to know Allah's
guidance and put it into practice. Nothing gave him greater happiness than the
acceptance of Islam by a new person. He personally did not gain anything from that. His
only gain was that another human being had seen the light.

Ever since the Prophet realized what role Allah had chosen for him, he dedicated himself
totally to the task in hand. He did not hesitate to take any risk, speak to any person,
undertake any action or spend any amount of money in service of his cause. He did not
aspire to any of the luxuries of this life. He lived the life of a poor man. When he was the
sole master of the whole of Arabia, he prayed: "My Lord, let me live a poor man, and die a
poor man, and resurrect me on the day of judgment with the poor."

The Qur'an describes the Prophet as "kind and benevolent to the believers." His kindness
and benevolence was unequaled. They were also shown, in equal measure, to all
believers. He would go himself to a family in order to propose to them that they marry
their daughter to a poor man of his companions, knowing that the man stood little
chance of being accepted should he go by himself.

He would lay the body of a dead young man of his companions in his grave and pray
Allah to be pleased with him because the young man did not have any relatives in the
Muslim community. His companions were unanimous in describing the great care he
showed to the weak among his companions. We are told that any young child was able to
take him by the hand wherever it wanted. He would not leave it until he had done for it
whatever it wanted.

He enjoyed the love of his companions and followers to a degree which defied any
comparison. They laid their lives at his fingertip. They did not make him forget his
modesty at any moment. He continued to remind them that he was simply "the son of a
Makkan woman who used to eat dried meat."

Yet his anger was great indeed when anyone tried to usurp a right which belonged to
Allah.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                97


He recognized the great favor Allah bestowed on him by choosing him to convey His last
message to mankind. When he conquered Makkah, an almost bloodless conquest which
represented his greatest victory, he entered the holy city with his head as low as possible,
in gratitude to Allah for that favor.

The Prophet was a great statesman and a shrewd military commander. He was also the
perfect model of modesty, kindness and compassion. He conveyed his message complete
and perfect. He has left with us divine guidance which ensures that we do not sink into
error. He, then, deserves our whole love.

How should we love the Prophet? He has indeed given us guidance even on this question.
He tells us: "No one of you is a true believer until I am dearer to him than himself, his
money, children and all people." His great companion, Umar, once said to him:
"Messenger of Allah, you are dearer to me than everything else with the exception of
myself." The Prophet said: "No, Umar! You must love me more than you love yourself."
Umar said: "I do love you more than I love everything else, including myself." The Prophet
said: "Now you have got it, Umar," meaning true faith.

This is not a simple thing, easily achieved. It is something which requires a great effort
and a perfect understanding of Islam and the position of the Prophet. Moreover, it
requires us to overcome our natural and deeply seated love of ourselves in order to obey
the Prophet in every small matter as we obey him in the more serious affairs.

• Biscuits with surah for improving memory
My son who is aged 12 is in the initial stage of memorizing the
Qur'an. A friend of mine suggested to me to give him biscuits to eat
after writing on them the surah 'Al-Fateha', or the Opening with
saffron. I know the importance of this surah, but I am at a loss to
understand how can it be used as energizer. To support his
argument, my friend has shown me some religious books as
reference. Your comments will be highly appreciated.
I am too at a loss to understand what your friend has suggested. You may ask your
friend whether it is the biscuits, the saffron or the surah which helps the memorizing this
way. Or is it perhaps the three together. Will the prescription work if you use the saffron
to write on something other than biscuits? What if you write it with sugar or a mixture of
spices? To my mind, this is an absolute absurdity. The Qur'an is not to be used in this
way. It is far better for your son to start his session of memorization with reading the
surah Al-Fateha, to put himself in the proper frame of mind for memorization. You may
help him by a little prayer to Allah to help him. On the other hand, for any mental
exercise, it helps if the boy is well nourished. This is not to say that he should eat before
a session of memorization, but to have enough nourishment generally. Also it helps if he
has enough recreation. In other words, you should not be too strict with your son,
allowing him no time to play in order to attend to his lessons and memorization of the
Qur'an. A boy at this age needs physical exercise and mental recreation.

You say that he showed you some books as reference, and you call these books religious.
Let me tell you very briefly that not everything you read in a book which the author or the
readers claim to be a religious book is correct. There is plenty of stuff claimed to be part
of our religion which has no foundation whatsoever.
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Therefore, when you find something contrary to common sense being claimed to be part
of our religion, you should question it. Your questioning should be on the lines that you
will need supporting evidence from the Qur'an or the authentic Hadith. If no such
support is provided, then you hold it in doubt until you make sure of its correctness by
asking a scholar who should be able to give you the religious argument for it. If he cannot
give you supporting evidence or a sound argument, then he probably is not a well read
scholar. You then leave that thing altogether.

• Bowing when we greet
What is the Islamic view of bowing when we greet someone?
Any action which is similar to an act of worship is forbidden in Islam when it is offered to
anyone other than Allah. To bow one's head or to do any similar gesture when one meets
another person is to do something akin to an act of worship. Therefore, it is unacceptable
from the Islamic point of view. As you realize, bowing is part of our prayer. Even when
you do not bow fully as you do in prayer, to lower your head in order to greet someone
falls in the same category as doing something which is similar to worship, but you are
offering it to a human being. That cannot be sanctioned by Islam.

• Boy meets (or goes out with) a girl
I have tried to find a ruling in the Qur'an or the Hadiths on a man
going out with a woman, but I could find none. Since it is only
natural to be attracted to the opposite sex, it seems to me that
such a meeting, or going out, is permissible. If you disagree, how
could you justify your ruling, when it is Allah who has made this
mutual attraction part of our nature?
It is true that Allah has placed this attraction in our nature. Otherwise, humankind
would not have been preserved. Allah, however, wants us to satisfy our natural desire in
a clean, legitimate way. Therefore, He regulated the relationship between the two sexes on
the basis of marriage.

This applies to every natural desire common to all mankind. We need to eat in order to
live and there is a natural desire to eat which is common to all people. Unlike animals,
which satisfy their hunger in a mechanical, instinctive way, man has refined his
approach to food so as to make it part of human civilization. It is natural for men to enjoy
tasty food. If you are walking along a country road and you see a fruit tree, heavy with
ripe, tasty fruit, you are not allowed to pick one and eat it without the permission of the
owner. Yet, if you do, you are only satisfying a natural desire which is closely related to
your existence. As you know, without food we cannot live more than a few days. All
human beings agree that only goods obtained in a legitimate manner are permissible to
eat. You cannot just take what does not belong to you. You have to buy it or be given it as
a present. Otherwise, you commit a sin if you take it away. The same applies to the
satisfaction of natural tendencies of establishing a relationship which must be legitimate
and the only legitimate relationship in this connection is that of marriage. The fact that
the attraction is natural does not mean that we can seek its satisfaction in an unruly or
undisciplined manner. Its satisfaction is regulated within the marriage institution. This
distinguishes Islamic society by its clean, healthy relationship.

It is forbidden in Islam for a man to be alone with a woman who is not his wife, or a very
close relative (i.e. one whom he cannot marry), in a room where they cannot be seen. This
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                99


is not due to any lack of trust in either the man or the woman. It is only meant to
strengthen them against any temptation. Abdullah ibn Abbas quotes the Prophet as
saying: "Let no one of you be alone with a woman except in the presence of a relative
whom she may not marry." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Ahmad also relates a
Hadith in which the Prophet is quoted to have said: "He who believes in Allah and the
Last Day must not be alone with a woman without the presence of a close relative of hers
which she may not marry. Otherwise, Satan would be the third one with them." This
applies even to a relative whom the woman may marry such as her cousin. She must
never allow herself to be alone with him where they cannot be seen.

• Bribery viz.-a-viz. coercion
In my country, corruption has become so widespread among
government officials that it is almost impossible to obtain one's
rights without having to pay some official or another. In some
cases, people have to pay government officials just to be allowed to
carry on with their business which is legitimate and allowed by the
government. If the official is not paid, he creates untold problems.
Scholars in our locality say that paying such bribes is permissible.
Please comment.
There is no doubt that bribery is forbidden. The Prophet curses the one who pays bribery
and the one who receives it. We have, however, to be clear about what constitutes
bribery. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as: "Money, etc. offered to procure (often
illegal or dishonest) action or decision in favor of the giver." This is indeed the sense of
the Arabic word "Rashwah" which the Prophet has used in the Hadith which invokes
Allah's curse on both the briber and the bribed. The reason is that through bribe the
giver gains an unfair advantage. The practice is, therefore, an unjust one since it causes
another person to be deprived of his rights. Moreover, the recipient of a bribe uses his
position in order to give unfair advantage to the giver. [ Be it just the fact that the giver
gets his perfectly legitimate work done - out of his proper turn. Thus, another person's
turn is delayed and an unfair advantage is obtained by the giver. This is equally
unacceptable.) This is corruption if any action deserves the description of being corrupt.

What you are speaking about, however, is something different. A government official
makes use of his position in order to procure for himself something which he cannot
otherwise get. Moreover, what he is receiving is paid to him by people against their will.
Had the matter been left to them, they would not have paid him a single halalah (one
hundredth of a riyal). Therefore, we cannot describe it as paying bribery. One is actually
paying a penalty or a fine, for nothing wrong one has done, but simply to be allowed to
carry on with one's legitimate business.

Keeping that in view, I would say that if you are absolutely certain that what you are
doing is absolutely legitimate and you are not seeking to have unfair advantage and you
are paying that official simply to avoid whatever trouble he can cause you, then it is not
forbidden to pay him. If you can do without payment, it is all the better, but if you cannot
get your right without giving a "sweetener", as the expression goes, then you have no
option.

Some scholars take a stricter view and say that when we pay such officials, we are
actually encouraging them to use their position unfairly. If many of us stand up to them
and refuse to pay them, then they will not be able to demand payment. This is certainly
100                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


true, but we are often in a position where we cannot do anything about our immediate
situation. (We submit to coercion.) We should try hard to stop such a practice, but until
we are able to do so, we may have occasionally to play the game as it is.

• Bridge to hell
Religious preachers in my country often mention a bridge which
they describe as sharper than the edge of a sword. They claim that
everyone will be required to cross it on the Day of Judgment. The
pious will pass without difficulty, while the non-believers will fall
off it into hell. Please comment.
Allah tells us in the Qur'an that every single person shall come close to hell. He says:
"Everyone of you will come within sight of it: this is with your Lord a decree that must be
fulfilled. We shall then save (from hell) those who have been God-fearing: but We shall
leave in it the evildoers, on their knees." (19:71-72). There are several Hadiths which
mention "the bridge to hell". While one report mentions that this bridge is as sharp as the
edge of a sword, the more authentic ones do not mention that particular aspect. These
authentic Hadiths mention that believers will cross it as quickly as a wink, or lighting, or
wind, or fast horses. What determines their speed is the quality of their deeds in this
world. Those with the best deeds are the first and the fastest to cross it. In a Hadith
reported by Abdullah ibn Massoud, the Prophet is quoted as saying: "They (i.e. believers)
are told to save themselves according to their light (which is given them in proportion to
their good deeds). Some of them will pass as quickly as a wink, some as wind, some as
birds, some as fast horses and some as people running. The last of them is a man who
has no more light than the size of his large toes, and who stumbles over the bridge. In
one version of this Hadith, this last person is reported to turn to Allah and ask Him why
has He made his crossing so slow. Allah will answer him: "It is your deeds that have
made you slow." It is needless to say that the non believers will not be able to cross this
bridge.

• Brothers — their obligations to sisters
What are the obligations of an elder married brother to his younger
sisters, some of whom are unmarried but their parents have died?
Is he required to tighten his belt so much in order to give his
younger sisters good education? Is it right that he should waive his
right to the property left by his parents so that his sisters may
have it all for their own, claiming that this would provide for only a
temporary life. A further reason he gives is that his father has the
right to give the property to whomsoever he wanted because the
father was the owner. If that elder brother's wife objects, she is told
that she does not have any right to do so. Please comment, and
kindly point out whether it is right that a woman should work for
her living rather than be a dependent on her brother.
From the way this question is phrased, I can guess that it reflects some long-standing
contention between a man with a keen sense of responsibility toward his family,
particularly his sisters and an attitude of self-denial that extends before what can be
reasonably expected of him in order to impose sacrifice on his own wife and children. Let
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               101


me say first of all that I am full of admiration for such a person, although I feel he may
need to take some highly necessary steps to ensure balance in his overall attitude.

The first thing to be said about this gentleman is that he prefers to ensure that his sisters
have their full shares and receive good education, even though that might deprive him of
something to which he is fairly entitled. This gentleman may expect to receive the right
reward which God preserves for those who look properly after their womenfolk. The
Prophet is quoted to have said: "A person who looks well after two young girls until they
come of age will be my companion in heaven." If a man understands this properly and
works for this prize, always ready to sacrifice what belongs to him in order to ensure that
his sisters or his daughters receive their fair share, or even more than their fair share,
then he must not be blamed. He is like a person who has been promised a very rich prize
and works hard to achieve it.

The man who is the subject of this question appears to have a good vision of what his
sisters need. Therefore, he is sacrificing his comfort to have his sisters educated. It is
their education that would ensure that they are well brought up.

Although the questioner does not give me the full details of the problem, I gather that this
man's father had wanted his family home to be shared out between the daughters, and
that this elder brother has approved this. What I have to say about this situation is that
the father should not have done so. He should have maintained justice between his
children. But if the son, or the eldest son in this case, has approved what his father has
done, then the matter is settled. The son's wife does not have the right to object, because
this is a matter between members of her husband's family and they have to make an
agreement together. If she accepts this situation and shows her husband that she fully
appreciates his kindness to his sisters, she will get better than the lost share which has
raised her complaint. Her husband appears to be a very kind man. His kindness will not
end with his sisters. She is bound to receive her fair share of it provided that she shows
that she is keen to have peace in her family. Therefore, she should not always remind
him that he is doing this and that for his sisters. She should tell him that she is proud to
have such a kind man for a husband.

What worries me in this whole situation is that this man may be asking his wife and
children to sacrifice their comfort for the sake of others. If his kindness to his sisters
creates an imbalance, then he should reconsider some of his actions. He should ensure
that his wife and children receive their fair share of his kindness. If he does, then no one
can object to the kindness he may show to his sisters.

There is no reason to prevent a Muslim woman doing any honorable or respectable job to
earn her living instead of being dependent on her family.

• Bullet-proof soldiers
In our un-conquered Bansamoro country, a great number of Moro
Mujahedeen are famous for being invincible. They fight with the
ferocity of a tiger and bravery of a lion. Rain of bullets from
firearms do not touch their bodies, even when fired from a close
range. If any such bullet touches them, it only leaves a mark on
their skin similar to that of a cigarette burn. Their fearlessness is
an inherent characteristic. What makes them highly confident is
their belief that it is Allah's will, not bullets, which may kill them. I
102                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


have seen some of them totally unaffected by the passing of any
cutting tool with a sharp blade over their bodies. They say that
they derive their invincible power from Allah, the Almighty. They do
a great deal of "thikr," remembering Allah's name, and they have
special skills which enable them to face great weapons rather than
fight them. May I ask whether we have in our history any stories of
invincible Muslim fighters. Is it possible for us to perform miracles
or do extraordinary things if we are absorbed with thikr, or
remembrance of Allah?
According to Islamic beliefs, Allah is able to do everything and He has power over all
people and all forces. Indeed, nothing operates without His permission. That permission
is given when He creates something and gives it its essential and inherent characteristics.
He has, for example, given the sun its heat. Therefore, when the sun shines over
something, it warms, heats or burns it. It does so by Allah's permission since He has
given it the ability. He is always able to withdraw this permission and stop any
characteristic or power from working. Perhaps the clearest example of how this works is
the case of Ibrahim, when his people threw him in the fire.

Ibrahim destroyed the idols worshipped by his people on a day when they were absent
from town. On returning, they questioned him and established that this was his own
doing. They sentenced him to death by fire. They lit up a huge fire and threw Ibrahim in
it. According to the laws of nature, which have been set in operation by Allah, Ibrahim
should have been burned, since Allah has given fire the ability to burn human flesh and
bones. However, with a simple command from Him, Allah stopped the fire from burning
Ibrahim. There is nothing strange in that, despite its miraculous aspect. Miracles appear
to us to be supernatural, because we classify as "natural" only what is familiar to us. To
Allah, however, everything is natural. Setting a certain natural law in motion is as
natural as stopping that law. For an essential characteristic to be operative and evident
in a particular situation for millions of years is as natural as stopping it in a particular
case, and for a particular purpose.

If we apply this to war and firearms, we say that, with Allah's permission, bullets kill
human beings when they are shot in certain parts of their bodies such as their hearts or
brains. This is the total sum of several inherent characteristics which are fulfilled in the
firing of a bullet from a shotgun. The bullet which has a piercing head travels at high
velocity and penetrates through the body causing a fatal injury. Allah can withdraw His
permission and stop the bullet from either penetrating through the body or killing the
person hit by it, or indeed He may prevent it from being fired. If he decides to do any of
these things, the bullet will not kill the person at whom it is shot. To do this is as easy
and simple as setting the original laws and giving the essential characteristics to the
firearm and the bullet in the first place. There is nothing unnatural or supernatural in it,
because everything is natural to Allah.

To sum up, Allah is able to make a particular group of fighters immune from the effects
of their enemies' arms, if He so chooses. He may do so in any way He likes, whether by
rendering the weapons un-operational, or making their operation ineffective.

Now the question which we need to answer is whether Allah does this sort of thing and
orders that certain phenomena be overruled, in order to allow Muslim fighters to be
saved. We have already said that He is able to do so, but whether He acts on that ability
    Our Dialogue                SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  103


or not is a different matter. The answer is that He normally does not, for a variety of
reasons.

Allah defines the struggle by the believers in support of His cause in terms of a deal
which He has concluded with them. He says in the Qur'an: "Allah has bought from them
in return for giving them paradise; they fight for Allah's cause and kill and get killed."
These terms mean that being killed by the unbelievers is part of the bargain. Indeed,
without it, the deal is meaningless. If Muslim fighters were to understand that they are
immune from being killed, everyone will join the fight. But everyone must know that
when he takes part in a campaign of jihad, he runs the risk of being killed. Indeed, that
is the best of sincerity.

Jihad is the prefect translation into practice of our claim that we truly believe in Allah.
This is because jihad involves a real risk of losing one's life. Jihad means sacrifice of life
and property. It is for this reason that it earns such a great reward, namely, a certitude of
being admitted into heaven. When the risk element is taken away from jihad, there is no
way of knowing who is a true believer and who is not. We cannot say that those who are
given the special power of being hit by their enemies bullets and are not saved by Allah
are the ones who are true believers. If so, how is it that Allah did not save millions of
martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the cause of Islam throughout its history? A large
number of the companions of the Prophet were killed in battle, including some who were
most distinguished and best loved by the Prophet. Perhaps the most famous among these
is Hamza, the Prophet's uncle, whom he had described as "the most honored of martyrs."
We remember that Hamza was not only killed in battle, but he was disfigured as well.
How is it that Allah permitted his killing, if it is His will to save those who fight for his
cause in the Moro country? Are they better servants of Allah than Hamza? Indeed not.

It may be suggested that if those fighters were to be defeated, the whole country might be
turned away from Islam. Nevertheless, this has not been a reason for Allah's direct
interference to save a certain community of believers. Allah tells us in the Qur'an about
disbelievers who set up a huge fire and threw the believers in it. That is the story of "The
People of the Pit" of fire. According to the story told to us by Allah, all the believers in that
community were thrown in the fire and all of them died. .

What I am driving at is that Allah wants us to prove our faith in the setting He has
chosen for human life. We are influenced by natural forces in the same way as our
enemies are. He says to us: "If you suffer pain, they (i.e. the disbelievers) suffer pain in
the same way as you do." In other words, the laws of nature affect us in the same way as
it affects them. We make our achievements, with Allah's help, by our efforts.

You ask whether it is possible for a person to achieve miraculous powers through the
remembrance of Allah, i.e. thikr. The answer is that the remembrance of Allah gives us
great support. We are able to show greater courage. Through this remembrance, we are
also able to weigh matters up in the proper perspective. We do not give undue importance
to life or to any other factor. We realize that life on earth is not our ultimate goal. Indeed,
happiness in the hereafter is our greatest prize. Therefore, we seek it even if we have to
risk our lives in the process. The remembrance of Allah gives us the courage to make
such a decision and the strength to carry it through.

It may be said that in certain events, miracles happened and believers were able to
escape from the effects of natural phenomena. Some might not have been drowned
despite being thrown in the sea and not knowing how to swim. That is certainly possible,
but only if Allah wills it. However, Allah does not issue His orders to overrule the laws of
nature He has set in operation simply to fulfill the desire of His servants. Indeed the
104                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


believers have no say in the matter. If He chooses to take such a decision and overrule
the laws of nature, He does so at His own time, and in accordance with His own free will.
No one, not even the greatest of believers, can say that He will be performing a miracle in
the next five minutes, or five months, or five years or even five centuries. Miracles happen
by instructions given by Allah at the time and in the way He pleases. That is not related
to what believers may feel to be the appropriate purpose.

In view of this, I wish to add that I am not convinced of the story of the "invincible"
fighters, not because it cannot happen, but because Allah wishes His laws of nature to
operate smoothly.

• Burial: Delayed
If a foreign worker dies, how soon should he be buried? Is it
appropriate for the employer to delay burial until he receives the
consent of the worker's parents or next of kin? Does this not
intervene the rule which specifies a time limit for burial?
Let me first of all say that there is no time limit for burial. Islam does not say that a dead
person should be buried within a particular number of hours or days after the death has
occurred. Having said that, it is well known that it is more appropriate from the Islamic
point of view to bury a person as soon as possible after his death. Burial is not to be
delayed unnecessarily. When it is feared that the body of a deceased person could begin
to decompose, preparation for burial should be started with maximum speed. On the
other hand, if there is a valid reason for a delay in burial, then this is acceptable. Such
delay may be necessary if a crime is suspected. A coroner may require a postmortem to
be carried out in order to determine the cause of death. This will inevitably delay burial,
but this is certainly acceptable.

In the case you have mentioned, the employer may have felt that the relatives of the
deceased worker may wish to have the body returned to the worker's home country for
burial there. From the Islamic point of view, it is undesirable that a person be sent from
one country to another for burial. [or, for that matter, from one town in the same country
to another town.] Even when a Muslim dies in a non-Muslim area, it is perfectly
appropriate for him to be buried there. There is no need for him to be taken away to a
Muslim country. The whole earth belongs to Allah and wherever we are buried, He
resurrects us on the day of judgment.

• Buying good deeds done by others
If a person is able to transfer the reward of his good deeds to
others, would it be also possible for the recipient to buy such good
deeds? If so, then rich people would have every chance of buying
any amount of reward they need. On the other hand, is it possible
to transfer the punishment of a bad deed to another person?
I could not tell from the tone and style of the writer whether he is asking a genuine
question with the need to know the answer, or whether he wants only to express his
objection to the view that reward may be transferred and the recipient stands to benefit
by the work of other people. If it is the latter, then he has certainly aroused my interest
by his original method of argument.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               105


If the question is genuine, then the answer is very simple. It is not in the power of anyone
to transfer the sin of an action he does to another person. Otherwise, the whole idea of
reckoning and being answerable for one's deeds becomes a mere game. People who have
a grudge against others would try to get their revenge by doing something and
transferring it to those whom they do not like. God then becomes a mere book-keeper
recording what people want to do to their fellow-human beings in order to settle their
accounts with them. Far be it from God's justice to do any such thing.

Yet people may have a grievance against others, and sometimes the grievances are
genuine. There is much injustice in the world and all injustice is an assault by one
person on the rights of another. It is often the case that the person who is at the receiving
end of injustice has no way of repelling such injustice or protecting his rights, or
retrieving what is rightfully his. The answer to that is not by allowing such a victim of
injustice to transfer the sin of a bad deed to his oppressor, but to seek God's help in the
establishment of justice. God will certainly retrieve the right of everyone of His servants,
and He will punish the perpetrator of injustice, no matter what great power they may
enjoy in this life.

As for buying the reward for good actions, this is again absurd. Money is not the way to
earn reward, except when it is spent for a good purpose.

A person with money will earn more reward when he spends more on charitable
purposes. If a rich person opens a school for the children of those who are poor and
provides them with free education, or if he gives financial support to an orphanage, then
he will certainly earn reward from God. But he cannot employ someone to do some good
deeds and transfer them to him. Imagine someone offering an amount of money to a
person who fasts or prays on his behalf! That is certainly absurd.

Yet it is possible to do something good and request Allah to credit its reward to someone
else. That is a gift we may give to others. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has clearly
stated that a woman may do the pilgrimage on behalf of her father who has become too
old to withstand the difficulty of the journey. He himself included in his supplications
prayers for some people and he named these people on certain occasions. If you give
something to charity and pray God to credit it to your deceased mother, then your action
shows your belief in God and the day of judgment, and your dutifulness to your mother
as well as your wise choice of a good deed to enhance your own and your mother's
positions on the day of reckoning.
106                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue




• Carrion: Forbidden to eat — but ...
The ingredients shown on some European types of cheese show
rennet as one of them. This is taken from a calf's stomach and
used in the making of cheese for thickening and compacting. I
wonder whether such cheese is permissible to eat for Muslims
because, mostly, the cows are not slaughtered in the Islamic way.
Once the Prophet passed by a house and found near it a dead sheep. He suggested to its
inhabitants that they should take the hide of that sheep and use it. They told him that
the sheep died by a natural cause, and as such it was carrion. As you realize, carrion is
forbidden to eat. The Prophet said to them that he did not mean that they could eat it,
but the fact that the sheep died natural death does not preclude using its hide to some
benefit. This applies to other parts of any dead animal. As long as we are not using it for
food, then we can make use of it. This rennet is used as a chemical in the making of
cheese. When it is used up, it becomes part of a chemical process and it changes its
substance. The outcome is totally different from the stuff that entered into the process.
Nor is it possible to separate the cheese in order to get back the milk and the other
ingredients that go into the making of that cheese. It is a rule in such situations that if a
forbidden substance is used in a chemical process and changes its nature altogether
then it becomes permissible to consume. This means that it is perfectly appropriate to eat
the European cheese which uses rennet, as long as the rennet is not taken from pigs, but
from cows or other animals which are lawful for a Muslim to eat.

Moreover, although the Europeans do not slaughter their animals in the Muslim fashion,
their meat is permissible to eat because God says that the food of people who believe in
earlier divine religions is permissible for Muslims to eat. He did not make any conditions
on the method of slaughter of such meat. What they accept as lawful in their religion is
permissible for us to eat, unless it is specifically forbidden in our religion, such as pork.

• Celebrations — anniversaries and the like
Some people celebrate certain anniversaries, such as the birthday
of a child or death of a relative. What I would like to know is
whether such celebrations are acceptable or not from Islamic point
of view. I may add that when death anniversaries are marked they
often include certain activities such as a gathering to read the
Qur'an and providing food to those who are present. Some religious
people suggest that such food may only be given to poor or needy
people or to orphan children. Please comment.
It is important to know a basic rule in Islam that everything begins as permissible unless
something is introduced so as to make it forbidden. This may be a clear verdict of
prohibition stated in the Qur'an or in a Hadith or it may be a particular aspect of that
thing which takes it out of the realm of what is permissible in order to make it forbidden.
Moreover, the authority to prohibit anything belongs to God alone. No one may slam a
verdict of prohibition on any matter without supporting his view with clear evidence from
the Qur'an or the Prophet's statements or practices. If we take the two practices that you
have mentioned and say that either or both of them are forbidden we need to support our
verdict. If we cannot produce such evidence whatever we say is without foundation.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                107


Let us begin with birthdays. We have nothing in the Qur'an or the Sunnah to say that the
marking of the birthday of children is forbidden. Therefore, we have to look at the action
itself in order to find out whether it includes anything contrary to Islamic teaching or
principles.

If it does, then it will be forbidden on the basis of what it includes, not on the basis of
what it is. Bearing this in mind, we can say that if parents celebrate the birthday of their
children to imitate non-Muslims, feeling that the practices of such non-Muslims are
better than those Islam encourages, then such a celebration is forbidden. Similarly, if
adults mark their own birthday by organizing a function in which un-Islamic practices
are condoned, then that is also forbidden. However, if parents organize a birthday party
for their young child in which children gather to have some games, sing and have some
food and enjoy themselves generally, then there is nothing wrong with that.

Commemorating the death anniversary of any person is not acceptable because it is
borrowed from the practices of other religions. While it is permissible, and indeed
encouraged to pray God to have mercy on those of our relatives who are dead and that He
may forgive them all their sins, and also to read the Qur'an and pray God to credit the
reward of our recitation to the deceased, what is done in some communities where death
anniversaries are common practice does not win Islamic approval. To start with, the
practices themselves are worship practices, but they were not practiced or approved by
the Prophet. Hence, they are innovations. That is sufficient to make them unacceptable.

The Prophet says: "Whosoever introduces into this matter of ours (meaning Islam)
something that does not belong to it shall have it rejected." Secondly, the provision of
food into these functions is done in a way that Islam rejects. While giving food to poor
people or orphans is highly commendable, the way it is done in these functions makes it
totally different. To start with, the food is placed at a certain place and the rituals are
then made in a way so as to suggest that this food is special. Besides, the notion that this
food may only be eaten by the poor is alien to Islamic thinking.

We may recall here that when a pilgrim slaughters a sheep in pilgrimage or when the Eid
sacrifice is slaughtered, we are expressly advised to "eat of it and feed the needy poor." It
is only when the sacrifice is offered in compensation for a missed duty that we are not
allowed to eat of it.

In this case it is a penalty for an omission. If the person offering it were to eat of it, the
purpose of the sacrifice will be missed and the offender will be rewarded rather than
penalized. All innovations in matters of religion are unacceptable, which means they are
forbidden.

• Ceremonial impurity [or janabah] — the state of
Could you please advise whether it is obligatory to remove the state
of ceremonial impurity immediately after one gets into it. This
becomes extremely difficult in the case of newly weds or for any
person who has involuntary urine discharge.
The state of ceremonial impurity, or janabah, occurs as a result of ejaculation, whether
involuntary, as in the case of a wet dream, or deliberate, or as a result of sexual
intercourse. To remove it, one has to have a full bath, washing his head and every part of
his body with water. So, a shower, without soap is sufficient. It is not possible to offer
prayers while a person is in a state of ceremonial impurity. Therefore, it is strongly
108                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


recommended to remove that state by taking a shower or a bath immediately. If that is
delayed, then one simply does not do well, but there is nothing sinful in it, unless it
causes him to miss an obligatory prayer.

If one happens to get into this state two or three times a day, it may not be easy for him
to have so many showers. Therefore, he should make sure that removing that state is
easy before one gets into it.

If it happens two or three times, without taking a shower in between then one shower
would remove it all. Suppose a person goes to sleep after he had prayed Fajr, and on
waking up he discovers that he has had a wet dream. He realizes that he must leave
home immediately because he is late for work. That is appropriate, if he knows that he
will come back before Asr time and he will be able to have his shower and pray Dhuhr on
arrival. Similarly, if one has more than one intercourse with his wife during the night, he
can have one shower for all. He is recommended, however, to have an ablution, or
wudhu', in between.

Involuntary discharge of urine is an illness which can be treated. For the purposes of
prayer, however, one should make sure that the urine does not fall on his clothes or his
body. [A urinal discharge does not cause ceremonial impurity and needs washing of the
affected areas of the body only.] What he should do is to tie a polyethylene bag with a
piece of cotton or tissue paper in it. When he wants to have ablution and pray, he
replaces it with a clean one and has his ablution. He needs to have a fresh ablution only
for every prayer, repeating the same method for cleanliness.

• Change came about — but how?
I was a person who cared very little about religion. I almost
ridiculed religion and those who were religious. I have even rejected
the existence of God and demonstrated that rejection in an
outrageous manner. Yet, one day in November last year, it all
changed. Waking up one morning, I started crying and kept saying
"please forgive me, my Lord." Since that day, I have stopped
smoking, drinking and all other sinful habits. How could all this
have happened?
Everything which is made or manufactured provides a testimony to its maker and its
manufacturer. If it is of high quality, then we conclude that the one who is responsible for
making it is an excellent professional or a master craftsman, etc. The universe which is
all Allah's creation, gives a most eloquent testimony to the great power of its Maker,
Allah, glorified be He. There are so many signs, indicators and pointers throughout the
universe, in the world around us, in our lives and within ourselves which emphasize the
basic truth of Allah's existence and His supremacy in the universe. Allah has given all
these indicators and asked us to contemplate on them and to draw out conclusions. He
knows that when we think logically about creation and about the universe, the basic
truth will inescapably sate us in the face. It is up to us to accept it and act upon it or
pretend that we do not see it. When someone aggressively tries to emphasize his rejection
of faith, he is subconsciously trying to justify his attitude of willfully turning a deaf ear to
the call of faith. He wants to smother the voice within him which tells him that he is
following the wrong way. He continues to do this until such an attitude of arrogant
disbelief becomes a second nature to him.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               109


As human beings, we are all amenable to accepting faith in the same degree. As you
undoubtedly realize, Allah requires everyone of us to believe in the same set of truths
which form the true faith of submission to Him alone. This applies in the same degree to
simple, uneducated people as well as to the most educated and sophisticated minds.
When we remember that Allah's justice is absolute, we conclude that we must have the
same amenability or susceptibility to accepting the faith and conducting our lives on its
principles. Hence, there is no human being who can be described as a natural
disbeliever. Indeed, if people remain true to their nature, they will want to know their
creator and they will continue to pursue a proper satisfaction of their inherent desire to
be believers. The best proof of this susceptibility is the fact that Allah addressed us all
with his message in the same language and in the same manner. The Qur'an, Allah's
revealed book which contains the final and complete version of His message to mankind,
speaks to all people alike. It does not distinguish between those who are highly educated
and those who have never been to school. There is no doubt that people who are endowed
with knowledge can have a profound understanding of Allah's message. It is equally true,
however, that Allah's message touches certain cores within man which make us all
willing to submit ourselves to Him.

When we reflect on this fact, we recognize that Allah's grace has been bestowed on us in
abundance. It is He who sent us messages to point to us the way which will lead us to
happiness in this life as well as in the life to come. It is He who has brought this process
of sending messages to its final stage when he sent Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon
him, with the complete and final form of the divine message. It is He who has guaranteed
to preserve this message intact for the rest of time so that all generations will have access
to it whenever they want. It is He who has made us responsive to His call and facilitated
for us acceptance of it by making that acceptance the door which leads us to a life of
happiness in this world and one of greater happiness in the hereafter.

Had Allah left things at that and imposed on us the duty to believe in Him and live up to
our faith, His grace would have been most abounding and we should have no excuse for
not responding to His message and following His messenger, Prophet Muhammad, peace
be upon him, who conveyed to us Allah's last message. But Allah has bestowed on us
much more of His grace. In the life of every single one of us, there are moments when we
find ourselves literally at the cross-roads between faith and unbelief. These moments
represent chances offered to every single one of us to follow the right direction. We either
take the chance so offered or we allow it to pass as though meant for someone else. What
is special about these moments or these chances is that at these particular points in
time, we see the issues involved most clearly. We are actually beckoned in a most
appealing way to follow the path of Islam. Yet, many of us deride that chance and choose
to go in the opposite direction.

I know someone whose determination to diligently follow the path of Islam is exemplary.
Yet nothing in his upbringing could have helped him make such a choice. Neither of his
parents cared about giving their child any sort of religious education. They sent him to a
school which regarded religious education a luxury that could not be afforded. He told me
about one moment in his life when he could feel that the choice was put to him in front of
his eyes. The issues were so clear that what he saw could have very well been in the
material world.

How do these moments or chances come about is something that Allah alone knows.
What we know is that they do not come to all of us in the same way, nor does the chance
repeat itself in the same manner twice. These are moments when our spiritual vision, as
it were, of the facts of existence is at its clearest. These moments are part of the guidance
110                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


with which Allah has provided us. None of us is forgotten. Each one of us is responsible
and is given his chance.

Perhaps what has happened to you was that you have experienced such a moment. It
may be something at which you could not point finger, but it is nevertheless real. Allah
has enabled you to see things as they truly are and to make the right choice. For that you
must thank Allah for the rest of your life, since you undoubtedly are enjoying the
blessings of being at peace with yourself and with the universe around you. It is that
peace which brings to the faithful a happiness that is inexhaustible.


• Charity: It is not a favor done by the giver
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent
The case of those who spend their wealth for the cause of Allah is
like that of a grain which brings forth seven ears, in every ear a
hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills.
Allah is munificent, All-Knowing. They who spend their wealth for
the cause of Allah and do not follow their spending by stressing
their own benevolence and with injury (to others) shall have their
reward with their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor shall they
grieve. A kind word with forgiveness is better than charity, followed
by injury. Allah is free of all wants, clement. Believers, do not
render your charitable deeds worthless by boasting about your
benevolence and causing injury to others, as does he who spends
his wealth only to show off and to be praised, while he believes
neither in Allah nor in the Last Day. Such a person is like a
smooth rock covered with earth. Then heavy rain falls on it and
leaves it hard and bare. Such as these shall gain nothing from
their works. Allah does not guide the non-believers. But those who
give away their wealth out of a genuine desire to please Allah, and
out of their own inner certainty are like a garden on a hillside.
Heavy rain falls on it, and it yields up twice its normal produce. If
no heavy rain falls on it, a slight drizzle (is sufficient). Allah sees all
you do. Would any one of you wish to have a garden of palms and
vines, through which rivers flow, then to be well advanced in age,
while his children are weak; and then a fiery whirlwind smites it
and leaves it all burned down? In this way Allah makes plain to
you His revelations, so that you may reflect. [The Cow — ―Al-
Baqarah‖: 2;261-266] Commentary by Sayyid Qutb — Translated
by Adil Salahi & Ashur Shamis.
This Qur'anic constitution does not start with imposing duties, but by encouragement
and persuasion. It attempts to awaken inner feelings and reaction within man's whole
being. It portrays an image of life which is vivid, ever-increasing, yielding its endless gifts:
that of plants, the gift of the land, or indeed the gift of Allah. Plants give much more than
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they take. Their yield and fruit are a great many times more than their seeds. This highly
impressive image is given as something very similar to those who spend their wealth for
the cause of Allah: The case of those who spend their wealth for the sake of Allah is like
that of a grain which brings forth seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains.

The simple, immediate meaning of the expression here requires a simple arithmetic
process which makes one grain yield seven hundreds. The vivid image provided here is,
however, much more impressive and beautiful. Its effect on man's conscience is much
more profound. It is an image of active life, nature at full sway, a plant making its gift.
Moreover, it is a scene of something miraculous in the realm of plants: a single grain
bringing forth seven ears, with each ear containing one hundred grains.

As the procession of ever-growing life continues its march, the Qur'an directs man's
conscience to give more and more. By doing so, it indeed gains.

It does not decrease: it increases. The process of giving and growing continues and it
awakens more and more of man's feelings to appreciate the scene of plants and their
yield. Allah increases His bounty many times over to whomever He wills, without any
need for keeping accounts. He gives and gives of His limitless bounty and His infinite
mercy: Allah is Munificent, All-Knowing. He is munificent: He does not stint His gifts
which are ever forthcoming. He also knows all, including people's intentions which He
rewards. Nothing can escape Allah's knowledge.

But what sort of spending is made to grow and grow? And what sort of gift is rewarded
with a manifold increase in this life and in the life to come? It is the kind of spending
which elevates human feelings and keeps them pure. It is the one which does not hurt
the feelings of others, and which is motivated by pure kindness and benevolence, and
which seeks only Allah's pleasure: Those who spend their wealth for the cause of Allah
and do not follow their spending by stressing their own benevolence and with injury (to
others) shall have their reward with their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor shall they
grieve.

To boast about what one gives away is certainly abominable. No one talks boastfully
about one's benevolence unless one is motivated by conceit, or a desire to humiliate the
recipient of his bounty, or to draw people's attention to himself. Hence, his generosity is
not for the sake of Allah, but to win favors with people. Such motives and desires are
alien to a pure heart of a true believer. Boasting makes charity an injury to both the giver
and the recipient. It injures the giver as it awakens within him feelings of pride and
conceit, as well as a desire to see his brother, the recipient, showing humbleness in his
presence. It further injures him because it fills his heart with hypocrisy and drives him
away from Allah. It is, on the other hand, an injury to the recipient as it makes him feel
his humbleness. He then reacts with harboring a grudge and a desire for revenge.

Islam does not view spending for the cause of Allah as merely a means to provide food for
the poor to eat. In the Islamic view, spending is a means to purify the soul of the giver
and to elevate it. It is also a means to arouse within him his humanitarian feelings so
that he feels the bond which unites him with his poor brother and reminds him of Allah's
grace and His bounty, as well as the term upon which he was given Allah's bounty,
namely, to enjoy it without extravagance or showiness, and to spend of it "for Allah's
cause" without reluctance or boasting. Islam also views such spending as a consolation
for the recipient and a cementation of his ties with his brother, the giver. It is also a
means to overcome the weakness of the community as a whole, so that it is built on a
solid foundation of mutual cooperation and security which brings to the fore its
awareness that it is a single entity which has the same direction and the same duties. If
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those who are charitable will stress their benevolence and boast of it they ruin all this
and make their spending a poisonous act and a fire which consumes the unity of the
society. Boastfulness, therefore, is an injury even when it is not accompanied by any
other form of injury, whether verbal or physical. It is an injury because it ruins a good
act, enhances grudges and tears the society apart.

A number of modern psychologists are of the view that the natural reaction to charity is
future hostility. They claim that the one who takes charity is bound to feel inferior to the
giver. His feeling of inferiority will continue to work on him, and he will then try to
overcome it by harboring hostility toward the giver, especially if he believes that the giver
wants him always to remember his kindness. This, in turn, enhances his distress at his
inferiority which then makes him hostile to the giver.

All this may be true of ignorant societies where Islam does not rule. This religion of ours
has a different method of tackling this problem. It establishes first that whatever is in the
hands of people belongs to Allah. Only those who do not know the direct and indirect
reasons of wealth and earnings dispute this. Everything which we have is given us by the
grace of Allah. We cannot possess any of it by our own means. For a single grain to exist,
it is necessary for natural forces, such as the sun, the earth, water and air to play their
respective roles. None of these forces is controlled by man. The same applies to the drop
of water, the string from which cloth is made and indeed to everything. Hence, if a rich
person gives something of this wealth in charity, he only gives away something which
belongs to Allah. If he does something good, he is only giving Allah a loan which is repaid
manifold. The needy person who stands at the other end is only a means through which
the giver gets a reward which is many times greater than what he gives. To stress this
meaning in people's hearts and to discourage people from boasting and to encourage the
needy to take their dues, Islam has laid down these moral values which we are
discussing. Both the giver and the recipient eat of what has been provided by Allah.
Those who give will receive their reward from Allah if they spend of Allah's money for
Allah's cause, observing the moral code He has laid down for them, and bound by the
terms of their covenant with Him. They have nothing to fear, for they will not be deprived
of what has been given to them. Nor would they have to content with other people's
grudges or with injustice. Nor shall they grieve for having to spend in this life, or over
what happens to them in the Hereafter.

Charity is worthless if it is followed by injury inflicted by the giver on the recipient. It is
far better to replace it by a kind word and a friendly feeling. A kind word helps fill
people's hearts with pleasure and content. Forgiveness washes away grudges and
replaces them with a feeling of friendship and brotherhood. Together they achieve the
primary purpose of charity, namely, the purification of hearts and the strengthening of
friendly feelings.

Charity is not a favor done by the giver to the recipient; it is a loan given to Allah. Hence,
the statement is included with this comment: Allah is free of all wants, clement. He is in
no need of charity followed by injury. A manifest of His clemency is given by the fact that
He provides everything for His servants, but does not punish them for their ingratitude.
Yet they are indebted to Him for their very existence, even before He gives them anything.
People, then, should learn and try to treat each other with clemency. They must not be
furious with, or inflict injury on, those to whom they have been charitable should they be
ungrateful to them or should they do something wrong.

The Qur'an continues to remind people of the attributes of Allah which provide the
perfect ideal for a Muslim with regard to his manners and moral values. He should work
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hard toward that ideal in order to achieve of it whatever his nature is capable of
achievement.

The last three verses have given us an example of those who spend their wealth for the
cause of Allah, without stressing their own benevolence or causing injury to others
portrayed allegorically in a scene of vitreous life yielding its fruits with abundance,
followed by a statement that Allah is in no need of charity followed by injury. When the
impressions left by these verses are at their most vivid and their impact at its highest, the
believers are instructed not to render their charitable acts invalid by boastfulness and
injury. We are given here two remarkable scenes which fit perfectly with the earlier one
drawn from the world of agriculture. They describe the nature of spending purely for
Allah's sake and the other type of charity followed by injury and boastfulness. This is in
keeping with the Qur'anic method of putting the intended meaning in a scene, and
showing the effect in a movement, and the whole idea in a vivid portrait which is full of
life.

The first scene is made up of two contrasting images, with each containing details which
fit perfectly with one another as far as the art of drawing is concerned. They are also
perfectly fitting to the message the whole scene has been drawn to give the feelings and
impressions it is intended to impart.

In the first image, we see the very hard heart: As does he who spends his wealth only to
show off and be praised by others, while he believes neither in Allah nor in the Last Day.
The gentle, pleasant and happy feelings faith imparts to man are unknown to that person
who tries to cover his hard nature with a thin cover of hypocrisy. His masked heart is like
a smooth rock covered with earth. It is a piece of stone which can never be fertile, covered
with a thin layer of dust so that its hard nature is not immediately recognizable in the
same way as hypocrisy covers the hard nature of a heart devoid of faith. Then heavy rain
falls on it and leaves it hard and bare. When the dust is washed away by the rain,
everyone recognizes the reality of the stone: bare, unfruitful, hard, barren. The same
qualities apply to the person who spends his wealth only to show off and to gain praise.
Nothing good results from his action and he can expect no reward.

The contrasting image of this scene is that of a heart full of faith, gentle and happy. It is
the heart of a man who spends his wealth out of a genuine desire to please Allah. He is
also motivated by his certainty, imparted to him by his faith, that good actions yield the
best fruit. The heart of the believer is represented here by a fertile garden with deep soil,
in contrast with the thin layer of dust on the smooth rock which was the image given
earlier for the hard heart of the non-believer. Two similes provide perfect harmony. When
heavy rain falls it does not wash away the fertile soil as it did with the dust on that stone,
it enhances its fertility and doubles its produce: Heavy rain falls on it, and it yields up
twice its normal produce.

The heavy rain gives life to the soil in the same way as charity gives life to the heart of the
believer to enable him to grow and strengthen his relationship with Allah. His wealth also
increases and Allah gives him in abundance. Moreover, the life of the Muslim community
is purified with such kind spending and it grows: If no rain falls on it, a slight drizzle (is
sufficient). Indeed, fertile soil needs only little water to give in abundance.

It is a complete scene with perfect contrast, and great harmony of details. It is shown
with inimitable skill. It portrays every feeling and every thought with tangible indicators,
and imparts its message to man effortlessly.
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Since a scene is something which we see with our eyes, and since the whole matter in
discussion depends on how Allah sees the real motives behind actions, it is concluded
with this comment: Allah sees all you do.

The second scene shows the end brought about by boastfulness and injury. They totally
destroy the good effects of charity at the time when the person concerned is powerless
and helpless, unable to avert that destruction. This depressing result is depicted in a
vivid image which leaves strong impressions. Everything here is stormy, after a period of
security and fertility. In essence and effect, an act of charity is likened in the physical
world to a garden of palms and vines, through which rivers flow, bringing forth all kinds
of fruits. It is a beautiful garden with fine trees and abundant fruits. So should a charity
be in the life of the giver, the recipient and the community; it should be pleasant,
beautiful, and blessed. It should help truth and it should promote life.

Who would wish to have such a garden, or such a good act, and then inflict on it
uncalled for boastfulness and injury to destroy a garden. Who would do that at the
moment when he is totally helpless to save it, and when his need for its fruits is at its
most pressing. Then to be well advanced in age, while children are weak; and then a fiery
whirlwind smites it and leaves it all burnt down. Who would wish to have that? Who
would not try to avert such an end, having contemplated it? In this way, Allah makes
plain to you His revelations, so that you may reflect.

The scene portrays first a case of happiness and enjoyment, beauty and splendor, before
the fiery whirlwind utterly destroys it. The awesome impressions left by this remarkable
scene leaves no room for any hesitation before the choice is made while it can be made,
before the beautiful, fruitful garden is destroyed by the fire of the whirlwind.

The perfect harmony which we inevitably notice in the drawing of every individual scene
and the way it is presented, is not limited to individual scenes. It applies to all the scenes
drawn in this passage, which are all derived from the field of agriculture: a grain out of
which grow seven ears; a smooth rock covered with earth before it is washed away by
heavy rain; a garden on a hillside producing double its normal harvest; a garden of palms
and vines, etc. It is a complete artistic exhibition which also includes heavy rain, drizzle
and a whirlwind.

Beyond all this lies an essential fact of an important relationship between man and the
soil of the earth. It is the fact of the common origin, the common nature and the life
common to both man and the soil. This life of both man and soil can also be utterly
destroyed. All this we learn from the Qur'an, the perfect word of truth, revealed by the
One who is Wise and who knows all.

• Charity: Through a will
It is my intention to give my wife, by a will, a plot of land which I
have bought so that she would give it away as a donation to pay
the expenses of a small school for the children of our village. Is it
appropriate?
What I find strange is that you wish to give the land to your wife by will and she will give
it as a donation for the commendable purpose you have mentioned. Why should all this
be in two steps, first your giving it to your wife, then she giving it away? Why do you not
do it straight-away, mentioning in your will that this land goes to that particular
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purpose? This seems more logical and more acceptable. There are complications with the
way you have chosen.

To start with, your wife is one of your heirs. As such, you may not give her by will
anything over and above what Allah has apportioned to her. Even though your intention
is that what she receives by will shall end up in other people's hands and for a different
purpose than making it her property, taking this step is wrong because it places the
possession of that land in her hands. This you cannot do. Other heirs may contest this
will and the court of law will rule in their favor.

Secondly, from what you have said, it may be that the plot of land constitutes more than
one third of your property. If the case is such, then you should not make a will involving
whole of the land as it exceeds the maximum limit the Prophet has set for a will, namely,
one third of what you own. If it is less than one third, then you can give it away for a
charitable purpose such as a school in your village. You should, however, make a direct
will to that effect, appointing a trustee to supervise the transfer and/or management of
the land for that particular purpose.

• Charms and the black magic
Would you please let me know what view Islam takes of wearing
charms? Many people believe in the bad effects of black magic and
feel that a charm will enable them to get rid of its effects. How
correct is that?
Black magic exists and it is mentioned in the Qur'an. But it is also mentioned that magi-
cians can only make things seem to happen. There is no real substance to their work. In
the encounter related in Qur'an between Moses and the magicians whom Pharaoh
recruited to try to defeat Moses, those magicians were able to show that their staffs and
ropes were turned into snakes. Allah states in the Qur'an, however: They were made to
seem to him by the power of magic as if they were moving. The way this statement is
phrased is a clear indication of the fact that a magician can only play on the imagination
of people. There is no real substance to his work. When Moses threw his staff, Allah
turned it into a real snake which swallowed their ropes and staffs. When they realized
that the snake was real, they prostrated themselves, declaring that they believed in Allah
who had given Moses that power.

People are affected by what they imagine. It is quite possible for a person to think that he
is ill and he will soon become ill. Hence, believing in magic can lead to certain real effects.

To practice black magic is categorically forbidden. Indeed, it is tantamount to rejecting
Islam altogether. To try to learn black magic is also forbidden.

To wear a charm in order to protect oneself against black magic is not allowed in Islam.
The Prophet prays that no one who wears a charm may enjoy the effect for which he has
worn it. We know that the Prophet's prayers are always answered. Hence, if we want to
protect ourselves against something, we should not wear a charm, because to wear will
bring the opposite effect. This applies to all sorts of charms, be they in the form of
natural precious stones or specifically made by certain people. Nothing of this is
permissible.
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If one wants to protect oneself and foil the attempts of anyone who resorts to black magic
against him, he should read the Qur'an, particularly the last two Surahs. This is the
Prophet's guidance and we should abide by his guidance.

• Charms and the spread of Islam
You have spoken in the past about charms and pronounced them
as a form of polytheism. However, in our homeland, we find that
Islam was spread by the great Sufis like Khawaja Moinuddin
Chishtie, Nizamuddin Aulia and others. These were, no doubt, the
true believers in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon
him. They adopted the way of Tareeka to spread Islam. When
needy people came to them with their personal problems, they
provided them with charms, explaining the facts that such charms
contained verses from the Qur'an and the name of Allah. People
found them effective and were influenced by the power of the name
of Allah and the words of the Qur'an. As a result, they embraced
Islam. Millions of people in our homeland owe the fact that they
are Muslims to this method which induced their forefathers to
embrace Islam. In view of the above, could you please explain to
what extent is this correct? How could the ways of Tareeka and
Sharee'ah concerning charms be reconciled?
I am not very familiar with the history of the spread of Islam in your part of the world.
Indeed, you will find that this is a particularly weak area in the curricula of many
institutes which teach Islamic studies. However, I have recently asked an authority on
this particular subject, Maulana Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi, and he tells me that Khawaja
Moinuddin Chishtie was a dedicated servant of Islam who spread its message in all parts
of India and that countless people embraced Islam through his efforts. He concentrated
his efforts on teaching people to renounce the temptation of this world and concentrate
on repentance and purification of their souls through night worship, fasting and
devotion.

In volume II of his priceless book, Saviors of Islamic Spirit, Sheikh Nadwi devotes a very
long chapter on Nizamuddin Aulia in which he illustrates the type of work undertaken by
this [noble] guide [of Islam]. He quotes from the work of celebrated historians of that age,
Ziauddin Barni that "Sheikh-ul-Islam Nizamuddin" encouraged the sinners to repent on
their sins; and allowed all, the rich and the poor, the king and the slave, the learned and
the illiterate, to cleanse their souls through his spiritual guidance. Everyone who pledged
allegiance to the Sheikh considered himself spiritually attached to him and gave up many
of his vices. If anybody ever committed a sin, the Sheikh allowed him to offer penitence.
Thus, all those who took the pledge to walk along the passage of purity were saved from
many vices and were gradually led, through emulation of the Sheikh-ul-Islam, to prayers.
Every man and woman, whether lean in years or bent with age, regularly offered
obligatory prayers and vied with each other in the performance of voluntary devotions.
From the city to Ghiyaspur, people had made arrangements for the wayfarers to take rest
and offer their prayers. Machinations of the devil were eschewed by the people who took
more interest in ascertaining the number of rak'ahs performed on different occasions and
the chapters of the Qur'an recited to them by their spiritual mentors. Numerous people
have enthusiastically taken to memorize the Qur'an.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              117


Sheikh Nadwi devotes 110 pages to the history of Nizamuddin Aulia. At no point, does he
mention that Aulia resorted to giving charms to people in order to prove the message of
Islam. Had he done so, he would not have achieved the great results with which he was
blessed. That is because the writing, using or wearing of a charm is forbidden in Islam.
Allah is in no need of proving the power of His name in such a primitive method. Indeed,
His power is manifest to everyone who uses his mind. We can see its effects in everything
around us.

The Qur'an is a cure, as Allah has described it. However, we do not get such benefits
from the Qur'an by simply writing down some of its verses and attaching them to our
clothes or to our bodies. The Qur'an cures us from doubts and gives us reassurance
when we carefully contemplate the meaning of its verses and understand its message.

What those two learned gentlemen did was to concentrate on the purification of the soul
through prayer and devotion. It is not difficult to understand why they had such a wide
appeal. Such a devotion meets a real need in the constitution of human beings, the needs
of the spirit. Moreover, the message of Islam gives the human mind a consistent and
logical explanation of human existence and the purpose of human life. It helps men
understand the nature of Allah, the world and their own nature. When you add this to
the spiritual elevation advocated by the two Sheikhs, no wonder that the results of their
efforts were tremendous.

I can say without hesitation, on the basis of what I have learned from Maulana Nadwi
that there is no truth in what you say about the use of charms by these people. They
appear to have acquired a good standard of knowledge of Islam. As such, they cannot
challenge the Prophet's teachings and earn any favor with Allah. Devoted to the cause of
Islam, as they were, they would have clearly abided by its teachings.

You speak of the variance between Tareeka and Sharee'ah, I can tell you that any
Tareeka, or method, which is not subject to the laws and rules of Sharee'ah is totally
unacceptable. If a particular Tareeka allows the use of charms, then it is false and any
one who follows it is plainly in error. Tareeka is simply a method of self purification,
devotion and renunciation of worldly temptation. All that must be governed by the rules
of Islamic law. If it is not, then it indulges into excesses which Islam rejects. When we
realize that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has forbidden the use of
charms, then we have to reject them and reject any teacher who advocates their use.
What we have to realize is that a great deal of distortion has crept into the teachings and
heritage of people like Moinuddin Chishtie and Nizamuddin Aulia. For example, you have
the celebration known as "Urs" organized annually at the grave of Khawaja Moinuddin
Chishtie. Scholars of repute in your home country, such as Sheikh Nadwi, denounce
these practices. We cannot blame Khawaja Moinuddin Chishtie for what generations of
ignorant people have invented and continued to practice at his grave.

We blame those who have introduced such practices, because they are un-Islamic. We
take from the teachings of any person only what is in total agreement with the Qur'an
and Sunnah. Whatever does not seem to have sound basis in the Qur'an and the
Sunnah, we simply ignore.

• Charms used to cast spell or to neutralize
1. After a family dispute, a relative of ours threatened to place a
charm to prevent the marriage of my younger sister. Several years
have passed since then and she is still not married. What is worse,
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my mother has been going to an astrologer to try to break the spell
she claims to have been placed on my sister. My brother and I have
tried hard to persuade my mother that this is not acceptable in
Islam, but she would not listen to our advice. This has delayed our
own marriages. We have tried to take some action and threatened
to stop writing home, but our mother is still continuing to see the
astrologer and says that she will not stop until our sister gets
married. What advice do you have for us? How should we deal with
our relative?
2. A few months back, some members of my family died in a car
accident. Investigation of the accident has proven that there was
no mechanical fault, nor was there any carelessness or negligence
on the part of the driver. It seemed that the driver could not turn
the steering wheel and the gear box was jammed and the brakes
failed, leading to the accident. A later check up on the vehicle
showed none of these faults. Some people suggest that this is the
work of evil spirits or black magic. How does this explanation fit in
the Islamic teachings? If it is true that such an event could be
caused by such a spell or evil spirit, how can these be countered?
Allah has mentioned black magic in the Qur'an more than once. He mentions that two
angels were sent down at the time of Prophet Suleman and taught black magic to some
people who asked to learn it. The angels warned them that such learning will lead them
to disbelieving in Allah. What they taught those people could achieve the results of
bringing about an estrangement between a man and his wife. But Allah says in the
Qur'an that those who learned black magic could not harm anyone with it "unless Allah
so wills."

Allah also mentions black magic in the story of Prophet Moses and his encounter with
Pharaoh. When Prophet Moses called on Pharaoh to relinquish his claim to being the lord
of mankind and to believe in Allah as the only God in the universe, Pharaoh challenged
him with his magicians. Moses accepted the challenge and people were gathered to see
the combat; Moses invited them to demonstrate their powers and they threw their ropes
and staffs which appeared by magic as if they were snakes. Moses told them that all that
they could master was magic which had no reality. He threw his staff and by Allah's will
it was transformed into a real giant snake which swallowed what the magicians had
produced. At that moment, the magicians realized that Moses had the backing of much
superior power than theirs. They declared their belief in the Oneness of Allah, prostrating
themselves in submission to His will.

Some people suggest that black magic could be brought about by charms, spells and
certain invocations using hair or old bones and the like. I very much doubt that this is
so. If a charm of any sort could bring about such bad effects as black magic is said to
produce, then it should be possible to counter one charm with another. It would have
been permissible in Islam to resort to wearing some charms in order to dispel the effect of
others. But the Prophet has categorically forbidden wearing any charm of any sort and
for any purpose. I am, therefore, more inclined to say that black magic does not operate
with anything that has real substance. This is not a mere personal opinion. I am guided
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by the Qur'anic statement describing what Pharaoh's magicians produced. When Moses
invited them to produce their trick, their ropes and staffs, as Allah says: "So appeared to
him as if they were moving." In other words, it was all a mental trick. The staffs and ropes
did not move, but Moses and all those gathered to witness the challenge thought so.
Similarly, the magic taught by the two angels in the story of Solomon produced
estrangement between man and his wife. This could easily be the result of a mental trick.

In his well-known book "In the Shade of the Qur'an", the late Sayyid Qutb writes: "Magic
is the production of illusions, subject to a magician's desires. It does not offer any kind of
new facts or alter the nature of things... Through it, one is capable of influencing other
people's minds, causing them to think and act according to one's suggestions." He then
states clearly that he is not prepared to go further than that in explaining what black
magic is.

In the light of the foregoing, I do not think that the marriage of a woman can be delayed
through black magic, especially when the magician does not even know who would
propose to her. It is more likely that prospective suitors would think twice before making
a proposal to this young woman, if it is rumored in her locality that she is under the spell
of black magic.

Nor could the car accident mentioned by the second reader be caused by black magic,
since magic may affect the mind of a human being but could not jam the brakes of a car
or its steering wheel. I wonder whether the investigations of the car accident had looked
into the possibility of the driver dying a natural death before the accident occurred. It
may be that he lost the ability to move his hands and legs as he was in the throes of
death, and thus lost control of the car and the accident happened.

Whatever the case may be in these two incidents, I am extremely reluctant to accept that
they are the result of magic. Perhaps I should add that magic can be countered only by
reading the Qur'an and seeking Allah's help and protection. Nothing else need or could
be done to counter the effects of magic, if it happens at all. Most probably magic has
disappeared. Pharaoh's magicians gave it up and submitted themselves to Allah and
taught it to no one else. Had it been practiced on a wide scale, anyone who had a grudge
against another would have gone to a magician to place a spell on his enemy, or kill him
in an accident or in some other way which will ensure that he himself would escape
punishment. The fact is that criminals find it necessary to commit crimes themselves,
risking being caught and punished. If you look around you, you will find that no one is
possessed by an evil spirit and no one falls victim to magic. Those who are said to be
possessed may be suffering a mental illness which can be treated by psychiatrists.

As for the Islamic view on magic, it is very clear-cut. It is forbidden for a Muslim to learn
or practice magic. Indeed, when a person has learned magic, he is deemed to disbelieve
in Allah. It is also forbidden to wear a charm in order to protect oneself against magic.
Similarly, it is forbidden to go to an astrologer or fortune-teller or indeed anyone who
claims to be able to talk to the jinn or influence their actions or put a magic spell on
someone else or break a spell to release a person from its effects. The Prophet is quoted
to have said: "A person who goes to an astrologer or a fortune-teller disbelieves in what
has been revealed to Muhammad, peace be upon him."

On the basis of the above, my advice to the brothers who have written the first letter, is
that they must make it clear to their mother and sister that they cannot in any way
sanction or approve the mother's trips to the astrologer. She must stop and trust Allah to
bring about what is best for her daughter. Most probably, the mother will not listen to
words of sense. Therefore, they should exert whatever pressure they can without
120                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


offending their mother. For example, if they contribute to the finances of the family, they
should obtain a promise by the mother not to go to the astrologer again if she wants their
contributions to be continued. If that is taken very badly by the mother, then at least she
should promise not to spend a single unit of what they pay into the family budget in
order to pay the astrologer. Moreover, they should practically demonstrate that they do
not believe that it is magic that has caused their sister not to get married. I strongly
advise them to go ahead and marry themselves, without waiting for their sister. Why
should they, when the Prophet encourages young people to get married? If this will create
a problem within the family, then they should make it clear to their parents that their
sister will not be the first girl to remain single and that they believe that the publicity that
has surrounded her case is preventing her marriage. They should not suffer as a result.

As for the writer of the second letter, I strongly advise him not to pay any attention to
hearsay. He should accept the accident as something that has happened by Allah's will.
No one dies before his time. Let him remove from his mind any thought of magic being
the cause of the accident.

• Charms with verses from the Qur'an
Some people wear a charm or 'taweez' which contains some verses
from the Qur'an, assuming that it protects them from other
peoples' evil eyes and the designs of wicked people and devils.
Some people attach charms to their children, newly constructed
houses, cars and animals. Yet others believe it would improve their
vocation and enrich them. What does Islam say to this practice?
It does not need a scholar to define for us the purpose of the revelation of the Qur'an.
Anyone who knows anything about Islam will tell you that the Qur'an is a book which
provides guidance for mankind so that they may follow Allah's instructions and build a
happy human life. It is implicit in this definition that the Qur'an is meant for
implementation. Allah has not sent down the Archangel Gabriel with His message, the
Qur'an, so that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, His last messenger, should
convey it or recite it in melodious voice to enchant his audience, or to make of it a charm
to wear in the hope of accomplishing a particular purpose. If we use Qur'anic verses in
such a way, we are guilty of degrading Allah's words.

The thought behind using Qur'anic verses in charms for the purpose to which the
question has referred to comes simply from the fact that people do believe that verses are
Allah's words. Since Allah is able to accomplish any purpose He likes, then His words, -
as people mistakenly think - must have a secret power of their own. That is a twisted
argument. It is not the word used in a verse, or the verse itself, which has a secret of its
own. The Qur'an consists of words which we use everyday in our own language. The fact
that these words occur in the Qur'an does not impart to them any special secret or
power. The Qur'an brings out its power and its goodness when it is implemented in
practical life. It is then and only then that people realize how much happier they become
as a result of implementation of Allah's law. The words themselves and the ink with
which they are written are not different from any other words or ink.

The Qur'an provides for us a code of practice. If we follow that code and implement it, we
lead a happy life because that is the purpose of Allah's code. Moreover, we earn reward
from Allah for carrying out His orders. If we turn away from such an implementation,
reducing the Qur'an to a mere book through which we seek to have some blessings or the
accomplishment of particular purposes, then we displease Allah and achieve nothing.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 121


I can tell my readers in the clearest of ways that wearing a charm does not achieve the
purpose for which it is worn. It does not matter what is written in it; wearing it is a sin for
which the wearer must repent and seek Allah's forgiveness. Moreover, it is sure that the
purpose for which it is worn will not be achieved.

That is due to the fact that the Prophet has made a supplication to that effect. He says:
"May Allah not accomplish the purpose of a person who wears a charm." (Related by
Ahmad). The Prophet is also quoted as saying: "He who wears a charm is guilty of associ-
ating partners with Allah." We know for certain that Allah answers every prayer or
supplication that the Prophet has made in the clearest and widest of fashion. Hence, the
surest way of not getting what one aims for is to wear a charm for its accomplishment.

In some charms and amulets, Qur'anic verses are written. Some of those who write such
amulets and charms ask the people to whom they give one to soak it in water until the
ink (or saffron) has dissolved and then to drink it. That does not give him any blessing. It
may give him a stomachache.

The Qur'an may be used in order to bring about a good effect. Allah describes the Qur'an
as "a cure for that which is in people's breasts." It is permissible to read the Qur'an and
then make a supplication to Allah for any good purpose, whether it relates to the
hereafter or to this life. Allah answers prayers at all times, but a prayer said after an act
of worship, such as the recitation of the Qur'an, is more likely to be answered. Why
should one need to use a charm when he can use Allah's power and the Qur'an, His
words, in the manner approved by Him.

• Children: Accountability and the misjudgment of parents?
It is often said that the followers of any religion other than Islam
will be questioned on the Day of Judgment for following that
religion. A Buddhist may give such an answer: "I was born in a
Buddhist family and surroundings, by Your will. My parents
taught me the religion they were taught by their own parents and
in which they themselves grew up, so I worshipped You with full
faith and devotion according to what I have been taught by
superiors, teachers and parents. It was not my choice to be born in
that community or family, so where is my fault?" Please comment.
It is true that in the majority of cases, people tend to follow in matters of faith, the
direction set for them by their parents and their communities. Indeed, the same
argument was put to the Prophet by the idolaters of Makkah when he called on them to
abandon the idolatrous practice they inherited from their forefathers and to accept the
faith based on the Oneness of Allah. However, the Qur'an denounces them for making
such an argument and rejects it altogether. It replies to them with another question:
"Say. What if your forefathers have been devoid of knowledge and had no guidance?"

This brief Qur'anic answer is highly significant. It points out the course of action worthy
of man, on whom Allah has bestowed the greatest honor of giving him an independent
mind and granted him the intellectual faculty. This aspect of Allah's grace which
distinguishes man from all His creation is not meant to be used only in improving man's
material well-being and to be disregarded when a person chooses the faith to follow. We
may accept the traditions and practices we inherit from our parents in all material
things, but we constantly try to improve them and accept new ideas and new practices.
122                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


Why should matters of faith be confined to what is inherited or what is socially
acceptable?

Indeed, religion and spiritual matters are far more important to human well-being than
other human affairs.

However, the mind must have its own say in these. It is the consistent Islamic argument
that when a human being uses his mind, free from traditional and social shackles, he is
bound to accept the basic principle of the Oneness of Allah as the cornerstone of his
faith. That will inevitably lead him to submit himself to Allah's will and this is the essence
of the Islamic message. Someone may protest that a person born in a Muslim family has
thus an advantage over others. The answer is that Islam requires everyone, even those
born to Muslim parents, to accept its message on the basis of personal, free choice after
deep thinking and serious questioning. When a person accepts Islam merely because he
has been brought up in a Muslim family, he has not done his Islamic duty of proper
thinking and deep questioning.

Moreover, Muslims are required to convey the message of Islam in the clearest and most
lucid form to all people in the world. If they do not do so, they have not fulfilled their duty
and they are accountable for their shortcomings. They bear the blame for all those who
remain ignorant of the message of Islam throughout their lives.

Having said that, I must add that Allah is the most fair of all judges. He does not
condemn any person to suffer in hell unjustly. When He determines the faith of any
person on the Day of Judgment, He takes all factors into account. He then makes His
judgment allowing His mercy to supersede His displeasure.


• Children: Caring for the financial needs of kids of a widow
My husband‘s brothers and my nephews were taking care of the
financial needs of my young children after his death. A few months
back I got married again, but my children‘s support was stopped
both by my late husband‘s brothers and my nephews. May I ask
who should be looking after my children — my late husband‘s
brothers and their children or my present husband?
It seems to me that both their uncles and your nephews were prepared to look after the
financial needs of your children when it was clear to them that there was no one else to
support them. But when you got married, they were ready to give the responsibility to
someone else. If your husband is able and willing to look after your children, he will be
doing a great act of kindness. He is not responsible under Islamic law to provide that
support or to look after your children, but looking after them is a great act of kindness
which will not go unrewarded by God. It is often the case that when a man marries a
woman with young children from an earlier marriage, he looks after her children. That
gives him satisfaction in this life, so the children grow to love him, and a general reward
by God in the Hereafter.

The responsibility for looking after your children lies on their uncles, in the absence of
any nearer relatives, such as a grand-father or a brother. However, you need to sort this
out by talking to all parties concerned. If your present husband is willing to support them
[and you may have touched upon this important aspect with him before marrying], well
and good. If he is not, then their uncles should give them enough maintenance.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              123


Obviously your own financial needs are provided by your husband, so the burden on
their uncles is reduced. It may be that you need to come to an agreement which makes
each party pay a share, so as to reduce the burden on each one of them.

• Children: Growing up where Islam does not exist
You have said that a child born into an unbelieving family must
believe in Islam when he grows up into an adult and starts
thinking. Otherwise, he is answerable for being a polytheist.
Suppose that this child is born and grows up in a village where
Islam simply does not exist. He lives all his life without being aware
of Islam. Is he responsible for not becoming a Muslim?
It is the collective duty of the Muslim community throughout the world to convey the
message of Islam to mankind and to make it clear to everyone that Allah had chosen
Islam as a faith and a code of living for the human race. Therefore, everyone is required
by Allah to believe in Oneness of Allah, the Supreme Being, and in the message of
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. If there are impediments put in the way of the
Muslim community to prevent it from discharging this duty, the community is expected
to do everything in its power to remove these impediments.

It is the right of every human being to learn about Islam and to receive its message. If
some people go through life without knowing about Islam or that they are required by
Allah to believe in it, Allah will not hold them to account for not being Muslims. We have
to remember that Allah is the most just of judges. Hence, He would not make any person
accountable for not believing in something about which he knows nothing.

When we say that everyone is required to think and consider and choose his faith, we
have in mind someone who has the means to know about different creeds and faiths and
who has the ability to distinguish what is true from what is false. A person whom Allah
has endowed with sound mind and given him education and opened to him the ways to
learn about His message which is addressed to all mankind, is certainly responsible if he
fails to make an intelligent choice or decides not to bother about the whole issue of faith
and believing in Allah. It is such a person with whom we are concerned and whom we call
upon to believe in the Oneness of Allah and in the message of Prophet Muhammad, peace
be upon him.

• Children: Parents‘ approach toward teaching Islamic faith
I was brought up as a Christian, but then I did not really believe in
Christianity. When my husband explained to me the full meaning
of the basic Islamic concept of the Oneness of Allah, I gladly
accepted Islam. However, because of the wide discrepancy between
people's practices and what they profess to believe in, my husband
and I feel that we should give our son a completely free choice. We
will teach him about Islam but the choice to be Muslim or not
should remain his. Some people object to our attitude and say that
we should bring him up as a Muslim. Are we wrong to adopt this
approach.
124                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


I appreciate what you are aiming at. You will be surprised to know that Islam has
established the principle of free choice for everyone. It requires every single one of its
followers to accept it as a matter of choice, not because he or she has Muslim parents.
Those who go through life, practicing Islam as a religion simply because they have been
brought up into it, not questioning its principles and not looking into other choices
available to them before making an enlightened decision to be Muslims, are considered
negligent of an important duty. A Muslim is expected to choose his religion by himself.
So, what you want for your son is in line with what Islam wants for him.

Having said that, I must say that I do not think that your approach is right. Perhaps you
have not explained it fully to me, but I can only be guided by the information supplied to
me by my kind readers.

The main point is that everyone of us has an inherent desire to know Allah and to believe
in Him. This is part of our nature which Allah has implanted within us when He created
us. If you look at the world generally, and people in different countries and cultures, as
well as different generations of people, you find that to believe in Allah is an important
need of every human being. If a child grows up not having received enough knowledge
about his Creator, he is likely to be influenced by different creeds. He may not be able to
formulate a consistent concept of the Creator. This leads him to confusion and, may be,
to error. Therefore, every Muslim has a duty to fulfill toward his children, to make them
fully aware of the Islamic concepts and what it means to every individual to believe in
Allah, His messenger and in the Day of Judgment. There should be no coercion or
pressure on the child to accept Islam in a dogmatic way. What is important is to have an
enlightened approach toward learning about the Islamic faith and its requirement. The
choice is eventually the child's.

You speak of Muslims whose practices, when they go abroad, leave much to be desired.
This is certainly unfortunate, but then Islam does not believe in coercion. If people
deviate from the moral standards of Islam, they know what their deviation entails. But
you must also be aware of the fact that numerous young men and women from Muslim
countries go abroad to study and continue to observe Islamic teachings and principles
without hesitation. The difference between these two sets of young Muslims is largely due
to the fact that one group has made an enlightened choice of Islam as a faith and a way
of life while the other look at Islam as their inherited religion. What Islam requires of you
is to bring up your child so as he or she could easily belong to the first group. He should
be able to question things and make an enlightened choice. To do so, he must be fully
aware of the facts of Islam. That is your role: To help him have that knowledge so that he
can appreciate the benefits of Islam as a faith and the infinite good that results from
adopting an Islamic way of life.


• Children: Parents‘ misdeeds and the children‘s suffering
In our part of the world people say that the children of people who
were guilty of practices forbidden by God's law, such as corruption,
theft, rape and murder, seem to suffer much. They experience
misfortune, poverty, neglect, etc. According to the popular view,
the suffering is only a natural consequence of the evil deeds of
their parents. How far is this view acceptable?
I am sure that some examples could be quoted to prove this common belief. There are
other examples to prove the reverse. Who commits more crimes against God's law than a
dictator who does not care for human rights? He treats his people like sheep which he
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               125


may kill for his food. Yet the children of dictators often live to enjoy vast wealth they get
only because they were the children of a ruler who treated the whole country as his
private farm.

There are other examples which may be quoted as well. There are many cases of a father
who might not hesitate to commit any forbidden thing when they would serve his
interest. His children may grow up as God-fearing people who do their best to stick to
what is permissible and refrain from anything forbidden. Where does this lead us? Only
to the basic Islamic principle that each individual has his own status. No one's destiny is
determined by his parents' beliefs or behavior. God provides chances to every individual
to recognize His guidance and to follow it. People either take these chances or ignore
them.

Those who ignore them suffer, while those who take them and follow God's guidance
enjoy His blessing and reward. Having said that, I would like to add that those who resort
to theft, corruption and murder normally do not bring up their children well. They are
busy planning for their offenses or trying to escape punishment. Hence their children
may have the wrong sort of upbringing.

They are either spoilt or neglected. In either situation they are likely to suffer. Their
suffering is due to their parents' not looking after them properly. It is not a punishment
for their fathers' deeds. That punishment is incurred upon the ones who committed those
offenses, not their children. God says in the Qur'an: "No one shall bear the burden of
another." This applies to children and parents as much as it applies to others.


• Children: Parents‘ responsibility for children‘s deeds
Are parents responsible for their children's bad deeds? People say
that if something bad happens to their children in their young age
that is caused by the parents' bad deeds, and if their children do
not look after them in their old age, it is because of some deed they
had done. Please comment.
There is a statement repeated three times in the Qur'an to provide maximum emphasis. It
says: "No soul shall bear the burden of another." This applies to parents and children in
as much as it applies to unrelated people. Hence, no one is made to suffer on account of
another person's bad deeds. It does not fit with divine justice that a child comes to harm
because his father has committed so many evil acts, or that a parent is ill-treated on
account of his children's bad deeds. The proper thing which is enforced in this world and
throughout the universe is that God holds everyone to account for his or her own deeds.

Having said that, I should add that God may inflict punishment on some people in this
life in order to make them an example so that others may take heed and refrain from
willful disobedience. This means that they are made to suffer for their own deeds, and
their suffering is limited to themselves.

In other words, if God decides to inflict punishment on someone, he does not make that
suffering through evil befalling that person's children or parents. To do so does not fit in
with God's justice.
126                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


• Children: Restricting the number of children
In a discussion with friends recently, some of us were of the
opinion that there should be no restriction on the number of
pregnancies or child-bearing. Others insisted on allowing time
between every two pregnancies to give the mother a chance to
recover and the child a chance to grow up more healthy. They said
that temporary methods may be used for this purpose. Is this
permissible?
Experienced and honest doctors are unanimous in their view that pregnancy spacing,
which means allowing two or three years between each two pregnancies is important for
the health of the mother. It allows her time to recover her strength before she goes
through another pregnancy which adds a significant burden on her health. They allow
that frequent pregnancies, particularly by women in poor areas, may expose the mother
to a number of health risks. Women who have several pregnancies in quick succession
may suffer under-nourishment which aggravates the risk to which they are exposed.
Since this has been proven beyond doubt, it is permissible, from the Islamic point of
view, to take any legitimate steps which are calculated to give the mother a better
standard of health.

It is only common sense to say that a mother with a young baby will be able to take
better care of her young child if she is not pregnant than she can do during pregnancy.
She can better breast-feed and take good care of the child during illness. This child will
benefit a great deal if the mother is free to devote more time. In the light of the foregoing,
it is both desirable and preferable to allow a period of time, such as 2-3 years between
each two pregnancies.

Indeed Allah has helped make such pregnancy spacing easier by stating that the full
term of breast feeding is two years. This encourages mothers to breast-feed their newborn
children for two complete years. The majority of women do not get pregnant while breast-
feeding, although a substantial proportion of them do. Women in the latter group need a
supplementary method of birth control to enjoy a long enough period free of pregnancy.
Such methods are permissible to adopt on the individual level, provided they are safe and
involve nothing harmful to the woman or to the fetus. Methods which prevent conception
are the one to be employed. It has been authentically reported by some of the compan-
ions of the Prophet that they used to resort to available methods of birth control and the
Prophet did not forbid them that. He told them that such methods could not stop the
creation of a human being, if Allah wills him or her to be created.

• Children: Rights of an illegitimate child
May I ask the responsibilities of a man who has a child born to him
by an illegitimate relationship? What are the rights of the child?
Does the man have to marry the mother? If so, does she need her
father's permission to marry him? What about financial support to
the child and how far is the father responsible to provide Islamic
education to the child?
When a Muslim commits a sin, particularly one which is punishable by a specific
punishment, he should not publicize what he has done. Publicity is an additional sin. If
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               127


he makes a confession of what he had done, the punishment prescribed by Allah must be
enforced. To make such a confession is permissible, but the Prophet teaches us that a
person who commits a sin should not lift the mantle with which Allah has covered it.
Therefore, a person who commits adultery should not publicize that. If he has a child
born to him illegitimately and he marries the mother of the child, no one will ask him
about the legitimacy of the child.

The relationship between an illegitimate child and his father is broken. That means that
neither the child nor the father have any rights or duties toward each other. The two are
like strangers. This means that the child does not have the right to be supported by the
father, but equally the father cannot require the child to be dutiful to him.

However, the family relationship between the child and his mother is perfectly established
and should be observed. The child has all the rights which any child claims from his
mother, and so does she from him. He inherits her and she inherits him in the normal
way. He must be dutiful to her and she has to support him.

You ask whether a man should or must marry the mother of his illegitimate child. There
is an important rule included in Verse 3 of Surah 24 which states: "An adulterous man
may only marry an adulterous woman or one who associates partners with Allah; while
an adulterous woman may only be married to an adulterous man or one who associates
partners with Allah. This is forbidden to believers." Therefore, one may not marry a
partner who practices adultery or takes it lightly. If a man or a woman is known to do so,
it is not permissible for a Muslim to marry him or her. It is only when such a person
repents of his or her past conduct and resolves not to do it again that he or she may be
married to a Muslim. In the light of the foregoing, if the man has repented of his sin, he
may marry the woman if she has also repented. If both feel that they have done wrong
and they want to live a proper life, obeying Allah and his messenger, they may get
married and the man is recommended to help the woman keep her error a secret and
bring up the child normally.

The marriage of such a woman is the same as the marriage of any other woman. In
Islam, she must have her father or guardian present at her marriage.

It is needless to say that every child is entitled to be given proper Islamic education. How
else could the father expect the child to avoid the sin which he himself has been guilty of?

• Children: Saving for the future of a child
We have recently had a baby born to us. We have thought of
opening a saving account in his name so that he would find money
to help him with his life requirements when he grows up. There is
no interest free banking in our country. Can we go ahead and open
an account for him?
The idea of putting aside some money for the child is a very good one, because it provides
the child with something at the start of his working life in due course.

However, if this is your first child, then you have to bear in mind that you would do the
same for every child, boy or girl, you may have in future in order to maintain justice
among your children. You may alternatively decide that this saving account is for your
children, to be shared equally in due course, no matter how many you have eventually
have.
128                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


The important point in this is that this account must not involve anything forbidden.
Otherwise you would be starting your children on the wrong course. Interest is very
similar to usury and God has forbidden usury in all shapes and forms.

Therefore, I would strongly urge you not to expose your child to this type of transaction at
this stage when he does not have any say in the matter and does not have the ability to
distinguish between what is lawful and what is not. My advice is that you should use for
him an Islamic bank, which operates a scheme of saving that is acceptable from the
Islamic point of view. A bank, which operates a profit-and-loss sharing account scheme,
is acceptable.

You say that there is no such bank in your home country. You should try and keep the
savings in such a bank even if it means that you keep them in a foreign country.
However, this may be against the law in your country. If it is, you have to look for a
scheme, which is Islamically acceptable. If you can find none, then you may try to invest
the money with a businessman whom you can trust. Whatever you do, you must not
expose your child to interest or any usurious transaction.

• Christians: Muslims insulting their religious book, the bible
Is a Muslim liable to punishment if he tears off the Bible during a
quarrel with Christians?
A Muslim is required to treat the followers of other religion with respect. Although he does
not agree with their practices or with their concepts, he must keep that disagreement
within the limits which do not cause them to be offended. Allah gives us an express order
in the Qur'an not to abuse verbally the idols which disbelievers associate as partners with
Allah. This is mentioned in verse 106 of Surah 6 which clarifies the reason for that
prohibition, explaining that if we were to hurl verbal abuse on their idols, they will
retaliate with hurling verbal abuse on Allah Himself. Mistaken as their concepts are and
idolatrous as their practices may be, every community considers their actions sound,
wise and correct.

It is needless to say that this prohibition applies to everything that the followers of other
religions consider as sacred.

With Christians and Jews, we certainly have a special relationship, they follow religions
which have divine origins contained in revelations vouchsafed by Allah to His two great
messengers, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them both. Although we know that
distortion has crept into the revelations contained in the Torah and the Gospel, they
remain sacred to the followers of these two religions. If a Muslim tears off the Gospel or
the Bible, he should not wonder at a retaliatory action which may involve tearing off the
Qur'an. He would have invited such an action which is bound to cause him great distress
in addition to the fact that it is totally uncalled for. A Muslim must always remember the
Prophet's definition of a strong person. He says: "A strong person is not the one who can
overcome others physically, but the one who controls himself when angry."

You say about the punishment for such an action. Most offenses do not have specified
punishment. It is left to a Muslim judge to determine the punishment in accordance with
the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. If a Muslim is brought before an Islamic
court for having torn off the Bible during a quarrel with a Christian, he is certain to be
punished either by a fine or imprisonment or both, or indeed any other punishment the
judge may decide.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              129


• Christians: Muslims partaking in the celebration of Christmas
Some years ago I married an English girl who decided later to
convert to Islam, without any pressure from me. We had then to
move to Denmark where we have been living for the last few years.
Needless to say, that has restricted our visiting my parents-in-law.
It so happens that my wife and children visit her parents for two
weeks at Christmas time. The parents accept the fact that their
daughter has become a Muslim and respect Islamic teachings with
regard to food and drink when she is with them, to the extent that
we do not see pork or an alcoholic drink in their home during our
visits. My wife gives them gifts at Christmas and they in return give
her and my children presents at Christmas. I am thinking of telling
my wife not to visit them next Christmas. Please advise.
A woman companion of the Prophet once told him that her mother had come to visit her,
and that the mother was a non-believer who shared the pagan beliefs of the Arabs. She
asked the Prophet whether it was appropriate for her to be kind and dutiful to her
mother. The Prophet ordered her to be so.

You have been following the proper practice which Islam urges by maintaining good
relations with your wife's parents. From what you have said about their behavior, they
seem to be broad-minded people who will not cause you, your wife or children any harm.
You may maintain warm relations with them.

Nor is there any harm in giving them gifts on Christmas, because the Prophet did not
instruct Muslims not to do so. On the contrary, giving non-believers presents on their
festive occasions is encouraged as long as they behave in a proper manner toward
Muslims and Islam. Your parents-in-law seem to fall in this category of people. If you feel
uneasy about your children developing the habit of associating Christmas with festivity
and good presents from their grandparents, then perhaps you could suggest to your
parents-in-law, in a gentle way that does not offend them, that you would prefer that they
delay the gifts to your children until the new year, or some other occasion, such as Eid.
You should try to make sure first that they will receive your suggestion without taking
offense, and that they will be accommodating. If you determine that they may be offended
at your suggestion, then it may be more advisable not to broach the subject at all.
Instead, you can explain to your children that the gifts they receive at Christmas have no
religious value. From what you tell me about your children and the way they cope with
interfaith relationship, I feel that they will easily understand.


• Christians: Muslims putting across Islamic view to preachers
Over the last year or so, my family and I have been regularly
visiting our Christian neighbors, on their insistence. They have
taught us about their Bible, and the impact of their teaching on us
is frightening. My wife and two children join them in prayer and go
to church with them. I do not wish to deny being a party to it. Our
neighbors have been so convincing and the thoughts of conversion
to Christianity is not very far from our minds. May I put to you
130                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                    Our Dialogue


certain points which have had a telling effect on us? Perhaps you
could enlighten us on these, putting across the Islamic point of
view. Please do not shirk away from your responsibility and give us
your comments.
I have nothing to say against your Christian neighbors for trying to win you over to their
faith. They have been doing what they believe to be right, and simply tried to persuade
your family to follow the faith which they believe to be the right faith. No one may blame
them for that.

I am taking the points raised by the reader in his letter, one by one, hoping that he will
come to the conclusion that doubts have only crept into his mind because he has not had
enough Islamic education to strengthen the faith he received from his parents. Had he
gone to a scholar in his area and spoken to him about these points, he would have had
satisfactory answers for all of them.

Before I take up his points, I would like to remind him that, to us, Muslims, Jesus and
Muhammad, peace be upon them both, are brothers, as both of them were prophets
chosen for the task of conveying God's message to mankind. As Muslims, we are required
to believe in all of God's messengers and all prophets, making no distinction between
them, and praising all of them for undertaking the task of guiding humanity along the
right path. All the messages preached by all the prophets are essentially the same, based
on the principle of the Oneness of God.

The divine faith has always been the same, ever since Adam was created and given the
position of Prophethood. Every time a new prophet came, he confirmed the message of
prophets before him. He told his people clearly that he was merely a servant of God,
conveying the revelations vouchsafed to him. Even the prophet Jesus, son of Virgin Mary,
said this most clearly, making it plain that he did not seek to change God's law, but to
confirm it. On God's order, he relaxed certain things that were previously prohibited to
the Israelites. Otherwise, he confirmed the divine law as outlined in the Old Testament.
That Christians changed it later on is evident from the fact that they assigned a son to
God, when Jesus made no claim to having any such relationship with God. In so doing,
they borrowed a pagan concept which is alien to the very basis of the divine faith. The
first point mentioned by the reader is that "Jesus brought the dead to life, while the
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, executed people whom he considered to be
wrongdoers." We must be clear about something. Life and death are matters determined
by God alone. No one can bring the dead back to life or can cause death except God. It is
true that Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, did such an act, but he himself stated clearly
that he only did it by God's will and permission. It was not something that he could
accomplish on his own. It was a miracle granted to him by God.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, did not classify people as wrongdoers on
his own accord. Nor did he impose any punishment on any offender except the
punishment God Himself has prescribed. Certain crimes merit the capital punishment
and God has decreed that all perpetrators of such crimes shall be punished by death.
Therefore, it is not open to anyone to change God's law or to reduce the punishment after
it has been established beyond any doubts and in accordance with the requirements of
the divine law that a crime has been committed. For example, the punishment for murder
is death. When it has been confirmed that a person has committed murder, either by his
own confession or by the testimony of the required witnesses, then no judge, ruler or
prophet, can change the prescribed punishment. It must be carried out [subject only to
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               131


acceptance of blood money by the relations of the deceased; again as provided by God's
law.]

You speak of the Prophet, peace be upon him, executing people he considered to be
wrongdoers. What does that mean? Were they the perpetrators of crimes for which the
death punishment has been prescribed by God? If so, then he was only carrying out
God's orders and implementing His law. By the way, the same crimes are punishable by
death in the Old Testament and there is no evidence that the Prophet Jesus, peace be
upon him, had ever suggested that their punishment was relaxed. A murder is
punishable by death in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So is adultery, but the Jews
and Christians of today do not want to know of that.

The second point concerns harboring wrong intentions and evil thoughts. The reader
writes: "Jesus said, 'Even if you look at a woman with lust, your sin is as grave as
adultery'. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that evil thoughts are not
wrong and are permissible because God forgives them." Here the reader is attributing
statements to Prophets Jesus Christ and Muhammad, peace be upon them both. I think
it is only fair that when we attribute a statement to someone, we should quote the exact
statement, not the way we understand it. In this way, we ensure that no twisting of the
meaning takes place. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never said that evil
thoughts were not wrong, or they were permissible. What he said is that "God overlooks
for my community what they contemplate until they proceed to do it." When you reflect
on this statement, you find that it opens up an expanse of forgiveness. All human beings
may contemplate wrong actions such as a self-indulgence here or there, taking away
something that belongs to others when discovery is practically impossible, etc.

If they resist such thoughts and make sure that they do not do what they have
contemplated, then they certainly merit forgiveness because they have been able to fight
Satan and resist him. Consider that if Adam did not eat of the forbidden fruit in heaven,
he would certainly not have been expelled from it.

That is because he would have been able to overcome the persuasion of Satan. This
exactly is the meaning of the Prophet's statement. It encourages resistance to evil at every
level. If God would have punished us for every thought that may occur to us, [we would
have translated every evil thought into action as the hope of avoiding punishment would
have been totally eliminated and] every single one of us would be condemned to
everlasting suffering in the Hereafter. But God is far more compassionate than that. He
forgives thoughts unless they materialize into action. Every civilized law does the same.

I admit that I find the comparison you have made rather strange. The Prophet
Muhammad's statement speaks of thoughts, while the statement you have attributed to
the Prophet Jesus refers to an action. You surely recall your own quotation which says,
"If you look at a woman with lust". That is a deliberate, lustful gaze. It is an action, and
one of the first things we learn in Islam is that we are accountable for what we do.

It may surprise you to know that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has made
a similar statement. He is quoted to have said: "The eyes commit adultery through
gazing, and the hands commit adultery through forceful action, and the legs commit
adultery through walking and the mouths commit adultery through kissing" (Related by
Ahmad ibn Hanbal). The Prophet's statement makes it clear that whatever action that
may lead to adultery may also be described as such in relation to the human organ
which is used for that action from the most preliminary aspect of sexual contact with
anyone except with one's lawfully wedded wife.
132                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


The third point my reader makes is as follows: "At his dying moment, Jesus said, 'Father
forgive them for they know not what they do'. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon
him, cursed the Christians and the Jews on his deathbed." I have no argument to make
on the first part of my reader's statement. What is attributed to the Prophet Jesus, peace
be upon him, is only to be expected from one of God's messengers whom the Qur'an
describes as the five "endowed with the strongest resolve." What is attributed to the
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is blatant lie. On his death bed, the Prophet
Muhammad, peace be upon him, took care to remind his followers of their duty toward
God and strongly emphasized that they must be good to vulnerable groups. He kept
repeating: "Attend regularly to your prayers. Be kind to your slaves and do not ask them
to do what is beyond their ability. Fear God in your treatment of women."

At one stage in his lifetime, the Prophet, peace be upon him, warned his followers against
following the example of the Christians and the Jews, pointing out that God has rejected
both communities for constructing places of worship at the graves of their saints and
prophets. But perhaps, I should remind you at this point of an event in the life of the
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, when he went to Taif to try to win acceptance
of his message from its people. That was at a time when, after ten years in Makkah, he
felt that he was besieged with his small band of followers. He tried to expand the area of
his message, so he went to Taif and spoke to its people.

They ill-treated him, insulted him and instigated children and slaves to chase him out of
the city. They even stoned and humiliated him, and his feet were bleeding. He had to seek
refuge in the garden of one of those who opposed his call. He sat under a tree and
addressed a heartfelt prayer to God. An angel came to him and said that he needed only
command him and he was ready to bring the mountains over them. The Prophet, peace
be upon him, said: "No I hope that God will bring them from among their offspring people
who would worship Him alone." I can tell you that for compassion and mercy, no one can
ever match the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

The fourth point made by my reader is that "Jesus lived a sinless life, and did not marry,
while Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, married several women and had sexual
relationship with them." I really do not see the point in this statement.

I appreciate that the Prophet Jesus had a sinless life, and as a Muslim, I sincerely believe
that the Prophet Jesus led a pure life and did not come close to sin at any time. But so
did all the prophets, may God be pleased with them all. And so was the life of the Prophet
Muhammad, peace be upon him, as well. What I find strange in my reader's point is that
he implies that marriage is incompatible with purity from sin. He praises Jesus for
leading a sinless life without marriage, and contrasts that with the marriage of the
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. But marriage is a legitimate practice that has
been encouraged by God and by all the prophets, including Prophet Jesus. It is a duty of
the two marriage partners to help each other maintain their chastity by fulfilling their
sexual desire in the legitimate way, within the confines of marriage. May I remind you
that it is Christians who speak of marriage as "holy matrimony."

The argument my reader makes in his next point goes on like this: "Jesus said what goes
in you does not defile [pollute] you, but what comes out of you defiles you (i.e. evil is from
the heart). The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, preached and led emphasis on
body cleanliness." I am not quite clear what is meant by the statement attributed to the
Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. If it is meant figuratively, then perhaps it means that
deliberate evil actions must always be avoided. There is no doubt that they must be. This
is what has been preached by all the prophets, starting with Adam and ending with
Muhammad, may God's blessings be upon them all. Ablutions in Islam are simply
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              133


physical actions which are preliminary to spiritual ones such as prayers. Thus they bring
a harmony of purity of both body and soul. But certainly they are not the most important
part. Nor are they sufficient on their own. Therefore, it is the purity of man not the body
which must be achieved. What quarrel anyone may have with that, I fail to understand.

My reader's next point is rather clearer. He says: "Jesus forgave the sinful prostitute and
asked the man without any sin to cast the first stone, meaning that everyone sins but are
not caught red-handed like the prostitute. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,
condemned the sinful to death." This is yet another example of how misinformed by
reader is. Had he received proper and correct information, he most certainly would not
have made these comparisons. It was an important aspect of the teachings of a great
prophet like Jesus to remind the people that all human beings are liable to commit sins,
trivial and grave. Before any of them should think too well of himself, he should
remember his own mistakes and sins. That is why he invited the person without a sin to
cast the first stone. But this did not mean that the prostitute was forgiven. It was not
open to the Prophet Jesus to waive God's punishment.

It is again a falsehood to claim that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,
condemned the sinful to death. I already quoted his Hadith advising sinners to seek the
protection of the cover extended by God to all of us. We should trust in God's forgiveness
and try to win it by good actions. As I have explained, it is not open to anyone to modify,
amend or change God's legislation. Hence, if a punishable crime is committed and the
perpetrator is identified in the proper legal manner that Islam prescribes, which requires
either free confession or a testimony by witnesses who have seen the action, then the
punishment must be enforced. But then Islam does not require anyone to make a
confession, nor does it require a witness to come forward to testify, except where the
rights of other people have to be preserved. When a man came to the Prophet
Muhammad, peace be upon him, to testify against an adulterer, the Prophet, peace be
upon him, told him: "Shouldn't you have done better and covered him with your dress?"

My reader then moves to the question of marriage and how Christianity emphasized
monogamy and the permanency of marriage, while Islam permits divorce and allows
polygamy. I have a surprise for my reader. Polygamy used to be an acceptable practice
among Christians until a couple of centuries ago.

Moreover, it is still practiced among the Christians in Africa. Missionaries who tried to
spread Christianity among pagan tribes in Africa have been unable to persuade new
converts that monogamy is the only acceptable practice. Hence, they turned a blind eye
to the fact that many of these have remained polygamous even after declaring that they
have become Christians.

I have often explained that both divorce and polygamy are allowed in Islam as solutions
to insurmountable human and social problems. It is inconceivable that a married couple
who have not been able to achieve a tolerable degree of compatibility and who continue to
quarrel with each other time and again, should be asked to live together, only because we
do not want to give them a break clause in their marriage contract. It is because of the
impracticability of the permanency of marriage that many Christian societies, particularly
European and American societies have come to terms and they now put in clauses for
divorce in their marriage contracts. Marriage remains a much more respectable and
serious institution in all Muslim communities.

I would have never thought that Christian and Muslim attitudes to marriage and divorce
would ever be a reason to tempt a Muslim family to convert to Christianity. Perhaps it is
in your case an additional factor of secondary importance. But when you consider the
134                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


question in depth, you are bound to conclude that the Islamic way is far more practical,
moral and likely to produce stable family relationships.

The reader then moves to aspects of the second life saying that the Prophet Jesus
explained that "the soul will be made into the image and likeness of God, and it will have
continuous ecstasy engulfed in the love of God. Islam on the other hand, speaks of giving
each man sixty-nine wives with large almond-shaped eyes." He asks what does the soul
have to do with wives in heaven? Will there be sexual pleasure for the soul? This is yet
another point where words are taken out of context and certain aspects are stressed
while others, far more important, are overlooked. At no time does the Qur'an mention
that any person will have so many wives in heaven. Indeed, the term, "wife", is not used
at all in connection with the pleasures of heaven.

Nor is there any mention of any figure. I am surprised indeed to learn of sixty-nine wives
for each man, when the frequent figure normally mentioned in this connection is seventy.
The Qur'an speaks of the believers having companions in heaven. It is true that they are
described as having very beautiful eyes and they are like "treasured pearls", but there is
not even the slightest hint that there is any sexual relationship with those. Indeed, many
scholars have explained that the sexual desire is strongly connected to the need of pro-
creation which is a mark of the life of this world. In the Hereafter, the test to which man
is expected will have to come to an end. Therefore, there will be no need for any new
generation.

All human generations will have had their chance and they receive their reward or
punishment in the Hereafter. The standard view, however, is that in heaven, the human
soul will be reunited with its body form, free from any handicaps that encumbered them
in this life.

My reader then refers to the creation of Jesus, and that it is mentioned in both the Bible
and the Qur'an that he was born to Virgin Mary who had conceived him through no
relationship with any man but with the Power of God. He asks, "Why did God choose a
woman for the birth of Jesus, instead of bringing him into the world by some other
means? Was Jesus right to claim that he was the son of God?"

As for the first part of this question, which relates to the method of creation chosen by
God, we Muslims have learned that God "cannot be questioned about what he does". We
try to understand the wisdom and the purpose of anything that God may have chosen,
but if we cannot find a satisfactory answer, we accept this as part of the work of God's
free will. Had God chosen another method, people would still ask why did He choose that
one and not a different method. He is certainly able to choose the method He wants and
produce the outcome He pleases.

As for the second part of this question, whether Jesus was right to claim that he was the
son of God, you have first of all to prove that he made such a claim. The authenticity of
the Gospel is a hotly debatable point. Do not forget that the earliest of the Gospels was
written at least seventy years after God had gathered Jesus and raised him to heaven. It
is not open to anyone to claim that he is the son of God, because God simply does not
beget children. Why should He? The idea of having two generations, or more, is
intertwined with the facts of life and death. When death overcomes a human being, he
would wish he has had children, not merely to bear his name, but to ensure the survival
of the human kind. Do not forget that God is immortal. Why should He have a son? May I
ask what is the main function of a "son of God"? Do you not find it singular that
Christians assign the "lordship" to Jesus, when it belongs totally to God Himself? He is
indeed the Lord of the Universe.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              135


My reader then wonders why we use the phrase, "peace be upon him", when we mention
the name of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. He asks whether the Prophet
Muhammad, peace be upon him, stands in need of peace? The Christians, on the other
hand, pray for peace from Jesus who is himself peace. They quote his words, "my peace I
leave unto you." I will begin answering this point by mentioning to you that the Prophet
Muhammad, peace be upon him, once heard a cousin of his referring to a woman who
had just died as "having been relieved of her troubles". The Prophet, peace be upon him,
spoke to that lady and said: "How do you know that she is now without a burden? I am
God's messenger and I do not know what will happen to me." This is certainly a mark of
humility on the part of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. He is told in the
Qur'an that God has forgiven him any sins he might have committed or may yet commit
in the remainder of his life. The peace comes from God the Creator. That is why we
Muslims show our respect to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and indeed to
all prophets, by attaching the prayer "peace be upon him" whenever we mention any
prophet. We attach it to the name of the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, as we do
indeed with the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

My reader then moves on to the specific point of the Prophet's marriage with several
women and says: "The Christians claim that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon
him, had a weakness of the flesh (sex) and therefore married several widows under the
pretext of looking after them. Is it because of this that he has permitted Muslim men to
marry several wives? His point is best answered by historical facts. The Prophet, peace be
upon him, married Lady Khadeejah, a woman who was considerably older than him,
when he was twenty-five years of age. For twenty five years he had no other wife, nor was
he ever seen or observed to have any leanings toward any woman. He never contemplated
marrying another woman.

When Lady Khadeejah died, he was without a wife for sometime. All his later marriages
came after he and his followers settled down in Madinah and established the Islamic
State. I can tell you that most of these marriages had special reasons, some were
legislative, some were political and others were humanitarian. He did not need to have a
pretext for what he should do. Polygamy was widely practiced in Arabia. Indeed Islam
limited this practice, allowing a man to have only four wives. If it was the Prophet, peace
be upon him, who made legislation, and if the claim you have mentioned was true, he
would certainly have made no restriction on polygamy. Moreover, if he had that
weakness, would it have remained dormant when he was a young man and only surfaced
when he was over fifty?

My reader mentions the practice of some older men marrying young wives and reflects on
the tragic outcome of certain incidents. He feels that the Prophet, peace be upon him,
should have foreseen such an abuse. I can tell him that the Prophet, peace be upon him,
did not legislate matters, because the Legislator is God Himself. God, as you know, has
perfect knowledge of all things, past, present and future. That He has permitted
polygamy means that polygamy is good for human life in general although it is preferable
for most people to have only one wife.

Abuse of legal permission is found in all human societies. That does not mean that such
legal rights should be denied. We should try to ensure that a legal right is practiced
properly. When it is not, then the offender should be punished.

The next point my reader makes is concerned with cleanliness after urination. He asks
what about the urine that collects inside the body. He wonders whether God looks at a
human being the way we humans look at each other.
136                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


I admit that I cannot see the point he is trying to make. Certainly harmful stuff may
collect within the body, before it is discharged. If Islam wants its followers to clean
themselves after such stuff is discharged, what is wrong in that? This applies to urine,
stools, pus, blood etc. When it is within the body, there is no way to clean its place. God
Himself has provided that facility. When it is discharged, the place of discharge has to be
washed. What is wrong with that? If the reader is referring to ablutions, I have already
explained that the physical purification is intertwined with the spiritual one.

My reader's last point concerns the similarity between the Qur'an and the Old Testament.
He claims that the Qur'an is an identical copy of the Old Testament. I have already
explained that God's message is one. The Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, preached
the same message of the Oneness of God, as did other prophets, such as Abraham,
Joseph, David, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. Since the divine message
provides legislation for people to follow, and since human beings are the same in all ages,
certain legislation would be emphasized in one message after another, until the final
message embodied in the Qur'an which God has guaranteed to preserve intact. As you
realize, the Old Testament and the Torah underwent some distortion which touched even
on very serious and important principles, such as the principle of resurrection and
reward which has been watered down in Judaism. But it is certainly untrue to claim that
the Qur'an is an identical copy of the Old Testament. My reader needs only take out the
two books and read them.

I have attempted to answer the points my reader raised very briefly, because I cannot
afford to give a single reader so much space. He has not provided me with a full address
or a telephone number to discuss the matter directly with him. I hope my comments are
useful to him and I pray that God guides him and all of us to the path that is straightest.

• Circumcision: Is it obligatory?
A Hindu friend of mine has embraced Islam. He is very happy with
his new faith and everyone is encouraging him to learn more about
Islam. Our sponsor wanted to take him to hospital for
circumcision, but we were told by an Egyptian friend that there
was no need. Please comment.
Your Egyptian friend is right. Circumcision, for new born boys, is recommended. It is not
compulsory. Therefore, if a child born to a Muslim family is not circumcised and he
remains so until his death, he does not commit a sin. It is true that it is unhygienic to
remain un-circumcised, but when we speak of a certain situation from the Islamic point
of view, we have to classify it according to the teachings of the Prophet.

Since this friend of yours is an adult, and he has only recently embraced Islam, to
pressure him into going to hospital for circumcision is wrong. Let him choose for himself.
There should be no great emphasis attached unduly to circumcision. If he is a good
Muslim, whether he is circumcised or not, it does not affect his status in any way.

Some people may be scared lest this action in adult life should result in some
complications. Others are too shy to go through it. Why should there be pressure when
Islam has not required it?
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               137


• Classes within a Muslim community
In my country, people are classified as either sayyid or sheikh or
pathan. There are restrictions on intermarriages between these
groups which would prevent, for example, the marriage of a sayyid
girl to a pathan man. It is also said that sayyids are not allowed to
receive zakah. Could you please comment on these classifications.
In all societies, you find sections of people claiming privileges for themselves. They may
base this on wealth, birth, race, etc. If the community is willing to concede such
privileges to them, they will try to consolidate their position and claim more privileges.
What happened in Europe before the French Revolution was the clearest example of what
evils may spread in a society or class as a result. This, however, was not limited to
Europe. We have only to remember the caste system in India which made the minority of
the people subservient to the elite. The best society is that which refuses altogether the
notion of classifying people into masters and slaves, aristocracy and masses, feudal lords
and peasants, etc. It was not long ago that democratic societies tried to establish the
principle of equality of all people in practice after it had been preached in theory for a
long time. Nevertheless, the wealthy and the powerful continue to exercise influence
which is disproportionate to their number. Under communism on the other hand, the
party members enjoyed great privileges and made themselves into a class of their own.

What does Islam say to all that? In the Qur'an we read: "Mankind, we have created you
out of one male and one female and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may
get to know each other. The most noble among you in Allah's view is the most God-
fearing." (49;13) This verse establishes the basic Islamic principle that all human beings
are equal, since they descend from the same man and woman. Over the centuries, they
have formed different nations and numerous tribes. When they get to know each other,
they stand to enrich human life. The only recognized field of excellence in which it is
possible to distinguish any one person or group of them over the rest is fearing Allah, a
quality which does not fail to bring out the best in every human being.

The division you have mentioned in your country is alien to the basic principles of Islam.
You speak of an automatic blockage of the marriage of a man from one group with a
woman from another. How could this be justified when Allah says in the Qur'an:
"Believers are but brothers" (49;10) The possibility of objecting to a marriage is limited to
such a situation as when a woman feels that marrying a particular person will not give
her the sort of life to which she is used to. In other words, the marriage will mean a
downgrading of her. Otherwise, the guiding principle in sanctioning a marriage is the
Hadith which tells all Muslim parents and guardians: "If a man whose strength of faith
and honesty are of acceptable standard, comes to you with a proposal of marriage, then
accept his proposal. If you do not, you will cause friction and a great deal of corruption in
the land."

Let us look briefly at the class known as 'sayyid'. A 'sayyid' has come to refer in many
parts of the Islamic world to a person who claims to be a descendant of the Prophet. I can
tell you that many who claim to be 'sayyid' cannot substantiate their claims. However,
even if the claim is correct, it does not confer any particular status to the person
concerned. He is still required to do his Islamic duties as everyone else. He will be
rewarded in the same manner and his sins will be taken against him in the same way. He
will either be forgiven or punished by Allah as He, in his sole discretion, determines. His
descent does not give him any immunity. Nor does it give him any special status in
society. Let us remember what the Prophet said to his own daughter: "Fatimah, work for
138                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


your future life because I shall avail you nothing (if Allah is not pleased with you)." This is
a clear instruction by the Prophet to his own daughter that her own actions are the only
factor which determine her standing in the life to come. If this applies to Fatimah, who
can say that his [being] descendent gives him any privileges whatsoever.

It is true that the Prophet has made it clear that zakah is not to be paid to him, his
household and descendants. They have, however, different sources of income from the
Islamic state, such as a share of what the Muslim state may gain in the fighting.
However, many scholars are of the view that it is permissible to give zakah to
descendants of the Prophet if they are poor, particularly because the other sources from
which they would have benefited are largely unavailable.

• Classification of mankind
In the Qur'an, human beings are divided into three groups:
believers, hypocrites and non-believers. However, we find in
writings about Islam further groupings under such headings as:
good Muslims, true believers, Sunnis, Shiites, etc. Please comment
on this method of classification.
What you have said about the classification of mankind in the Qur'an is certainly true.
The second and longest surah in the Qur'an, entitled "The Cow", or "Al-Baqarah", opens
with a description of three groups of people which include all mankind. Anyone who
reads this account cannot fail to note that Allah describes the main features of the
believers in a few short verses. Similarly, two verses outline the main features of non-
believers. A much longer account is needed to describe the characteristics of hypocrites.
This is due to the fact that a hypocrite puts on a false appearance. The hidden reality
needs to be discovered in order to recognize what sort of person he is. Indeed, a hypocrite
is a non-believer who tries to appear as a believer. He alleges that he belongs to the first
group while he lacks its most essential quality: Faith. He belongs to the second group, i.e.
the non-believers, but he tries hard to hide this fact. How is his reality to be discovered?

To help believers recognize those who falsely claim to belong to their community, Allah
outlines certain features which all hypocrites share in common. There are certain
subtleties which must be recognized if hypocrites are to be known. It is useful to mention
here that Muslims are not required to determine whether any particular person is a
hypocrite or not. Their keen insight should help them determine who is making a false
claim. When they doubt the sincerity of a particular person, they must not pronounce a
final judgment on him. They should beware of any danger which may be caused by him.
But that is as far as they should go. They accept his claim and leave it to Allah to judge
him as He knows his true status.

Writers on Islam often use such descriptions as good Muslims and true believers. This is
however, not a sub-classification of the people whom Allah has included in the group of
believers. It is simply a matter of style. It is just as a writer who says that if a Muslim
wants to give credence to his claim to belong to the group of believers, then he should
behave in a certain fashion. To a writer in Islam, the phrase, "a good Muslim", refers to a
person who translates his belief in Islam into practical deeds. We must not read these
descriptions as adding another quality which distinguishes groups of Muslims as such.
Otherwise, we would have to recognize another group which we may describe as "false
Muslims". This is obviously a contradiction in terms. If a person is false, he cannot be a
Muslim. If he is a Muslim, then he belongs to the group of believers which Allah has
described at the outset of the second surah of the Qur'an. If we want to use the phrase
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               139


"false Muslim" we can only use it as synonymous with a "hypocrite". This is not what is
intended by writers in Islam when they add descriptions of good and true to the class of
believers. These qualifying adjectives are simply meant for emphasis.

The division of Muslims into Sunnis and Shiites is a different matter altogether. The
origin of this division dates back to the early days of Islam, when a split took place
between Ali, the fourth ruler of the Muslim state of the Prophet, and Mu'aweya, the
governor of Syria. Subsequent events meant that this division continued into the
following generations and later acquired an intellectual basis and led to the formulation
of the Imamiah concept among the Shiites. It is possible to describe the Shiites as a sect
of Islam, while the Sunnis represent its mainstream. As you realize the division between
Sunnis and Shiites is totally different from the classification of mankind into believers,
non-believers and hypocrites. In the Qur'anic classification, the operative criterion is that
of attitude to the very basic concept of the Oneness of Allah and the message of Prophet
Muhammad, peace be upon him. In the second grouping, we are saying that Muslims
can either belong to the mainstream of Islam whose adherents are known as Sunnis, or
they belong to the Shi'a sect.


• Clothing for men
What is the right Sunnah regarding men's clothing. Is it like what
some sheikhs wear, or like what people in Afghanistan wear.
I am not aware that there is any Sunnah describing a particular fashion of what men
should wear. There are certain requirements of covering those parts of one's body which
must be covered. Men are not permitted to wear silk and they may not wear clothes
which suggest arrogance.

Apart from these and similar well-known requirements, Muslims may wear any
comfortable and practical type of clothes. What the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to
wear was the sort of robes Arabs normally wore. He had not mentioned that all Muslims
should wear the same sort of fashion. A minority of people sometimes suggest a
particular fashion as Sunnah, but they have no strong basis for their argument.

• Coeducation: Islamic view on
What is the Islamic view on coeducation?
There is a well-known principle in Islamic law, which may be rendered in translation as
"prevention of means." This applies to any situation or condition which may be
permissible in the first instance, but is calculated to lead to something forbidden. If it is
generally deemed that there is a direct relationship between the original, permissible
situation and the resulting forbidden one, then the original situation is pronounced as
forbidden.

That is prohibition of something which is acknowledged to be permissible in the first
instance, because of the results it produces. In other words, should the circumstances
change and the situation in question is deemed not to lead to the forbidden act, then it
can no longer be pronounced as forbidden.

Coeducation is one such matter. In the first instance, there is no harm in a group of
people, men and women, or boys and girls, to be present in a classroom where a teacher
is giving a lesson, provided that everyone behaves properly, abiding by Islamic standards
of propriety. But when we put together a group of young boys and girls, close to the
140                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


period of adolescence, and during adolescence, in the relaxed environment of a school
where they meet and play, then it is asking too much of such young people to observe
Islamic standards of morality. The results may be very serious indeed. Therefore, we say
that coeducation is unacceptable to Islam, because of what it leads to, not because of the
process of teaching or of the meeting of the two sexes in a classroom.


• Coeducation: Seminars on reproduction & mixed participation
My wife, a Muslim woman, is doing a university degree that
includes conducting seminars on topics such as reproduction and
the function of the different parts of the body involved in
reproduction, etc. There are men students and lecturers taking
part in such seminars. Normally, she skips such topics, but that
involves losing marks. Please advise.
The degree that your wife is doing is certainly needed in the community and when she is
qualified she should be able to help many women in your community. Most of these
women will be more at ease discussing their cases and situations with a woman like your
wife than if they had to discuss these with a man who has the same qualifications. This
means that there is social need for ladies to have that degree. It is not only a social need,
but a religious one as well.

When the Muslim community needs personnel who are qualified in certain areas, then
meeting that need is a collective duty of the community. If there is only one person who
can acquire the necessary education to meet that need, then doing it becomes obligatory
to that person.

There is certainly no harm in discussing the process of reproduction and the functions of
each part of the reproductive system in a university classroom, even though there is a
mixed company in that classroom. If the university finds it feasible to make such classes
separate for men and women, then it should do so. If Muslim women students are in a
minority and the only way to acquire that qualification is by attending such mixed
classes, then they should do so.

It is wrong of a Muslim woman student to deliberately miss certain classes, not only
because she loses certain marks, but also because her education will not be as good as of
her male or non-Muslim colleagues. She should try to acquire the best standard possible,
in line with other students.

• Commemorating the great in the Islamic manner
Is it not an expression of a people's loyalty to the memory of its
heroes, whose great deeds are recorded in the annals of history, to
erect statues in their honor as a reminder to future generations of
their achievements and greatness? People's memories are short,
and the passage of time will make them forget the past.
Islam abhors excessive glorification of people, no matter how "great" they may be,
whether they are living or dead. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Do not glorify me
in the same manner as the Christians glorify Jesus, son of Mary, but say, He is a slave of
Allah and His Messenger." When his companions wanted to stand up to greet him out of
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                             141


respect, he forbade them, saying: "Do not stand up as the Persians do, some people
honoring the others." (Reported by Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah). The Prophet warned his
followers against praising him excessively after his death, saying: "Do not make of my
grave a site for festivals," (Related by Abu Dawood) and he prayed to his Lord "O my Lord,
do not let my grave be made into an idol to be worshipped."

The believers aspire only to that true immortality which can be bestowed by Allah alone,
Who knows the secret and the hidden, Who neither misleads nor forgets. In His register
of immortality, there is the name of many a person whose greatness has remained
unrecognized by the people. Indeed, the Most High loves those God-fearing and religious
souls who remember Him in the secrecy of their hearts and minds by speaking about
their good deeds, ideas and achievements. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him,
the caliphs, the leaders, and imams of Islam were never immortalized in figure or statues.

I quote here part of a lecture entitled "Toward a New Understanding of Islam," by
Professor Muhammad al-Mubarak, Dean of the College of Sharee‘ah, University of
Damascus, delivered at al-Azhar University. The section quoted here contains an incisive
analysis of the whole question of how to perpetuate the memory of the great. Quote :

  "We are faced with the situation that many new modes, systems and habits which
  are inconsistent with our correct beliefs and established moral principles have found
  their way into our social life. Among these is the manner in which Europeans and
  Americans commemorate their heroes by erecting statues for them. If we examine
  this matter with an open mind, free of subservience to whatever comes from the
  West, and reflect our ways of commemorating the lofty achievements of the great, we
  find the Arabs, in particular, memorialized nothing of their great personages except
  their noble deeds and good qualities such as fidelity, generosity, and courage. Their
  manner of perpetuating their memories was to recount tales of their heroes, passing
  them down from one generation to another, and to compose and recite eulogies in the
  form of poetry. In this manner, the generosity of Hatim and the bravery of Antarah
  became proverbial in the days before Islam.

  When Islam came, it emphasized the meaning underlying this method. It declared
  that the best of Allah's creation and the last of His Messengers, peace be upon him,
  was but a mortal man: "Say: Indeed, I am a mortal like you; my Lord inspires me."
  (18:111) it emphasized that the worth of human beings lies in their deeds and not in
  their physical forms; it made the Messenger, peace be upon him, an example for all
  mankind to follow; and it forbade such sanctions and exaggerated respect for men
  which resembles adoration and which, by implication, signifies the denigration of the
  rest of mankind.

  When the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, passed away to meet his Lord, the
  first caliph drew people's attention to this fact, saying, "If anyone worshipped
  Muhammad, then (know that) Muhammad is dead, but if anyone worshipped Allah,
  then Allah is living and does not die." He then recited the words of Allah Ta'ala:
  "Muhammad is but a messenger; messengers (the like of whom) have passed away
  before him. If, then, he dies or is killed, will you turn back on your heel?" (3:144)

  Islam immortalizes the memories of people because of their good and beneficent
  deeds; the remembrance of them remains in the hearts of Muslims. Thus, the literate
  and the illiterate, the young and the old, know about the justice of Umar, the
  firmness and wisdom of Abu Bakr, and the piety and courage of Ali. No statue made
  of stone was needed to commemorate any of them because their deeds and qualities
  are inscribed in peoples' hearts.
142                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


  Commemoration by means of erecting statues is in reality a regression to the remote
  past, a descent from a higher plane; it was the method of the Greeks and Romans
  which was adopted by Europeans...

  With respect to their concept of the nature of man and his true worth, they are far
  inferior to the Muslims, even to the pre-Islamic Arabs, since because of their inability
  to grasp the true stature of man and his potentialities, they are able only to conceive
  of great men as gods, and their gods as men incarnate. What we are pointing out is
  that it does not befit us to imitate this alien practice which is inferior to our own, and
  we must not deviate from the ruling from the Sharee‘ah that making statues is
  haram and is harmful to human psychology and morals."

  In Islam, when the greatness of some noble soul is recognized by people, its
  perpetuation for coming generations is not achieved by erecting statues for them. The
  correct Islamic method of commemoration is to keep their memory alive in the hearts
  and minds by speaking about their good deeds, ideas and achievements.


• Compulsion in religion and the standard alternatives
The Qur'an states very clearly that there is no compulsion with
regard to faith. On the other hand, the Prophet, peace be upon
him, offered the people of Najran that they should either accept
Islam, or pay the jizyah, or else they should be ready to fight the
Muslims. How is this to be reconciled with the Qur'anic statement?
The three alternatives offered by the Prophet, peace be upon him, to the people of Najran
are the standard ones which Muslim states and rulers have always offered when they
fought against any people who stood on a war footing with them. Whenever the Muslim
armies were facing an enemy who had prepared to fight them, they offered that army, or
the authority that were in control, those three alternatives: 1) To accept Islam and they
would be part of the Muslim state, having all the rights and obligations of all Muslims
without any discrimination; 2) To pay the jizyah; which is a tax that guaranteed them
protection by Muslim state against any enemy in return for their being law-abiding
citizens. They would also enjoy their religious freedom. If neither of these two options was
accepted, then they would have to face the might of the Muslim army in battle.

This situation cannot be understood without looking at the events that brought those
people face to face with the Muslim state. As you are aware, Islam is a message from God
to all mankind. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was a messenger sent to all mankind.
He is described in the Qur'an as having been sent as a "mercy to all worlds." Hence, it is
his duty, and the duty of the advocates of Islam in all generations, and in all
communities, to make Islam, God's message, known to all people, and to invite them to
accept it as a faith. No pressure is to be brought on anyone to accept Islam. It is a matter
for the individual to choose. However, Islam does not accept that any pressure be
brought to bear on anyone to reject Islam, be that by a political or religious authority, or
by social tradition. People must be free to choose. The advocates of Islam must have the
freedom to address the people and to explain God's message to them.

The people of Najran were a Christian community, and authority among them belonged
to their priest, who was helped by two influential people, known as As-Sayyid and Al-
Aaqib. The Prophet, peace be upon him, addressed the three and advised them to accept
God's message. He wanted them to give their people the freedom of choice and wanted to
have access to the ordinary people in order to explain the message of Islam to them. They
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              143


sent a delegation to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and there was a great deal of
discussion between them. They did not wish to accept Islam. At one stage, after the
delegation went back carrying a message from the Prophet to the priest, who wielded real
power among them, the priest admitted that Muhammad, peace be upon him, was a
messenger of God. His brother was furious with him for concealing the fact, and he
immediately left for Madinah to meet the Prophet. Nevertheless, he did not accept Islam.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, did not put any pressure on him to do so.

This is only one example showing us how authority, whether religious or secular, stood
as a barrier preventing people from learning about Islam and believing in it, if they chose
to do so. It is not acceptable to Islam that such a barrier should prevent people from
following God's guidance. Hence, it makes its standard warning. If those in power would
accept Islam and let their people accept it if they choose to do so, they would continue to
be in power, under the overall authority of the Muslim state. This would ensure religious
freedom for all, and make the new Muslims equal citizens. If not, then as a token of
submission to the authority of the Muslim state, they would pay the jizyah, or the
protection tax, and they would enjoy peace and safety, and their people would be free to
join the Muslim ranks without any pressure.

When neither option is accepted, then that authority which stands as a barrier
preventing people from choosing Islam must be destroyed. It is an authority that
suppresses religious freedom. Therefore, it should be removed, and by war if necessary.

• Congregation: A duty on the Muslim Community
1. What are the rules for holding a congregational prayer? How do
worshipers stand? What is the advantage of praying in a
congregation? Is it compulsory to form a congregation?
2. I have noticed that most women either pray at home or do not
pray at all. Is it obligatory for women to offer their five prayers in
mosque as men?
1. To pray in a congregation i.e. with jama'ah is a distinctive aspect of Islamic worship.
Many scholars consider that holding a congregational prayer and joining congregational
prayers is compulsory for all Muslims. Allah says in the Qur'an; "Bow down with those
who bow down." This is a clear reference to prayer. If it was not a duty, we would have
been given a concession not to pray in congregation when we are in a state of fear. Allah,
however, has changed the requirements of prayer in such state without canceling its
congregational aspect.

It does not mean, that every Muslims must offer every single obligatory prayer in a
congregation. It means that the holding of a congregational prayer is an obligation of the
community and it is also obligatory on every individual to be keen in congregation prayer
whenever possible. Such attendance is indeed a marking of strong faith. From the
literature of early Islamic periods, we can conclude that a person was considered good if
he regularly offered his obligatory prayer with the congregation in the mosque.

Moreover, offering a prayer in a congregation enhances our reward. The Prophet says that
praying with the congregation earns 27 times the reward of the same prayer offered
individually. Since every one of us is always in need of greater reward from Allah, we
should be keen to offer our obligatory prayers in the mosque with the congregation. The
Prophet also recommends us to offer obligatory prayers at home, so that our homes are
not denied the blessings of prayer.
144                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


The minimum number of worshipers required for congregation is two, one of whom
should be the imam. If there are only two worshipers, the imam stands a little ahead and
the other person stands to his right. If there are more than two, then the imam stands on
his own and the other worshipers, stand in a row, leaving a distance which is sufficient
for them to do their prostration. If one row is complete and a second row is to be formed,
it starts at the point exactly behind the imam and worshipers stand to the imam's right
and left, in a balanced way. Every new line starts in the same way, right behind the
imam. But it should have at least two people. If the last line is complete, the next one
cannot be started by one person only. He either pulls one of the people in the last row
back so that they could form a new line or he should wait until another person comes in
to join the prayer. In a congregational prayer, the worshipers follow the imam without
leaving any gap between his movement and theirs. When he gives the signal for the next
movement, all worshipers follow suit. [Care must be taken not to advance your action in
anticipation of that signal for the next movement].

2. Women are exempt from the requirement of attending congregational prayers in the
mosque. This is due to the nature of their role in looking after young children and
household duties. If they go to the mosque to attend prayers, they are welcome to do so.
In a congregational prayer in a mosque, women stay in the rear forming their own ranks.
They are, however, required to offer the same obligatory prayers in their respective time
ranges. When a woman has her menstruation period, she is exempt from prayer. The
same exemption applies to a woman in her postnatal period. It is this exemption that
sometimes may give the impression that many women do not offer prayers. It is
important, therefore, not to judge them on the basis of a casual impression. Many women
attend to their religious duties with keenness and enthusiasm.

Perhaps I should also explain that while congregational prayer is a duty on the Muslim
community, it is not obligatory on every single one of us to attend every single obligatory
prayer in the mosque. Allah has given us a time range for each prayer and allowed us to
pray individually because He knows that our circumstances may be difficult and we may
not be able to attend congregational prayers all the time. Nevertheless we must be keen
to pray with the congregation in the mosque as frequently as possible.

• Congregation: At home or office
I live with a group of my friends in a bachelor accommodation
provided by our employers. When we first came, most of us used to
miss some of our prayers. However, we are all praying regularly
now. Sometimes we find it difficult to go to the mosque for
congregational prayer and we offer prayer in congregation at home
or in the office. Some people suggest that our prayer is invalid.
Please comment.
It is definitely better if you offer your obligatory prayers with a congregation in a mosque.
The Prophet states: "Prayer in congregation is rewarded 27 times more than the prayer of
the individual." When the Prophet was asked about the best action a person can do, he
answered: "To offer prayers when they fall due." Congregational prayers are offered in the
mosque shortly after they are due, then prayer in the mosque with the congregation is far
better than any other place.

However, every one of us works within the constraints of his own circumstances. Allah
has not made it obligatory that we pray any prayer at any particular moment or in a
particular place. He has given us a range of time for each prayer. The Prophet says: "The
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               145


whole earth has been assigned to me as a place of worship and a source of purification."
A Muslim may pray anywhere. When you offer your prayers at home, they are perfectly
valid. If it so happens that two of you are at home or in the office and you want to offer
your prayer, it is far better if you offer in congregation. What you should guard, however,
is against substituting congregational prayer at home [or office] for prayer in the mosque.
In that way you cut yourself from the local community. This will not do. Whenever you
can attend the congregation at the mosque, you should do so. If you are praying at home,
it is far better to pray in congregation than to pray alone.

• Congregation: Friday sermon & the voluntary prayers
I have always understood that the reason that Friday prayer is only
two rak'ahs is that the khutbah compensates for the other two
which we normally offer in Dhuhr prayer. Some people suggest
that it is strongly discouraged to offer voluntary prayer when the
speech is being delivered. I have seen people continuing to offer
such voluntary prayer when the sermon is in progress. Please
comment.
I think it is wrong to relate the fact that Friday prayer consists of two rak'ahs only to the
requirement of having a sermon before it. Otherwise, we would have to say that the
sermon should be as long as or as short as the two rak'ahs, or the attendance of the
whole sermon would be obligatory to everyone. As it is, Friday prayer is deemed to be
offered correctly and in full if one misses the whole of the sermon, but attends the prayer
itself. It is certainly most important to attend the sermon and to make sure that one
arrives in the mosque early enough to listen to it in full. But that is not a condition for
the validity and acceptability of the prayer itself. What we say is that Friday prayer is
made in this fashion because God has willed it so. Besides, the sermon is meant to
discuss matters of importance which are relevant to the life of the Muslim community, or
to remind the worshippers of God and the day of judgment.

According to the Maliki school of thought, if a person arrives in the mosque when the
sermon is in progress, the only option available to him is to sit down and listen. Other
schools of thought make it permissible to offer two short rak'ahs in greeting to the
mosque.

During the time of the Prophet, a man came into the mosque while the sermon was
being delivered by the Prophet. He sat down to listen, but the Prophet interrupted the
sermon to tell him to offer two short rak'ahs, and the man complied. The Maliki school of
thought considers this a special case because the Prophet wanted to draw the attention
of the community to the fact that the man was in a situation of extreme poverty. That
would have ensured that he would receive some charitable donations, or sadaqah. Other
scholars take it as an indication of permissibility.

• Congregation: Friday sermon in Arabic
It is a common belief among Muslims in a non-Arabic speaking
country that the sermon given before Friday prayers must be in
Arabic, saying that it is not permissible for any language other
than Arabic to be used on the pulpit. What imams do, therefore, is
to give a sermon in the local language prior to Friday prayer. When
146                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


the time for Zuhr is called, this is concluded and the imam gives a
short khutbah in Arabic. I shall be grateful for your comments .
Friday prayer is the one obligatory prayer which we must offer in congregation. It is
offered at midday on Friday, and preceded by a sermon given by the imam. This sermon
is meant to discuss the situation of the Muslim community and its problems. Moreover,
its purpose is to make worshippers aware of their obligations towards their Lord and to
remind them of the hereafter so that they may be more conscious of their duties. It has,
therefore, a dual purpose; social and religious. It stands to reason, therefore, that it
should be given in the language which is commonly understood by the worshippers.

When we say that something is forbidden or not permissible, we must have a basis for
our statement. That evidence can only be a statement given in the Qur'an or by the
Prophet. I can say without any fear of ever being contradicted that there is nothing in the
Qur'an or in the Sunnah which states that to use any language other than Arabic on the
pulpit or minbar, is forbidden. Whoever makes this assertion cannot substantiate his
claim in any way. We have to remember here that there is no sanctity for any language as
such. It is true that the Qur'an is in Arabic and the Hadith is also in Arabic. That does
not make the Arabic language sacred. It has been honored by the fact that Allah has
chosen it for His message, but to say that the words of the language have any sanctity is
to make a wild claim.

Moreover, Allah tells us in the Qur'an that He sent messengers to different people. Every
messenger addressed his people in their language. No one used a language which was
not understood by his people. How can we expect, then, an imam to speak to a congre-
gation of worshippers in a language which they do not understand?

If the congregation is composed largely of people who do not speak Arabic, then the imam
must give the khutbah or sermon in the language which they speak. When he quotes
from the Qur'an or the Hadith, he may give that quotation in Arabic and add its
translation. Nothing more is required. The practice which you have mentioned has
become widely common in certain parts in the Muslim world. There is no need or basis
for it. I recognize, however, that it will be very difficult to change such a habit, unless
knowledge of Islam in that part of the world spreads much more widely.

• Congregation: Joining it from the neighboring house
We live very close to a mosque and we can hear the Imam reciting
the Qur'an and announcing every new action in the prayer. Is it
acceptable that my wife joins the congregation staying at home?
What scholars say about such questions as joining the congregation at a distance is that
there should be an easy access for a person who joins his congregation to reach the
imam. If it was his intention to go to the Imam then he should be able to walk to him
without any serious barrier. They give the example of a congregation at one side of a river
and a group of people on the other side. Can they join the same congregation? The
answer is that if they joined the congregation, their prayer is valid, but it is not
particularly encouraged to have such a congregation. It will probably be more appropriate
for the people on the other side of the river to have a congregation of their own.

Inside your home, with probably staircases to go down and then go out of the building to
reach the mosque, the impediments are more serious than that of a medium-size river. If
a congregation is not advisable on both sides of such a river, it is more so for a person in
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               147


his home joining the congregation in the mosque. Indeed, if we were to say that it is
appropriate, then it would be appropriate for the whole neighborhood to join the
congregation from within their homes. The Imam would then be offering the prayer with a
fewer people in the mosque and with more people joining him in their flats and
apartments in surrounding buildings. That is not the purpose of the congregational
prayer. Congregational prayer serves a very important social purpose. It would be missed
if people were to stay in their homes and join the congregation in their separate flats. The
proper congregation is when they come to the mosque and join together. If women are
keen to join the congregational prayer, they should also go to the mosque where a place
should be provided for them. The Prophet says: "Do not prevent female servants of God
from going to God's mosques."

• Congregation: Joining late
I went late into the mosque for Friday prayer. The congregation
had started. I joined them, but I soon realized they had already
finished the major part of the prayer. When I stand up for
completing my prayer, how many rak'ahs should I offer?
When you join a congregation which has already started, a rak'ah is counted complete for
you if you join before the imam stands up after bowing i.e. rukoo'. If you join immediately
after rukoo', then that rak'ah is not counted for you. It is preferable, however, to join it
even with the parts which will not be counted.

For joining Friday prayer with the imam, you must at least catch up with one full rak'ah
of it. In other words, you must join before the imam has raised his head after rukoo' of
the second rak'ah. If you join him after that, i.e. having missed both rak'ahs with him,
then you offer four rak'ahs after he has finished. These four rak'ahs are counted as
Dhuhr prayer, which becomes obligatory if you have missed Friday prayer.

• Congregation: Offering a missed prayer — the proper approach
If one has missed Asr prayer and joined the imam in the mosque
for Maghrib prayers, how should he approach his prayers?
If you [offer your prayers regularly but] have missed Asr prayer for a legitimate reason,
such as oversleeping or loss of consciousness, and you want to offer it with Maghrib, try
to offer it before the iqamah for Maghrib is called. If it has already been called, then you
have to join the congregation and offer Asr. When the imam finishes Maghrib prayer, you
rise up to add one Rak'ah to complete your prayer to four Rak'ahs, and then you offer
Maghrib normally. It is not proper in such cases to start with Maghrib prayers and offer
Asr afterwards. You have to offer prayers in their correct order.

• Congregation: When imam missed ablution
After completing the congregational prayer one evening, the imam
stood up and announced that he had just remembered that he did
not do his ablution. He told the congregation to repeat their
prayers. This led to much confusion with some people arguing that
their prayer was correct and valid. About half of the congregation
repeated their prayer while the other half left. Who was right?
148                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


The imam need not have mentioned anything about his earlier forgetfulness. The prayer
of the congregation is correct. Those who left the mosque without repeating it were
correct, because their prayer was valid. Those who repeated the prayer, will, Allah willing,
be rewarded for it as a voluntary prayer. It is needless to say that the imam himself must
repeat his prayer.

It is reported that Umar ibn Al Khattab once lead the dawn prayer. After he left, he
discovered the traces of a wet dream on his clothes. He took a shower and repeated his
prayer, without ordering any one in the congregation to repeat their prayers. This
incident is also reported of Uthman ibn Affan. When he discovered the traces, he said: "I
have indeed grown old. I have indeed grown old." He meant that in his old age, he could
not remember having had a wet dream. He repeated his prayer ordering no one to repeat
theirs.

• Congregation: Who should lead the prayer?
What are the criteria to choose someone to lead a congregational
prayer? If you enter a mosque and find that in the absence of the
regular imam, someone is leading the prayer whom you know to be
unsuitable, should you join them or not?
If a group of people is offering prayer together, they should choose someone from among
them to lead the prayer. The one to be chosen is the one who recites the Qur'an best or
the one who has learned more of the Qur'an by heart. If two people are of the same ability
in this respect, then the elder of the two is to be chosen. No one may lead 'another in his
own home' or place of authority without the latter's permission.

What this means is that if two or three people are offering prayer in the home of any one
of them, then the house owner or occupier should lead the prayer, unless he permits one
of them to lead. Moreover, it is the congregation who chooses the imam, not the imam
who imposes himself on them.

From another point of view, it is permissible that a young boy leads a group of adults in
prayer, and a blind man leads a group of people all of whom enjoy a good eyesight. There
is nothing wrong if either the imam or the one being led by him offers his prayer seated
for a good reason, nor with either of them having had dry ablution while the other having
had normal ablution. Either the imam or the one following him may be a traveler or
offering voluntary prayers while the other is resident or offering obligatory prayer. Again,
the imam may be a person who has a lesser standing in society than the people being led
by him. All such situations are acceptable.

If you come to the mosque and you find that the congregation is being led by someone
whose conduct leaves something to be desired, you should join the prayer because it
remains valid. It is much better that you show that you are one of the group than to pray
alone. Moreover, if you had offered your obligatory prayer and went into a mosque or
joined some people in a certain place and you found the people were about to offer the
same obligatory prayer you have offered, you should join them. You must not appear to
be isolating yourself from a congregation. Such a situation is liable to raise questions
about your decision.

• Congregation: Women leading
On what conditions can a woman lead a congregational prayer?
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 149


A woman may lead a group of women in a congregational prayer in the same way as a
man does. When she does, she simply stands in the middle of the line, not ahead of it.
She recites loudly in Fajr, Maghrib and Isha and quietly in Dhuhr and Asr in the normal
way. When the congregation is formed of women only, then it is highly preferable that a
woman leads the prayer rather than a man, unless the man's wife or a close relative such
as his mother or sister or daughter is in the congregation. If no such relative is among
the worshipers and he heads the prayer, the prayer is valid, although he is the less
preferable choice to lead it.

• Contractual obligations — infringement of
An employee has signed a contract which specifies that he would
not work for any other company or firm, but he nevertheless does
other work, such as giving private lessons, or working in a
supermarket. Is he breaking any Islamic principle by doing so?
What if his employer learns of this and does not question him on
it?
The Prophet, peace be upon him, makes it clear that ―Muslims abide by the conditions to
which they commit themselves.‖ Hence when one has accepted a condition, one should
fulfill it.

Having said that, I should explain that sometimes there are conditions added to contracts
in order to satisfy certain general standards [to cater for certain eventualities.] In practice
these may not apply in many cases. The employer may not even bother about it. In this
case, all that the employee needs to do is to ascertain whether it is a substantive
condition or not. Asking the employer and explaining the circumstances of his other work
can do this. If there is no objection, he can go ahead and do the additional work. On the
other hand, if the employer feels that the quality of his employees‘ work would suffer [or if
there is a conflict of interest] and that the employee must abide by that condition, then
he should either ask for an exemption or take some other step to fulfill his commitments.

• Copyrights and wrongs
How far is it permissible to obtain unauthorized copies of written
material on Islam including books, tapes, videos and computer
programs? Should not the propaganda of Islam be made easy by
the distribution of such material. For example, I have a set of
cassette tapes of the Qur'an in Arabic, with translation in English
which is also covered by copyright laws. Is it unacceptable if I copy
these tapes to give to others who are either unable to purchase
them or cannot afford the price?
Indeed the propaganda of Islam should be made easy. But then, this has to be within
Islamic rules. Islam does not allow that the propaganda or the efforts of others be taken
away from them or be exploited without their consent. In order to explain this problem we
should first ask ourselves why do authors, tape produces and computer program
devisors resort to register their copyrights. The fact is that some unscrupulous people are
always too ready to make pirate copies of these and sell them at a profit of which they
give no share to the author. What someone has produced after putting a great deal of
effort is thus used to bring financial gains to others who do not even bother to ask his
150                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                    Our Dialogue


permission. When you knowingly buy a pirate copy, then you are aiding such people
whose piracy is certainly forbidden. To be an accessory to piracy is also censurable.

There is a difference, however, between someone who produces a pirate book or markets
pirate tapes and programs and someone who gives his copy to another in the sort of
circumstances which you have mentioned. When you buy a book, neither the seller nor
the publisher nor the author makes it a condition of the deal that you are the only one to
read that copy. Therefore, when you lend it to someone else to read, you are not depriving
anyone of earning any profit. It could be said, that had you not lent your friend your
book, he would have bought a copy himself. The likelihood is that he might just as well
not have bothered.

Similarly, when you lend your cassette tape to your friend to copy it, knowing that he
either would not have bought it or could not afford to buy it, then you are not violating
the terms of your purchase. There is no restriction on how many people can use those
tapes when you buy them.

However, if you know that your friend who has borrowed it from you will make so many
copies of it and offer them for sale or make profit out of them, then you are helping him
in producing pirate copies. Therefore, when you lend your copy to him, you have to be
sure that he copies it for private use only.


• Corrupt set-up: Following bad example in bribery & corruption
In our part of the world there is so much corruption that it is
practically impossible for anyone to get even what one is clearly
entitled to without bribing the officials. This goes on all the time
among the non-Muslim majority. The Muslim minority has always
refrained from such practices. This has led to their deprivation.
They are seldom able to rise in government hierarchy and they are
economically underprivileged. Would it be permissible for Muslims
in these circumstances to do like others in order to improve their
status? [On the other hand, we see even the Muslim majority
indulging in such practices.]
You may be aware that at the dawn of Islam, the Muslim armies were able to liberate vast
areas of the world from tyrannical governments. Invariably, the Muslim armies were
fighting against much superior forces. Yet neither greater numbers nor better armament
could stem the Islamic tide. When we consider the reasons for such great victories, we
find a revealing statement by Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph, when he was
bidding farewell to one of his commanders who was at the head of an army dispatched to
fight against the forces of the Persian Empire.

In his farewell advice, Umar stressed the importance that the commander and his army
should always watch their actions and commit nothing that Islam does not approve. He
told him: "Muslims are granted victory on account of their enemy's disobedience to God.
Should we be at the same level of disobedience as they are, we would be no match to
them."

I think you have your answer in this statement. If Muslims were to follow the same
corrupt practices as others, what would distinguish them? How can they prove, even to
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              151


themselves, that Islam is the religion of the truth which makes it imperative that every
one should have their rights?

If Muslims were to take bribes and facilitate the business of only those who are ready to
pay the larger bribe, how can they stand in prayer and address God by saying: "You
alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek support." Would it not be true to say
then that their actions belie their statements?

They would be worshipping money, putting it in the same position as God because they
would be ready to abandon every principle in order to get money. They would also be
seeking support from those who wield power in their society, not relying on God's
support. For Muslims to do that is totally unacceptable.

Some people may try to justify resorting to such practices on account of its being the only
way for Muslims to acquire wealth, influence and power. But this is a very short-sighted
view. For one thing , they are talking about this life only when Islam always relates this
present life to the life Hereafter and considers that only when we take the latter into
account we have a proper perspective. This is certainly the right attitude to adopt. What
use are power, influence and wealth if we are to lose our values and come on the day of
judgment to stand in front of God carrying a long record of bribery and corruption?

Moreover, whatever we gain in this life will definitely be short-lived. Whatever comes
through corrupt practices is bound to go in the same way as it came. A person may get
money if he takes bribes, and he may be able to buy the silence or consent of his
superiors by giving them a slice of what he gets. But there will always be someone who
wishes him ill, and tries to take his position either by acquiring greater wealth and power
through the same practices or by other means.

Many a corrupt official was made a scapegoat for the whole system which may be corrupt
to the core. These systems must always portray an image of doing something against
corruption. They normally get rid of the weaker in their midst, or those whose corruption
has become public knowledge. What would the Muslim community be gaining if it joins
the corrupt system for petty gains?

Besides, Islam never accepts the motto that the end justifies means. In this case, giving
the Muslim community or individuals power and influence would be cited as the reason
for doing away with important Islamic values and principles. Indeed Islam wants its
followers to always show that their principles and values determine their behavior even
when they may work to their apparent or immediate disadvantage. In the end things will
be put to right and adherence to principles and values will prove to be very much in favor
of the Muslims in the long-term.

What we must always remember is that Islam is a practical religion. It does not set ideals
that relate to a superior type of life in an ideal world which has no real substance. Islam
lays down principles that must be applied by human beings in human life. That is the
only way to ensure happiness of human beings in this world and in the life to come.

Muslims who are able to do without power and influence because they would not sacrifice
their values for a financial gain enjoy a kind of happiness here in this life which no
corrupt official will ever experience. Do we want to deprive Muslims of that? If we do, we
will only be doing Muslims a great disservice.
152                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


• Corrupt set-up: Observing Islamic practices in such a set-up
We come from a country which has been suffering from the ill-
effects of un-Islamic, corrupt rule for quite a long time. Bribery,
forgery, false records of account, levies imposed by tax men which
go straight into their own pockets, high unemployment, poor wages
in relation to living expenses are the order of the day. Middle-class
businessmen find themselves facing a tough choice of either taking
part in such practices or be condemned to failure of business. The
majority of them have tried to carry out some sort of compromise.
They offer their prayers, fast in Ramadhan, and pay zakah and
attend regularly to their worship, while at the same time they cheat
the government in taxes, pay bribes to government officers, try to
sell their products by making false claims, take loans on interest,
etc. They argue that they are sure of being forgiven by Allah who
knows their intentions and their situation. If they were to present
correct records, pay government taxes and follow the letter of the
law, they will be left with very little of their profit and they cannot
make ends meet. They would remain poor and the rich would soon
crush them. They further claim that they only take loans on
interest in the starting period of their business. When they have
reached a reasonable measure of prosperity, they would stop that.
I should be grateful for your comments.
It is very easy either to condemn this situation and the practices of businessmen in your
country or try to find justification for it. But it is wrong to do either. The situation which
you have described at length is not unique to your own country. It is applicable to many
countries in the Third world, many of which are Muslim countries.

The state of affairs normally comes in the wake of a set-up where the government‘s need
to establish its authority leads it to commit certain excesses and replace government
officials with their own men who are chosen on the basis of loyalty rather than
competence. These also commit excesses of their own and that leads their subordinates
to also commit further excesses. On the other hand, mismanagement of the economy
leads to inflation and rising prices. Corrupt officials want to have more money and follow
path of self-glorification. In order to win favor with these people, or at least to guard
themselves against their unjust practices, people try to appease them with bribes.
Further bribes are also paid to their superiors and evil spreads until it is so common in
society that it is practiced openly.

In such a situation, there will always be much injustice as well as suffering by people
who are not in a position to either receive or pay bribes. Unemployment will rise and so
will the cost of living. A substantial section of society will not be able to make ends meet.
Hence the question whether it is permissible for a person in a dire need to resort to such
practices which will help him earn a living for himself and his family.

This is not an easy question at all. However, many scholars have pronounced judgment
which tells everyone that a wrong situation like this does not permit people to indulge in
    Our Dialogue                SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  153


sinful practices. The Prophet, peace be upon him, says that Allah curses both the one
who accepts a bribe and the one who pays it. A scholar will always abide by this Hadith
and give judgment on bribery in accordance with it. But then it is easy to say that all
bribery is forbidden, while the situation itself is very difficult. Not all bribes given in a
corrupt society are presented in order to win an undeserved favor. It is very often the case
in many societies that people have to pay bribes in order to get what is rightfully and
legally theirs. Sometimes, a totally innocuous case such as division of inheritance among
the heirs of a deceased person will remain on the desk of a government official for many
months because he refuses to deal with it unless he is paid something to give it the
official seal, which he is in the first place employed to do. This is certainly a bribe but it is
paid only to overcome an unfair attitude by a government official who is negligent of his
duties. On the other hand, tax inspectors may go to a businessman, expecting that he
will present them with false accounts and that he will be paying them something in order
that they pass his accounts as correct. If the businessman is a good believer who fears
Allah and presents correct accounts, he will be held in suspicion by the inspectors. When
they realize that no bribe is offered to them, they try to create problems for him and
accuse him of falsifying his records. They may be very nasty and they may try to land
him into trouble. Should he or should he not pay them something to let them accept his
correct accounts? The normal answer given by a scholar to this question is that one
should try every possible means not to digress from Islamic teachings. Some people may
retort that this is easier said than done. It may be so, but no scholar will tell you that
indulging in any practice which is clearly forbidden in Islam can be condoned under any
circumstances. This is due to the fact that the authority to forbid something belongs to
Allah. No one will pronounce lawful something that Allah has judged to be unlawful.

Moreover, when we allow ourselves to indulge in forbidden practices, we get used to them.
We, in fact, help establish their roots more firmly in society. It is certainly wrong to try to
justify one's action by the argument that everybody does the same. In certain systems,
embezzlement of funds or cutting a slice of the government income to oneself is practiced
by the majority of officials in high positions. Employees in more junior positions may
emulate their seniors and justify their own action by saying that the top employees are
doing the same. That is no argument to justify any unlawful earnings. Two wrongs
cannot make right. The crime of a superior employee does not justify that of a junior one.
What is needed is a firm stand against all corruption. Only if we demonstrate our resolve
to lead an honest, straightforward life will the corrupt have second thoughts about their
corruption. Moreover, that firm stand must be motivated by a general resolve to go back
to Islamic life. Only through such a return can the eradication of corruption be assured.

Scholars are simply maintaining a consistent stand when they give such answers. It is
certainly true that corruption cannot be beaten by acquiescing in even a small part of it.
Stamping out corruption needs a firm, unhesitating stand against it which combats all its
aspects.

Having said that, I should perhaps add that Allah does not deal in the same way with
someone who gives a bribe in order to gain something which is unlawful to him and
another who pays a government official some money in order to ensure that he gets his
right, especially when he is desperate for it. The two are not the same. In the first case,
the aim is to get something to which one is not entitled, and for which one employs
unlawful means. In the second case, one is paying in order to overcome injustice and to
secure one's right.

Similarly, there is a world of difference between a businessman who presents false
accounts and bribes government officials so that they sign them as correct and one who
presents correct accounts and finds himself forced to pay the same government officials
154                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


to accept them. The first one will gain something unlawful, while the other is fighting
injustice. While this argument is logical it cannot be used in order to justify all practices
you have mentioned.

As for obtaining loans on interest, that is something that no scholar will condone. Islam
cannot be applied piecemeal. It must be taken in its totality. No businessman can argue
that he will accept or pay interest only in the first few years of his business, until he has
established himself. The fact is that when he resorts to such loans and pays such
interest, and he finds that it enables him to achieve profits more easily, he will try to find
fresh justification for every loan he obtains. The proper Islamic method is to refrain from
this practice right from the beginning. When one refrains from an unlawful practice only
because it is forbidden, Allah will bless his work and give him prosperity.

• Cosmetic surgery: Is it permissible?
I would like to know your comments on cosmetic surgery?
We cannot issue a rigid ruling that all cosmetic surgery is forbidden. When cosmetic
surgery has a beneficial and legitimate purpose, then it may be considered permissible,
encouraged, or even obligatory. Like many other things, all five verdicts may apply to
plastic surgery. I have mentioned three, and the other two may apply to it to make in
certain cases discouraged and in others forbidden.

Take, for example, the case of a person who has suffered extensive burns. Doctors may
recommend plastic surgery. Now if the doctors say that it will have a mild beneficial effect
on him, but without it he will be also comfortable and will suffer no repercussions, then
such surgery may be described as permissible. If the doctors say that the benefits
expected to result from such surgery in such a case are substantial, then it is to be
considered highly recommended. Now if we can imagine a situation where plastic surgery
is necessary for such a person, either to save his life, or to get some part of his body to
function properly, or to overcome some physical or mental agony, then undertaking it
could be obligatory. On the other extreme, if plastic surgery is undertaken by a woman in
order to be more attractive, so that she can use her attraction for purposes that are
contrary to Islamic moral values, then it is certainly forbidden.

Circumcision is recommended, because the piece of skin that is cut                off during
circumcision is no longer of use to the person concerned. Before the child        is born, it
serves as a protection to the male organ. After birth, it could attract some      dirt which
could be harmful. Therefore, we are recommended to circumcise our children        at an early
age.

• Counting glorification
A friend of mine told me that we should not use our fingers to
count the number of phrases of glorification of God we do, because
the Jews do that. He claims that it is not permitted in our religion.
Please comment.
There is no such truth in what your friend has told you. Using your fingers to keep count
of the number of glorification of God or His praises is neither prohibited nor discouraged.
Indeed it is quite the reverse, since it was the method used by the Prophet and his
companions. In a report by one of the Prophet's companions, the reporter mentions
clearly that he saw God's messenger keep count of such glorification with his hand. This
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                155


is indeed the most practical way of keeping count, since we are recommended to glorify
God and praise him repeating each phrase 33 times.

It is very easy to use one's fingers to keep such count, considering that we can use each
finger for repeating the praise or the glorification 3 times. If we use the right hand only,
as preferable, then going twice over the five fingers makes 30 times and adding one more
finger completes the count.

There is no need to use a bead or stones or any other article whatsoever [such as a
mechanical counter]. Your hand is with you all the time. This means that you do not miss
your glorification by omitting to carry your counting article or device. That is more
practical.

Moreover, saying that something is forbidden because the Jews or any other group of
people use it is not the sort of attitude Islam encourages. Islam certainly gives the
Muslims their distinctive character, but that does not come from rejecting some practices
that all human beings may find useful. It is achieved through understanding and
implementing the set of principles and values the Islamic way of life is based upon.
Muslims are distinguished by their standards, lively conscience, their sense of fairness to
all people, and, above all, their submission to God with all the practical implications such
submission involves.

• Creation — the six days of creation
When God wills to create something, He only has to say, ―Be‖ and
it comes into existence. However, the Qur‘an mentions that God
created the heavens and the earth in six days. May I ask why it
took six days to create them, and what happened over those six
days of creation?
There is no doubt that God does not need time in order to accomplish His will. Whenever
God wants to create something, He only has to give the command that it should exist and
there it is in full existence. This is clearly stated in the Qur‘an more than once. It is true
in every sense. Yet the Qur‘an states that God has created the heavens and the earth in
six days. This is also true. Moreover, there is no contradiction between the two
statements. A builder who is able to build a house in three months does not detract from
his ability if he builds one in four or six month, or even longer than that.

There is a difference between ability and actual happenings. God is certainly able to
create the whole universe in a single moment. There is no limit to His ability. But He
chose to create it in six days. The choice is an aspect of His wisdom. We cannot fathom
God‘s wisdom, but we must believe that He has a reason for every thing, and that reason
is, by necessity, wise.

Having said that, I would like to add that scholars have spoken at length about the six
days of creation mentioned in the Qur‘an. They agree that this period of time is not to be
taken according to what we understand by the word, ‗day‘, in our world. We must not
take it as six 24-hour days or a week less one-day. For one thing, an Earth day results
from the position of the Earth in relation to the sun and how long it takes the Earth to
revolve. So it does not apply to God in this sense. For another, He is not restricted by
time or place. We cannot say that God exists in this place or in such period of time. He is
not limited by either.
156                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


This is one aspect of His attribute, of His name, The Infinite.

As scholars discuss the six days of creation, they advance a variety of views. Several of
these are very interesting and have clear validity. However, I am more inclined to the
view, which describes the six days as six stages of creation. Each was accomplished the
moment God gave His command to it to exist.

The point that remains to be said in this connection is perhaps the most valid and
important. Whatever we say on this matter is our view, which may be right or wrong. It is
God who knows best why He chose to create the universe in six days. We do not question
His wisdom, but we believe that had He chosen to do so, He would have created them in
no time whatsoever.

• Crescent — Significance of the crescent
What significance, if any, does the crescent moon have in Islam?
There is a verse in the Qur'an which answers your question. It is Verse 189 in Surah 2,
which may be rendered in translation as follows: "They ask you about the new moon.
Say: They indicate the periods for (various activities of) mankind, and for the pilgrimage."
In his commentary on this verse, the late scholar Sayyid Qutb mentions that some
reports suggest that the Prophet was asked about the new moon, its appearance as a
thin crescent and its growth and shrinkage until it can be seen no more. A report
suggests that the companions of the Prophet asked him: "Why has Allah created new
moons?" Allah instructed the Prophet to tell his questioners that "the new moons serve as
time markers indicating for mankind when to wear the ihraam garments in pilgrimage
and when to put on ordinary clothes, when to start fasting and when to finish, how to
calculate certain periods of time, such as a woman's waiting period if she is divorced or if
her husband dies.

"They may also be used to calculate different periods of time relating to people's business
transactions and loan settlements. Any period of time which relates to matter of religion
or human transactions may be calculated by the usage of the new moons."

Apart from this, there is no religious significance to a new moon. We still make it a point
of sighting the new moon in order to maintain properly the dates of different occasions,
such as pilgrimage and Ramadhan.

• Curse of precious stones
Is it true that diamonds and other precious stones should be
bought only for personal use and this be determined on the basis
of knowing one's exact date of birth. Some people suggest that if
this is not taken into consideration, these precious stones may
have a curse and bring bad luck to the wearer.
May I ask: What happens to a person who does not know her exact birth date, or indeed
the year in which she was born? You may recall that until recently, the majority of
people in large areas of the world did not have any official records of births and deaths.
Before the turn of this century, such registration was not legally required in many
Muslim countries. Tribal areas in Africa and Asia may have kept certain records, but
these were hardly on the basis of days, dates, months and years. Women have always
worn ornaments and have used precious stones for this purpose. If what you say is true,
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               157


bad luck would have hit so many millions of people and that was sure to disrupt human
life, as a whole. The fact is that there is no truth whatsoever in this superstition.

However, your question gives me the opportunity to state clearly that the time of birth
has no significance whatsoever. I realize that people attach some importance to the time
of birth, which act can at times be very much exaggerated. Astrologers tell us that if they
know the exact time of someone's birth, they can set up his or her horoscope and they
can tell that person a great deal about his or her personality and future. They claim that
by knowing the exact time of birth, they can calculate which star was rising and which
was descending, and these movements indicate certain things for human beings. Besides,
newspapers and magazines in most countries have a horoscope column which tell people,
who are born between certain dates, what to expect in the period immediately after the
publication of that issue of the paper or magazine. Although most people read these for
fun, some of them take them seriously.

From the Islamic point of view, we accept nothing of these claims. Indeed, the Prophet
warns us against consulting any fortune teller, regardless of the method he or she uses to
tell us our fortunes. Moreover, the Prophet describes fortune tellers as liars, even when
they happen to say the truth [i.e. fore-tell correctly.] That means that if a fortune teller
tells us something and it turns out to be as he had said, he still is a liar because when he
told it to us, he did not know it for certain. He was simply guessing. When a person tells
us something which is only guess work, he must be a liar. Indeed the prohibition to
fortune tellers including astrologers is very strict. To believe that someone may know the
future is tantamount to disbelief in Allah, because it suggests that these people know
something which in fact is known only to Allah Himself.

May I also say that the idea of something having a curse is totally alien to Islamic
thinking. Islam accepts nothing of the sort. Diamonds and precious stones do not have a
will of their own. Nor indeed have they any power to cause any good or harm. They are
lifeless objects. Therefore, they cannot bring us any good or bad luck. Anyone who
suggests something of the sort, needs to have his mind examined.
158                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue




• Dancing: Is it permissible?
Is dancing permissible. If not, why?
There is no rigid ruling concerning dancing, just like many other activities. Decent
dancing which does not aim at arousing unacceptable emotions, and does not make of
the women's body an object of exciting desires, and does not involve holding or pulling
close to oneself a member of the opposite sex, is permissible. Many communities have
folk dancing which is acceptable from the Islamic point of view. The dancers would be
respectably dressed and the dance may involve elaborate movements, but it remains
decent. It involves no exciting of desire to do anything forbidden. When such dances are
performed by men, or when they are performed by women in presence of women
audience only, these are permissible.

When the delegation from Abyssinia visited the Prophet, they performed some of their folk
dancing in the mosque. The Prophet watched them and he also lowered his shoulders so
that Lady Aisha, his wife, could watch. Had every type of dancing been forbidden, the
Prophet would not have done so. He would have made the ruling clear to all present.

• Darwin's theory of evolution
During a discussion, a friend of mine claimed that human beings
came from apes (Darwin's theory of evolution). This led to a heated
argument and a scar on our friendship. May I ask who were the
first human beings on earth? Whom did they worship and who was
their god?
The theory of evolution has two basic flaws. It observes in fine details the gradation of
species from one-cell organisms up to the chimpanzee and man, who the theory con-
siders to be the next in line. Advocates of the evolution theory have admitted this and
sought to explain by speaking about a "missing link". The other basic flaw in this theory
is that it cannot be proven in any scientifically acceptable way. Its argument is rather
didactic. It makes a huge jump from scientific observation to theorization about life and
existence. Thus, it imposes its theory on scientific findings. Perhaps it is appropriate to
state here that Muslim scientists have observed the gradation of species, not only in the
animal world but also in the world of plants. They referred to the fact that there is a very
fine line which separated one species from the next. They also observed that there are two
huge gaps: The one which separates the highest from the lowest, i.e. the chimpanzee
from man. However, Muslim scientists did not seek to impose any arbitrary theory of life
on their findings. They simply attributed this gradation to its appropriate cause, the will
of Allah, the Creator of all.

As Muslims, we recognize only one source for the formulation of our concepts of life and
the role of man. That source is divine revelations. We know that Allah has revealed the
Qur'an, His last message, through the angel Gabriel to His last messenger, Prophet
Muhammad, peace be upon him. Allah has also guaranteed that the Qur'an which
contains His message, will remain intact, free from distortion, for the rest of time.
Therefore, we must refer to the Qur'an for the formulation of our concepts of life and
creation. We know that the knowledge contained in the Qur'an is factual, because it
comes from the Creator whose knowledge is limitless and absolute. We cannot, therefore,
abandon this factual source of knowledge, preferring it to a scientific theory which is
liable to amendment or improvement as even its most outspoken advocates admit. On the
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               159


basis of information Allah has given us in the Qur'an, we state without hesitation that
human life on earth started with Adam, peace be upon him, who was created of clay and
Allah breathed of His spirit into him. Therefore, man is the result of a combination of clay
and spirit. He came into existence as a result of Allah's will when He decided to appoint a
vice regent on earth. How did Allah breathe His spirit into Adam whom He made of clay
and when did all this happen are details which He has not chosen to give us. Therefore,
we need not concern ourselves with these for two reasons: First, we have no means of
finding out the answers with any degree of certainty because the only source which can
give us such information, namely, Allah (limitless He is in His glory) has chosen not to tell
us. Second, our knowledge of such details will not be of any help to us in the fulfillment
of our task which is given to us by Allah, namely, the building of human life on earth.
Had such information been of benefit to us in this regard, Allah would not have withheld
it.

You ask about the God worshipped by the first human beings. There has always been
obviously one God, Allah. Adam was a prophet who taught his children how to worship
Allah alone. The Unitarian faith existed as long ago as man himself. What professors of
comparative religion in Western universities assert about the development of religious
beliefs is totally untrue. They claim that man started with primitive concepts of God and
worshipped forces of nature and represented them with idols and totters, etc. Later, as
man developed, his beliefs also developed and he started to believe in a small number of
deities, who were then reduced to two before the concept of monotheism evolved. All this
is contrary to what Allah tells us in the Qur'an. Allah gave Adam, the first man on earth,
the message based on the Oneness of Allah. His children continued to worship Allah
alone for many generations before deviation crept into their faith. Therefore, Allah sent
them prophets and messengers to call on them to revert to the Unitarian faith. They
made such a return at the time of Prophet Noah, when the group of believers who
survived the flood with Noah , started a new social order. Other returns were achieved by
other prophets in different communities. This message was given its complete and final
form in the Qur'an revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Allah's last
messenger.


• Day of judgment: Signs, indications
Are there any signs and indications of the approach of the day of
judgment? Could you please outline them?
There are very clear statements in the Qur'an concerning the day of resurrection. The
first is that its timing is known only to God who keeps it to Himself: "They question you
concerning the hour and when it will come. Say: 'Its knowledge belongs to my Lord. He
alone will reveal it at its appointed time." (7:187) We also know that it will arrive
suddenly. "It will overtake you without warning."

We are told in the Qur'an that it will be preceded by strange happenings in the universe.
One of these is that a walking creature will come out of the earth which will speak to
people. This is a true piece of information mentioned in Verse 82 of Surah 27, entitled
'The Ants.' We do not know exactly what sort of creature this will be but it must be
something like animals, because the word used to denote it is normally used to refer to
walking animals. Since God has not given us any more information about this creature,
we do not venture to say any more. We only say that we believe the Qur'anic statement as
it is, knowing that God is able to do what He pleases in the manner and fashion He
chooses.
160                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                         Our Dialogue


Another indication which the Qur'an has mentioned is the release of Gog and Magog after
the collapse of the wall which separates them from us. We do not know who are Gog and
Magog, or where their land lies, or where the wall is. If we manage to identify these on the
basis of research and linking various sorts of evidence and we come up with a conclusion
which is not contrary to the Qur'an, we accept it. Otherwise, we accept the Qur'anic
statement in its generality.

There are other indications which have been outlined in authentic Hadiths, such as true
knowledge becomes scanty, while ignorance becomes widespread. Drinking intoxicants
and adultery becomes commonplace. Women become greater in number than men, and
honesty becomes a rare commodity in human society. Social standards become
inconsistent, and lowly people rise in society. The impostor will make his appearance
when he will delude a great many people. None but the true believers will be able to
recognize that he is an impostor. The second coming of Jesus, the Messiah, will then
follow, and he will certainly support the message of God's final Prophet, Muhammad,
peace be upon him.

• Day of Judgment: Uniting of married couples
It is said that married couples who earn God's pleasure will be
united again in the life to come. What happens if a woman who has
lost her first husband is married to another and all three are
obedient to God and keen to do their duty in this life? With which
of her husbands would a woman be united?
I prefer not to go into the details of what things will be like on the Day of Judgment, and
which people will receive what treatment. These are matters that God determines. We
know that God will be most kind to those who have been obedient in this life and who try
to abide by God's orders and instructions. His kindness knows no limit. His grace will be
shown to everyone who is good. Therefore, if a woman had married in this life two
husbands, both of whom she loved and with both of whom she was happy, God is certain
to have all three of them satisfied and happy in the life to come.

It is important to realize in this respect that the sexual desire is very much a matter of
this life, not of the life to come. This desire is closely related to the instinct of survival and
ensures the continuity of the human race. In the life to come, this is not required. People
would have an everlasting life. They do not need to procreate, because the test of the
human race will have been over. In these circumstances, it is not difficult to envisage that
a woman who had two husbands will be in heaven with both of them, and all three will be
bound by a feeling of close relationship as obedient servants to God. On the day of
judgment, the believers will have been purged of any ill-feelings they may have toward
others.

• Daybreak: When does a day start?
A day starts at the time when Fajr, or dawn prayer falls due. That takes place, roughly
speaking, at about one and a half hour before sunrise. The common practice of
considering that a day begins at 12 mid-night is simply an agreed convention. People
may have agreed to start a     day at sunrise or at 7 o'clock in the morning or at any
particular time. From the Islamic point of view, it starts with the first act of worship in a
24-hour cycle, and marked by a new chance to earn reward from Allah for good actions
which may be done during the day.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              161


We have a hadith in which the Prophet is quoted to have said : " With every break of
dawn, a voice cries out : son of Adam, I am a new creation to witness your actions. Do
make the best of me because I shall never return until the day of judgment. "

• Daydreaming about committing offenses
A person I know seems to have a hyperactive imagination,
repeatedly fantasizing about committing crimes and offenses that
are impossible for him to commit. Is such daydreaming a sin?
Allah forgives us what we may contemplate of offenses and crimes. He takes us to
account only for what we commit. However, the person whose case you have mentioned
should make an effort to stop his daydreaming. If he always thinks of committing such
offenses, a day may come when he falls victim to his active imagination and commits the
offenses in question.


• Death: A grieving daughter's suffering
I still keenly feel the loss of my mother who died 10 months ago. I
am often in tears mourning her. Since she is buried in a grave near
our house, I often go there to sit near the grave and talk to her.
Can she hear me? I am told that crying hurts her. People also say
that when a person dies, he forgets about living. Is this true?
That you so keenly feel the loss of your mother is understandable, particularly if you were
so close to her when she was alive. The important point is that your sense of loss must
not develop into a protest to God's will. As long as you accept that death occurs by the
will of God and that we have to accept it without protest, feeling your grief is perfectly
understandable.

When the Prophet's last son died, he was in tears, and he said: "An eye may be tearful,
and a heart may be full of grief, and we are certainly sad to have to lose you, Ibrahim."

That your tears would hurt your deceased mother is not true. How would they when she
has no way of knowing that you are in tears for her loss? But what you should guard
against is lamenting her departure with wails and words which may not be acceptable
from the Islamic point of view. Such wailing and lamenting is forbidden because it goes
beyond the expression of sorrow to saying things that are often untrue, in addition to
putting up a show that does not fit with the concept of accepting God's will.

There is no harm in visiting the grave of your mother, provided that you do not make a
scene of your sorrow. If you 'talk to her', as you do, then I have to tell you that she
cannot hear what you say. God says in the Qur'an: "You cannot make those in the graves
hear what you say."

What you should do is to pray to God as often as possible for your mother, and appeal to
Him to have mercy on your mother and to forgive her whatever mistakes she might have
done during her life, and to give her a higher position in heaven. When you do that, you
will feel that you are doing something to benefit her.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, says: "When a human being dies, all his (or her) actions
come to an end, except in one of three ways: A continuing act of charity, or a useful
162                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


contribution to knowledge, or a dutiful child who prays to God for him." You may also
benefit your mother by offering the Umrah or pilgrimage, or giving sadaqah, or by reading
the Qur'an and requesting to credit the reward of your recitation to her.

We know that all the dead will be resurrected on the day of judgment when they will have
to account for what they have done in this life, and on the basis of that reckoning their
fate is determined. May God grant you the ability to bear your loss with fortitude and to
do what benefits your mother.

• Death: Body and the spirit
What sort of pain is associated with death: how does it start and
how long does it last? Will the angels of death be visible to us and
do they show us the place to which we will be taken? Is it
necessary to recite the "kalimah" to a dying person? Why do we
apply honey to his lips? Does the spirit hear or see people after a
person has died? Does it feel pain if the body is moved or touched?
Does the pain vary from one person to another?
As you are aware, man is made of the combination of spirit and body. As long as they are
united, he is alive. Once the spirit departs from the body, that human being dies. What
causes this separation is Allah's will, since He has given each one of us a specific life
duration, at the end of which we die. It is to be expected that the departure of the spirit
from the body may be associated with pain which is different from the pain one
experiences during an illness. No one, however, can describe this pain, since those who
die do not return to this life. We have a Hadith from which we infer that the experience of
this separation varies according to whether or not the dying person is a believer. Abu
Hurairah quotes the Prophet as saying: "When a believer is about to die, the angels come
to him with a white sheet of silk and say: Come out, good soul, well pleased and well
pleasing to a world of mercy and roses and to meet a Lord who is not displeased. It comes
out with an odor which is more pleasant than musk. The angels hand him over one to the
other until they get him to the door of heaven where its angels say: What a pleasant smell
has come to you from earth. They bring him over to meet the spirits of believers who are
more joyful to meet him than any one of you when he meets a dear relative who has come
back after a long absence. When a disbeliever is about to die, the angels who administer
torture come to him with rugs and say: Come out, you spirit, displeased to receive divine
punishment. It comes out smelling like a most rotten corpse and they take it to the earth
gate where the angels say: What a rotten soul. Then they throw him with the spirits of
disbelievers. Related by Al Nassaie, and by Muslim in an abridged form.

Let me point out, however, that suffering extreme anguish at the time of death is not
indicative of any judgment on the person concerned. It must never be assumed that a
person who dies a very calm and peaceful death is in a position of favor, or that a person
who suffers much anguish is in a position of disfavor. The Prophet himself endured much
pain at the time of his death. This has made Lady Aisha say: "I do not envy anyone a
peaceful death after having seen what God's Messenger has endured" (Related by Al
Bukhari).

We certainly try to get a dying person to say the "kalimah", or repeat the declaration that
he or she believes in the Oneness of Allah and in the message of Muhammad, peace be
upon him. As for putting honey on the lips of a dying person, this is something that I
know nothing of. As for the rest of your questions, I think the best answer is to quote you
this authentic Hadith: "Anas quotes the Prophet as saying: When a deceased person is
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                163


placed in his grave and his relatives and friends leave, he hears the sound of their shoes.
Two angels come to him and sit him up and question him. They ask him: What was your
view of this man, Muhammad? If the person was a believer, he would say: I bear witness
that he is Allah's servant and Messenger. They say to him: Look at your position which
you would have had in hell, Allah has replaced it for you with a position in heaven. He
sees both positions. When a disbeliever or a hypocrite is asked what used to be his view
of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, he would answer: I do not know. I used to
say what other people said. The two angels say to him: May you never know and never
tell. He is then struck with an iron hammer in between his ears. He makes a cry which is
heard by all creatures with the exception of human beings and jinn." (Related by Al-
Bukhari and Muslim)

As for the question whether a deceased person feels pain, the answer is that the body
loses its senses after the spirit departs.


• Death: Burial time limit
If a foreign worker dies, how soon should he be buried? Is it
appropriate for the employer to delay burial till he receives the
consent of the worker's parents or next of kin? Does this not
contravene the rule which specifies a time limit for burial? Is it
appropriate to ship a body out to one's home country for burial?
Let me first of all say that there is no time limit for burial. Islam does not say that a dead
person should be buried within a particular number of hours or days after the death has
occurred. Having said that, it is well-known that it is more appropriate from the Islamic
point of view to bury a person as soon as possible after his death. Burial is not to be
delayed unnecessarily. When it is feared that the body of a deceased person could begin
to decompose, preparation for burial should be started with maximum speed. On the
other hand, if there is a valid reason for a delay of burial, then this is acceptable. Such
delay may be necessary if a crime is suspected. A coroner may require a postmortem to
be carried out in order to determine the cause of death. This will inevitably delay burial,
but this is certainly acceptable. It is not acceptable, on the other hand, to delay burial in
order to wait for someone to join the funeral. Such considerations are of little value from
the Islamic outlook.

In the case you have mentioned, the employer may have felt that the relatives of the
deceased worker may wish to have the body returned to the worker's home country for
burial there. From the Islamic point of view, it is undesirable that a dead person be sent
from one country [or from one town] to another for burial. Even when a Muslim dies in a
non-Muslim area, it is perfectly appropriate for him to be buried there. There is no need
for him to be taken away to a Muslim country. The whole earth belongs to Allah and
wherever we are buried, He resurrects us on the day of judgment.

• Death: Condolence for the deceased
You have mentioned in the past that it is not proper that the
relatives of a deceased person stay at a particular house or place
for people to come and offer their condolences. In a book on Hadith
I have read that when the news of the martyrdom of Zaid ibn
Haritha and Jaffer ibn Abu Talib reached Madinah, the Prophet sat
in the mosque and grief could be seen in his face. Muhammad Ali
164                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


commenting on this Hadith says: "To sit in some place so that
people may come and express their sympathy with and console the
bereaved family, is, therefore, in accordance with the Prophet's
practice." Please clarify.
The Hadith you have quoted mentions only that the Prophet sat in the mosque, but there
is no mention in the Hadith itself that he sat there for the purpose of receiving
condolences by his companions. We cannot conclude from that Hadith anything more
than the fact that, on receiving the sorry news of the death of his commanders, the
Prophet announced that to his companions and made himself available. He sat in the
mosque, feeling very sad. It was only natural that his companions, particularly those who
were close to him, should come to find out whether he was planning anything to support
the Muslim army which suffered a defeat. Again, it is natural that those who arrived in
the mosque should offer their condolences to the Prophet. This is exactly what I have
said, that the offering of condolences should be left to the time when we meet the
relatives of the deceased [ which may be immediately upon hearing the news of the
death].

Had the Prophet encouraged, or even permitted, the organizing of any type of function, or
the assembly of the relatives in a particular place for people to come at a particular time
to offer their condolences, as happens in many Muslim societies these days, these
practices would have been followed each time one of the Muslims in Madinah died. It
would have been reported to us, particularly since a good number of the Prophet's
companions died in wars or in time of peace in those ten years when he founded the
Muslim state in Madinah.

Muhammad Ali has based his conclusion on this single incident, which does not suggest
what he has concluded. May I ask whether this Muhammad Ali is the same as the
Quadiani person who has translated the Qur'an? If so, then you should not take what he
says because he is not a proper source from which to learn about Islam.


• Death: Dispute about the faith of a dead woman
When an Indian woman died there was a dispute about her
religion. Muslims in the area insisted that she was a Muslim and
wanted to have her buried. Hindus claimed that she belonged to
their faith and they wanted to have her body cremated. Is there
any way to ascertain the faith of a deceased person?
Faith and beliefs are questions of the mind. You cannot tell from looking at a person
whether he belongs to the Islamic, Christian, Hindu faith or whether he is an atheist or
an agnostic. There is simply no physical mark to indicate that. If this is true of a living
person whom you can question about his faith or whose practices can be watched to
determine whether he is a believer or not, it is certainly more true of a dead person with
whom you cannot have any interaction. You cannot look for any mark on that person's
body to know his religion.

I am at a loss to understand how such an issue arises only when a woman dies and only
in connection with her burial. How is it that the deceased came to be the subject of
dispute among the living? Was she known to offer her prayers and to attend to her other
religious duties? If so, then surely many people would have known that and the matter
    Our Dialogue             SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                             165


would be easily resolved. Or has the dispute arisen because the woman simply did not
know or did not care about religion? This sounds more like it.

Without wishing to make any judgment, the way a person is buried does not change
anything about his faith or his standing on the day of judgment. What is more important
is that no serious dispute should be allowed to develop between two communities over
the issue. I hope the matter has been amicably resolved.

• Death: Expressions of sorrow that displease God
Back home people organize functions after the death of a person.
They also mark the anniversary of the death each year. Are such
practices allowed in Islam?
A Muslim accepts the death of a person who is dear to him as an act of God‘s will, and he
resigns himself to missing that person, hoping that he or she will receive God‘s
forgiveness and be admitted to heaven. He prays for the deceased person‘ and requests
God to forgive him or her and to bestow His mercy on them, and he may offer the
pilgrimage, or Umrah, and pay money to poor people or to charities on their behalf. All
this is acceptable and is bound to benefit the deceased.

The functions you mentioned at anniversaries or after certain days of the death of a
person are of no value. Indeed they may be less than valuable if they included practices
or statements that displease God, such as saying words or sentences that imply some
sort of objection to God‘s will. An example of that is when people say that a certain
person has died too early, or before he completed his life, or that he has left young
children with no one to care for them.


• Death: Forgiveness by coincidence
A woman who led a life that paid no attention to religious
teachings, used to drink and was even thought of as a prostitute,
died on the 27th Ramadhan. Some people argued that because of
this she may be forgiven all her sins, as her death occurred on a
night of grace in a month which is full of grace. However, the
community did not allow her body to be buried in the Muslim
graveyard. She was buried in the public ground. Please comment.
That this woman may be forgiven all her sins is a possibility which only God determines.
It is not for any human being to decide whether this will happen or not. What we know
for certain is that God may forgive anyone any amount of sins. He says in the Qur'an:
―God indeed forgives all sin.‖ For any person to be forgiven, what is needed is genuine
repentance and a resolve not to go back to sinning ways. If a person does that with
honesty and sincerity, and he or she prays to God for forgiveness, then God may forgive
him or her. God certainly knows whether a person is genuine in his repentance or not.
He has promised forgiveness to those who repent sincerely. God always fulfills His
promises.

So, if this woman had repented and turned to God with sincerity seeking His forgiveness,
He may well forgive her. That her sins were numerous and of the cardinal type is no
barrier to His forgiveness, provided her repentance was genuine indeed.
166                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


On the other hand, the timing of her death, on its own, is no reason for forgiveness. It is
true that the night of 27 Ramadhan is likely to coincide with the night of power, which is
described in the Qur'an as better than one thousand months, but dying on that night is
of no significance, unless the person who dies then has been making the best use of the
night by following the Prophet's advice and spending his time in worship. It is our
actions which determine our position, not the circumstances of our death or birth.


• Death: From here to eternity
What is the Islamic view regarding the phase in which a human
being passes between his death and the day of resurrection? Do we
meet and recognize our relatives and children on the day of
resurrection? What will our age be like?
Every human being knows that his existence is related to the presence of a "spirit" which
makes all the difference between life and death. When a human being dies, his spirit
departs from his body. The body remains as it is, but it has no life. A dead person cannot
move, speak, see, feel or think. If he belongs to a Muslim family, he is buried. In other
communities and faiths, something else is done. He may be cremated, thrown in the sea,
or left to be eaten by the birds. Nothing of this affects his spirit because it has already
departed from his body.

The question arises here: what is the spirit? How do we define it? What is its nature? It is
useful to relate here that at the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, the polytheists in
Makkah thought of trying to establish whether the Prophet, peace be upon him, was truly
a messenger of Allah or not. They sent a delegation to the Jews in Madinah to meet with
their senior rabbis. They thought that the Jews, having a sacred book and being
monotheists, may be able to give them some information by which they could determine
whether what the Prophet, peace be upon him, said was right. The Jews suggested to
them to put to the Prophet, peace be upon him, questions on three topics. If he gave
them satisfactory answers on all of them, they would know that he was only a messenger
of Allah. One of these topics was the spirit. The Prophet, peace be upon him, prayed to
Allah to give him answers to all three questions. Answer in details to one of the questions
is given in the surah entitled "The Cave." It relates to the histories of the group of young
men who took refuge in a cave to hide away from their people who were polytheists. The
second question concerns Thul-Qarnain, a man who traveled far and wide and was able
to establish justice and monotheism. As far as the third question, which was on spirit,
was concerned, the answer is given in a single verse in the Surah, entitled "The Night
Journey" or "Al-Isr‘a' ". It may be rendered in translation as follows: "They question you
about the spirit. Say: (knowledge of) the spirit belongs to my Lord, and you have been
given but scanty knowledge."

It is clear from this verse that Allah has chosen not to impart to us any detailed
knowledge of the spirit. He has chosen to keep that to Himself. That establishes two
points: that we do not need such knowledge of the spirit in order to fulfill the task
entrusted to us of building human life on earth. Had it been necessary for us to acquire
that knowledge, Allah would have not withheld it from us.

The other point is that since Allah has withheld such knowledge from us, hard as we may
pursue it, we will not end up with the truth about it. There have been so many thinkers
and philosophers in all ages who belong to all nations and all civilizations, and who have
tried to know what the spirit is and what its nature is like. Some of them have come with
different concepts and ideas. None of them, however, stands up to close examination.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                167


Some of their concepts are absurd that one wonders how can a man of any degree of
intelligence come out with such a concept. Others have large and apparent flaws. None is
truly convincing. Muslim scholars, on the other hand, have from one generation to
another maintained that since Allah has not given us such knowledge, we do not waste
our time pursuing it, because all our attempts will lead us nowhere.

Having explained that knowledge of the spirit and its nature have not been given to us by
Allah, I should add that we have certain hints in the Qur'an and by the Prophet, peace be
upon him, which give us some impression of the life of the spirit. One such example is
the Qur'anic statement that martyrs who sacrifice their lives for the cause of Islam are
not to be considered as dead; they are "alive with their Lord, and are given provisions."
The Prophet, peace be upon him, likens the spirit of people to "soldiers in ranks: those of
whom come to know one another establish intimacy and those who are unfamiliar with
one another are hostile." This statement is understood to explain how believers get on
easily with one another and soon establish intimacy.

Since we do not know a great deal about the world of the spirit, it is difficult for us to
explain in detail what happens to the spirit after it departs from the body and until the
day of resurrection. We know, however, that the Prophet, peace be upon him, has taught
us to pray Allah to spare us suffering in the grave. He himself used that prayer, although
he knew he would not be exposed by Allah to such suffering. He did so in order to teach
us what to say in our prayer. This prayer, however, tells us that some people are
punished and tormented in their graves. It is reported that the Prophet, peace be upon
him, has described the grave as either "a piece of the garden of heaven or a pit of fire."
This description shows that some people, i.e. good believers, will be happy in their graves,
while others, the disbelievers, have much to suffer. It is needless to say that this suffering
is not physical. The body of a buried person will soon decompose. One who is cremated
is reduced to ashes. Nevertheless, the torment referred to by the Prophet, peace be upon
him, as being suffered by the dead people in their graves is real and applies to all those
whose actions in life make them liable to such punishment. It is reasonable, therefore, to
assume that this torment is spiritual, rather than physical.

When the resurrection takes place, every spirit is reunited with its body. We are raised in
the same state in which we were at the point of death. We will face the reckoning on the
Day of Judgment, when our actions are either credited for us or recorded against us. If
our good actions are weightier, we are given our book of account in our right hands. That
in itself is a signal of Allah's pleasure with us and we feel so elated that we want to show
our book to all around us. Those who are given their books of account in their left hands,
realize that they are doomed. They wish they had never been given anything.

The question may be asked here: How does the spirit recognize the body after it has
decomposed, been cremated or even eaten by birds? This is all related to the very concept
of resurrection. As Muslims, we believe that every human being will be raised to life again
and that all human beings in all generations will be gathered together on the Day of
Judgment. What has happened to the dead body of each person does not constitute a
major point of worry for us, because we know that Allah is able to accomplish His will
and do whatever He wants. It is sufficient for us to know that it is only through His ability
that we have been created the first time. That is how we have been brought into this life
after we are nothing. Can anyone of us imagine what sort of life did he have before his
mother produced the egg which was fertilized by the sperm of his father and the
conception led to the pregnancy which culminated in his birth? This creation is indeed
enough proof to us that He who has created us in the first instance is able to bring us
back to life after we die. That He brings us back to life in the same state which witnessed
the end of our first life constitutes no difficulty to Him.
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As for recognizing our relatives and friends, we certainly do. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us
that on the Day of Judgment, every one is preoccupied with his own fate. He runs away
from his parents, brothers, sisters and children. He will not run away from them if he
does not recognize them.

As for our age in Hereafter, I can refer to the Hadith when an elderly woman companion
of the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked him to pray to Allah to admit her in heaven.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, joked with her and said: "No elderly woman is admitted
into heaven." The Prophet, peace be upon him, said this in jest, and we have to explain
here that the Prophet, peace be upon him, always said the truth, whether he spoke
seriously or in jest. Tears sprang to the woman's eyes, because she was elderly. The
Prophet, peace be upon him, smiled and explained that this does not mean that all
elderly women will be turned away from heaven. Certainly good women, of all ages, will
be in heaven. The Prophet, peace be upon him, told her that every woman who goes to
heaven will be back in her prime, as a youthful girl, full of vigor.

• Death: From hunger
I have been asked to put this question to you: While Allah has
promised to feed each and everyone born in this world, why do
hundreds and thousands of people die of starvation in Africa and
other parts of the world? What about their promised provision?
Yes, Allah has guaranteed that every living creature will have his, her or its provisions.
He says in the Qur'an: "Every living thing on earth will have its provisions given by Allah."
(11;6). But what does this promise mean? Does it mean that what is assigned to every
creature will come to that creature wherever he is and whether he works or not? To
believe so is to be exceedingly naive. With the population of the world now exceeding five
thousand million, it will take a planet which is hundreds of times bigger than ours to
provide all these people with their sustenance, let alone what animals and other
creatures will need. Besides, what would be the point to provide all these creatures with
their sustenance if they do not need to work for it? The least that can be said is that it
would transform human beings to lazy creatures who expect to be fed without making an
effort. The whole purpose of human existence, which is building human civilization on
earth, would be totally negated. But Allah tells us in the Qur'an, referring to the earth
that He "has apportioned in it provisions (for its living beings)." How can we link the two
aspects together?

The Islamic view is that Allah has given the earth the potential, enough agricultural and
animal resources to feed all those who live on it comfortably. People need to work in order
to get what the earth can give. Everyone realizes this. If we were to leave fertile lands
without proper cultivation, irrigation and general agricultural attention, we will make of
them either barren land or land which produces wild plants, most of which are inedible.
When a farmer takes good care of his fields, pulling out the weeds, using proper
fertilizers, using good seeds and ensuring adequate irrigation, he gets a good harvest. He
is able to sell his produce to his fellow countrymen or export it abroad. The same applies
to every aspect of agriculture and animal resources. British fishermen, for example, are
renowned for the way they preserve their fisheries to ensure continuous supply of fish
throughout the year. Other countries which do not follow a similar pattern, have their
fishing resources depleted or at least experience sharp seasonal fluctuations in their
catch of fish.

We often hear that the population explosion will bring an unparalleled disaster for
mankind. Predictions that the earth will not be able to support those who live on it are
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 169


heard very often. Such predictions are short-sighted. They are similar to predictions that
were made two centuries ago, when the population on earth was perhaps one fifth of
what it is today. At that time, people tended to think that the earth would not be able to
support many more human beings. How was it able to support five times that number?
The fact is that man has been able to tap more resources by using new discoveries, such
as electrical power and innovative methods. I am not suggesting that population increase
should continue unchecked, but I am saying that the earth has far more untapped
resources than what human beings now utilize. For this reason, man can enjoy a far
greater degree of affluence, if only he would care to tap these resources and put them to
proper use.

Let us consider the following two examples. When the population of Egypt was in the
region of 15 million, in the late forties and early fifties, the country's agricultural produce
was sufficient to feed all its people comfortably. Now, the same agricultural land has to
feed more than treble that population. Although Egypt has the Nile running the whole
length of the country, it relies for its agriculture on a very narrow valley extending all the
way from its southern borders to Cairo and on the Nile delta. Yet the Nile waters can be
used to reclaim vast desert areas. Besides, Egypt has a wealth of underground water.
There have been some attempts to reclaim desert land particularly in Sinai which has
now good agricultural produce in certain areas. Moreover, a fantastic project of drawing
Nile water to irrigate Sinai desert land has already started to pay good dividends. Much
more can be done in this area and Egypt can easily treble or quadruple its agricultural
produce.

Until recently, Sudan was considered a country with enormous agricultural and animal
resources. It has abundant water resources in the Nile and the Blue Nile provides an
easy, cheap method of irrigation. Only recently there were projects which aimed at
making Sudan the breadbasket of the Arab world. Nevertheless, now why Sudan suffers
this miserable state of affairs is not for the lack of resources, but the mismanagement of
these resources. There are many more examples like this.

If we add to such examples causes like ill-advised policies, based on wrong priorities,
dictatorial governments which allow corruption to spread, wide-scale mismanagement
and the work of these forces which want to preserve the present situation which
concentrates wealth in the hands of the few, you have an unfailing prescription for
continued poverty in potentially rich countries.

If we look at the world situation, we find far too many situations where potentials are not
realized and people continue to suffer as a result. What we conclude from this is that
Allah has given us the means to feed ourselves properly, but we have not used those
means in the right way to benefit by the potentials. The fault is with man and not with
Allah. Many people ask why does Allah allow people to perish of starvation in Ethiopia? If
we look at the situation in Ethiopia over the last sixty years, we find that the miserable
dictatorship of the former emperor has been replaced by the Marxist dictatorship of
Mengistu. It is the policies of these governments that had brought Ethiopia to the point of
collapse. It may be asked why people should be left to suffer if the government is not
following proper policies. The answer is that the people are also responsible for allowing
such a government to continue without trying hard enough to either cause the
government to reform its policies or bring in a different sort of government.

Islam does not only make it an essential part of man's role on earth to realize the
potentials of the planet on which man lives, but also to ensure fair distribution of wealth.
Its system which regulates the use of agricultural produce, the break up of wealth
through inheritance, help to the poor through the zakah system, are just few aspects of
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the Islamic system which bring about justice for all and guarantees everyone a decent
standard of living when it is properly implemented. Man, however, must work to
implement the Islamic way of life. Otherwise, injustice will continue and man's suffering
will be perpetuated. Without hard work man cannot expect to reap any fruits. We cannot
blame Allah for our lack of efforts. He has given us the means to increase human wealth,
but we have to utilize those means. Unless we do that, the present ills of human society
will continue.

• Death: In infancy
You have in the past quoted a Hadith which states that children
who die in their infancy try to get their parents admitted into
heaven. May I ask how about parents who deliberately kill their
children, either through abortion or some other way. Also what
about the children of non-Muslim parents?
I have mentioned some of the Hadiths which clearly state that those who die in infancy
will be of great help to their parents on the Day of Judgment. One Hadith suggests that
such children will look for their parents among the masses of human beings who are all
gathered on the Day of Judgment. When they find them they will lead them by the hand
until they get them into heaven. They will entreat Allah on their behalf and will say to
Him that their parents were deprived of the happiness and pleasure of having them when
they were young. The children want their parents to have that happiness in the life to
come.

Another Hadith mentions that when children who die in their childhood are commanded
to go into heaven, they will stop at its gate and make loud noises. They will protest that
they will not enter until they have their parents with them [because whatever of pleasure
of being together that either of them missed in this life was for no fault of theirs]. Allah
will bestow His grace on both parents and children and order all of them to enter heaven
together.

These Hadiths which speak of the Day of Judgment are to be understood within the
general framework of the fundamental Islamic principles. A non-believer cannot be
admitted into heaven, because Allah has so willed that heaven will be the abode of those
who believe in Him. Therefore, even if a non-believer loses a child or more in infancy, his
children would not be able to earn him reprieve. The children themselves will not be
accountable, since they have died before they reached the age of accountability.

Similarly, if a parent has killed a child of his, the two will stand in front of Allah to judge
between them. They will be opponents, since the child will have a grievance against the
parent who had killed him. We know that Allah is the most Gracious and Merciful. But
we also know that He does not allow the right of anyone of His servants to be wasted.
Hence, He will judge between child and parent and will pass His fair judgment.

• Death: Janazah prayer for a child
In the case of a child‘s death, from what age will it be required that
the janazah prayer is offered for the deceased?
The janazah prayer should be offered for any Muslim who dies. It is a short prayer offered
just before the body of the deceased person is taken for burial. It is a collective duty,
which means that it is obligatory on community.
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If a group of the community, or even one person offers it, the duty is deemed to have
been fulfilled. If none does, then the whole community is at fault and will have to answer
for its failure. This prayer may be offered at any time when the burial is about to take
place, either in a mosque, or when the body is taken from the person‘s home, or from the
hospital. It should be offered in the same way for a deceased man or woman or child.

Any child who dies, whatever the age, should have the same prayer offered for its soul,
regardless of its age. The janazah prayer should be offered even for a stillborn child.

• Death: Life after death
Could you please explain what happens to believers and non-
believers when they die?
Death is a stage which occurs when the spirit departs from the body to make it lifeless.
As Muslims, we believe in the resurrection when the body and the spirit will be reunited
in the hereafter. This life is a stage for action, but the life to come after the resurrection is
a stage of reward. Human beings will either be in pure happiness or in total misery. It is
part of the basic Islamic beliefs that after resurrection, we will account for our deeds and
we will be judged accordingly. Those on whom Allah bestows His mercy will be in heaven,
while those who are denied it will abide in hell, the place of absolute misery. It is also
clearly stated by the Prophet that the deeds of even the best person will not be enough to
send him to heaven without Allah's grace. Allah's grace is guaranteed by none other than
Allah Himself to those who believe in Him and do well in their lives.

However, the time between a person's death and resurrection is an intermediate stage of
life of "barzakh", which means intermediate stage. Relying on authentic Hadiths, scholars
mention that angels are sent to people in their graves to question them about their
beliefs.

In a Hadith related by Imam Ahmad, the Prophet tells us that when a believer is buried,
his prayers sit over his head, fasting to his right, zakah to his left and other good deeds
are positioned below his feet. Each prevent any harm from coming to him from that
direction. He is then sat up and asked about his view of Prophet Muhammad, peace be
upon him. A believer will say: "Muhammad, peace be upon him, I believe that he was
Allah's messenger who came with the message of the truth from Allah." He is then
reassured of his fate by the questioning angels and his place is pointed out to him. A
wide expanse is opened to him in his grave and he is given light. His body is then
returned to its state.

The Hadith mentions the opposite of all this in the case of a non-believer. At the end, we
are told that his grave is made too narrow for him that his ribs almost crack. That is the
hard life mentioned in the Qur'an

All this applies to people who are buried, cremated, drowned or eaten up by wild beasts.
It is easy for Allah to resurrect these in the same way as He resurrects those who are
buried.


• Death: Misguidance by Satan in the grave
Is it a fact that Satan tries to lead us astray while we are alive,
putting all sort of temptation in our way. Is it true that he will also
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try to misguide us in the grave, at the time of our first questioning
by angels about what we had done in this life?
It is certain that the Prophet, peace be upon him, has described the grave as either a
garden of heaven, or a pit of fire. A person who has gone through life trying to do every
good thing that Allah has ordered us to do, and seeking to win Allah's pleasure by
voluntarily doing much of what we are recommended to do, will find his grave a garden of
heaven, because Allah's reward to him starts there. The grave will be a pit of fire for
anyone who has gone through life disobeying Allah in every respect, totally rejecting to
acknowledge the Oneness of Allah and the message of the Prophet, peace be upon him.
To determine which type a person will have, he is questioned by angels. If his answers
are satisfactory, he will enjoy his stay in the grave. If not, he is made to taste the fire
there. How all this is done is something beyond our perception. We do not attempt to give
it any particular shape or form, because it does not affect in any way our acceptability of
faith or our discharge of our duties in this life. What we also know from the Prophet's
guidance is that this life is a test which comes to end at death. When we die, we cannot
influence the outcome of our test. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has pointed out three
ways through which the reward of any dead person may be increased. These are: "A
continuing act of charity, a useful contribution to knowledge and a good child who prays
for his deceased father [parent]."

When we are questioned by the angels after we die, we are not continuing with our test.
That test has been completed when the curtain of death has fallen on us. We are no
longer on life's stage. We cannot influence the outcome. Hence, Satan has no sway on us.
What happens, however, is that a person who has managed in this life to resist the
temptation of Satan and maintain his way of obedience to Allah will be able to give the
right answers to the angels. The questions he is asked have been put to him repeatedly,
in one form or another in his life and he has always given the right answers to them.
There is no reason why he cannot give the same answers to the angels when he is
questioned by them.

On the other hand, a person who does not give the right answers to that questionnaire is
one who has not been used to giving such answers in this life. When the angel asks him:
"Who is your Lord? What is your religion?", he is unable to give the answers he used to
give in this life. He gives the parrot like answers which fit in with the practical attitudes
he used to adopt when he was alive. If it was his practice to follow his desires making of
them a lord to be worshipped, he would answer that his desire was his Lord. Giving such
an answer is not because of mis-guidance by Satan in the grave, but the result of being
misguided in this life. It is here and now that we go through this test. It is here and now
that the result is determined. What we face after we die is simply the record of what we
have done here and all that is based on that record.

• Death: Mourning
When a member of the family dies, what sort of mourning is
allowed?
Different societies have different customs and traditions associated with death in the
family. In non-Islamic societies, there are visible signs of mourning which are supposed
to convey grief. People, especially women, should wear black for a certain period,
according to the degree of their relation with the deceased. Men may wear a black tie, etc.
In certain communities, death is marked by loud crying and tearing of clothes, etc. All
this is forbidden in Islam. This does not preclude that people may grieve for their
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deceased and they may express their grief with shedding tears. This sort of crying must
not be accompanied by wailing. That is un-Islamic.

The maximum period of mourning for a woman is three days, if the deceased is a very
close relation to her, but not her husband. In other words, mourning for a deceased
father, son or brother may be only over a period of three days, after that, she must show
her acceptance of Allah's verdict.

We have a report of two cases of the Prophet's wives, Umm Habibah and Zainab. The first
lost her father, Abu Sufian, and the other lost her brother. After three days, in each case,
each of them requested perfume to wear. Both of them said that they had no desire
whatsoever to wear perfume, but they had heard the Prophet saying: "It is not lawful for a
woman who believes in Allah and the day of judgment to be in mourning for any
deceased person for over three nights, except for her husband when the period of
mourning is four months and ten days." As you realize, this is the length of the waiting
period of a widow. During her waiting period, she must not wear make-up.

• Death: Predetermined by Allah - the proper sense
Can we say that those who died in communal riots met their death
as predetermined by Allah? If not, why?
Of course these deaths have been predetermined by Allah. Indeed, every death is so
predetermined. How else can you describe a man's death in car accident, or by drowning,
or in a fire? I feel that the word "predetermined" does not seem to carry its proper sense
to you. When we say that a death is predetermined, it does not mean that Allah has
caused the events leading to it. Allah does not cause the car accident which kills a driver.
Indeed, one of the two drivers causes the accident by making a serious mistake. The
death of anyone who is killed, as a result, is predetermined by Allah in the sense that He
has willed that those people die at the particular moment. Every person's life-span is
determined by Allah, when he is still a fetus in his mother's belly.

Allah also knows how every person is to meet his or her death. He does not, however,
intervene to cause an accident, fire or a disturbance. It is people who do that and their
actions lead to their natural results. Allah has set natural phenomena in operation. He
has made fire burn almost all types of objects. He has enabled water to drown a person
who swallows it and does not swim. When a person is burned, Allah does not cause his
burning, except in the sense that He has given the fire the quality of burning. He does not
pick a person up and throw him in the fire to cause his death. When that person
happens to be in the midst of fire, he is burnt. Allah has determined his life-span and
has known the cause of his death.

• Death: Questioning the cremated after death
It is authentically reported that when a person is buried after
death, angels come to question him about his faith. How does this
occur if the deceased has been cremated, drowned or fed to the
vultures?
You seem to accept that a person who is dead and buried may be asked by angels and he
may answer them. Perhaps you find it easy to imagine the possibility of the deceased
person's spirit being returned to his body to face this questioning. But can anyone tell us
how this happens? If you think about it very carefully, you will inevitably end up saying
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that it is something Allah does, and it is easy for Him, because He is able to accomplish
His purpose, whatever it is. Fine, the same applies to a person whose body is cremated,
drowned, eaten up by wild beasts or birds of prey. Why should it be any different? It is
easy for Allah to reassemble that person and give him his spirit back to answer
questions, if a return of the spirit is necessary for the purpose.

The simple answer is that we do not know how all this happens. It is a matter about
which Allah has chosen not to give us details. With respect to any such matter, we simply
accept the Qur'anic statement or the Hadith which we may have established to be
authentic as it is. We simply accept it at its face value. We know that Allah is able to
accomplish His purpose. He will certainly do it and it is undoubtedly easy for him. Why
should the questioning of a deceased person be more difficult if he has been drowned
than if he is simply buried? If the body of a deceased person has been cremated, it is still
easy for Allah to bring him back to life. Why should it be any more difficult than his
creation in the first place? There remain the ashes of his body. What was he before he
came to life in the first place? A male sperm and a female egg? What was he before the
same egg was produced by his mother, or before the male sperm was produced in his
father's body? We need only think about the creation of man to accept everything that the
Prophet has told us about what takes place after the end of this life of ours as correct. We
may not be able to imagine it, but we know that it is certainly easy for Allah. If so, then
there is no difficulty in getting the angel to question a deceased person whose corpse has
been cremated or eaten up by fish, beast or bird of prey.

• Death: Questions on death and burial
What should a dying person, if in his senses, do? What should
anybody attending him do? What should be done by the family of
the deceased? When the death occurs, what prayer is offered?
Must the deceased be buried in a specified graveyard, or could he
be buried in a residential area? What are the duties of the family of
the deceased before and after burial?
If death approaches and the person is able to speak, he should say the declaration that
he believes in the Oneness of Allah. This is the one known as "the kalimah" in many
Muslim countries. If he says it by himself, well and good. If not, then anyone who is
attending him should try to get him to say it. If the dying person is unable to speak, he
may make the declaration mentally. If you are attending a dying person, you must not
insist on him saying the declaration, because he may be in pain or may not be in full
control of his powers. Insistence may cause him to say something unbecoming. If he did
it once, that is well and good. You do not try to make him say it again unless he speaks
of other things. In this case, you say the declaration again to him, implying that he
should say it, so that his last word be the declaration. Although some scholars are of the
view that the full declaration is to be prompted to the dying person, most of them say that
it is sufficient to prompt him to say: "There is no deity save Allah."

It is recommended to make him lie down facing the qiblah [which should be as he is
turned to his right).

It is also recommended to read the surah entitled "Ya'Seen" in front of a dying person, not
after his death. When the death is confirmed, his eyes should be closed and he should be
covered. His family should immediately start preparing for his burial. He should be
washed and wrapped before offering the special prayer for the deceased (i.e. Janazah
prayer) and burying him. His debts should be paid off as soon as possible from his own
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               175


property. If he dies insolvent, his debts may be paid from the zakah funds of the Muslim
community.

His family should show patience and pray Allah to reward him for their acceptance of His
will with patience and perseverance. The Prophet recommends us to say this supplication
when we suffer the death of a close relative: "To Allah we belong and to Him we return.
My Lord, reward me for my tragedy and compensate me with better than I have lost."
(Related by Ahmad and Muslim).

It is recommended to inform the deceased's relatives and friends of his death. It is
permissible to weep for his loss, without shouting or wailing. No woman may wear
mourning clothes for any relative for more than three days. The only exception is her
husband for whom she may be in mourning dress throughout her mourning period,
which lasts four months and ten days, unless she is pregnant when it lasts until her
delivery.

Preparing for burial starts with washing the deceased which is a duty incumbent upon
the Muslim community. If some of them fulfill it, the others are released of their duty. If
none of them washes the body of a deceased Muslim, all of them incur a sin. Washing is
with water. It is sufficient to wash the deceased once, but is more preferable to wash his
or her body three times with soap and water. If any impurity has fallen on the body of the
deceased, it should be removed first. Only those who are needed for the washing should
attend and they do not publicize any secret they may find out. The deceased should be
undressed but his private parts should remain covered during washing. When the
washing is finished, the body is dried with a clean dress or cloth other than his wrappers.
Some perfumes are used before the body is wrapped in full. It should be noted here that
a fighter who is killed in battle by non-believers need not be washed. He is to be wrapped
in his own clothes and buried.

It is a community duty to have the deceased person wrapped in clean dresses or clothes,
preferably white in color. It is recommended to have three layers for a deceased man and
five for a deceased woman. Silk may not be used to wrap a deceased man with, but it is
permissible as wrapper for a deceased woman. Although most scholars discourage that.

Prayer for the deceased (i.e. Janazah prayer) is preferably led by his nearest relative.
Prayer for the deceased consist of four glorifications of Allah, i.e. takbeer, with the imam
only saying "Allahu Akbar" loudly. After the first one, the imam and everybody else, reads
AL-Fatihah. After the second one, we read the greeting to the Prophet which we normally
say in the second part of Tashahhud in ordinary prayers. After the third one, we offer a
supplication on behalf of the deceased praying Allah to forgive him all his sins and to
admit him into heaven. After the fourth, we have a general supplication for all Muslims.

The deceased is then taken for burial. People should walk quietly without reading
anything loudly, even though it may be from the Qur'an or glorification of Allah. The
grave should be deep enough to prevent any bad smell coming out and to stop animals
digging the body up. It is recommended that when the grave is filled up, it should be
elevated from the ground by not more than 25 to 30 cm, so that it is known to be a grave.
Elevating it higher is not permissible. It is by far preferable to bury Muslims in grave-
yards, although it is permissible to bury a dead person at home. Following the Prophet's
Sunnah is more preferable. He ordered the burial of his companions in the graveyard
known as "Al Baqee".
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Offering condolences to the family of the deceased is recommended. It is discouraged for
the relatives of the deceased to stay at a particular place to accept condolences. These
should be offered when the relatives are met.

It is also recommended to visit graves and graveyards. When you arrive at the grave of a
deceased relative, you stand at the head of the grave and pray for the dead person. Most
scholars agree that it is also permissible for women to visit graves, but they are forbidden
from wailing and crying loudly.

• Death: Recitation for a deceased
If one recites a surah or passage of the Qur'an and finishes with
supplication to Allah to forgive a deceased relative, is his action
correct or not? Two Islamic magazines published in India have
given opposite views on this issue. What is the best way of doing
something to benefit a deceased relative?
If you finish your recitation of the Qur'an with supplication, that is perfectly in order.
Any act of worship may be accompanied by a prayer or supplication. If you mention a
deceased relative in your prayer, requesting Allah to forgive him and to admit him into
heaven, then such a prayer is answered. You may do this at any time, even during your
obligatory prayers, or after you have finished them, during a day of fasting, or just before
you finished your fast or when you worship at night, or indeed at any other time.
Obviously, when you have offered an act of worship, whether it is obligatory or voluntary,
then your prayer stands a better chance of being answered, because it follows a good
action on your part. As for prayer for a deceased person, we do that in the special prayer
known as janazah, which follows the death of a person, just before the deceased is
buried. We can continue to pray for him or her at any time. Evidence supporting this may
be drawn from the hadith in which the Prophet is quoted to have said: "When a human
being dies, all his actions come to an end, except in one of three ways: a continuing act of
charity, a useful contribution to knowledge and a dutiful child who prays for him."

The disagreement in these two magazines you have mentioned may not be on whether
supplication for a deceased person is appropriate or not, but on the particular case of
praying Allah to pass on the reward of your recitation of the Qur'an to him.

This is something over which scholars have different views. Therefore, if a person does it,
we should not object to his action. Indeed, we hope that Allah may accept his prayer and
reward the deceased person.

You can be of benefit to a deceased person by praying for him, giving sadaqah and asking
Allah to reward it to him, etc. If he did not do the pilgrimage in his life, you may do it on
his behalf. You can pray Allah as often as possible to forgive him and admit him into
heaven.

• Death: Speedy funeral and burial
Is it necessary to speed up the preparation for burial, or can the
body be kept at home for some time to allow people who are
coming from distant places to attend the funeral?
It is a well known tradition throughout the Muslim world that when a person dies,
arrangements for his funeral and burial start without delay. If the death occurs in the
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               177


morning, the deceased is often taken to the mosque for prayer at the time of Dhuhr or
Asr. If he dies in the evening, he is sure to be buried before midday the following day.
And this is considered a gesture of doing what is right for the deceased person.

There is a Hadith to support this attitude. Al-Bukhari relates on the authority of Abu
Hurairah who quotes the Prophet as saying: "Speed up the funeral; if it is one of a good
person, you are only taking that person to a good prospect. If otherwise, then he is no
more than an evil you are putting off your shoulders." Some scholars understand this
Hadith as an instructions to walk fast when taking the body to be buried, while others
take it to mean speeding up the preparations for prayer and burial. This latter view is
supported by other Hadiths. The first one is related by At-Tabarani on the authority of
Abdullah ibn Umar who says: "I heard Allah's messenger, peace be upon him, say: When
anyone of you dies, do not keep his body. Be speedy when taking him to his grave."
Another Hadith related by Abu-Dawood quotes the Prophet as saying: "It is not right that
the corpse of a Muslim is kept at home with his family."

• Death: Time of death
In some Muslim communities, when someone is very sick or dying,
people sit beside him and read some verses from the Qur'an. Does
this benefit the sick or dying person? May I also ask whether
crying loudly near a deceased person is bad for him [the deceased]?
A scholar in my community says it must be avoided. Please
comment.
When someone is felt to be dying, it is recommended that his relatives or friends or other
people sit nearby and read the Qur'an, particularly surah 36, entitled Ya'Seen. He or she
should be prompted [ not coerced, lest some ungrateful words are uttered] to say the
sentence "La Ilaha Ila Allah", which means "there is no deity save Allah". If he says it
once, we should not urge him to say it again, unless he says something else, then we try
to make him say that sentence again, so that it is the last thing he says in his life.
Reading the Qur'an helps the dying person by reminding him of Allah and the hereafter.
If he is conscious and can understand what is being read, he finds it easier to go through
the difficulty he is facing. If he says the declaration of the Oneness of Allah as the last
thing he says in his life, then he has a great chance to find that his sins are forgiven.

It is strongly discouraged to cry loudly or wail for a dying person. Needless to say, the
dead person is not responsible for what others do to express their grief. In other words, if
his women relatives wail after they realize that he has died, he is not punished for what
they do. It is they who bear the responsibility for their action. Having said that, I must
add that it is very important that a Muslim accepts what Allah has willed with resignation
and submission. People are certainly grieved by the death of their close relatives, but
their grief can be expressed in silent crying, praising Allah and declaring submission to
his will, supplicating for the deceased to be forgiven, praying that he is admitted into
heaven. Wailing is not the mark of submission to Allah's will. If anything, it is more of a
protest and a Muslim does not protest against Allah's will.

• Death: Torment in the grave — without accountability?
If accountability is to take place on the day of judgment, why has
the Prophet, peace be upon him, taught his companions to seek
178                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


refuge with God from the torment of the grave? Is it a punishment
given without accountability?
One of the supplications the Prophet, peace be upon him, taught to his companions and
his followers is to seek refuge with God against the torment in the grave. This is an
established fact. Certain people will be subjected to this torment, although what nature it
will take is not given in detail. In Verse 46 of Surah 40, the situation of the people of
Pharaoh is described, and they are said to be ―Brought before the fire morning and
evening, and on the day the hour strikes, (an order will be given) ‗Put the people of
Pharaoh to the severest punishment‘.‖

It is clear from this verse that the ―bringing before the fire‖ takes place repeatedly, every
morning and every evening until the day of judgment, or the day ―when the hour strikes‖
when the actual punishment is meted out. This is then, one aspect of the torment that is
given before the resurrection on the day of judgment. It is actually viewing the
punishment, rather than experiencing it.

Is this a punishment inflicted before the reckoning? We need to understand that the
reckoning is not made to establish whether a person is a non-believer, a hardened sinner
or an obedient servant of God. God knows the outcome of everyone‘s test in this life. He
does not need to wait until the day of judgment to do the reckoning and establish status
of anyone. The reckoning is for the benefit of people who will be made to see all their
deeds they did in this life and to realize their situation. They will then realize that if they
are punished, it is because of their own deeds, and if they are forgiven and admitted to
heaven, [it is Allah‘s grace.]

• Death: Traditions that follow
In our part of the world, when a person dies, particularly in old
age, his family follows a number of traditions such as bring a
number of people from a local Qur'anic school to read the Qur'an
near his grave. They take turns in order to maintain a 24 hour
Qur'anic recitation until the following Friday. The deceased's family
believes that by so doing, they prevent the angels from questioning
their relatives in the grave until Friday when Allah forgives him.
The reciters are well catered for with food and drink and clothes,
and given some money at the end of their task. Other duties are
also fulfilled at particular intervals, such as the third, tenth and
fortieth days of the death of the person concerned. If the deceased
has some married sons, their fathers-in-law are duty bound to
bring clothes to all member of the deceased person's family. Every
Thursday and on anniversaries of the death of the person
concerned, his more dutiful children serve food to a number of
poor people who are called in to recite the Qur'an on his behalf.
Could you please comment on these traditions.
I have given a detailed answer on what actions may be of benefit to a deceased person,
when performed by his relatives. I said that Allah may well credit to the deceased person
the reward of any sadaqah or charitable donation or recitation of the Qur'an or
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              179


pilgrimage made on his behalf. Allah also answers any supplication by living people to
forgive the dead person and bestow His mercy on him. However, all that should be
spontaneous, done with sincerity of purpose and purity of intention. It must have the
right motivation and the proper method of Islamic worship. Thus, to gather students or
teachers of the local Qur'anic school to recite the Qur'an for the deceased and then to
reward them financially is not acceptable. To imagine that people can prevent the angels
from accomplishing a task Allah has assigned to them is totally mistaken. To give
financial reward to a person in return for his recitation of the Qur'an for any purpose is
not permissible. Indeed it is forbidden to both the reciter and the one who employs him to
do so. The reciter may not receive wages for his recitation and the other person commits
an offense by hiring him for that purpose.

Having weekly, monthly or 40-day or yearly anniversaries, when you perform certain
tasks, is also an innovation. Although the tasks performed are aspects of Islamic
worship, it is not permissible to institutionalize them in the way they have been in your
area. As you realize, these traditions place a financial burden on relatives, but they do
not earn them any reward in return. It is far better for the relatives of a deceased person
to pray Allah to forgive him as often as they wish, without conforming to any social
traditions associating such an action with a passage of so many days or years after his
death. All these habits you have mentioned are totally unacceptable and completely un-
Islamic.


• Death: Washing the dead spouse
According to an Urdu weekly published in Lucknow, the husband
of a deceased woman cannot give her a bath. This is because their
marriage is annulled on the death of either spouse, which deprives
the other of all rights acquired through marriage. The only
concession is that he can see her face. I had earlier read that Ali
bathed the body of his wife Fatimah, the Prophet's daughter, while
Abu Bakr, the first caliph was given a bath by his wife. Could you
please clarify this point.
That a marriage comes to an end on death of either partner may be technically correct.
But this is only a technicality which does not deprive either party of the results of their
having been married. By extension one can say that every relationship ends with death.
As for the point you are asking about, it is the normal practice that the body of a
deceased woman is washed by another woman. However, it is permissible for either
spouse to wash the other in preparation for burial. Moreover, if a woman dies and there
is no woman in the locality who is willing to give her the final bath, it is certainly far
better that she should be washed in that case by her husband.

I suppose that the author of that piece you read in the Urdu magazine has based his
point of view totally on a very small technical point. He made a deduction which may
cause an unnecessary inconvenience and which is in conflict with what the companions
of the Prophet, peace be upon him, did.

• Death: Washing the dead — reasons for
What is the reason for washing a dead person before burying him,
when we know that the process of decomposition starts with
death?
180                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


When a person dies and he is prepared for burial, all his body is washed, in the same
way as a living person washes his body to remove the state of ceremonial impurity. Death
marks the end of the stage of our life on earth, and the beginning of another state which
leads to life in the hereafter. The departure from this life is thus marked by an act of
symbolic purification.

The decomposition that takes place is a process which will eventually be reversed as we
are resurrected. Therefore, the symbolic gesture of purification is useful because it marks
an end to a stage of life where purification is necessary before any act of worship. It
signifies that one is approaching the next stage without any lingering impurity.

• Debt: Comments on a bad debt
In an earlier answer on Zakah and bad debts, you mentioned that
we do not own our money. It belongs to Allah and we are placed in
charge of it. With this concept in mind, how can we explain "loss"
or "profit"? The way I would look at it is that when you do not
receive your money back, you are losing money that belongs to
Allah but at the same time you are gaining Allah's reward for not
demanding it and for writing it off. If the money is returned, you
have the chance to use it for a good purpose as well as Allah's
reward for doing a good deed. Please comment.
I like your comments, but I would not go as far as you have. If you lend money to
someone and he does not return it, though he is able to do so, you certainly have lost it.
It is true that you will gain reward from Allah for doing a good turn to someone in need,
but it is Allah who has placed you in charge of something that He owns. He also allowed
you the privilege of putting your money to a good purpose of your own choice, including
every legitimate matter which brings you, your family and other people comfort and
happiness. If someone defrauds you of that privilege by borrowing some of your money
and deliberately refusing or neglecting to return it, then he is taking away from you
something that Allah has given you. It is not for any human being to do that.

On the other hand, Allah urges us to postpone repayment dates of loans other people
may owe to us, if we know that the borrower is insolvent. If we do so, or, better still, write
the loan off, we certainly earn generous reward from Allah. He has also made it clear that
we may ask for any legitimate guarantees that what we lend to others is returned to us.
The longest verse in the Qur'an deals with the need to write down the terms and con-
ditions of loans that we may make. It requires believers to write down these terms and to
have witnesses to the contract. The Prophet also describes as an injustice the action of a
person who delays repayment of a debt when he is able to repay it.

• Debt: Compensation for late payment
I gave money on loan to a friend for a specified period of time.
When the payment was due, my friend, though acknowledging the
debt, claimed that he was not in a position to pay. What sort of
sanctions has Islam prescribed in such a situation? Am I entitled
to any compensation for late payment?
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                181


When a case of unpaid debts is referred to an Islamic court, the judge is required to look
at the financial position of the debtor. If he finds out that debtor appears to have money
in hand, he will order him to repay immediately. If he refuses, the judge may order that
he be imprisoned until he has paid his debts. If, however, he claims to be insolvent, the
lender is required to wait until he has funds to repay. This is not something that he does
by choice. Order to delay payment in such cases is given by Allah in the Qur'an. If the
lender foregoes his money in such a case, he will be highly rewarded by Allah, and the
reward will outweigh by far the benefit he may receive from regaining the money he had
lent. Such an action of forgoing an unpaid debt because of the insolvency of the debtor
must be voluntary. No pressure needs to be placed on the lender to relinquish his rights.

I should perhaps remind you that an insolvent debtor is one of the beneficiaries of zakah.
Islam recognizes the difficulty of one who finds himself in a position when he cannot
repay his debts. The system of social security which Islam establishes takes care of such
people who may have tried hard not to get to such a position. They are helped with zakah
funds so that they are relieved of the pressures of being in debt and unable to repay.

Compensation to the lender for late payment is unacceptable in Islam. It is akin to usury
which Islam strictly forbids. What is the difference between a moneylender who
determines beforehand that he will receive a certain amount or percentage over and
above the amount he has lent, and one who exacts a financial punishment for late
payments? Perhaps I should add that lending to a person in need is an act of kindness.
Therefore, you must not waste your reward which you are sure to have from Allah by
insisting on having compensation for the late payment, especially if the borrower is truly
insolvent.

• Debt: Incurred to help parents perform pilgrimage
In order to call my parents to perform the pilgrimage, I am
arranging a loan from my employers. How far is this acceptable?
Your keenness to help your parents perform pilgrimage is highly commendable. You are
prepared to incur a debt for that purpose. That is a genuine mark of dutifulness.
However, you are under no obligation to do that, either as a gesture of dutifulness or for
any other reason. Incurring a debt is not something that Islam encourages, even when
the reason for it is to perform a religious duty.

Having said that, I wish to add that a pilgrimage financed by partially borrowed money
remains valid. Therefore, if you go ahead and borrow from your employers in order to
help your parents come for pilgrimage, their pilgrimage will be valid.

Not all loans are the same. For example, if you are borrowing a relatively small amount
which will be deducted from your salary over a few months and what is left from your
salary is sufficient for your needs, then that is all right. Such an arrangement is definitely
better than obtaining a personal loan, the repayment of which may represent a heavy
burden. Moreover, if your position with your employers is such as to earn you a decent
sum of money on the termination of your employment, either at the expiry of your
contract or in the case of early termination, and that payment is enough to settle any
outstanding part of your loan, then to borrow from your employers in order to help your
parents do the pilgrimage is perfectly appropriate.
182                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


• Decorative figurines
I collect rabbit figurines as a hobby. Some of these are more
stylized and abstract while others are more realistic. Some people
object to them, but they are not more than charming decorations.
What is the proper view?
Such figurines are not statues. They are not thought of as idols by anyone. There is no
harm in using them as house decorations.

• Delivery by a male Doctor
Is it permissible for a Muslim woman to have her baby delivered by
a male doctor?
In normal circumstances, a Muslim woman should have her baby delivered by a Muslim
woman midwife or doctor. It is not permissible for her to reveal of her body what a man is
not allowed to see of her. However, there are circumstances which make a woman's
condition particularly difficult and she needs to be attended by an experienced or
specialized male doctor. It may happen that such a doctor, with the necessary expertise,
cannot be found among the lady doctors in the community. In such circumstances, if the
man doctor equipped with the necessary experience attends her delivery, that is
permissible. One must not forget that this is in an emergency case and emergencies are
treated individually, according to the need and the risk involved in every particular case. [
Added: e.g. Haraam meat is permissible to save life, so long as it is not taken more than
absolutely necessary to sustain life. It is the niyyah that is the crucial factor.] The rule is
that if a woman can do the job in hand satisfactorily, resort to a man is not permissible
to a Muslim patient. When the skill or experience required is possessed only by a man,
his services may be employed within what is needed.

• Depression: Islamic way to overcome it
What is the best Islamic way to overcome depression? (which
results from thinking about the past, loss of friends, fear of getting
old, possible death of parents, etc.)
The sort of depression you ask about is easily dispelled when one remembers that every-
thing in this life is decreed by Allah. We all get older and it is possible for a young person
to lose his or her parents. None of us know what the future brings to us. We may be close
friends with a person today and in a short period that person becomes far away from us.
All such happenings should be accepted with patience. One should know that whatever
happens in this life, takes place only with Allah's will. When we remember Islamic values,
we accept such events with resignation and we can easily submit our will to Allah. When
we do that, we view any happenings in our lives as trivial. We are able to look at life in a
more detached and reasonable way. No event in the life of a human being represents the
end of the road, except his own death. Allah takes care of us and we should entrust
ourselves to His will. When we are true believers, we view every development in our life as
good. We can easily submit to it as it represents Allah's will.

A prayer which helps overcome such depression should be addressed to the causes of
depression themselves. The Prophet teaches us that we should pray according to the
situation we find ourselves in. There are, in addition, prayers which the Prophet himself
used. One of these which is relevant here is that which says: "My Lord, I seek refuge with
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 183


You against worry and depression, disability and laziness, cowardliness and miserliness,
being overburdened with debt and being subject to oppression."

• Devil — the powers of
Could you please give your view on the mysteries like "the
Bermuda Triangle" where ships and airplanes are said to have
disappeared without a trace. Who is responsible for such actions?
They cannot be of Allah's doing, but could they be the work of the
devil or space creatures?
I do not know much about the Bermuda Triangle. Nor should a Muslim be over-
concerned with its history. What we should know is that events that take place in the
universe are subject to the law of cause and effect. If a ship is lost in the sea, there must
be a reason for its sinking. It cannot just disappear and leave no trace. If it is true that
ships are being lost in a certain area, then a study of the sea currents in that area could
reveal the cause.

It is not right to attribute such happenings to "the devil". Allah has not given the devil
such powers. What the devil does is to persuade people to follow a pattern of behavior
which takes them away from the fold of the faithful. When they listen to him, they bring
on themselves misery in this life and in the life to come. But the devil cannot interfere
with the laws of nature which Allah has sent into operation. Otherwise, the devil would
appear to be a force competing with the power of Allah. That is not possible.

Nor can we explain such happenings as the work of space creatures. We have not seen
any such creature approach our planet. Apart from science fiction, there is no evidence
whatsoever that invaders from other planets or stars represent a danger to human life on
earth. While we do not deny the possibility of existence of creatures or civilizations in
other planets or galaxies, we better not attribute anything that takes place on earth to
them until the time comes, if at all, when we have hard evidence of the existence and
their interference with our planet.

• Directives and rituals
Religious directives are complemented by practical steps which aim at shaping life in a
certain fashion. If religion were to be confined to directives and rituals, then the directives
will remain unimplemented. A complete way of life on the basis of religion is necessary to
allow its directives to be put into practice in situations where directives and practices
complement one another. This is the Islamic view of religion which makes it a complete
system regulating all aspects of life.

• Disowning one's child
Can a father declare his son or daughter as not his and disinherit
either one on the basis of indulging in un-Islamic behavior?
Suppose a daughter marries a non-Muslim husband, can she be
disinherited?
No, it is not permissible for a father or a parent to disinherit his own son or daughter for
any reason, as long as that son or daughter is a heir, which means that he or she is a
Muslim. Only when the father and the child follow two different religions, inheritance
184                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


between them is blocked. Therefore, if a father who used to belong to any other religion
embraces Islam, while his children do not follow suit, neither can he inherit any of them,
nor can they inherit him. This is based on the Prophet's Hadith: "The followers of two
different religious do not inherit each other."

If a child is guilty of disobedience to his parents, or if he indulges in forbidden and sinful
practices, it is not open to the father to disinherit him or disown him.

It is well-known that adoption is forbidden in Islam. Similarly, disowning one's own child
is not permissible. A father may feel bitterly aggrieved by the disobedience of his son or
his daughter, and he is tempted to deprive them of their shares of inheritance. He must
not forget that these shares have been apportioned by Allah and it is not open to anyone
to change Allah's rules.

They should leave that to Allah to determine the best course and the suitable
punishment, or indeed to reward the parents for what they suffer as a result of their
children's undutifulness.

Even if a daughter is "married" to a non-Muslim, her father may not disinherit her or
disown her. Such a marriage is not acceptable or valid from the Islamic point of view. She
is certainly guilty of a very grave sin. But her father should not sit in judgment of her.

That judgment belongs to Allah alone. Her father may give her sound advice and try to
persuade her against that marriage.

When he has done that, he has discharged his duty. If she persists, he may boycott her if
he wishes.

But perhaps it is better to keep in touch with her, so that he may try to bring her around
to follow the Islamic rules. If she does not listen and declares that she is not a Muslim,
then she deprives herself of the right to inherit her Muslim parents, because she is an
apostate.

• Divorce: A review on Islamic limits and regulations
The Islamic Sharee‘ah has placed a number of obstacles in the ways of divorce in order to
confine it within the narrowest possible compass. Divorce without lawful necessity and
without first exhausting all the other means mentioned earlier of resolving the conflict is
unlawful and is prohibited in Islam. Some jurists maintain, it is injurious to both
husband and wife, unnecessarily damaging the interests of the two, which, like the
wasting of property is haram. "Do not harm yourself or others," the Prophet has
instructed us.

People who divorce their spouses and marry others in order to enjoy a variety of sexual
partners are liked neither by Allah nor by His Messenger. The Prophet called them "the
tasters," saying: "I do not like the tasters, men and women," and "Allah does not like the
tasters, men and women." Abdullah bin Abbas said, "Divorce is (only) in the case of
necessity."

                   Prohibition of divorce during menstruation

When divorce becomes necessary, it is not permissible for the Muslim to implement it any
time he pleases; he must wait for a suitable time. According to the Sharee‘ah, this
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               185


suitable time is when the woman is clean following her menstrual period or the period of
perpetual discharge following childbirth and before her husband has resumed sexual
relations with her, or when she is pregnant and her husband is aware of her pregnancy.

The reason for prohibiting divorce during menstruation or the period of puerperal
discharge is that, since during such periods sexual intercourse is haram, the idea of
divorce may come to a man's mind because of sexual frustration and nervous tension. He
is therefore advised to wait until his wife is clean and to divorce her then, if he is intent
on divorce, before the resumption of marital relations.

Just as divorce during         menstruation is haram,       it is likewise haram between
menstruation periods (i.e. "the period of purity") if the husband has had intercourse with
his wife following the termination of her previous period. Because it is possible that she
may have become pregnant from this union, the husband may change his mind
concerning divorce when he knows that his wife is carrying a child, desiring to stay
married to her for the sake of the embryo in her womb. However, when the wife is in the
period of purity but he has not had intercourse with her following the termination of her
menses, or when she is pregnant and he is aware of it, he will be able to ascertain that
his intention to divorce her is the result of deep-seated antipathy, and accordingly is
permitted to carry through with the divorce. In the Saheeh of Al-Bukhari, it is
transmitted that 'Abdullah bin Umar mentioned [such a]matter to the Messenger of Allah,
he became angry, saying: "He must take her back. If he still wishes to divorce her, he
may do so when she is clean of the menstrual discharge before having intercourse with
her, for that is the period of waiting which Allah has prescribed for divorce" He referred to
the ayat, "O Prophet, when you (men) divorce women, divorce them during the prescribed
periods."(65:1). Another version of this hadith reads: "He commanded him to take her
back and then divorce her when she is clean from the menstrual discharge or (otherwise)
is pregnant."

A question now remains: If a person does divorce his wife during these prohibited
periods, does the divorce become effective or not? The prevailing opinion is that it does
become effective, although the husband will be considered sinful. However, some jurists
hold that, it does not become effective, as Allah did not legislate it so and whatever is not
legal cannot be correct or enforced. Abu Dawood, on sound authority, has transmitted
that when Abdullah bin Umar was asked, "What would you say if a man were to divorce
his wife during menstruation?" he related his own story of divorcing his wife during her
period and the Prophet's commanding him to take her back, disregarding his
pronouncement of divorce.

                              Taking an oath of divorce

It is not permissible for Muslims to take an oath of divorce, vowing that if particular event
does not occur, his wife will be divorced, or to threaten her by saying that if she does this
or that particular thing, she will be divorced. In Islam an oath may be expressed only in
one specific manner, that is, in the name of Allah alone. Apart from this, no other form of
oath-taking is permitted. The Prophet said, "Anyone who swears by (anything) other than
Allah, has committed shirk." and "Whosoever wants to take an oath should take it in the
name of Allah or keep silent.:

          Where the Divorcee resides during the waiting period
The Islamic Sharee‘ah requires that the divorced woman remains in her home, her
husband's house, for the duration of her iddah (waiting period). It is not permissible for
her to move from the house, as it is likewise not permissible for her husband to evict her
186                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


without a just cause. This requirement leaves the way open, during the iddah following a
first or second pronouncement of divorce, for the husband to revert to his wife without
the requirement of remarriage. Her presence in the same house with him makes it quite
probable that the mutual sympathy and love between them may be rekindled. If she is
pregnant, the passing of months will make her pregnancy obvious, which may be a
further inducement to him to change his mind. In any case, ample time is at their
disposal to reconsider the whole situation. With the healing effect of time, feelings of
antipathy may give place to affection and reconciliation, and the revitalization of their
love may occur.

          ―...And fear Allah, your Lord. Do not turn them out of their houses, nor shall
      they leave (of their own accord) unless they commit some clear immorality; and
      these are the limits set by Allah. And whoever transgresses Allah's limits indeed
      wrongs his own soul. Thou knowest not; it may be that Allah will afterwards bring
      some new thing to pass.” (65:1)

      “If they must separate, it should be done with dignity and kindness, without mutual
      abuse, injury, recrimination, or infringement of rights, Says Allah Ta'ala: "Either
      retain them in kindness or part with them in kindness..."(2:229).

      “For divorced women a provision (shall be made) in kindness, a duty for those who
      are conscious of Allah."(2:241).

                                    Repeated divorce

The Muslim is allowed three chances, that is to say, three pronouncements or acts of
divorce on three different occasions, provided that each divorce is pronounced during the
time when the wife is in the period of purity and he has had no intercourse with her.

A husband may divorce his wife once and let the iddah pass. During the period of iddah,
the two have the options of being reconciled without the necessity of remarriage. If,
however, this waiting period expires without reconciliation, they are now fully divorced.
Each of them is free to marry someone else or to remarry each other; should they want to
remarry each other, a new marriage contract is required.

If after the first divorce the husband is reconciled with his wife but later the hostility and
conflict begin all over again, all efforts at reconciliation and arbitration resulting in
failure, he may divorce her a second time in the same manner as described above. In this
case, too, he can return to her during the iddah without remarriage, or after the iddah
has expired through a new marriage contract.

But it may happen that although he is reconciled with his wife again after the second
divorce, he may later divorce her for the third time. This will then be a clear proof that the
hostility between the two of them runs very deep and that they are incapable of living
together. If this third divorce takes place, it is not possible for the husband to return to
his wife during her iddah nor may he remarry her after the iddah unless she has been
married to another man, to live with him as a permanent and true wife, and he then
subsequently divorces her. It is, however, totally prohibited for the other man to marry
and divorce her simply in order to make her halal for her first husband.

Those Muslims who utter three divorce pronouncements at one time or in one statement
are rebels against Allah's law and are deviating from the straight path of Islam. Once the
Prophet was informed about a man who had pronounced three divorces at one time. He
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               187


got up in anger, saying, "Is sport being made of the Book of Allah while I am (yet) among
you?" As a result, a man stood up and said, "O Messenger of Allah, shall I not kill him?"

              Reconcile honorably or separate with kindness
When the husband has divorced his wife and the period of iddah is passing, he has two
alternatives : either to reconcile with her honorably - that is, to return to her with the
intention of living in peace and harmony, and not in order to torment or harm her - or to
free her and part with her in kindness by allowing the iddah to expire without arguments
and harsh words, and without setting aside any of their mutual rights.

It is unlawful for him to return to her just because the iddah is due to expire in order to
torment her by prolonging the waiting period, thus depriving her of the opportunity to
marry someone else. This was something that was done in the period of jahiliyyah. Allah
Ta'ala then prohibited this injury to women in a very decisive manner, using a style of
expression which makes the heart quake:

    “And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term (of their
    iddah), either retain them honorably or release them honorably; but do not retain
    them in order to injure them, for this is transgression, and whoever does this has
    wronged his own soul. And do not take the revelations of Allah in mockery, but
    remember Allah's favor upon you and what He has sent down to you of the Book
    and the Wisdom, to instruct you by means of it. And be conscious of Allah, and
    know that Allah is aware of everything.” (2:231)

A little reflection upon this noble ayat of seven phrases, containing warning after
warning, reminder after reminder, ought to be sufficient for anyone who has any feeling
in his heart or any hearing when it is recited.

                       The woman's right to demand divorce

The woman who cannot bear to live with her husband has the right to free herself from
the marriage bond by returning to her husband the mahr (required marriage gift) and
gifts he has given her, or more or less than that according to their mutual agreement. It
is, however, preferable that he should not ask for more than he has given her. Allah
Ta'ala says:

    “...And if you fear that the two may not be able to keep to the limits ordained by
    Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she redeems herself ...”(2:229)

The wife of Thabit bin Qais came to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of Allah, I do not
approach Thabit bin Qais in respect of character and religion, but I do not want to be
guilty of showing anger to him." The Prophet asked her about what she had received from
him. She replied, "A garden". He asked, "Will you give him back his garden?" "Yes", she
said. The Prophet then told Thabit, "Accept the garden and make one declaration of
divorce."

It is not permissible for a woman to seek divorce from her husband unless she has borne
ill-treatment from him or unless she has an acceptable reason which requires their
separation. Said the Prophet, "If any woman asks her husband for a divorce without
some strong reason, the fragrance of the Garden will be forbidden to her."

                   The prohibition of ill-treatment to elicit divorce
188                            SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                         Our Dialogue


It is haram for the husband to torment and mistreat his wife in order to compel her to
seek a divorce so that she will return to him all or part of the property he has given her.
Only if the wife is guilty of clear immorality, may her husband demand the return of all or
part of the mahr to him. In this regard Allah Ta'ala says:

      "...Nor should you treat them with harshness in order that you may take away part
      of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of open lewdness." (4:19).

It is also haram for a husband to take back anything from his wife because he hates her
and wants to divorce her so he can marry another woman. As Almighty Allah says:

But if you decide to take one wife in place of another, even if you have given one of them
a heap of gold, do not take (back) anything of it; would you take it back by slander and a
manifest wrong: And could you take it back, when each of you has been privately with
the other, and they (the wives) have taken a solemn covenant from you? (4:20-21)

                        The prohibition of the oath of desertion

One of the aspects of Islam's concern for the rights of women is that it prohibits a man to
be so angry with his wife as to discontinue sexual relations with her for a period which
she cannot bear. If this abandonment of sexual relations is accompanied by an oath on
his part, he is given a limit of four months in which to calm down and revert to her. If he
comes to his norms and resumes sexual relations before the expiration of the four
months, it is possible that Allah may forgive him for his excesses and open the door of
repentance to him; however, he must still do the penance prescribed for a broken oath. If,
on the other hand, this period expires and he has not returned to her, his wife is divorced
from him as a just punishment for his neglect of her rights.

Some jurists hold that the divorce is automatic at the expiry of four months and no
judgment from a court is needed. Others, however, require that at the end of the period
the matter should be referred to the judicial authority, who will then give them the
option of reconciliation or divorce. [Added: That is variable in keeping the laws of various
countries, but religiously they are automatically divorced.]

Such an oath of abstention from the wife is technically known in the Sharee‘ah as eela.
Concerning it Allah Ta'ala says:

      “For those who take an oath of abstention from their wives, a waiting period of four
      months (is ordained); if they return, indeed, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. But if their
      intention is firm for divorce, then, indeed, (Allah) is Hearing, Knowing.” (2:226-227)

This period of four months has been specified to give the husband ample time to calm
himself and to restore the relationship of his volition. Moreover, four months is normally
regarded as the maximum period a woman can endure separation from her husband.
Commentators on the Qur'an narrate the following incident in support of this opinion:

Caliph Umar found that a woman's husband had been gone on a military expedition for a
long time. He then asked his daughter Hafsah, the widow of the Prophet, "How long can a
woman endure separation from her husband?" She replied, "Four months."
Subsequently, the caliph of the Believers decided that he would not send a married man
away from his wife for a period exceeding four months.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               189



• Divorce: Beget children or else ...
I have been married for four years during which my parents-in law
have put too much pressure on me to beget children, going to the
extent of forcing me to have surgery and to try to conceive through
the test-tube baby technique. We even have three frozen embryos
waiting to be placed inside me for gestation. I went through too
much stress and agony right from the beginning. However, the
cause for my failure to conceive lies with my husband and this is
clear from tests carried out on both of us. He had promised me
never to divorce me, but now he is saying that he cannot refuse his
parents‘ request to divorce me. He also says that he obtained a
ruling from scholars in Deoband that he must obey his parents in
this request. I have told him that it is better for the two of us to live
in our own house, but he has not provided me with that, although
it is not difficult for him to do so. He says that there is much
pressure on him, with his father threatening to disinherit him.
Furthermore, the father is insisting that I will have to spend my
waiting period in my parents‘ home. It is now several months since
we are separated with him living abroad, and he has not yet acted
on his parents‘ request. I will be grateful for your advice.
I am not sure whether an outline of the Islamic view on the different aspects of this
problem will go a long way in helping the parties to sort it out. It appears to me that at
least some of the parties are not interested even to find out the Islamic view. The
husband‘s father, for example, threatens to disinherit his son if he does not divorce his
wife. Has he bothered to find out whether this option is open to him under the Islamic
law? The fact is that no parent, or any one for that matter, may disinherit an heir for any
reason. The identity of the heirs and their respective shares are a matter that God
Himself has determined in a very elaborate system of inheritance which He has laid down
in the Qur‘an. For anyone to try to disinherit any one of his heirs is an act of aggression
on God‘s authority. It represents a claim of equality with God, since a law can be
amended only by one who is either equal or superior to the one who made the law. That
is not accepted from anyone.

On the other hand, begetting children is also something that God determines in His
wisdom. He says in the Qur‘an: ―He grants whosoever He wills female offspring, and He
gives male offspring to whomever He wills; Or He may give them both male and female,
and He may leave others sterile. He is All-Knowing, Able..‖ (42: 49-50) These two verses
spell out very clearly the fact that the creation of human being, or any other creatures, is
a matter of God‘s will which is free of all restrictions and influences. If He has determined
that a certain couple will not have children, there is no way that they will get a child, no
matter what medical treatment and technology is available to them. On the other hand, if
He decides to give a couple a child against all indications that show that the couple could
not have a child, nothing will prevent His will. There was a case of a woman in Scotland
who had an operation to stop her getting pregnant. This operation is practically the total
answer to unwanted pregnancies. Yet she was pregnant in a few months. I have a friend
who was told by a top specialist in Britain that there was no possibility that his wife
would ever get pregnant, and before the year was out she had given birth to the first of
190                           SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


her children. With her background, my reader should fully understand this. It is certainly
wrong that her husband‘s family are putting so much pressure on her in the matter of
having a child.

I do not know whether it is wise to use the test-tube technique in this case, but then
again, it was not the Islamic view that the family sought before deciding on a particular
line of action. To determine whether the embryos that have been produced though this
technique should be placed in the woman‘s womb for gestation or left to die is an
intricate question that could be answered only after a thorough study of the case.
However, if she conceives through this method, the child is illegitimate unless both the
sperms and the egg were taken from the couple themselves. The use of a third party is
not acceptable.

On the question of divorce, I think my reader should review her situation with her
husband and his family very carefully. From what she writes, it appears that it may be in
her interest that this marriage is dissolved. However, the way she is trying to keep her
marriage suggests that she has not given up on her husband yet, and that she believes
that if left to themselves, she and her husband can still make their marriage successful.
That is perhaps the reason for her attempt to settle with her husband in their own home.
I can tell her that this is her right if her husband can afford that. It is also her right to be
given a chance to solve her problems in consultation with her husband, or through the
appointment of two arbiters, one from her family and the other from her husband‘s
family.

As for the rulings her husband claims to have had from the scholars of Deoband, I feel
that, if true, the ruling does not take all factors into consideration. What we need to
remember is that a scholar gives his ruling on the basis of the question which is put to
him. If he is asked whether a husband should obey his father when he tells him to
divorce his wife, the scholar is likely to answer that he should, provided all other methods
have been exhausted. If the question is qualified with the introduction of certain factors
that affect the case, the answer is likely to differ. Therefore, our reader should request her
husband to agree that the two of them should apply together for a ruling, after both of
them agree on the phraseology of the question. He will be surprised that the answer is
certain to be different. Hence, we should not read too much in the answer he has already
got.

What I should say when a reader puts to me a general question whether he should obey
his father if he asks him to divorce his wife is to tell him that his wife also has rights
which he must make sure to respect and fulfill. Judging only by the information my
reader has supplied, I feel that if her husband divorces her for the reason he has given,
he may be guilty of injustice. God does not accept injustice, even when it is the result of a
son obeying his parents.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, says: ―No creature may be obeyed in what constitutes
disobedience to the Creator.‖ In a Qudsi Hadith, God is quoted as saying: ―My servants, I
have forbidden Myself injustice, and have made injustice forbidden among you. Do not be
unjust to one another.‖

If her husband divorces my reader, only to please his parents, without considering her
rightful claims, then he could easily be guilty of injustice. It is wrong of him to do that.
The least he is expected to do is to try to give his wife her full rights, including a fair
chance to look at what is needed to make their marriage successful. That could be
through proper discussion between the two of them, or through the mediation of two
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               191


arbiters, or in consultation with other people who could give a neutral opinion. Whatever
is decided at the end should be based on full justice on both parties.

As to what her husband tells our reader of the pressure and stress he is under, may I
remind him that in Islam, a man is considered a shepherd in his own household. He
should take care of his family as a shepherd takes care of his flock. He must not let that
pressure produce injustice at his own hands to those who he is supposed to look after. It
is he who will be asked by God on the Day of Judgment whether he has taken care of his
flock, or his wife in this case. As he remembers his duty toward his parents, he should
also remember that the Prophet, peace be upon him, has told us all: ―Take care of your
women.‖

Is he acting on the Prophet‘s advice when he divorces his wife to please his parents when
she has done them no wrong?

• Divorce: Conditional
Having tried hard to discipline his wife, without much success, a
man writes down what he wants her to do. He gives her that paper
after he has written clearly at the bottom of it: "Disobedience of
these instructions would be tantamount to divorce." She
nevertheless disobeys his instructions and he immediately stops
his marital relationship with her. Is she actually divorced? Do they
require a remarriage, if they wish to resume their marital
relationship?
Islam views marriage and divorce very seriously. The Prophet says that there are three
matters which must be taken seriously, whether they are said in earnest or jest. These
are: "marriage, divorce and freeing of a slave." If we reflect for a moment on this wisdom
of making all talk on the freeing of slaves serious, we understand how much Islam cares
for the feelings of those who are in a position which makes them vulnerable to abuse by
other people. Let us imagine for a moment a slave whose master tells him that he would
be free after three days or when he has completed a particular assignment, etc. Then
three days later, or on the completion of the assignment, the master tells the slave that
he was only joking and that he did not expect him to take his words seriously. The slave
would be broken-hearted and he could easily harbor ill feelings toward his master. Now
that slavery has disappeared, thanks to Allah, such a cruelty does not take place. We can
appreciate, however, how Islam cares for the feelings of those who are vulnerable.

As we all know, Islam has allowed divorce because it is needed as a solution for social
problems. However, a husband who wishes to divorce his wife must abide by the rules
which Allah has laid down, and the Prophet has explained and elaborated, for the divorce
to be proper and valid. For example, a husband must make sure that the time is
appropriate for him to divorce his wife. It is forbidden for a man to divorce his wife when
she is in her menstruation period or after they had sexual intercourse during a period of
cleanliness from menstruation. It is also forbidden to divorce her three times on the same
occasion. But hardly any divorcing husband pauses to consider whether the time is right
for him to divorce. The majority of people tend to think that unless they pronounce the
word of divorce three times, the divorce is not valid. They thus hasten to utter something
which Allah has forbidden. They earn his displeasure and land themselves in trouble.
When the Prophet was told that a man divorced his wife three times together, he was very
angry. He said to his companions: "Is Allah's book to be taken lightly when I am still alive
192                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


among you?" (Related by An-Nassaie). Abdullah ibn Abbas reports that Rukana ibn Abd
Yazeed divorced his wife three times on the same occasion, and he was very sad for
having done so. The Prophet asked him: "How have you divorced her?" He answered: I
have divorced her thrice. The Prophet asked: "On the same occasion?" When the man
answered in the affirmative, the Prophet said: "That is a single divorce. You may remarry
her if you wish."

The Islamic system does not allow for conditional divorce. Thus, if someone says to his
wife, "you are divorced in three months time, or at the end of the year, or when I have
arrived at my office, etc." she continues to be his wife at the end of the period he has
specified or on his arrival at his office. This is simply unacceptable as a way of divorce.
Many prominent scholars are of the view that a conditional divorce is not valid. The
family law of Egypt which has been based on the Islamic law, does not recognize such a
divorce.

I am more inclined to the ruling given by Imam ibn Taimiyah, that a conditional divorce
is considered on the basis of the circumstances of each case. When a man tells his wife
that she is divorced if she does something he specifies, then he will have to answer a
simple question: would he prefer to see his marriage terminated rather than see his wife
do what he told her not to do? Or was he simply using the threat of divorce in order to
frighten her into obeying his instructions? If he says that his statement was only meant
as a warning, then no divorce takes place as a result of her disobedience. On the other
hand, if he insists that he meant his statement as divorce, because he would rather
divorce her than see her doing what she did, then that is a divorce. In this latter case, the
man has clearly meant his words to be a divorce. Hence, the divorce takes place. This
means that each case is treated on its merits and according to the intention of the
husband.

[If we apply this rule to the case in question, the husband should judge his intentions at
the time he wrote the note and come to his own conclusion.]

• Divorce: Conflicting rulings
1. After being married for eighteen months, my nephew had an
argument with his wife which resulted in her departure to her
parents home. Twenty-five days later, he called her by telephone to
ask her to come back. However, on the phone they argued again
and, in a sate of extreme anger, my nephew pronounced the words
" I divorce you " four times. Regretting what had happened, my
nephew consulted several scholars and he came out with two
different rulings. The first, according to Fiqh, says that as he
divorced his wife more than twice, he cannot be reunited with her
without an intervening marriage of his divorcee to another man.
The other ruling, according to Qur'an and Hadith, says that all four
pronouncements count as one divorce, and as such, the divorcee
can be reunited in marriage. Their families are at a loss and do not
know what to do in the face of these two conflicting rulings. Could
you please clarify the situation? May I say that my nephew is a
follower of Qur'an and Hadith.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              193


2. I read many questions and answers regarding divorce in your
paper, but unfortunately the exact process is not yet clear to me.
Could you please let me know how a man can divorce his wife and
what instructions he should follow, and when the process is
complete, what are the duties of an ex-husband towards his
divorced wife.
Let me first of all say very clearly that there is no such thing as Fiqh which can be taken
as something separate from, or put in opposition to Qur'an or Hadith. Fiqh is a branch of
Islamic scholarship which explains the details of Islamic legislation on the basis of
commandments and instructions stated in the Qur'an and the Hadith. Different scholars
may arrive at different conclusions on a particular subject, because they may not have
the same statements in Hadith available to them. The Qur'an is available to all, but some
of its statements may be given in general terms with Hadith explaining or qualifying
them. The two rulings your nephew received from scholars in his home town are both
given by scholars of Fiqh on the basis of the Qur'an and Hadith. Wherever a person goes
in the Muslim world, he is bound to be given the same two rulings by scholars. Not only
so, the same scholar may explain to him both rulings. How is this possible?

The answer is the supporting evidence for each ruling. There is no doubt that both have
very valid evidence. We cannot dismiss either ruling out of hand, nor can we ignore its
basis. Scholars of highest repute in our history subscribed to either one or the other. How
can then a layman manage his own situation and which ruling he should follow? The
simple advice is that he should go to a broad minded scholar and explain his case. He
should make sure that the scholar does not strictly follow a particular school of thought
but rather is one who gives a judgment on each case according to its merit, and as he
deems most suitable to the people concerned, using any judgment given by different
schools of thought as long as it has sufficient supporting evidence to keep the inquirer
within the boundaries of what is acceptable from the Islamic point of view.

I do not think that much purpose can be served by a detailed discussion in a newspaper
like ours of the different factors relevant to each of the two rulings. However, I can say
very briefly that the one which makes a divorce pronounced three times on the same
occasion count as three divorces came into operation during the time of Umar without
disagreement by any of the learned companions of the Prophet. It was more in
punishment for a degree of abuse of the Islamic process of divorce. There is no
disagreement among scholars that to divorce one's wife three times or more on the same
occasion is forbidden from the Islamic point of view because it is an abuse of a legitimate
procedure.

When the Prophet was told by one of his companions that he divorced his wife one
hundred times on the same occasion, the Prophet was very angry. He addressed his
companions in such terms, "Is Allah's Book to be trifled with when I am still alive among
you?"

However, the overwhelming majority of people who divorce their wives three times on the
same occasion nowadays do so out of ignorance. They think that unless they pronounce
the word of divorce three times, the divorce is not valid. Hence an explanation of the
divorce process in Islam needs to be given time and again until people get to know how to
approach divorce, which is disliked by Allah, should they ever need to resort to it.
Perhaps I should add that divorce in Islam is a very simple process but well entrenched
misconceptions tend to obscure it. Here it is in simple terms :
194                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


  Essentially marriage is a verbal contract and its dissolution is normally made
  verbally. When a man intends to divorce his wife, he should make sure that she is
  not in her menstruation period and that the two of them have not had sexual
  intercourse during her current period of cleanliness from menstruation. If either case
  is there, i.e. if the woman is in the period or if sexual intercourse had taken place,
  then to effect a divorce at that particular time is forbidden. Thy should wait until the
  woman has finished her period or until she has had her next period. The divorce
  process is started with a simple utterance of the words "I divorce you," or "I divorce
  _"(naming one's wife). This should be done ONCE ONLY. This can also be done in
  writing and sent by post. From that moment, a woman starts her waiting period
  which lasts until she has completed three menstruation periods or three periods of
  cleanliness from menstruation. If she does not have the period either because she is
  too old or too young, then her waiting term lasts three months. If she is pregnant, the
  waiting term continues until she has given birth. During this time, she stays in her
  home, i.e. her family home where she has been living with her husband. He is not
  allowed to turn her out. He is required to maintain her through this period but may
  not share the same bedroom. She is not required to do any housework. The waiting
  period provides both divorcees with time to reconsider their situation. If they wish to
  be reunited in marriage, they may do so within the waiting period without any need
  to have a fresh marriage contract or to pay a fresh dower. If they do not resume their
  marriage until the waiting period is over, then the divorce process is complete and
  the woman returns to her parents' home and is entitled to get any deferred portion of
  her dower. She is not entitled to any maintenance for herself from her ex-husband.
  If, however, she has the custody of any young children, they are entitled to be
  supported by their father. Both are also entitled to maintain their normal relationship
  with their children. On the other hand, if the divorcees want to be reunited in
  marriage after the waiting period is over, they may do so provided they have a new
  marriage contract and the woman receives a new dower.

This whole process may be done twice. If a man and wife go through the divorce process
for a third time, whether they were reunited each time during the waiting period or after
it, their divorce this time is final, in the sense that they cannot be reunited again in
marriage without an intervening marriage by the woman who must be married to another
man in the normal course of events. This means that to all intents and purposes the
divorce is final. If the woman receives a proposal from someone else and accepts it and
marries him, her marriage must be intended for life. If, however, she gets divorced after a
period of time, may be a year or may be ten years, or longer or shorter, she may return
after the end of her new waiting period, to her first husband if both of them think that
this time their marriage may be successful. I must emphasize here that this intervening
marriage must not be arranged for this purpose, as many people unfortunately do. If it is
specifically arranged for this period, and the man hired for the purpose agrees to go
through it for one night or a week or whatever, everyone involved is committing a serious
sin. Moreover, such an arrangement has no effect whatsoever. In other words, the woman
cannot return to her first husband on the basis of such an 'arranged' intervening
marriage.

Having explained the process of divorce, I should say to my first reader that his nephew
may consider his divorce to be a single divorce. He can be reunited with his former wife
after having a new marriage contract, since her waiting period is over. He should tell his
nephew that to divorce his wife three times on the same occasion is forbidden. Perhaps I
should add that the family law of several Muslim states adopts this ruling as the
standard one. By doing so, the scholars who have codified the family have given due
consideration to what serves the interests of the Muslim community and the fact that
many people pronounce three divorces at the same time out of total ignorance. His
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               195


nephew should not be confused by the two rulings and let him not think that to follow
Fiqh is different from following the Qur'an and the sunnah.

• Divorce: Consent of the wife
A man in India wants to divorce his wife but she objects. He left
home to work abroad and during a period of 2 years he sent no
letters or money home. Will this attitude help him to get the
divorce? If not, what should he do to get the divorce? May I ask
also about a man who wants to divorce his wife in six months time,
but does not want to disclose the reason for that? Will this be
acceptable?
I think this man is confusing certain aspects of the Islamic method of divorce with the
civil requirements for divorce. In Islam, it is not necessary for a husband to obtain his
wife‘s consent to be able to divorce her. The Islamic law and way of life makes the
husband the one to lose more as a result of divorce. Hence, he can divorce his wife
without her agreement. If this man wants to divorce his wife, he may do so at any time he
wants, but he must observe the Islamic legal provisions in this case, and give her
whatever is due to her. It is not necessary either that a husband should disclose to his
wife his reasons for divorcing her. What is most important is to deal with her fairly in all
situations.

This man has not observed this last point over the last two years when he was working
abroad. He did not send letters or money to his wife. He is indeed responsible for her
living expenses, but he left her in a terrible position, hanging in the air without any
support, not even the psychological one of writing regularly. He does all this in order to
make his divorce easier. In fact he makes it harder, because by neglecting his
responsibility, he generates feelings of injustice and abuse on her part. Such feelings can
only cause attitudes to be hardened.

I am concerned about the second case where a man says that he wants to divorce his
wife after six months. It seems a cool and callous decision, as if the man feels that he can
make use of his wife for the time being, but will divorce her when he no longer has any
use for her. That seems to be too cruel. If things are so bad between him and his wife,
why wait for six months?


• Divorce: Custody of children
I have been married for over 9 years and I have four children, the
eldest of whom is a boy of 7. My relationship with my wife has not
been particularly smooth. Having reflected on the matter for awhile
I have come to the conclusion that divorce is inevitable. Who shall
have the custody of our children? What do I have to do to keep my
children in my custody?
Children's custody is defined by scholars as taking care of a young boy or girl, or one who
is mentally irresponsible, and to look after it for its own benefit and to spare it what may
cause it physical or mental harm until it is capable of looking after itself. Custody is a
duty of adults and a right owed to the child, because neglecting a young child may cause
its death or make it suffer irreparable damage.
196                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


Moreover, a child is in need of someone to take good care of it, look after it and bring it
up. The child's mother has the right to its custody because the Prophet, peace be upon
him, said to a mother of a young child: "You have more right to him." On the other hand,
if there is no one other than the child's mother to take care of the child, the mother may
be compelled to take it in her custody. If the mother declines and the child's grandmother
agrees to take it, the mother's right is forfeited and the grandmother is given custody.

Needless to say that a child needs to be brought up in family, where both father and
mother look after him. Should the couple separate and a young child is part of the family,
the mother has a stronger claim to his custody, because she is better capable to look
after him. She is more patient and kinder. Therefore, the mother takes him, unless there
is a valid reason to prevent her from discharging her responsibility, or the child is able to
choose between her and its father. The Prophet, peace be upon him, told one mother who
complained to him that her divorcing husband wants to take the child away: "You have a
stronger claim to the child, unless you get married." Umar divorced an Ansari woman
after she had given him a son called Asim. One day Umar saw his son playing in the
mosque, and he tried to take him away. The child's grandmother tried to prevent him,
and they went with the dispute to Abu Bakr, who was the caliph. Both claimed him, but
Abu Bakr ruled in the grandmother's favor. Umar did not dispute his ruling, although at
the time he had a different view. When be became the ruler, he followed Abu Bakr's
ruling and implemented it in other people's cases. One report suggests that Abu Bakr
said to Umar: "A mother is kinder, more tender, and compassionate and far better for the
child. She has a stronger claim unless she gets married."

Scholars have made a clear order of which relatives are given custody, giving priority to
women, and starting with the child's mother, or grandmother, then the order goes to the
child's father's mother, then to his full sister, then to his sister on his mother's side, then
to the one on his father's side, and so on.

There are certain conditions for granting custody to any relative. The woman having
custody must be of sound mind, having attained puberty, and able to bring the child up.
She must also be a Muslim, unmarried to someone who is a stranger to the child.
Moreover, the woman who has custody of a child is entitled to have maintenance while
the child is in her custody, in addition to the expenses of bringing the child up which are
naturally borne by the father. Custody lasts until the child is able to attend to his own
needs such as cleaning himself, eating and dressing, etc. There is no specific age for this;
what determines it is the actual ability of the child.

One school of thought rules that custody is over at the age of 7 for a boy and 9 for a girl,
but a judge may extend custody beyond that if he determined that such an extension is
in the child's interest. When custody is over, the child is given a choice to join either his
father or mother, unless they agree to some arrangement between them.

When a woman complained to the Prophet, peace be upon him, that her husband wanted
to take their child away, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said to the child: "This is your
father and this is your mother: You may take the hand of either of them." The child took
his mother's hand. This was the Prophet's ruling, which was followed by the early Muslim
rulers and judges like Umar, Ali and Shareeh, may Allah be pleased with them. It is the
one endorsed by the Shaf'ie and Hanbali schools of thought.

There is no statement in the Qur'an or the Sunnah which gives priority to one parent over
the other when the child is able to make a choice. All scholars agree that the child's
interest is paramount. Hence, the child should be given to the parent who is better able
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               197


to protect the child and bring him up properly. Should the father be negligent, or unable
to fulfill his duty properly, the mother is given priority.

The child's choice is of no consequence in this case. A report by Ibn Taimiyah mentions a
case of a child given choice between parents. When the child indicated his preference to
go with his father, the mother requested the judge to ask the child the reason for his
preference. The child said: "My mother sends me to school every day, where the teacher is
hard on us, while my father allows me to play with the kids." The judge ruled that the
child should be given to his mother.

These are the main guidelines on the question of custody of young children, and which
parent they join when they are able to make a choice.

The family laws in Muslim countries follow mainly the Islamic principles, with emphasis
on what the predominant school of thought may prefer. Therefore, my advice to this
reader is to try to keep his marriage so that his young children are brought up by both
parents together. If he fails, he should always maintain an amicable arrangement with
his divorcee with regard to looking after the children.

• Divorce: Husband‘s refusal to divorce
After a few months of marriage, I realized that every thing was
going wrong, and we were having serious problems. I asked my
husband to divorce me, but he has not responded. We are living in
two different countries: he lives in India, his country, and I live in
the US where, I am a citizen. How can I ask for khula‘; if he refuses
to divorce me?
Islam allows the dissolution of marriage at the request of the wife in two ways: a divorce
ordered by the judge if she proves that she is being subjected to harm in her marriage
and khula‘, which does not require any proof.

The latter does not need to have any particular reason to be freed of her marriage bond.
Khula‘ is a termination of the marriage contract at the woman‘s request because she feels
that her interests lie elsewhere. Since in Islamic marriage the husband bears more of the
cost, the woman is required to refund to her husband all the dower he had paid her at
the time of marriage.

On the other hand, divorce preserves the wife‘s right that she is subjected to harm in her
marriage for a judge to order her divorce.

You need to study your situation carefully to determine whether you can resort to either
option to terminate your marriage. If your husband has abandoned you to live in his
home country, and he does not support you, you can also apply for divorce. On the other
hand, you might have been the one to choose to live apart. Your husband might be
willing to take you if you would agree to live with him in his own country. In this case,
your living apart would not be a valid reason for divorce at your request.

Since both of you are living in countries where the law is different from Islamic law, it is
much better that you come to an agreement on your future relationship. What you have
to do is to try to resolve the matter amicably. You should write to your husband asking
him to dissolve the marriage in a proper Islamic way.
198                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


If he refuses or turns a deaf ear, you write to him again saying that he is forcing you to
resort to the American law for a termination of the marriage, and that you consider any
nullification of the marriage by an American court to be a khula‘. I hope that he will save
you asking this final resort by being cooperative and settling the matter in an amicable
way.


• Divorce: Ill-treatment as the basis for divorce
After one and a half years of being married, a woman obtained a
ruling from an Islamic court nullifying her marriage. The basis of
the ruling was the ill-treatment she received from her husband
who used to beat her up and demand money from her. Her former
husband was sent several notices with at least one of these notices
published in the local paper, but he failed to appear in court. The
court then granted her the nullification. The woman is now
married to another man, but recently that husband was told by a
scholar that such a Khula is not valid, without the consent of the
first husband, which means that the woman is still married to the
first husband and her second marriage is null and void. That
caused the couple no end of distress, particularly since they have
had a child recently. Please comment.
Sometimes I get very angry when I receive a question like this. My anger is not directed at
the parties concerned but at the outsider who voices an opinion which has a far-reaching
effect on the lives of several people without paying due regard to the circumstances of the
case or studying the problem in depth.

The reader speaks of a scholar telling him that such a Khula is not valid without the
consent of the first husband. What he did was to look at the question from the specific
point of view of Khula, and then he voiced his opinion on the basis of his school of
thought. This means that there are two limiting factors in how he has dealt with the
problem which involves the legitimacy or otherwise of a marital relationship. That is very
bad indeed. I do not know the man or the country where he comes from, but I can guess
his school of thought and I feel that he might not have studied anything outside it. That
is not the way a good scholar should look at a problem like this with all its practical
implications. This is not a case of Khula in the first place. Khula is the nullification of the
marriage at the request of a wife, which may not have a reason other than the wife feeling
that life with her husband does not give her the fulfillment a woman expects from a
happy married life. In Khula the woman pays back her dower to her husband and her
waiting period lasts only for one menstruation period, according to the weightier opinion,
to ensure that she is not pregnant. When the Khula takes place, it does not count as a
divorce.

Here the case is one of divorce by the judge on the basis of ill-treatment. In such cases,
the judge has to make sure that there is undoubtedly ill-treatment which makes life with
the man intolerable. The judge determined what sort of proof to demand in order to
satisfy himself that the claims of the wife are true. Here we are told that the man beats
up his wife. If he acknowledges that, then that is the best proof, but this could also be
proven by other means, such as witnesses who may be neighbors or relatives. We are
also told the man used to demand money from his wife. He sent her to her parents
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                199


frequently to get him that money. This is again another form of ill-treatment which could
make life intolerable. The judge in this case has done what is required when he sent
repeated notices to the husband to attend the hearing, and when he published an
announcement in the local newspaper. If the husband does not attend the court after all
this and the judge is satisfied that the ill-treatment is a fact, then the judge is within his
jurisdiction to order the nullification of the marriage. That nullification is considered a
divorce by the judge, which is a single divorce. This is another difference between this
sort of nullification and Khula.

The second husband of this lady may rest assured about the validity of his marriage. He
need not worry or ask any one's opinion since the nullification is ordered by a court of
Islamic law. What is the purpose of asking anyone when no one would give the case the
sort of in-depth study and consideration as the court would do?

• Divorce: In anger
On discovering that his wife has visited her parents against his
express instructions, a husband was very angry. During their
subsequent quarrel he said to her "I divorce you. I divorce you. I
divorce you." Later on, he repented and started asking about ways
and means to reinstate his marriage. Please comment.
I invite you to reflect on the Hadith which states: "It is not a mark of strength to be able
to overcome an opponent in a physical fight. The mark of strength is to control one's
anger." This man has proved himself to be too weak according to the standard set by the
Prophet, peace be upon him, which is the best and most accurate standard. He certainly
should have known better. Why should he have allowed himself to divorce his wife in a
flight of anger? Why could he not deal with the matter in a cool, deliberate way, as Islam
recommends? Besides, marriage is not something to trifle with so that divorce could be
brought about in the extreme circumstances of anger. That is not the way Muslims
should deal with one another, let alone a Muslim man with his wife.

Besides, if this man is so furious as to divorce his wife during an angry quarrel, simply
because she visited her parents, then he should re-examine his whole attitude. Unless
there are very valid and compelling reasons for his attitude toward his parents-in-law, a
man must not adopt the unhealthy attitude of arbitrarily ordering his wife not to visit her
parents. Indeed, a Muslim is always kind to his relatives. A Muslim man should be the
one who encourages his wife to maintain a good relationship with her family and facilitate
her in showing her dutifulness to her parents. If he, instead, orders her to boycott them,
then he is wrong and he does his wife an injustice.

Scholars mention that divorce in anger does not take effect. But that means that the
divorcing man should be in a state of blind anger which does not enable him to realize
what he is actually saying. To judge whether this ruling applies to any particular case,
the man should be asked after he has divorced his wife. If he says no, then the divorce
does not take effect. If he was aware of it, then the divorce is valid.

The fact that he has mentioned the word of divorce three times on this occasion is
immaterial. This is a single-time divorce which is revocable. The divorced wife should
observe a waiting period which is normally around three months. During that time she
stays in her husband's home and they can reinstate their marriage by mutual agreement
and having witnesses. If the waiting period is over, they can remarry again with a new
marriage contract and a fresh dower to be paid by the husband to his wife.
200                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


• Divorce: Inducing a woman to get divorced to marry again
I knew a young woman whom I dearly loved to marry. I talked to
her mother and brother, but they did not take my proposal
seriously. They arranged her marriage. I still feel the same toward
her. Is it all right if I try to persuade her to get divorced so that I
can marry her?
What you feel is not unusual in the sense that you have had great hopes that you will
share your life and future with this lady, and that the two of you will do every thing
possible to ensure your mutual happiness. The fact that you were not able to realize your
dreams still lingers with you causing you much pain. However, a Muslim must train
himself to accept all life's eventualities and trust God to give him what is better than what
he may choose for himself.

In the life of everyone of us certain wishes and hopes are frustrated and we find ourselves
unable to take control of what seems to us to be of utmost importance. We, however, try
to accept the new situation and make the best of it. As time passes we discover that we
are much happier with the way things have turned out. If we are given the choice again
we would certainly choose to continue with what we got rather than go back to our
original preference.

In your case this is the attitude you should adopt. You should resign yourself to the fact
that you have missed out on marrying that lady and you should include in your
supplication a prayer that God may give you a better woman for a wife. When you have
done that you should try to forget the matter completely, trusting that God will choose for
you what is best. This is the proper attitude of a Muslim.

I realize that it is not easy to discard something that one has cherished as one's dearest
hope, thinking that it is the be all and end all of one's own happiness, but then it is an
essential aspect of being a true believer that one accepts what God has chosen.

The Prophet expresses this in his inimitable style as he advises everyone of us: "Accept
what God has apportioned for you and you will be richest of people." It will certainly be
very wrong of you to try to encourage this lady to seek divorce so that you could marry
her. Try to think of the matter in a reverse order. What if you had married someone on
the basis of a goodwill and then discovered that someone is trying to get her divorced? Is
it not true that your discovery will cause a great deal of trouble within your home and
family life?

The least that you expect from your wife in such a situation is to turn a deaf ear to
whatever that man says and to boycott him altogether. The Prophet says: "No one of you
is a true believer unless he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." If you do not
like that any person encourage your wife to seek divorce from you, then you must not
encourage another woman to seek divorce. You may protest that she is not happy with
him, but that is irrelevant. It may be that all that they need to bring happiness into their
home is to give themselves a little longer to understand each other better. Besides, how
do you know that she will be happier with you, or that you will be happy with her? These
matters can only be discovered by practice.

Let me tell you that it is forbidden for you to take any action to persuade that lady to
divorce her husband. Islam does not allow that a man should put a proposal of marriage
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               201


to someone who is only engaged to another man. It certainly does not approve of trying to
get a married woman divorced in order to marry someone else.

• Divorce: Laws changed in India
Could you please comment on the attached article which appeared
in "Indian Express" on changes proposed to the Muslim personal
law concerning divorce. May I say that we always welcome any
amendment which aims to safeguard the rights of divorced women.
The proposed changes are based on a ruling given by the Jamait
Ahle Hadith declaring the pronouncement of divorce three times at
one sitting as invalid and ineffective. Hence, supporters of this
ruling want triple divorce at one sitting to be abolished. This is
enthusiastically supported by the All India Muslim Women's
Organization.
The newspaper article which you have sent me speaks of pressure from the All India
Muslim Women's Organization to try to reform the personal law affecting divorce to bring
it in line with a ruling by the Jamait Ahle Hadith. It goes on to speak of the abolition of a
triple divorce at one sitting in countries like Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, and Egypt. It then
refers to certain cases where hardship has resulted, particularly to the divorced woman
and her children as a result of the enforcement of the present law which considers a
triple divorce as a third divorce. Because this is a highly important subject, I will explain
the matter in detail, although I have spoken about it on more than one occasion. It is
often easy to misinterpret certain aspects of the question and then draw the wrong
conclusions. In this particular instance, we have such a mistake in the newspaper article.
For example, the ruling of Ahle Hadith is cited as "declaring the pronouncement of three
talaqs (i.e. divorce) at one sitting as invalid and ineffective." I very much doubt that the
ruling says so much. Most probably the ruling described the triple divorce as "forbidden",
but certainly neither invalid nor ineffective. I will discuss this point further presently.

First, let me explain that according to the Islamic system, a divorce can be revoked and
the marriage reinstated twice. In other words, a man may divorce his wife once and then
be reunited with her in marriage under certain conditions. This whole process of
marriage, divorce and remarriage may be done twice. If the marriage is re-established for
the third time and then a third divorce takes place, then that divorce is final and no
reinstatement of the marriage can be effected unless certain conditions are met. These
provide for the woman to get married again first to another man. The marriage must be
intended as permanent. When she has lived with her husband for some time and both of
them fully intended to stay married for the rest of their lives, the woman is now in a new
status. If it so happens in the normal course of life that she gets divorced by her new
husband, or if he dies, then when her waiting period is completed, she may be reunited
in marriage with her first husband provided that both of them think that they can make
it this time. This marriage with another man is conditional after the third divorce. It must
be approached as a full marriage intended to last. It cannot be arranged for the particular
purpose of making that woman lawful for her first husband. If it is, then the marriage
itself is not valid and it cannot produce any effect on her being unlawful to reunite with
her first husband.

The process of revocable divorce is an aspect of God's grace which He bestows on us in
abundance. Problems may arise in any marriage, and if the couple are not careful, a
break may take place and a divorce is initiated. When the two of them separate, they
202                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


might realize that their loss by divorce is too great. They might have a special attachment
to each other. They may have young children and they may realize that the divorce is
going to have a highly negative effect on them. They may reflect and conclude that with
an extra effort on the part of each of them, they could make their marriage successful.
Hence, God has allowed a reinstatement of the marriage. This can be done without the
need of a fresh marriage contract, if the reinstatement of the marriage takes place within
the woman's waiting period. If the waiting period has lapsed, then a fresh marriage
contract and a fresh dower are needed.

Now if a person divorces his wife three times in one sitting, or on the same occasion, then
he is actually trying to override certain provisions of Islamic law which make a remarriage
possible. I understand that many people do not realize that divorce is initiated by a single
pronouncement of the word of divorce. They mistakenly believe that they have to say it
three times. The fact is that a triple divorce on the same occasion, or in quick succession,
is an affront to Allah's law. It seeks to reach the position of "no marriage" at one stroke.
That is not open to anyone. A man divorced his wife three times in the same session and
came to the Prophet to tell him of what he did. The Prophet was very angry. He addressed
his companions saying: "Is God's book to be trifled with when I am still living among
you?" He then made it clear that the triple divorce be counted as a single divorce, which
meant that it was revocable. The Prophet's attitude and his description of the triple
divorce as "trifling with God's book" make it clear that such an action is forbidden.

Most people in India and Pakistan, as well as in other countries, take the view of the
Hanafi school of thought, which is shared by others as well. This view considers that a
triple divorce in the same place and on the same occasion counts as three divorces. The
scholars who share this view base their arguments on the action of Umar ibn Al-Khattab
who felt that people were increasingly resorting to a triple divorce at the same time. He
said: "People are precipitating something concerning which they have been given respite.
It may be wise to impose it on them." He proceeded to make that imposition. In other
words, Umar wanted to punish those people who resorted to a triple divorce at the same
time by making it binding. He did not initiate a new ruling. He simply committed people
to what they said. He made their words binding on them. It is open to a ruler to impose
such a punishment. That is the reason why the Prophet's companions who were alive at
the time did not object to Umar's action. They understood it as a punishment which
would be valid for a limited period of time. It was the acquiescence by the Prophet's
companion that made the scholars like Abu Hanifah adopt Umar's view as binding. They
treated it as a verdict unanimously supported by the Prophet's companions.

We come now to the conclusion of this discussion by saying that if a man divorces his
wife three times on the same occasion, he violates God's law and commits something that
is forbidden. His words count as a single divorce. Revoking the divorce and reinstating
the marriage requires a fresh marriage contract if the woman's waiting period is over. In
any case, it requires a minimum of two witnesses.

Practically speaking, it is impossible to effect three divorces at the same time. A man can
only divorce a woman who is his wife. When a man says to his wife, "I divorce you", once,
he starts a process which gives his wife a new status. She is no longer his wife. Although
the divorce process is only at the beginning, the woman is not married to him. How can
he, then, divorce her a second time? That is impossible.

I need to see the ruling given by Jamait Ahle Hadith in order to comment on it. I believe
that it is given on the same lines I have mentioned in this answer. Women's organizations
in India may campaign for a reform of the personal law on the basis of Islamic principles.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               203


They will find that a number of Muslim countries have adopted the view I have outlined.
This is certainly a great step forward.


• Divorce: Laws clashing with Qur‘an & Sunnah
A tendency to reinterpret the Islamic law of divorce can be noticed
in several Muslim countries. According to the personal status law
of Tunisia, equality of treatment of wives is a legal condition of the
right to polygamy, and since such equality of treatment is
impossible to practice in modern times, polygamy is prohibited.
Moreover, divorce can only be effected through a court of law, and
no matter what happens between a man and wife, their marriage
continues until the court issues a decree of divorce. In Indonesia, a
husband is required to apply to the marriage official when he
desires a divorce to be effected. In South Yemen, divorce can only
be effected judicially on the basis of a petition submitted by either
spouse. In Pakistan, a husband is required to give written notice of
his divorce both to his wife and to the chairman of the Arbitration
Council. Would you kindly comment on these provisions.
There are two sources of Islamic legislation: the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Whatever is
stated in the Qur'an or by the Prophet, peace be upon him, and whatever action the
Prophet, peace be upon him, did or endorsed are part of Islam. Whatever clashes with
that is not Islamic. This is a simple general rule which is both logical and reasonable.
Islam is a religion revealed by Allah and conveyed to us by the Prophet, peace be upon
him. We accept only what Allah has told us and what the Prophet, peace be upon him,
has conveyed to us. What is in conflict with that cannot be Islamic.

This applies to every system on earth. Indeed, no regime or system of government will be
willing to relinquish such an important principle. Take, for example, the British law. The
legal authorities in Britain will say that every act of parliament and every judgment made
by the British courts is part of the British law. What contradicts with that cannot be
considered part of the law. To my mind, that is fair and reasonable. If the principle is
applicable to human laws, it is more so to divine law. If countries will not accept anything
which may be different to what their lawmaking institutions, be they parliaments,
presidents or other legislative councils, decree, would anyone dare to place himself in an
equal position to Allah and start issuing decrees which approve certain Islamic laws and
abrogate others? For, to make such a judgment is to claim an equal right with Allah. Far
be it from any Muslim to do so.

Islam has its own system of marriage and divorce. A Muslim government may issue
certain rules to regulate how this system is implemented, but these regulations cannot
withdraw a right Allah has given or allow something which Allah has withheld. Otherwise,
they would be claiming the power to legislate, which, according to Islam, belongs to Allah
alone.

The Islamic system of marriage and divorce allows a Muslim man to marry up to four
wives at any one time. It is a requirement that he should extend equal treatment to all of
them. What we must understand is that Allah does not require us to do something with
which our nature cannot cope. Do we need any reminder that it is Allah who created us
204                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


and He knows our ability and what lies beyond that ability. He would not have allowed us
to marry four wives making this condition on equal treatment, had He known that we
would not be able to fulfill that condition. It is needless to say that He knows all about
His creation. He indeed makes it clear that if we fear that we cannot maintain such an
equal treatment, then we must contain ourselves to marrying one wife. The matter is
clearly left to us to determine.

If the law of any Muslim country forbids polygamy on the basis of man's inability to treat
his wives equally, that law is making a premise about human nature which is in conflict
with what Allah has said about it. We obviously take what Allah says and not what the
lawmaking authorities in any country say, if the latter differ with Islam.

Again, the right to divorce is granted to a Muslim man as a step to which he may resort,
within certain constraints. It is very highly regulated and once divorce is made, there are
certain duties and rights which become applicable to the separating couple. From Islamic
teachings, we know that a man may divorce his wife without resort to a court, while a
woman has to apply to the judge for a nullification of her marriage. To take away that
right given by Islam to a man is to amend Allah's laws. This cannot be done by any
human being or any legislative body.

Of the examples you have mentioned, some are obviously contrary to Islamic teachings
while others appear to be only procedural. For example, what you have quoted from the
Pakistani Muslim family law appears to be of the latter type. It is only a requirement of
the law that a man who divorces his wife should give a notice to his wife and to the
authorities. Islam certainly requires a man who had divorced his wife to notify her so that
she can observe her waiting period and she may claim her rights. If an additional
requirement of notification to the authorities is made, this is only procedural and it is
acceptable. It is within the power of a Muslim ruler to issue a regulation which is not in
conflict with Islamic laws, if he determines that such a regulation is beneficial to the
Muslim community. When he makes such a regulation, it must be obeyed.

A procedural matter is different from introducing an amendment to the substance of an
Islamic law. If Allah says that divorce can be effected verbally by a husband, then to say
that the marriage continues after the husband makes such a verbal divorce, and to
require him to effect a divorce only through a court which may refuse him his request, is
to restrict what Allah has not restricted. That is not acceptable from any legislative body
or institution. The authority to legislate or amend the law belongs to Allah.

Some governments which make such changes argue that changes are necessary because
the Islamic law has been abused by men over the centuries. Without trying to disprove
their claim, let me say that every law is open to abuse. Can they guarantee that the law
they issue will not be abused? In fact, divine law is less open to abuse because it derives
its authority from believing in Allah and the day of judgment. A Muslim knows that he
will stand alone in front of Allah to answer for his deeds. If he abuses Allah's law and
denies his divorcee her rights, Allah will punish him for that. He cannot get away from
Him. But he can get away from the watchful eyes of the legal authorities in his country, if
he tries hard enough. It is a universal fact that religious laws have more sway on people's
minds than any state law.

The fact is that amendments to Islamic law, especially in as far as it relates to the family
and the status of women, have been brought about by governments which have been
highly influenced by the colonial powers. In some countries, governments are composed
of people who have been educated and highly influenced by the Western civilization. On
the other hand, they have but scanty knowledge of Islam. They think that they are doing
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               205


a service to their community. Indeed, they are doing a disservice. Only when they bring
their people closer to Islam and Islamic life, they truly look after their interests.

As far as we are concerned, we take our laws from Islam, as they are stated in the Qur'an
or the Sunnah. We do not take Islamic laws from any other source. That is a requirement
implicit in the declaration which we make to signify that we are Muslims. When we state
that there is no deity save Allah, we acknowledge that He alone has the authority to
legislate. When we declare that Muhammad is His messenger, we acknowledge that he
alone conveys to us Allah's message and how He wants us to conduct our lives.

• Divorce: Maintenance of divorced women
An article in magazine called ―She‖ speaks of maintenance of
divorced women being applicable in accordance with verse 242 of
Surah 2. Could you please explain whether this is correct and
whether it applies in the waiting period only, or for a longer time?
The article you have sent me is concerned with the lot of divorced women and the
prospects they face after divorce, particularly in cases where the divorce takes place after
many years of marriage, during which the woman would have helped in the
establishment of the family home and in the family life generally. It argues for
maintenance to be established as a rightful claim for divorced women beyond the
expiration of the waiting period, which lasts, as the article claims, for 90 days. If we take
this point as an example, we can have an idea of the lack of accuracy the article betrays
when it speaks of Islamic law and its provisions.

The waiting period for a divorced woman is not counted by days in the first place. It also
differs according to circumstances and conditions applicable to the divorced women
herself. If the woman is pregnant at the time of divorce, her waiting period lasts until she
has delivered her baby, whether this takes place the following day or after nine month. If
she is not pregnant, her waiting period lasts until she has completed three menstruation
periods or three period of cleanliness from menstruation. If she is too old or too young to
have the period, the waiting period shall last for three lunar months. In this last case, the
waiting period is close to 90 days, but not quite, because a lunar month is either 29 or 30
days, and it never happens that three consecutive lunar months are of 30 days each. If
the woman has her period normally, then her waiting period may last, in averse cases, for
any number of days between 48 and 82, while some scholars speak of even a much
shorter period as also possible. If the article is so wrong on this very simple matter, its
accuracy on more important issues is certainly called into question.

When we consider the injustice which the divorced women suffer, either at the hands of
their husbands or as a result of the lack of legal provisions, we should look for ways and
means to remove this injustice in accordance with Islamic provisions, rather than to try
to impose something which is borrowed from other societies or other laws. The article is
seeking to impose on the divorcing husband a duty to pay maintenance to his divorced
wife. It cites a verse in the Qur‘an in support of this claim, quoting three translations and
claiming that its reference to ―post-divorce maintenance is crystal clear in its meaning.‖
Now let us look at these translations, as quoted in the article itself:

(1) “For divorced women a provision in kindness: A duty for those who ward off (evil).”
(Pickthall);
206                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


(2) “For divorced women maintenance (should be provided) on a reasonable scale. This is a
duty on the righteous.” (Yousuf Ali);

(3) “Likewise the divorced women should also be given something in accordance with the
known fair standard. This is an obligation upon the Allah-fearing people.” (Maulana
Maududi).

May I add here a fourth translation by N. J. Dawood, which is the only one handy to me
at the moment of writing. It renders the meaning of the verse in question as follows:

―Reasonable provision shall also be made for divorced women. That is incumbent on
righteous men.‖

In four translations, only one uses the term ―maintenance‖ to give the meaning of the
verse. In fact the Qur‘anic verse does not use this term at all, which in Arabic is
―nafaqah.‖ It uses a different term, which is mita‘ah. This is a word that has a general
meaning and connotations of enjoyment, comfort and provision. Hence, the other
translations have used the term ―provision‖ or ―something to be given‖ in order to convey
its meaning. Furthermore the verse speaks that it should be given ―bilma‘roof,‖ which is
translated in the four quoted translations as ―in accordance with the known fair
standard‖, and ―reasonable‖. All these translations are acceptable. Together they tell us
that whatever provision or ―mita‘ah‖ is given, it should be determined in a reasonable and
fair manner. Hence we conclude with Islamic scholars that this verse is not referring to a
legal right of maintenance which lasts over any specified period of time. It is concerned
with the alleviation of the pain of divorce by urging divorcing husbands to make a
reasonable gift to their divorcees. That it refers to this as a duty shows its concern that
divorce need not leave the two families of the divorcing couple in a position of hostility. In
fact divorce can take place in an Islamic society with the families of the divorcing couple
maintaining a good relationship. In the Islamic view, divorce may take place without
aggravation or lasting hostility. Its reason may be only the incompatibility of the husband
and wife, not any fault with either of them.

What the article is advocating is to impose on the divorcing husband for the rest of the
woman‘s life, or until she married someone else. This is further demanded by a number
of organizations concerned with women‘s rights in Muslim countries. That women should
have provisions for their welfare after divorce is certainly needed. Whether this should be
provided by their divorcing husbands is another matter altogether. If a man realizes that
divorce should impose on him a duty of paying the living expenses of his divorcee for life,
he may prefer not to divorce her, but he would keep her, ill-treat her until she demands
divorce or khula‘, absolving him of all her rights, or he would marry another woman and
leave his first wife uncared for. Is this what the advocates of women‘s rights are after? I
feel if the law in Muslim countries endorses their present claims, they would soon be
demanding further provisions to ensure that women are not ill-treated as a result of this
endorsement. Why should her divorcing husband maintain a woman for the rest of her
life when the divorce has brought their relationship to an end? Is it a punishment to be
enforced on the husband for daring to divorce his wife? What if the blame for the divorce
lies with wife? After all, marriage is a relationship that may be rendered unworkable by
either party. Why make the blame for it lie always with the man? Moreover, if a divorced
woman is given maintenance until she has married again, does not that encourage
divorced women not to marry again? Does this not lead to encouraging immorality and
irresponsibility? Is that what we are after?

It is often the case that people who are concerned with a single issue do not take a broad
view of what it may entail. In this case, people are keen to lift injustice that is often
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 207


visited on a divorced woman. However, they do not consider the injustice that may result
from what they advocate. What we should fall for is the lifting of all injustice and the
provision of a reasonable standard of living for divorced women. That can best be
achieved through the implementation of Islamic law, which makes the family of a
divorced woman, i.e. her parents, brothers or uncles, responsible for her living. If she has
no family support, then the state should provide her with a decent standard of living.
That this is not the case in many Muslim countries means that legislation, based on
these principles, is required in these countries.

It does not call for shifting of responsibility elsewhere, i.e. to the divorcing husband. It is
beneath the dignity of women to rely for her living on a man with whom she no longer
has any legal relationship.


• Divorce: Nullification of marriage — with or without benefits
A relative of mine got married to a young man working in a Gulf
country. Although she stayed with her husband for nearly one
month after the wedding, the marriage was never consummated.
After he departed, he intimated to his parents that he wanted to
divorce his wife. It transpired that he has an illegitimate
relationship with a non-Muslim girl which has been going on
before and after his marriage, and that he has a drinking problem.
Considering all aspects of the problem, the girl's parents are
thinking of having a frank talk with the husband before asking him
to repent and mend his ways and have a proper married life with
their daughter. Alternatively, they want to take steps to get the
marriage nullified.
I have summarized the problem which the girl's family have explained to me in detail. I
feel that the family has done every thing that could be expected of them to make the
marriage a normal one, starting a family and hoping for the happiness of their daughter.
However, all their efforts have so far made little headway.

My own reading of the problem is that this man has gone into this marriage unwillingly.
He might have been pressurized into it by his parents, who might have not accepted his
idea of marrying the woman with whom he had been having an illegitimate relationship.
This is the only explanation of his total lack of enthusiasm and the fact that the marriage
remains unconsummated. But this does not justify his behavior. When he went through
with the marriage, he made certain pledges which he never intended to keep. That does
not take any notice of the feelings of the woman he was marrying or her family whom he
had cheated. Her parents are also to blame because he had made it clear to them that he
intended to stay with his mistress. They might have acted with goodwill, hoping that their
son would reform once he is committed to married life. Be that as it may, it does not
justify going to another family and asking for their daughter in marriage to their son
when they were not so sure of his willingness to carry out their plan. There is an element
of ignoring what may happen to the girl and turning a blind eye to her expected misery. I
feel that had the roles been reversed and the husband's parents were the girl's parents
they would have been extremely angry at a family who would do to their daughter what
they themselves have done to your relative. There is no excuse in saying that they hoped
for different results. It is clear that the man never intended the marriage to work.
208                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


Otherwise, why would he leave it unconsummated? How would he drag a Muslim girl into
this dilemma without bothering what effects it would have on her?

It appears to me that the woman's parents are too simple, trusting and of good nature. I
cannot imagine how would they trust the future happiness of their daughter to such a
man. If they want to talk to him about repentance, he may turn a deaf ear. He has not
shown my desire to change his ways. Repentance can only be real if it is based on
conviction, not expedience. If the man listens to them and he agrees to declare
repentance and does what they suggest of offering the pilgrimage, how can they trust that
it is all genuine? They have no indication that the man has regretted anything he has
done. On the contrary, he seems determined to carry on as he is, having an illegitimate
relationship and abandoning his wife for a whore. That is not the sort of husband Muslim
parents should accept for their daughter.

The other alternative they have been considering is probably not their best course of
action either. They are thinking of applying for Khula, which is a nullification of the
marriage at the wife's request. But this is the sort of action to which a woman may resort
in cases where the husband is not at much fault. It means that the wife will forgo all her
claim to dower and all other dues. Why should this woman lose all that when she is at
the receiving end of carelessness and injustice?

I would suggest that the family contact a lawyer who may be able to give them legal
advice on what they may do. On the face of it, the wife should apply for a nullification of
her marriage on grounds of deception and ill-treatment. The lawyer may be in a better
position to suggest the best method of presenting the case. But the wife should apply for
a nullification with all her dues. It is the least that she should expect to get her dower
and any gifts she might have received as compensation for being deliberately deceived by
her husband. She should not hesitate to make such an application because men who do
not consider the feelings and the reputation of the women they marry need to be taught a
lesson that other people's feelings are not to be trifled with. May God guide this family to
preserve the rights of their daughter.

• Divorce: Offered for neglect of prayers
I often have to force my wife to attend to her prayers, but she still
neglects to do so. Will it be right if I offer her divorce?
If your wife rejects prayer altogether and denies that it is an Islamic duty, then she
cannot continue to be married to you, because in this case, she will be denying a part of
Islam which is essentially known to all people.

If, on the other hand, she is simply negligent of her duty, then it is your responsibility to
remind her and to make her aware of the importance of attending regularly to her
prayers. You should not force her to pray, because Islamic obligations cannot be
discharged by force. You must not forget that prayer is her duty as much as they are
your duty. You are not responsible for her, nor is she responsible for you. Everyone will
be accountable to Allah for his or her actions or omissions.

Before you contemplate offering her divorce, you should try to educate her in Islamic
principles and practices. Try to get her to understand how important it is for her to lead
an Islamic life.

Most probably, her negligence is due to lack of such awareness. The right approach,
therefore, is to strengthen her faith. Try to use different methods, and combine
    Our Dialogue                SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                  209


persuasion with a reminder of the different aspects of Allah's grace you and she enjoy. If
you have children, you may remind her that they need Allah's protection and care. Like
all parents, you pray Him to take care of your children. How can she or anyone else pray
Allah to grant her wishes if she does not discharge the duties He has imposed on her?

Before offering her divorce, you should consider your situation from all angles. This could
be the last resort for you. It may awaken her to the difficulty of her situation. It may
persuade her that you view her negligence very seriously. If you do offer her divorce, you
should know that if she acknowledges the duty of prayer, you need not divorce her. It is
only if she denies that prayer is a duty binding on her that you cannot continue to be
man and wife. In this last case, she would not be a Muslim.


• Divorce: Question raised on equality of men & women
Islam recognizes the equality of men and women. Why, then, does
a man have the right to divorce his wife merely by saying three
words in presence of witnesses, whereas the same right is not
granted to women? Where is the equality? I know a few Muslim
women who are always in fear of being divorced this way. This
becomes a source of tension, particularly when it is very difficult
for a woman to earn her living independently and lead the same
sort of social life, while a man is totally unaffected. I do not find
any apparent equality on this aspect, despite the repeated claims
by scholars. To my understanding, any reasoning to prove equality
on this aspect is no more than forced justification, which is so
often practiced by the legal profession to which I belong. Would
you please convince me on this aspect, or do you find my question
too provoking to answer or to publish?
I am privileged to receive this letter from a lady lawyer who is genuinely interested in a
very important aspect of Islamic law. I would assure my reader that I am not in business
or seeking 'forced justification.' It is clear that I do not consider her question too
provoking, and I would certainly not duck the issue involved. I am, however, a firm
believer in the Islamic system and in the true equality it establishes between men and
women.

Before answering her question, I seek to establish two points. The first is that 'true
equality does not necessarily mean 'absolute equality.' There are certain differences
between men and women, some of which are physical, and others psychological, while
still others relate to the roles which they play in life and society. Hence equality must
take these differences into consideration. If we were to treat men and women without
consideration to these differences, we may easily commit injustice to either sex.

The second point is that the Islamic system must be considered as it is applied to the
Muslim community. We cannot take the Islamic system in isolation from the community
in which it is meant to apply. That community is a believer community in which God-
fearing is a quality of ordinary people. It affects their behavior in all situations. This is not
to say that all people in a Muslim community would be role models for a perfect Muslim.
It simply says that in a Muslim community an individual has certain social and legal
pressures to bear on his behavior and bring it, as far as possible, within the Islamic code.
210                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


From the Islamic point of view, marriage is a contract between two parties who are
considered equal. Yet men are given a point of privilege with regard to termination of this
contract. This is stated clearly in Verse 228-229 of Surah 2 in the middle of a long
passage on the legislation that concerns divorce.

"Divorced women must wait for three monthly courses. And it is not lawful for them to
hide what Allah has created in their wombs, if they sincerely believe in Allah and the Last
Day. Their husbands are best entitled to take them back as their wives during this
waiting period, if they desire reconciliation. Divorce may be pronounced twice; then either
keep the wife with honor or let her leave gracefully. And it is not lawful for you to take
back anything out of what you have given them. There is, however, an exception to this; if
you fear that they might not be able to keep within the limits imposed by Allah, there is
no harm if both agree mutually that the wife should obtain divorce by giving something
as compensation to the husband. These are the bounds set by Allah; therefore do not
violate them, for those who violate the bounds of Allah are the transgressors."

How is this possible? The answer lies in the nature of the roles assumed by men and
women in Islamic society and their respective responsibilities. In a Muslim family, the
man must look after his wife. She need not provide even a very small share of the family
expense, although she may be better off than her husband. He has still to maintain her,
[even] if she earns an income double his own. If the marriage breaks up, he must provide
for her during the waiting period, and pay her any outstanding portion of her dower. If
they have young children, he must pay for their upbringing, even though they may
remain with their mother. So meeting all the expenses of the family living remains his
own in addition to the payments due to the divorced wife. If he is to marry another
woman, he must pay her a dower. If he wishes to be reunited with his divorced wife after
her waiting period is over, he must pay her a fresh dower.

This shows that the man stands to incur a heavy financial loss if the marriage breaks up.
Hence a man must think very carefully before he decides to terminate his marriage. If the
women is given the same right to terminate the marriage at any moment, she would
impose on the man financial commitment which he may not be able to undertake and
which are not allowed for in the marriage contract. How is it possible that action is taken
by one party and the consequences are borne by the other?

When the woman is divorced, she need not worry about her living. She goes back to her
family which is responsible for her living. If her father is alive, he is responsible for her in
the same way as before her marriage. If he is not alive, then her brothers or uncles
assume that responsibility. If she has no relatives, the state should provide her
maintenance.

Yet Islam is aware that a marriage may go wrong and there may be genuine reasons for
the women to wish to terminate it. Hence, it provides a fair way for her to obtain the
termination of her marriage without difficulty. She may apply for this termination known
as Khula. She does not provide any justification for her request other than that she does
not want to stay married to her husband. Certain rules apply in this case, which require
her to refund the dower she received from her husband at the time of marriage. So, it is
not true that a man is the only partner to be able to terminate the marriage easily.
Termination is easier in this case, but she also may obtain that result without difficulty.

Having said that, I must add that what is practiced nowadays in Muslim countries may
be at variance with Islamic law. There is much abuse of the law of divorce, which results
from two main causes — people's life has become far removed from that envisaged by
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                211


Islam, and the prevailing ignorance of their privileges and obligations under Islamic law.
Hence a return to Islamic life would bring justice to all concerned.


• Divorce: Regretted before actual transmittal of advice
Because of differences with my wife, I divorced her by letter three
times, but after posting the letter I realized my mistake. I informed
my brother to intercept the letter and not to disclose its contents to
my wife, which he did [not disclose.] However, he disclosed the
matter after a few weeks. Now she is pregnant. Is she still my wife,
or is she divorced?
The interception of the letter and the non-disclosure of its contents to your wife does not
affect the status of your marriage one way or the other. What it does is simply to keep
your wife aware of the event or ignorant of it. She should be informed. When you wrote
the divorce, it actually took effect. The sending of the letter is to inform your wife of the
development which brings your marriage to a break.

When you regretted your action, you needed to reinstate your marriage by a new action.
If this is the first or second time you divorce your wife, then you are entitled to return her
as your wife, with her consent. If this takes place within the waiting period, which
extends normally until she has had three menstruation periods, or three periods of
cleanliness from menstruation, then the remarriage does not require a new marriage
contract. If it takes place after the waiting period has lapsed, then you need to have a
new marriage contract and you must pay her a new dower, or mahr.

May I explain here that the three times you have written the divorce in your letter count
as one divorce. It is forbidden to divorce three times at the same time, but they have the
effect of one divorce. What you need to do now is to actually reinstate at once. Since your
wife is pregnant, her waiting period lasts until she has given birth. If she has not
delivered yet, all you have to do is to declare that you are returning her as your wife after
she agrees on that with you. You should have two witnesses to the reinstatement of the
marriage.

May I add a little word of advice‖ Marriage is a very serious matter. So is divorce.
Marriage must never be ended at a moment of anger. Divorce should never be
pronounced on the spur of a moment. That is not how it is meant to be.

• Divorce: Reinstatement of marriage after single divorce
After arriving here to take up my job, I then wrote to my wife
several letters but she did not answer. I then wrote to her
informing her that I had divorced her once. Sometimes later I wrote
to her again stipulating certain conditions and saying that I would
withdraw the divorce if she accepted them. She wrote apologetically
expressing her acceptance of my conditions. I wrote back saying
that I have withdrawn the earlier divorce in the presence of three
witnesses who all signed the letter. May I ask whether my marriage
to her is back in force? If not, what should I do now?
212                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


As the divorce was single, and I understand a first time one, it is revocable. This means
that you can marry your former wife again if both of you agree to this marriage. However,
a divorce is a complete act, which has certain effects that cannot be erased in the way
you have suggested.

There are two possibilities for the reinstatement of your marriage, depending on the time
when this is to take place. As you know, when a woman is divorced she has to observe a
waiting period extending until she has had three menstruation periods, or three periods
of cleanliness from menstruation, or until she has given if she is pregnant.

Women who do not have the period wait for three months. If the marriage is to be
reinstated within the waiting period, it does not require anything more than the
agreement of both parties, and witnesses to ensure publicity. No fresh marriage contract
is needed, nor is there any need for a new dower to be paid. This means that what you
did was sufficient to reinstate your marriage if that was within your wife‘s waiting period.

If the reinstatement of the marriage does not take place within the waiting period, then
the divorce is complete and the woman moves out to her parents‘ home. If she and her
former husband want to marry again, this is done in the normal way of marriage.

A new marriage contract is needed and the husband must pay her a new dower. This
means that if your wife had completed her waiting period prior to your action of
―withdrawing‖ the divorce, as you have described it, then your letter to her is of no effect
and your divorce remains effective. You should arrange for a new marriage ceremony to
be conducted. You can do so by giving your father or brother, or indeed any other person,
power of attorney to attend to this marriage in your absence. This means that a new
nikah or marriage contract is needed. [Show of consent or authority by telephone is not
the appropriate course — as discussed elsewhere.]


• Divorce: Remarriage after divorce — a comprehensive view
1. I divorced my wife about seven years ago, when I sent her a
letter explaining the reasons which led me to take this decision,
finishing with writing the word "divorce" three times. My seven-
year-old daughter still lives with her mother who did not marry
anyone else in this period. Recently she wrote to me apologizing
and expressing her desire for a reconciliation which I welcome, but
would like to ask whether we can be remarried again. Was our
divorce a single divorce?
2. A friend of ours sent a letter to his wife divorcing her three
times. The court appointed a reconciliation counsel, but no
reconciliation took place and the court duly ruled the marriage to
have dissolved and issued certificates to that effect. The man
applied for custody of his children but he was denied that by the
court and he married another woman. Four years later he threw
his second wife out and started with his first wife anew. Is this
marriage valid and legal, or is this a sinful relationship?
3. Most scholars in Pakistan argue that a divorce pronounced or
written three times in succession counts as a triple divorce, which
    Our Dialogue                SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 213


means that the divorced couple cannot be reunited in marriage
unless the woman marries another man (i.e. halalah) who then
divorces her, maybe after one night. Please explain.
4. I follow the Hanafi school of thought. Due to continued marital
arguments I divorced my wife once only in a court in Jeddah. The
judge explained to us that we had three months to reconcile, after
the expiry of which the divorce would be final. Now nearly two
years after that the family of my former wife insist that I should
divorce their daughter once again repeating the word of divorce
three times. Their argument is that the divorce ruling was given in
accordance with the Hanbali school of thought, while according to
the Hanafi school of thought no divorce has taken place. Please
clarify.
These are some of the letters we often receive asking about divorce and concentrating on
the specific point of divorce repeated three times in succession, either verbally or in
writing. This indeed is a very sore question and people often have certain preconceived
ideas about it. You only need to think of the last of our four letters to realize the effects of
these ideas on people's lives. Here is a woman who has been divorced for two years and
her family thinks that she is still married only because the divorce took place in a
country where the Hanbali school [of thought] is predominant. The effects of such an
error of judgment are so far-reaching as to make a divorcee a lawfully wedded wife. In
order to make things clear, I will explain the process of divorce in full detail.

Let me say at the outset that there are no differences between schools of thought on the
main issues in this process. Schools of thought may differ on points of detail, but not on
basic issues. When a man wishes to divorce his wife, he should approach the matter with
the seriousness it deserves. I often wonder why people give so much thought and time to
marriage but they are often so hasty when it comes to divorce. Indeed divorce should be
considered very seriously, particularly when the marriage has already produced children.

Be that as it may, a man who wishes to divorce his wife should choose the appropriate
time for divorce. God commands the Prophet, peace be upon him, to make it known that
divorce should take place at a time when a woman can start her waiting period, which
means that a divorce may not be pronounced when the woman is in her period or in a
period of cleanliness from menstruation during which her husband has had sexual
intercourse with her. It is indeed forbidden to start the process of divorce in either of
these situations, i.e. during menstruation or a period of cleanliness in which an
intercourse has taken place. The process of divorce starts with the man saying to his
wife, "I divorce you." He may say this to her in her presence or absence, mentioning her
name or not, verbally or in writing. Whichever way he chooses this phrase must be said
or written ONCE ONLY. To say it or write it three times in succession is indeed forbidden.

A man came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and told him that he divorced his wife.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked him how many times and the man said, "three."
The Prophet, peace be upon him, was very angry. He stood on the pulpit and, addressing
his companions, he said: "Is God's Book to be trifled with when I am still alive among
you?" Consider for a moment how seriously the Prophet, peace be upon him, viewed the
three divorce being joined together in the same session, to the extent that he described it
as trifling with God's Book. Yet so many people imagine that this is the norm! In the first
214                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


letter we are told that the man wrote to his wife the word of divorce three times, when the
second reader asks whether the marital reunion is sinful after such a divorce, which we
have clarified to be forbidden.

In the last letter, the family of the divorcee actually demands it to make sure their
daughter had been duly divorced. When the husband says to his wife that he has
divorced her, verbally or in writing, she starts her waiting period. This lasts for three
menstruation periods or three periods of cleanliness from menstruation. However, if the
woman is pregnant, her waiting period lasts until she has given birth, whether that takes
place in a few days or after a few months. If the divorced wife is too old or too young to be
in menstruation, then her waiting period lasts for three months. During her waiting
period a divorced woman stays in her home, i.e. the home in which she usually lives with
her husband. He may not force her to leave. However, the couple must use separate
bedrooms. They may not have sexual intercourse unless they decide to reinstate their
marriage. She is not required to do any housework, but she is entitled to full
maintenance. This applies if the divorce is taking place for the first or second time. In this
case, a remarriage is possible. It only requires that the couple should decide to marry
again. If the remarriage takes place within the woman's waiting period, there is no need
for a new marriage contract or the payment of a new dower. It only needs to have two
witnesses. However, if the waiting period has lapsed and the couple decide to be reunited
in marriage, then they need to have a fresh marriage contract which should take the
same form and procedure as any Islamic marriage contract. This means that the woman
is entitled to have a new dower which she specifies. On the other hand, a woman who is
being divorced for the third time does not have to stay in her husband's home during her
waiting period. Here we are talking of a woman who has been divorced, then remarried
her husband, and remarried him yet again, and then was divorced by him for the third
time.

A marital reunion between them is no longer possible unless the woman marries another
man with the marriage intended to last for life. However, if her new husband dies or
divorces her in the normal course of life, she may be remarried to her former husband if
the two of them feel that their marriage can be made to work this time.

The question arises here about the triple divorce people often pronounce at the same
time: How many divorces it counts? We have mentioned the case of the man who
reported to the Prophet, peace be upon him, that he divorced his wife three times in
succession. The Prophet, peace be upon him, ordered that man to treat the divorce as a
single divorce. That was a very clear and specific order by the Prophet, peace be upon
him, himself. Hence, there is no way it could be otherwise. In saying so we are relying on
the authority of the Prophet, peace be upon him, himself. We need no other authority
after that. However, it is only logical that it should be so. When a man says to his wife: "I
divorce you," she is no longer his wife although she stays during her waiting period in his
home. This is evidenced by the fact that they may not sleep together, nor is the woman
required to do any of the duties a husband expects his wife to do. How, then, can a man
divorce a woman who is not his wife?

With some people this is a thorny question. They know that their school of thought
considers this type of divorce as a triple divorce and they do not wish to budge. But the
matter is not one of following a particular school of thought. In real life people seldom do
that. Those who have enough knowledge to be able to distinguish the evidence supporting
any particular view will always follow the view supported by the stronger evidence. Those
whose knowledge is limited go to scholars to find out what Islam says about different
matters. Any school worthy of the name will always look at the particular circumstances
of the question and choose the view which has the stronger evidence, or the one which is
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                215


particularly relevant, or the one which is most beneficial or least harmful. Hence there is
no strict following of a particular school of thought, either in the case of scholars or
laymen. An important point that is particularly relevant here is the one mentioned in the
third letter, concerning what is known as "muhallil" or "halalah." That is the name given
to a man who agrees to marry a woman divorced three times and then divorce her after a
few hours or one night.

As we have explained, a woman divorced three times in succession cannot remarry her
former husband unless she is married to a different man. But this is intended as a
punishment to a couple who have not taken their marriage with the seriousness Islam
wants all marriages to be taken. People, however, try to circumvent this restriction by
making arrangements with a man to go through a nominal marriage that has no value
whatsoever. Let me make it clear that such a practice is strictly forbidden in Islam. The
Prophet, peace be upon him, is quoted to have said to his companions: "Shall I tell you
who is the borrowed wed bull?" They said: "Please do, messenger of God." He said: "That
is the muhallil. May God curse the muhallil and the one who seeks his services."

In the light of the foregoing I say to the writer of the first letter that since he and his
former wife wish to marry again, they may go ahead and get married. They were divorced
once only and such a divorce does not constitute any impediment to their second
marriage. However, they need to have a new marriage contract, and he should pay his
wife a new dower.

To the writer of the second letter I say that his friend may have had a tumultuous time
with his two marriages, but that does not make his marriage with his first wife invalid if
he went through the marriage procedure.

As for the specific point raised in the third letter, I think I have given a full explanation.
No muhallil may be hired in any situations. Besides if a couple hire such a person they
disobey God and they do not get what they want, because when a muhallil is used, the
process of using him does not achieve the result for which he is used, i.e. the couple
remain unable to marry lawfully because the condition for their marriage has not been
fulfilled.

To the writer of the last letter I say that he cannot divorce a woman who is not his wife.
He had divorced his wife two years ago and she is no longer related to him in any way.
The question of different schools of thought does not arise. The Hanafi school of thought
also considers the pronouncement of divorce three times in succession to be forbidden. It
requires it to be said once only in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet
Muhammad, peace be upon him.

• Divorce: Rights of children
I have two children, aged 6 & 1, but I am not happy with my wife
due to differences of social background. I intend to marry a woman
from my own small town. If my present wife asks for divorce I will
grant her that, but I would like to know what are my obligations
toward her and my children.
What you must do if you divorce your wife is to keep her in your home during her waiting
period, when you continue to be responsible for her maintenance. During this period you
can reinstate your marriage without a need for a new marriage contract or a dower,
although you need to have two witnesses. If this period lapses and you have not
216                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


reconciled, the divorce becomes final. Your wife will be entitled to receive any outstanding
portion of her dower, as well as mit'ah which is a gift that you give her.

The amount of this gift is determined by the husband in accordance with his means. As
for your children, your responsibility does not change toward them on account of your
divorce. You remain responsible for their upbringing, maintenance and education, even
though they continue to live with their mother. A child of a broken family may choose to
stay with the mother after such a choice is given. The father remains responsible for the
living expenses, upbringing and education [of the child]. When the woman's waiting
period is over, the man is no longer responsible for her maintenance. Her own family
should look after her.

• Divorce: Shortly after marriage
One of our friends married a girl with a university degree. They
have barely lived three months together when she went back to
stay in her parents' home. She has been living with them for more
than a year now, stating that she wants a divorce. Her husband,
who seems to us to be a good man in every respect is unwilling to
give her divorce, because he wants his marriage to succeed. In our
community, a stigma is cast over a divorcee which may jeopardize
her chances of marrying again, and indeed the chances of her
sisters. Yet, the wife of our friend seems determined, stating that
this would be her first and last marriage. We may add that her
parents have given her support. Please advise.
Something must have gone drastically wrong with this marriage. It is often the case that
newly married people experience some profound disappointment as they begin to discover
the sort of transformation their lives are taking after marriage. Personal peculiarities may
not be easy to overlook or reconcile. Sometimes quarrels may take place over small
matters or for causes which are difficult to pinpoint. It is often the case that patience and
the willingness to understand the other party's likes and dislikes, prejudices and
preferences, is all that is needed to bring stability to a marriage and establish a degree of
mutual affection between a man and his wife which is far more important than any
passionate love of the type poets and men of letters are never tired of describing.

From another point of view, when you go into a marriage, you are clear in your mind that
you are establishing a relationship which you hope will last for the rest of the couple's
life. Things must go badly wrong for a married couple to want to break their relationship
three months after living together. I can only say that your friend and his wife must have
made plenty of mistakes, and must have caused each other much unhappiness to make
matters reach such a stage. [One of the aspects affecting may be pride; which is
described by the Prophet, peace be upon him, as: "Ignoring the truth and denying people
their rights."] It is also most probably true to say that the mistakes were on both sides, I
do not question your testimony in favor of your friend's character, but I can say that it is
impossible for anyone of us to tell how a friend of his behaves at home, or how he treats
his wife. Although you have not given me details of what took place between your friend
and his estranged wife, I can say that the uncompromising attitude of the woman in this
case provides some indications. Those three months must have been so hard for her that
she is now adamant that she would never be married again. It is quite possible that she
is to blame for much of the troubles that have shaken the foundations of her marital
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               217


home. Be that as it may, she must feel that her reasons for wanting to be divorced are so
strong, as far as she is concerned, that she is willing to accept the social stigma that is
cast over a divorcee in your society, as you say. This is further strengthened by the
support she enjoys from her parents. They are more likely to take a less passionate view.
They have to look after the interests of their other five daughters who, you admit, will be
affected by the outcome of this case. They apparently recognize that it is hopeless to try
to patch up the differences between their daughter and her husband.

My advice to your friend is to adopt a cool approach, realizing that it is no use continuing
with a marriage if the other party is determined to break it. This is bound to prolong the
misery. If he knows his father-in-law to be a reasonable man, he should suggest to him
the process Allah has outlined to achieve reconciliation. This involves the appointment of
two arbiters, one from each family, who should meet and discuss the differences and
problems of this marriage and degree of reconciliation, outlining what each party must
expect from the other. The arbiters should refer to the two parties concerned and
determine whether they can implement the points they have agreed between them. If
everyone involved approaches the matter with goodwill, then reconciliation is sure to be
achieved. If not, then the arbiters, or the man and his wife should work out the terms of
their separation and divorce.

If the man takes the initiative and divorces his wife, then it is a simple case of divorce
and he has to give the woman all her rights, including her full dower. If he does not and
feels that he would still prefer to go through with the marriage, but the woman is
persistent in her demand to be divorced, then the case is one of "khula". This is a term
which applies to a case of dissolution of the marriage at the wife's request. The husband
is unwilling to divorce her because he prefers to maintain his marriage. An Islamic court
could grant a wife's application for 'khula', outlining the terms of separation. The
husband is entitled to have back all the dower he has given his wife at the time of the
marriage.

Whatever your friend and wife ultimately decide, each of them must remember that Allah
will hold them to account for their deeds. Therefore, each one of them should be keen to
treat the other fairly and to make sure that the rights of the other are absolutely
respected and guaranteed.

• Divorce: When a three-time divorce is binding
1. Many of us felt a great relief when we read your reply,
explaining that a divorce pronounced three or more times in one
session is counted as one revocable divorce. The relief comes from
the fact that it is common practice in our part of the world to
pronounce divorce three times together, which has resulted in
many a broken homes. However, it is mentioned by scholars that
all four schools of thought are unanimous in considering a divorce
pronounced three times as three divorces, which renders the break
of the marriage irreparable. Even Maulana Maudoodi mentions this
in his book Tafheemul Qur'an. Please comment in detail.
2. It is common practice that a man casts his wife by pronouncing
the word of divorce three times. It is often true that this irrevocable
break up of the marriage has no reason other than the husband's
218                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


desire for another woman or some such silly thing. In this way, he
uses the law of divorce to satisfy his whims. Could you please
explain what sort of protection is given to the woman to guard
against such abuse of the law.
Any law or regulation can be subject to abuse. Unless you appoint someone to watch over
every person to ensure that he abides by the letter and spirit of the law, you cannot
achieve a proper adherence to the law. But Islamic laws and regulations are given the
support of the very real feeling which Islam implants in the mind of every one of its
followers that Allah watches over him or her. When we realize that Allah knows our
intentions and the real reasons behind our actions, we feel that we must always watch
out. We must never abuse Allah's law or be guilty of any wrongdoing. As people who
believe in the Oneness of Allah and in the message of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be
upon him, we know that we have to face a detailed reckoning on the Day of Judgment,
when we have to answer for every action that we may make in this life. It is the total sum
of what we have done in life and the net result of our good actions set against our bad
ones that determines our destiny in the life to come. As believers we know that heaven
and hell are a reality and that we must do our best to ensure our admission into heaven.
Therefore, we must always guard against doing injustice to anyone, particularly those
whom we are required to look after and to whom we are supposed to bring happiness, i.e.
our wives and close relatives.

The other safeguard is the fact that in a Muslim community, women are properly looked
after either by their husbands or by male members of their families, such as their
fathers, brothers or uncles. In addition, if we are good believers and know that following
the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, brings us the greatest
reward of all, namely, that Allah is pleased with us, we should work hard to implement
the Prophet's teachings in our lives. The Prophet has repeatedly emphasized that we
must take good care of our women. To take good care of one's wife cannot be
accomplished by abusing the law of divorce in order to get rid of her, or "cast her away"
as you say.

May I now turn to the other point of divorcing one's wife three times in the same session.
I have explained several times that this is forbidden. When the Prophet heard that one of
his companions did this, he expressed extreme anger and addressed the Muslim
community, saying: "Will Allah's book be trifled with when I am still alive among you?"
He described a divorce pronounced three times in the same session as "trifling with
Allah's Book." There can be no greater emphasis that such an action is absolutely
forbidden. Yet people do it all the time. I am afraid that many are under the false
impression that unless they pronounce the word of divorce three times together, the
divorce does not take effect. Therefore, this comes as a result of ignorance.

The question is whether what people do, pronouncing the word of divorce three times in
quick succession, or in one session, or on the same day, counts three divorces as the four
schools of thought say, or counts as one divorce, as I have explained on more than one
occasion. Before answering this question let me point out three very important facts:

First, a verdict may be accepted by a large number of highly prominent scholars,
including, the founders of the four schools of thought, yet it may be supported by less
weighty evidence than an opposite verdict which may be advocated by a smaller number
of scholars. If we find that evidence supporting the view of the minority weightier, then we
do not hesitate to accept that opinion, because no one, a scholar or others, of even the
highest eminence, is immune from making a mistake or giving a judgment which relies
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               219


on a misunderstanding, etc. All our scholars agree that no opinion of any person is to be
taken in preference to an authentic Hadith. Even the founders of the four schools of
thought have expressed this view very clearly. Imam Al-Shaf'ie says: "If I say something
and you find an authentic Hadith saying something different, then take the Hadith and
leave my opinion aside."

The second point is that when there is more than one verdict in relation to a particular
question, a person in my position, having to answer people's queries and explain what
people should do in order to earn Allah's pleasure, should not leave his readers in a
position of confusion. He must tell them the view that he believes to be the correct one, as
supported by the weightier evidence. If any reader decides that he wants to take the other
view, he is free to do so, but he should make his decision based on a proper
understanding of the evidence relevant to the question on hand.

Thirdly, if the leader of a Muslim community chooses a verdict which is supported by
good and weighty evidence and decides that this is the one to be implemented by the
courts of law, he must be obeyed provided that he is only acting in the best interests of
the community.

Those who consider that a divorce pronounced three times in succession, or in one
session, or written down on the same piece of paper counts as three divorces rely on a
ruling by Umar ibn Al-Khattab who, as a ruler of the Islamic state, enforced that piece of
regulation. He justified it by saying: "People have precipitated something in which they
have been given relief, it may be appropriate to enforce what they have precipitated." So
he enforced it. It is clear from this statement that Umar meant this as a punishment
befitting the misbehavior of people who precipitate the irrevocability of divorce by
divorcing their wives three times in succession. In other words, he was saying that
"People want that irrevocability to take place immediately, then let them have it." The
companions of the Prophet who were alive at that time accepted Umar's view, because
they felt that the punishment was appropriate. Later scholars have taken this as a
unanimous verdict by the companions of the Prophet and include it in their books as the
appropriate ruling. The fact that it was merely a punishment is the acknowledgment
implied in Umar's own statement that people have already been granted a relief, but they
still precipitate the ultimate result. It is only appropriate to ask what that relief is. The
answer is contained in the authentic Hadith included in this report by Abdullah ibn
Abbas: Rukanah ibn Abdyazid divorced his wife three times in the same place, and then
he was full of grief of having done so. Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, asked him:
"How did you divorce her?" Rukanah said: "I have divorced her thrice." The Prophet asked
him: "In one session?" He answered: "Yes." The Prophet said: "That is one divorce, and
you may return to her if you wish." He revoked the divorce and remarried her." This
Hadith tells us that the Prophet himself gave the ruling that a divorce pronounced three
times in a succession, or in one place counts only as one divorce. It is well known that a
remarriage between a divorced couple can take place if the divorce is taking effect for the
first or second time. Indeed, this was the ruling enforced by the Prophet throughout his
life, and also enforced throughout the reign of Abu-Bakr and the early period of the reign
of Umar. All companions of the Prophet who were alive in that period were unanimous in
their acceptance of such a divorce as a single divorce.

This ruling, as I have mentioned earlier, is one adopted by a number of renowned
scholars, including Imam Ibn Taimiyah and Imam Ibn Al Qayyum. Earlier in this
century, when the family law in several countries was enacted, scholars who were
entrusted with the task of formulating the Islamic teachings in a well coded family law
chose this ruling as the correct one and incorporated in that family law. It was then
endorsed by the ruler. As such, it takes a much stronger effect.
220                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


From a totally different point of view, it is well known that in Islam, when a person says
to his wife that she is divorced, intending a termination of his marriage to her, she begins
the procedure of divorce [and her waiting period] immediately. She is, technically
speaking, a divorcee, but she is observing a waiting period. When he says the same thing
to her a second time, whether immediately or a short while afterwards, his statement is
no more than an idle talk because she is no longer his wife.

How is it possible to divorce a woman who is not one's wife? That is certainly impossible
and, therefore, the second and any subsequent utterances of the word of divorce have no
significance whatsoever.


• Divorce: When the US Laws are contrary to Islamic laws
My daughter‘s husband wants to divorce her after three years of
marriage. There are strong indications that he intended right from
the beginning that he would use this marriage in order to secure
certain benefits under US laws where my daughter is a national.
Although he actually divorced her verbally on the phone, he wants
a legal divorce because it would benefit him. However, he is trying
to get her to forgo what she may claim from him under US law, and
he says that this is not lawful in Islam. May I ask whether she may
claim what the law of the country gives her. Her circumstances
make it necessary for her to get all the benefits she can. May I
mention in particular that he actually forced her to forgo her
$5000 dower and paid nothing of it. We do not want to get from
him anything that Islam would consider unlawful. Please advise.
I cannot make a judgment on all aspects of this case without having the man‘s point of
view. However, I will give you an opinion based on the details that you have given me.
Assuming that these details are all true, as they appear to be, then I think you should
not give in to his demands.

You will not be doing anything against Islam if you do so. Let me first of all assure you
that if your daughter gets a judgment in an American court which gives her any amount
of money in marriage settlement, then what she receives is perfectly lawful for her to
take. There is a rule in Islam which says that ―a contract is binding to the parties
thereof.‖ This applies unless the contract violates any particular Islamic principle,
making lawful what is forbidden or forbidding what is lawful. That man entered into a
marriage contract with your daughter on the basis of American law, because he wanted
the benefits that law gives him as a result. So he accepted the American law as binding
on him. It is binding now when he wants to divorce her for his own convenience. Another
rule of Islamic law says: ―Gain goes hand in hand with responsibility.‖ The man cannot
get away with having the gains that he may claim without fulfilling his responsibility.

Another reason which should make you insist on making him pay for his attitude is that
to him marriage is simply a device to serve his interests. It is not a relationship between
two human beings which creates rights and commitments. When he no longer has any
use for his wife, he throws her away without any twinge of conscience. Where is his
respect for his wife‘s and personal integrity?
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                221


These are of little concern to him. He should be made to realize that the honor of Muslim
women is not something to be trifled with. Let him pay whatever the law of the country
says. If it hurts him, so be it. She should stick to all her rights under the Islamic and
American laws combined.

• Divorce: Whimsical divorce
May I put to you the case of a husband who was sitting on his desk
with pen and paper, writing all sorts of nonsense. Following a
sudden whim, he wrote on a piece of paper, "I divorce so and so
(writing the name of his wife) three times." He went away, leaving
the paper on the table. His wife entered the room and read the
paper and immediately started crying. She informed her parents
who immediately came and took her away with them. The matter
still remains unsettled. Scholars in the local area give
contradictory views. It should be added here that the husband had
no intention whatsoever of divorcing his wife. I will be grateful for
your comments.
I have often said that Islam views marriage very very seriously. In fact, the seriousness
with which Islam views this matter cannot be over exaggerated. Abu Hurairah quotes the
Prophet as saying: "Three matters are taken seriously whether they are said in earnest or
in jest: marriage, divorce and revoking a divorce." (related by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Ibn
Majah, Al-Tirmithi and Al-Hakim) The point is that these matters cannot be trifled with. It
is not possible for a person to go through a marriage contract, then to claim afterward the
he is joking. That is totally unacceptable. Similarly, if he divorces his wife, he cannot
protest that he has meant that in jest. Again if he has divorced his wife and she is still in
her waiting period and he tells her that he has revoked the divorce, as he is entitled to do
without a fresh marriage contract, then he cannot go back and say that he had said it in
jest. These are matters that entail rights and duties. Therefore, they cannot be taken
lightly. For this reason, the overwhelming majority of scholars agree that a divorce said in
jest is valid and takes affect. The same applies to marriage and to revoking a divorce.

Effecting a divorce in writing is permissible, provided that the writer intends divorce. If he
writes that without intending divorce then the divorce does not take effect because what
is written does not necessarily mean what is intended. A person may write something on
a piece of paper which may have no relevance to what is in his mind. He may be writing
only to try a new pen or to improve his handwriting, or he may write the word of divorce
in order to upset his wife, or for any other reason.

If a man writes the word of divorce intending something totally different, such as
improving handwriting, then divorce does not take place. If his intention is to upset his
wife, then, according to Imam Ahmad, the divorce takes effect.

If we consider the particular case cited by our reader, it is clear that the man has acted
on a sudden whim. Most probably, that whim was to upset his wife. We accept as correct
his statement that he had no intention whatsoever of actually divorcing her. Nevertheless,
his action indicates that he wanted her to see the paper, realizing that she would be
upset, as indeed has happened. That is the only explanation for his writing these words,
leaving the paper on the desk and going out.
222                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                     Our Dialogue


Let me say to this man that his joke or his whim is highly objectionable. It is done in bad
taste. As a Muslim, he should know better than that. He knows what effect the thought of
divorce has on a woman. Why should he give his life's partner an impression that their
partnership is over. If the matter is only a whim and there is nothing to make his wife
expect that he may divorce her, then the poor woman must have had the shock of her life
when she read that piece of paper. He obviously did not consider all the possibilities
when he played his joke. He is an obvious case of a divorce made in jest. I can only give
his the verdict of Imam Ahmad who says that this divorce takes effect. It is true that a
few scholars have a different view, but we are here applying the Hadith which we have
already quoted that divorce made in jest actually takes effect.

Perhaps it is useful to mention here that the Prophet was once told by one of his
companions that he had divorced his wife a hundred times. The Prophet went up on the
pulpit and spoke to his companions. He was very angry. He said to them: "Do you take
Allah's book jokingly when I am still alive among you?" That comment by the Prophet
certainly applies to every case of divorce made in jest.

If the man has written on piece of paper "I divorce - three times" as our reader has
quoted, then this counts as a single divorce. Many scholars count it as a three-time
divorce. However, the weightier opinion is that it still counts as a single divorce.

I have explained on numerous occasions that a single divorce is revocable within the
waiting period, without the need for either a fresh marriage contract or a new dower. If
the waiting period has lapsed, then a marriage between the divorcees is possible with a
new marriage contract and a new dower.

Perhaps the man whose case has been explained to us wishes to go back on his divorce
and to tell her that he wants her as his wife again. If she agrees, he may marry her again,
giving her a new dower. She may wish to exact something more from him, for giving her
such pain, by asking larger dower. If he agrees to that, it is payable to her and he has no
authority to claim back any part of it, unless she gives it to him willingly. A Muslim
woman has complete authority and sole discretion over what to do with her dower.

[Added: Allah in His wisdom has directed in the Qur'an that the wife should remain in
her (husband's) house during the waiting period. Had her parents not taken her back
hastily, the situation as described above may not have arisen at all and a
reconciliation/retraction of the situation would have been much simpler. Indeed, Allah is
Wise and Knows all.]


• Divorce: Wife divorcing her husband and a precondition
1. I married a girl in my home town about two years ago. The
marriage took place only a couple of days before I left to resume my
work here [in the Kingdom]. After the marriage was officially made,
I stayed with my wife for a very short period in her family home,
because I had no home of my own. I wrote to her father several
times but I did not write to her, expecting that she should be the
first to write. However, I spoke to her a few times over the phone.
Recently, I received a letter from her in which she said that she is
seeking a divorce, citing what I have mentioned about my lack of
writing and the fact that I did not send her any money as her
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                              223


reasons for the divorce. She wrote the word of divorce three times
in her letter and mentioned that she was sending copies to the
Marriage Registry Office, Local Administration Office and my local
guardian. I am rather confused about what steps should I take.
Please advise.
2. It is known and accepted that the authority to divorce is vested
only in man. As a Muslim I recognize that Allah has chosen this
and I submit. I also understand that there is the proviso of 'Khula'
for women in Islam. Is there any situation where a woman may
divorce her husband? I would be grateful for your advice.
1. This is the most strange of the stories I have heard since I started editing this column
nearly 14 years ago. First a man gets married but the arrangement is that his wife will
stay with her family for some time. He goes back and refuses to write to her because he
expects her to write first. Then when a letter arrives, the woman takes the law of divorce
into her own hands and dismisses him as a divorcee. That is very strange indeed.

May I ask how seriously you looked at this marriage? I do not wish to be too hard on you,
because you did not have anything more than the marriage contract followed by a short
visit to your wife. It is not as if you stayed together for a month when the marriage
became a reality in your life which would have given you memories to cherish in your
stay abroad. Perhaps this is nobody's fault, but then you have not taken any steps to
start on that road which leads to the establishment of kindness and compassion between
married couples. You chose to continue to be worlds apart, not merely physically, but
also in thoughts and concerns. You established a rule for yourself that you would not
write to her unless she wrote first.

May I ask why? Is it male chauvinism? It is in fact your duty to take the initiative and
lead your wife into her new life as a married woman. When a woman is married she
moves into her husband's home. So he is duty-bound to make the transition easier for
her. In your case this was delayed, so you should have taken even greater interest in
order to make the change that affected both your lives a reality, at least in thoughts and
feelings. Instead you were waiting for her to write to you. Since she did not, you did not
either. How was she to feel that you cared for her? How would she imagine her life with
you would be like?

I suppose that any woman in her place would have serious misgivings about what the
future would be like when she will have moved into your home. If her impression of you,
as a result of this, was one of a hard, un-budging and determined character who does
not allow much room in his life for the tender feelings of love and compassion, she may
have her reasons for that. If she insisted on her parents that she would like to be
divorced or that she would not be forced into putting her marriage into effect, they would
have a very difficult time trying to convince her otherwise, simply because, by your own
admission, you have not given them any grounds for defending you. Besides, a husband
should look after his wife, even when he leaves her with her parents. It is true that you
told them to open a bank account for her so that you could send her some money, but no
actual transfer had taken place. I do not like to blame you for this, but it remains a fact
which would not work in your favor. Had you sent her on the odd occasion some money,
or some gifts over the last two years, you would have demonstrated that you cared for
her. Again there is a failing on this count.
224                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


But all this does not deal with the problem that has now arisen as a result of her letter.
What amazes me is that basic facts about how marriage is made and terminated under
Islamic law are ignored. People tend to approach such serious matters too casually,
particularly divorce. Your wife sends you a letter saying that she has divorced you and
does exactly like a man who wants to divorce his wife without reference to the rules which
apply to cases of divorce and how it should be approached. What is more, she wants to
send copies of this to the government departments concerned with cases of marriage and
divorce. In other words, she wants her lack of knowledge to be known to them all.

What she has called a divorce is of no value or consequence whatsoever. A woman may
not approach divorce in that manner under Islamic law. She does not have the
jurisdiction to initiate divorce in this way. She may start proceeding for divorce or Khula'
in a court of Islamic or civil law, but to do the action of divorce herself is not open to her.
It is like a man who never learned how to drive a car applying for participation in the
world motor racing championship. His application would not be looked at the
championship organizing committee.

This divorce is as valid as one which is pronounced by someone who is unmarried.
Suppose your brother does not like your wife, so he tells her: "You are divorced." Would
his words have any significance? Your wife's letter is as ridiculous as that. So you need
not have any worry about the status of your marriage yet.

If your wife really intends to have the marriage terminated, she has to do something quite
different. She should apply to a court of law, preferably Islamic law if that is available in
your country, requesting the nullification or termination of her marriage. I have no doubt
that a court of Islamic law would grant her request when she states the reasons for her
application as you yourself have explained them.

Alternatively, she should ask you to divorce her. If the two of you come to an agreement
on that, the matter could be resolved and divorce given amicably. If she does not follow
either one of these routes, then she remains married to you.

Having said that, let me say a word of advice to you. When a Muslim marries, he commits
himself to the fulfillment of certain duties toward his wife. In your case, these have not
been done. So it is better that you attend to them without any further delay. You may
start by writing her a letter saying that you now realize that you were wrong in omitting
to write to her, and that you are working toward settling together soon. You should add
that you understand her frustration, but you will now work on bringing about a closer
relationship between the two of you. She may be happy to see such a change in you, and
perhaps the relationship between the two of you will soon be on the mend.

2. Allah has given the right of divorce to the man in any marriage because it is he who
bears all the financial commitments which result from this relationship. He has to pay a
dowry to his wife and provide a home for both of them and their children. He has also to
support his wife financially, even if she is rich. When a man divorces his wife, he again
takes upon himself certain financial commitments. Apart from the payment of her dowry
or its balance, if any, he pays her maintenance during her waiting period and gives her a
present.

Moreover, when a man who has divorced his wife wishes to marry another woman, he
has to pay similar expenses which make the whole idea of divorce and marriage to
another woman a very costly affair. Any man would think twice before going through this
process because he realizes that it constitutes a heavy burden on him.
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               225


A woman does not pay any of these expenses. If she has an income and she shares with
her husband the expenses of their married life, it must be known to both of them that
she has no obligation to make such a contribution. She does it voluntarily because the
benefit goes to her own family. The distribution of financial responsibilities is the main
reason for the fact that Islam gives the right to divorce to the man.

This right may, however, be exercised by the wife only if it has been agreed between her
and her husband that he relinquishes his right to her. In other words, an express
agreement must be entered between them which gives the wife the right to divorce if she
wants to do so. If this condition is not stipulated, then the woman cannot divorce her
husband either verbally or in writing, in his presence or in his absence.

• Dogs — using guard dogs
In order to minimize pilferage and theft in my small farm in my
country, I have domesticated a couple of dogs which we keep away
from home. Some of my friends, however, have criticized me. They
say that as Muslims we cannot have dogs near to us. I am worried
that their criticism may be true and that I may have committed a
mistake. I would be grateful for your clarification.
Scholars differ as to whether a dog is impure or not. We have an authentic Hadith which
tells us to wash a utensil, which a dog uses, seven times; one of them with dust and
water. Scholars who maintain that dog is not impure argue that the Hadith does not
mention any impurities. It simply orders us to wash the traces of a dog in a certain way.
Some scholars who take the opposite view maintain that this ruling is the same which is
required to remove the impurity of pigs. As such, the dog must be classified in the same
grade with regard to impurity as the pig which is unanimously agreed to be impure.
Whichever view one wishes to adopt - and we can adopt a scholar's view only on the basis
of the evidence supporting it - we would not like to be too close to dogs so that we do not
need to have our clothes and other objects washed in that difficult way which the Hadith
mentions.

There are, however, situations where the dog can be of immense use. One such situation
is that which you mention in your letter. All scholars agree that it is permissible to use a
guard dog in order to protect one's family and property. Again, we can use a dog for
hunting without feeling at all uneasy about that.

If one employs a dog for such purposes, one should treat it well, give it food and be kind
to it. Islam teaches us to treat our animals in a kind way. When the Prophet saw a weak
and thin camel, he said to his companions and to Muslims in all generations: "Fear Allah
in your treatment of your animals." A Hadith which explains the proper attitude a Muslim
should have toward animals is that which tells the story of a man walking in the desert
and getting very thirsty. He was so thirsty that he felt he was sure to die unless he soon
found some water to drink. Suddenly he saw a well right in front of him. Having nothing
with which to draw from the well, he went down himself and drank his full. When he
came out to the top, he found a dog gasping because of thirst. He said to himself: This
dog must be as thirsty as I was a few minutes ago. He went down again and filled his
shoe with water and brought it up and put it in front of the dog. Allah forgave him all his
sins for his kind act to that dog. When the Prophet told this Hadith to his companions
they wondered whether one would get reward for kindness to animals. The Prophet said:
"You have a reward for any kindness you do to any living creature."
226                         SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


To sum up, there is nothing wrong with your employment of dogs to guard your farm
against intruders who want to steal your crops. You should be kind to those dogs and try
as far as possible to keep them away from yourself and your clothes. It is not necessary
for one who has a guard dog or a dog for hunting to treat his dog in the same way as
Western people treat their pets.

• Donations for building mosques
The mosque in our locality is being rebuilt, but much of the money
is received as donations from rich people who acquired their wealth
through cheating the government and bribery. What is the Islamic
point of view in this matter? Can one stay away from such a
mosque and pray at home on grounds that it is built with money
earned through non-Islamic ways? Can donations from non-
Muslims be used in the construction of a mosque?
What worries me in your question is the sweeping remark that rich people have acquired
their wealth through unlawful means. It is not beyond a highly God-fearing man who has
a good measure of business acumen to get rich through perfectly legitimate means. While
it is true that some people may not have any scruples about cheating the government or
bribing officials in order to get some unlawful advantages, we cannot apply the same
standards to everybody in a sweeping statement which condemns everyone that gets rich.
Among the companions of the Prophet, there were people who managed to become very
wealthy and none of them can be accused of having used unlawful means.

When the mosque is built in your locality, to abstain from offering prayer in it is wrong.
By doing so, you deprive yourself of an opportunity to congregational prayers. You will be
abandoning a duty. Allah tells us to bow down in worship with others who do likewise.
That means that congregational prayer is a duty.

The fact that some of the money received for building the mosque may have come from a
suspect source is no justification to abstain from attending it. To start with, donations
received from Christians and other non-Muslims can be used in the construction of the
mosques. That is certainly permissible. Moreover, the committee collecting donations is
not required to verify the source of every donation made. What you have to remember is
that giving a donation is a separate transaction. The money itself is not contaminated by
the process it is earned. Therefore, if I sell a certain item of merchandise to a person who
pays the price with money he had stolen or had received as bribery, my earning is
perfectly legitimate because I am not responsible to verify his source of income. The same
applies to the fund-raising committee for building the mosque. You may say that these
people are known to accept or take bribery or whatever, but Islam does not conduct its
dealings with individuals or communities on the basis of hearsay.

• Dower: Death of spouse
Could you please explain what happens to the dower if it remains
unpaid until the husband dies. In my home country, it is
customary that the woman declares to the deceased husband at
the time when his body is taken for burial that she forgives him
and forfeits her dower. If a woman does not make this declaration,
relatives and friends remind her to do so. Could you also explain
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               227


what happens to the dower if the wife dies first, without the dower
being paid.
The dower is an amount of money, which may be in cash or kind or some other benefit,
which is payable to the wife by the husband at the time when they are married, i.e. when
the marriage contract is made. It may be deferred until a later date or deferred
indefinitely, but it remains payable if the wife demands it at any time. When it is paid, it
becomes the property of the woman and she has sole discretion on how she wants to
spend it. She may save, invest or spend it without interference by her husband, father or
indeed anyone else. As you realize she is a complete and independent status which
enables her to own and dispense of her possessions at her own discretion. A dower is
made obligatory with an express order in the Qur'an. The relevant verse may be
translated as follows: "Give to women their marriage portions in the spirit of a gift: but if
they, of their own accord, give up to you any portion of that, then enjoy it with pleasure.
(4;4)" The phrase, "in the spirit of a gift", is significant, because it means the giving of
something willingly, of one's own accord, without expecting a return for it. The amount of
the marriage portion or dower, which the bridegroom has to give to the bride has not
been prescribed by the law. It depends entirely on the agreement of the two parties, and
may consist of anything, even a mere token. The point is that the woman should agree,
without being subjected to any pressure, to the amount offered.

If the dower is unspecified at the time of contract, it remains payable. Its amount may be
agreed upon by the two parties after marriage. If they cannot agree on an amount, the
matter may be referred to an Islamic court and the judge will order the husband to pay
an amount which is equivalent to the dower received by women in a similar social status.
The judge will take into account the dower paid to the woman's sisters, cousins or
neighbors who have similar qualities including age, education, maturity and beauty. If
the husband refrains from paying it, the judge can order enforcement in the normal
method of enforcing any judgment.

The full amount of the dower becomes payable in two cases. If the marriage is
consummated, or if either husband or wife dies before its consummation. If
consummation takes place, and the dower has not been paid, or it has been agreed to
defer it, the wife may claim it at any time, and it is payable without delay.

As it is mentioned in the Qur'anic verse quoted above, it is possible for a woman to forfeit
part or whole of the dower willingly. If she does that out of her own free will and without
any pressure by her husband or her parents or by social traditions, then the husband
may accept that gift from her and he can enjoy it as something that has been given to
him freely.

As mentioned earlier, the dower becomes payable when either man or wife dies, even
though no consummation of the marriage has taken place. It goes without saying that in
the event of the death of either spouse after the consummation of the marriage, it
becomes also payable. If the man dies first, then it is treated as a debt which he owes to
his wife. It is common knowledge that the first thing to be paid from an estate of a
deceased person is his debts.

His heirs are not to claim any portion of what he has left behind until his debts are
cleared and his will is executed, provided that the will does not exceed one third of his
property. Hence, if a man dies with a portion of the dower he had agreed with his wife,
still unpaid, that portion is to be treated as a debt. If what he has left behind is not
sufficient to pay the dower, then his children and other heirs should jointly settle it.
228                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


If the woman dies first and her dower is unpaid, in full or in part, then what remains
outstanding of it must be paid into her estate straight away. It may well be needed to
settle an outstanding debt. If the woman does not owe anybody anything, the
outstanding dower is part of the money due to her heirs. Her husband will, needless to
say, be among her heirs, but he must first pay the dower into her estate. If he cannot
pay, a set off against his share of inheritance from her may be made. To do so, her estate
may be calculated including the dower. The portion of her husband is then calculated. As
you know, a husband inherits one quarter of his wife's estate if she has any children. If
she has no children, then he inherits half of it. When his share is determined, the
amount of the dower is taken out of it and the balance is either paid into the estate or
paid to the husband, as the case may be.

The questioner raises the point of a woman forfeiting her right to her dower at the time
when her husband is about to be buried. He further says that this is customary in his
part of the world. Well, the Qur'anic verse quoted above says that if they, meaning your
wives, "Of their own accord, give up to you any part thereof, then enjoy it with pleasure."
The operative phrase here is 'of their own accord'. Any forfeiting of any part of the dower,
whether in lifetime or after his death, must be done willingly by the woman. When it is
traditional for a woman to do so, when her husband dies, then a woman may think it is
unbecoming of her not to forfeit her dower. What is important here is that a widow
should be properly informed before she makes her decision. She should be told that by
doing so, she is actually making a gift of her dower to the other heirs. Her deceased
husband does not benefit by it. It is certainly open to her to forfeit it, in the same way as
anyone to whom the deceased owes some money may forfeit his debt. If a woman thinks
that she has enough to live on, and she wants to increase the shares of her children in
the inheritance of their father, then she does well to forfeit the outstanding dower. But
she must be made aware that she is under no obligation to do so. If she does not have
enough to live on, she must be further told that she may be doing herself an injury by
forfeiting her dower. To my mind, a woman need not forfeit her dower unless she wants to
help her children and she is well-to-do, or if she knows that there is not enough in her
deceased husband's estate to pay her dower.

• Dower: Deferred payment
How much should a man pay in dower at the present time? When
and how should it be paid? What is the result of its non-payment
or delayed payment? How is a husband who refuses to pay the
dower penalized?
There is no fixed amount for a woman's dower. Normally, its amount is agreed upon by
the husband and his prospective wife's guardian. Her guardian should consult her before
consenting to the marriage. A dower may be in cash or kind and it may be the realization
of some benefit to the prospective wife. The Prophet asked one of his companions who
wanted to get married, how much he could afford in dower. When he learnt that the man
did not have any money, the Prophet asked him whether he had learnt any parts of
Qur'an. When the man answered that he knew certain surahs, the Prophet sanctioned
the marriage on the basis that the husband would teach his wife those surahs. That was
her dower.

In another incident, a man called Abu Talhah proposed to a Muslim woman. At that time
he was not a Muslim. She said to him: you are not one to be rejected, but as you are a
non-believer, a marriage between us is impossible. If you accept Islam, I will take that as
dower and will ask you nothing more. The man became a Muslim and the Prophet
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                 229


sanctioned the marriage. His companions considered that she had the best dower of all.
That is certainly true because by her marriage, she won a good man to Islam.

Normally, the dower is paid by the husband to his prospective wife before the marriage
contract is made. Its amount is specified in the contract. The payment of the whole of the
dower or any part of it may be deferred. If the dower is not paid before the marriage
contract is made, it remains a debt owed to the woman by her husband. It does not affect
the validity of the marriage. As long as the husband acknowledges his wife's right to her
dower, and is willing to pay it should she demand payment, there is nothing wrong in
delaying payment. If he defaults on payment, when a demand is made, the case may be
put to a court of Islamic law which will immediately order the man to pay. In this case it
is treated as a debt which is unpaid. Everything that applied to debts applies to unpaid
dower. When the husband dies, his wife may claim her deferred dower from his estate
and its payment is given priority since such priority is given to all debts left outstanding
by the deceased.

I realize that in certain societies the dower is considered as a formality. It is specified but
not paid and the bride is required to declare that she has forgone her right to it. Such a
practice is unacceptable from the Islamic point of view.

[Added: The fixation as dower so high that it may be quite apparent that the prospective
husband will never be able to pay such an amount, would be far from being realistic and
would thus lose its sanctity. The husband knows from day one that he never will pay the
dower. Such a position is not acceptable from the Islamic point of view. Likewise, a
meager sum of money agreed between the parties, as is done by certain communities
when they fix paltry sum of money as dower, purely as a customs, without any valid
consideration, is also unrealistic and would amount to be only a formality. This is also
unacceptable from the Islamic point of view. Dower is a serious matter. The fixation of
dower should be realistic, meaningful and acceptable to both the parties.]

• Dower: Failure to pay dower
Is it necessary to pay the dower in full to one's bride at the time of
the wedding, or can a woman waive it in full or in part? Is such a
waiver enough to free the husband from paying it? If a man has
not paid the dower to his wife and she has not waived it until she
died, should the husband pay it to her parents?
The dower is one of the conditions of a valid marriage contract. It is money payable by the
husband to his wife and it becomes her own property and she has sole discretion to
dispense with it the way she likes. The amount of the dower should be specified at the
time of the marriage. It becomes due and payable the moment the contract is made. If it
is not mentioned or agreed at the time of the contract, it remains due. The husband and
wife could agree on its amount at any time. If they do not agree, and the wife claims it, an
Islamic court will judge in her favor. It will order the payment of a dower equivalent to
what women in her social status normally receive.

Payment of the dower, or part of it, may be deferred if the two parties agree. In this case,
it becomes a debt owed by the husband to his wife which she may claim at any time. If it
remains unpaid, the husband must pay it when she dies and it becomes part of the
estate of his wife. It thus goes to her heirs according to their shares. As you know, a
husband receives one quarter of the property of his deceased wife, if she has a child. If
she dies childless, he inherits half of her property.
230                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


If she foregoes the dower in part or in full, the husband may accept that waiver without
any hesitation. This, however, must be done of the wife's free choice. She must not be
pressured into it, nor can this waiver be extracted from her in ignorance. She must be
told that it belongs to her and the waiver must be by her own free will.

• Dower: Reducing the agreed amount of dower
I recently married a relative of mine secretly without the presence
of our parents. I tried to fix a reasonable dower, but my relative
objected to it, demanding a very high dower to which I reluctantly
agreed. Is there a way to reduce the agreed amount?
If your marriage with your cousin was in the absence of her parents, then who acted as
her guardian [vakil]? It is essential for the validity of the marriage that the father or the
guardian of the woman should act for her in the marriage contract. Of course he does not
do anything to which she does not consent, but he should be the one to give that consent
when the marriage contract is made. Most scholars would consider a marriage contract
where a woman acts for herself to be invalid.

Only the Hanafi school of thought considers it to be valid because it treats it as an
ordinary contract, and women have the full authority to enter into any ordinary contract
or business transaction without reference to a husband, father or guardian.

Be that as it may, the immediate question you ask is about the possibility of reducing the
agreed amount of dower. I am afraid that the only way to do that is to get your wife to
forego part or all of that dower. You are not allowed to pressure her in any way to do so.

She has to give her consent freely. That is because the dower is a marriage apportion to
which the woman is entitled to have in return for becoming lawful to her husband. She is
free to determine that portion, and once it is agreed, it becomes payable. You may not
deny her what you have agreed to pay. Since she has agreed to leave that unpaid, it
seems to me she is only acting reasonably, to ensure that she would be in a comfortable
position should anything go wrong with her marriage.

If so, then she is sensible, and you should make sure of looking after her properly. While
this is so, then you need not worry about having to pay the dower immediately. A
marriage contract may be made at any time, except when either party is in the state of
Ihraam, or consecration during Umrah and pilgrimage.

• Dower: What dower to pay?
Could you please let me know what is the actual amount of dower,
or mahr, prescribed by Islam.
This question has been coming up time after time. What I find strange about it is the
request for an exact figure. Islam does not prescribe a particular amount which must be
paid as a dower, or mahr, to be given by the prospective husband to his prospective wife
at the time when their marriage contract is made. In establishing the right of the wife to
have complete say in what she may do with her dower, Allah mentions in the Qur'an

      " And if you give any of them (i.e. your women) a large amount, you may not take
      anything out of it.    Would you take it when it is an absolute injustice and a
      clear sin? "
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               231


Only if the wife willingly and with clear mind and free choice forgo part of her dower to
her husband, he may take it. The above quoted verse, which is No. 20 in Surah 4, makes
it clear that the dower may be a very large amount. In this connection, it is useful to
quote the famous report that Umar, the second caliph, wanted dowers to be moderate, he
advised people while he was addressing them, before a Friday prayer not to let dowers
exceed what the Prophet paid to his wives. A woman in the mosque objected to him and
quoted this verse. The caliph acknowledged that the woman was right and he was wrong.
[Added: This follows, therefore, that it is proper for women to attend prayers in mosques.]

Having said that, I should perhaps remind you of the Hadith which states that the best
women are the fairest looking and cheapest in dower. This Hadith is taken as an
encouragement to make dowers small so that they do not represent an impediment to
marriage. It is often the case that young men have to delay marriage in order to raise
funds to meet the expenses of establishing a new home. When dowers are cheap, the task
is made that much easier. If they are expensive, marriage maybe delayed. This is bound
to lead to results which Islam does not welcome. In short, a dower may be as little as one
riyal, or even less, provided the bride willingly accepts that. On the other hand, it may be
any amount the two parties agree between them. The dower must be of benefit to the
woman and this benefit may be a moral, rather than material one. One of the
companions of the Prophet was married in return for teaching his wife the surahs of the
Qur'an he had learned. This is an educational benefit which is certainly valuable. No
money was paid. That represented the dower, and the Prophet approved that.

• Dowry gifts to brides and their inheritance
In our part of the world, the agricultural land, which is left behind
by the deceased, is distributed to his heirs automatically in the
revenue records, but division of residential property and other
movables is left to the heirs themselves. On the other hand,
whether a prospective bridegroom makes a demand or not, it has
become customary to pay one's daughter or sister a dowry, which
is normally more than one can afford easily. The girl is told that
she will not claim anything out of the residential property or
movables on the death of her father, as she has already been given
a dowry beyond her fair share of the estate. Most, if not all, girls
consent to this. Even the girls' parents-in-law do not urge her to
claim a share of her father's inheritance. How far does this practice
fit with Islamic teachings?
There are two important points which need to be clarified with regard to this question:
the first concerns the gift made by a father to his daughter at the time when she gets
married and the second is her share of her father's inheritance and what happens to it.
Two other points are perhaps secondary to this particular question, although they are
major ones in their own right. These concern the linkage between dowry and inheritance,
and the right of in-laws to a married woman's property. I will attempt to discuss the first
two points and refer to the others briefly.

If a father decides to give one of his children a gift, he may do so. Once the son or
daughter who has been given such a gift takes possession of it, it becomes his or hers,
which means that it is no longer the property of the parent making the gift. However, a
father, or indeed a parent, is required by Islam to maintain justice between his children. I
232                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


have often quoted the Hadith of An-Nu'man ibn Basheer whose father came to the
Prophet with him and said: "I would like you, Messenger of Allah, to witness the fact that
I have given a slave as a gift to this child of mine." The Prophet asked him whether he has
made a similar gift to every one of his children. When the father answered in the negative,
the Prophet told him to seek some other witness for this transaction. He also said: "I do
not witness injustice."

The fact that the Prophet called this type of action an injustice makes it forbidden, for all
injustice is forbidden in Islam, even when it is a parent's injustice to his own children.
Scholars, however, have pointed out that if there is a special case with regard to a
particular child, then a gift to that child may be in order. They maintain in this
connection the case of a child who is blind or has some other sort of handicap or a
chronic illness which makes his situation rather difficult, he or she may be given a gift to
ensure a more comfortable life for him or her.

In the case of a parent making gifts to his children, many scholars, including the imams
Abu Hanifah, Malik and El-Shaf'ie prefer that all children, male or female, be given
exactly the same. This is also reported to be the opinion of Ibn Abbas, the Prophet's
cousin and companion who was one of the best learned scholars. However, Imam Ahmad
ibn Hanbal prefers that such gifts be made in accordance with the children's share of
inheritance. That means that a son is given twice as much as a daughter. [When the aim
is to avoid cracks amongst heirs in claims for inheritance, the opinions of Abu-Nu'man
ibn Basheer and the opinion of Ibn Abbas may be preferred.]

It is customary in many societies that parents give their children gifts when they get
married. That applies to both sons and daughters. It is very often the case that a son may
not have enough money to cover the expenses of his marriage. His parents often help him
with much of what he needs. Similarly, when their daughter is about to be married,
parents are ready with their help or their gifts. Such gifts must be looked upon as normal
gifts. While parents need not give every one of their children a gift similar to that of the
first one to get married, at the time of that marriage, they should be clear in their minds
that they will do the same toward their other children when they marry.

As for inheritance, this becomes due when a person dies. Every one has heirs, according
to his own situation and those of his immediate relatives who survive him. First degree
heirs are the deceased's parents, children and spouse. Others may also be entitled to
certain shares, according to particular circumstances. Heirs inherit by right. Their shares
are apportioned by Allah. Perhaps it is useful to remember at this point that, from the
Islamic point of view, we do not own our money or property. Whatever we possess belongs
to Allah; we are only put in charge of it. That charge reverts to Allah on our death. He
distributes it to our heirs the way He likes. He has only allowed us discretion to leave by
will an amount of our property not exceeding one third of its total. We may leave that to
the poor or to relatives who are not among our heirs. It is not permissible to leave by will
anything to any of our natural heirs.

Suppose that a father has made certain gifts to some of his children, he cannot make a
will in favor of the others in order to give them similar gifts. The reason is what I have
just explained, that a person no longer owns anything of his property when he dies. He
has no say over its distribution. The heirs have a title to their shares, as apportioned to
them by Allah. When a man dies, his estate is not divided among his heirs if his widow is
pregnant until she has delivered. This is due to the fact that what she delivers is bound
to affect the shares of some, if not all of the other heirs. She may give birth to a son, a
daughter, twins or triplets. In each case, the division of the estate will differ.
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                                233


What worries me in the system you have outlined is the link which is made between the
gifts given to a girl at her marriage and her share of the inheritance. That link is
unacceptable. Let us not forget that if the man's other children will not get similar gifts to
what his daughter gets at the time of her marriage, the action itself is described by the
Prophet as injustice. Inheritance is something that Allah has decreed. How can the two
be linked?

You have not explained what happens if a man has three daughters and one or two sons,
or more children than that. Suppose that only two of the daughters get married during
the lifetime of their father, will the third daughter have a share of the inheritance? You
say that the authorities automatically divide the land he leaves behind among his heirs.
Do they do that in accordance with the shares of inheritance assigned by Allah? Do they
give one eighth of the land to the widow? Are the people in charge of the revenue records
competent enough to determine who are the deceased's heirs and what share each of
them receives? Will that girl, who has not been married, receive any share of it? You may
say that her brothers will see to her marriage and provide a similar gift for her? What if
she does not get married at all? It seems to me that the system, as it is, is simply
designed to concentrate wealth in the hands of male children. Women are deprived of
their rightful shares of inheritance. It is needless to say that this cannot be accepted by
Islam at all.

May I also say briefly that the dowry system, which means that a bride receives from her
father or her brothers gifts, in gold or real property or cash in an amount acceptable to
her husband and his family, is different from the dower which Islam makes a condition of
marriage. This dower is paid by the husband to his wife at the time when the marriage
contract is made. It becomes her own money and she is fully entitled to dispense with it
the way she likes.

You say that in return for her dowry, which often places much hardship on her father
and his family, her parents-in-law do not bring any pressure to bear on her to claim a
share of inheritance in her deceased father's estate. May I ask, what has her parents-in
law got to do with her inheritance? Inheritance is one legitimate way of ownership. When
a woman inherits something it becomes her own property. In Islam, a woman is fully
entitled to manage, administer, invest or dispense with her property the way she likes,
without any interference from her father or husband. She is fully qualified to make any
transactions she wants. If she inherits something it does not become the property of her
husband or his family. It remains her [property].

• Dress code: Western dresses and indecent dresses
Some people who are engaged in Islamic propagation work surest
that Islam forbids wearing Western-type clothes. Please comment.
Those people who speak about the prohibition of certain types of clothes should know
better. What is forbidden to wear is any garment, which does not cover the ―awrah,‖
which is the part of the body that must not be revealed before any person. When those
people say that a suit or time and shirt are forbidden to wear they forget that these are
not worn by Westerners only. Muslims wear them in many countries where they are
considered ordinary dress. How can these be forbidden?

Having said that, I would like to add that Islam has not made any special requirements
with regard to clothes, either for men or women. What it requires is that the awrah must
be covered, and that Muslim women should wear wide garments that are not eye-
catching, too tight or transparent. These clothes should cover the whole of a woman‘s
234                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                      Our Dialogue


body with the exception of their faces and hands. It also makes it clear that silk garments
are forbidden to wear by men. But the style of clothes is not a question to which Islam
attaches any importance. When Islam moved into new areas, its ethnic people who
adopted Islam continued to wear the types of clothes they used to wear previously. No
one ever suggested that they should wear what the Arabs used to wear.

• Drinking what is leftover by another person
Some scholars are of the opinion that it is sunnah to drink what is
left over by another person in his glass. How could this be
explained in the light of the fact that certain diseases can be
transmitted this way?
It is certainly not a sunnah to drink what someone else has left over in his glass. When
we say that it is a sunnah, it means that Islam recommends it. To have such a
recommendation, we need to have some sort of instructions by the Prophet. There is none
in this particular case.

But we have to understand that in such a situation it is not sufficient that the Prophet
had shared the same glass or cup with other people. In order to make sure that we know
what he has recommended, he would have followed that with a verbal statement of some
sort. The absence of any, means that it is not a sunnah.

It is true that we have some reports which tell us that the Prophet was offered some drink
when there were so many people. There was little amount of that drink in the container.
The Prophet drank from it and passed it over to the person sitting next to him. He drank
his fill and passed it over again. The same was repeated over and over again until
everyone drank as much as he wanted. But that was a special case and one of many
incidents in the life of the Prophet which Allah facilitated in order to reassure those early
Muslims that they were following the true religion taught by the Messenger of Allah who
always spoke the truth.

As you say, certain diseases could be transmitted through such a practice, which means,
by necessity, that it could not be recommended by Islam.

• Durood: Best form of —
What is the best form of blessing the Prophet. How many times
should it be said every day? What do you think of the book called
Dala'il Al-Khairat, a collection of "Duroods".
I have on several occasions warned against using Dala'il Al-Khairat because it includes
phrases and things that are totally unacceptable from the Islamic point of view. I repeat
my advice to all not to use this book on any occasion.

To bless the Prophet or, to use the Islamic term, to ask Allah to grant him peace and
blessings, is required of a Muslim. There is no minimum or maximum of times which
should be met. It is perfectly sufficient to say, "Salla Allahu alayhi wa aalehee wa sallam",
when his name is mentioned. It is, on the other hand, also appropriate to remind oneself
that the Prophet has delivered his message intact and given us good counsel and showed
us the way to earn Allah's pleasure. Moreover, the form which we use in the last part of
our regular prayer requesting Allah to grant peace and blessings to the Prophet and his
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               235


household as he did to Ibrahim and his household is known to be the best form in this
regard. Using it outside prayer is perfectly appropriate.

• Durood: Standing up?
In our part of the world, people argue a great deal whether it is
better to be standing up or seated when we pray Allah to grant
peace and blessings to Prophet Muhammad. Which position is the
correct one?
It is of little consequence whether you are standing up or seated when you make such a
prayer. Allah commands us to remember and glorify Him when we are standing up,
seated or lying down. It is perfectly acceptable to read the Qur'an in any of these
positions. Therefore, it is acceptable to request Allah to grant his blessings to the Prophet
in any position [so long as the request is addressed to Allah only]. Moreover, why should
this matter be the subject of argument among Muslims? And why do they allow it to
divide them the way you describe? [ Why should Muslims prefer one position to the
other? Why should Muslims change their position especially when requesting Allah to
grant his blessings to the Prophet; shifting from the position they are in? When all
positions are equally acceptable, the change or preference of one position over the other
is something alien and that would make it unacceptable.]

All of us love the Prophet and know that Allah wants us to follow his example. Indeed,
that is the proper demonstration of loving him. We do not demonstrate our love for him
by quarreling over a matter of detail, but we do show our love by following his guidance.


• Dutifulness: Definition of an un-dutiful child
What is the definition of an un-dutiful son? Can a father claim the
money which his son earns. Can he take it away without his son's
consent?
Islam considers it a grave sin for a son or a daughter to mistreat their parents. This is
something well known in Muslim societies, where children are taught that to be dutiful to
their parents is one important way which they cannot do without to earn Allah's pleasure
and to be admitted into heaven in the Hereafter.

Dutiful can be divided into two main aspects: Kind treatment and financial support. A
son is supposed to show respect to his father and mother, in public and private and in all
situations. He should speak to them kindly, never raise his voice in anger when he
speaks to them and indeed never say the slightest word which expresses disgust or
contempt or lack of appreciation. If he goes out with his father, he must never take
precedence over him, regardless of their respective social positions. He must take care to
show him maximum respect in public. He should be civil to his father's friends and must
be kind to his relatives with whom he has no connection except through his parents. We
can perhaps summarize that by saying that if the father does not hesitate to accompany
his son on his business or social activity on account of his son's treatment, then the son
is doing right.

If one's parents are in need of financial support, then it is obligatory on the part of their
children to give them support. In an Islamic state, any judge, or the ruler, can order a
son to pay maintenance to his parents. What he should pay is according to his means. If
he considers his parents part of his own family and provides for them in the same way as
236                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                       Our Dialogue


he provides for himself, his wife and his own children, then he has discharged his duties
by them. If he gives them more, it is better for him because that is a sure way to earn
reward from Allah. If a son's support is slow in coming, then it is permissible for his
father or mother to take of his own money, without his consent, in order to cover their
reasonable expenses. They must not take more than what they need in a fair manner. For
example, if one's mother is ill and her son does not take her to a doctor or buy her the
medicine she needs when he is able to do so, then she or his father can take the money
needed for medical consultation and to buy the prescribed medicine, even if their son
objects, provided that they have no money of their own. If a son discharges his duties
toward his parents willingly, providing such reasonable financial support for them, then
they cannot take away his money without his consent. If he refuses them that, then he is
not un-dutiful.

For example, if a father who has no money of his own feels that he needs to invite some of
his friends to dinner because he had been invited earlier and the extra expense this
represents does not overburden his son, then the son should cover that expense because
it is considered socially acceptable and reasonable. If, on the other hand, the son is of
limited means and the extra expense has an adverse effect on the family finances for that
week, then he is not un-dutiful if he refuses to pay the money necessary for the
invitation. He should, however, reason with his father kindly, explaining the situation
and assuring his father that in different circumstances he would have provided the
necessary money most willingly. In this way, the father would not feel aggrieved and the
son would not have to carry an extra burden.

• Dutifulness: How dutiful can you be?
My parents were very poor; they struggled hard to finance my
education. My father's situation now is rather comfortable with a
reasonable pension and some income from a piece of land. When I
started my job here, I paid off all my father's debt. He, however,
continues to waste his money on gambling, lottery tickets and
other forbidden things. My mother also overspends, often buying
unnecessary things. This always leads to their falling in debt. Am I
required to pay off their never-ending debts? If I help them, will I
be accountable for using money to pay for forbidden purposes?
You are to be congratulated on your dutiful attitude. Your worry about the present
situation is also understandable. You do not wish to be party to an action which you
know to be forbidden. On the other hand, you do not wish to see your parents
committing things for which they will be accountable to Allah. On the other hand, you
have your own responsibilities to look after your wife and children. What you have to do
in this situation is to try to strike the right balance. In order to achieve that, you have to
be very clear in your mind about a few very important elements.

The way Allah has spoken about being dutiful to one's parents makes this duty so
important that only when parents ask their children to deny Allah or to associate
partners with him that they must not be obeyed. Furthermore, no one may be obeyed in
what constitutes disobedience to Allah. But even in such a case when a parent is a
confirmed disbeliever, kindness to him is urged by Allah. Allah says in the Qur'an:

      "If they (your parents) endeavor to make you associate with Me as partners,
      things which your mind cannot accept as divine, do not obey them; but even
    Our Dialogue              SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               237


    then bear them company in this world with kindness, and follow the path of
    those who turn towards Me" (31:15).

Asma' bint Abu-Bakr, the Prophet's sister-in-law, reports: "My mother came to visit me
during the lifetime of Allah's messenger when she was still a polytheist. I went to the
Prophet and asked him: My mother has come to visit me and she wants some help.
Should I be kind to her? The Prophet said: Yes, be kind to your mother" (related by Al-
Bukhari and Muslim).

Your own needs and commitments have to be given due priority. A person in your
position who has a wife and children must look after them properly. He must not sacrifice
their interests in order to bail off a father who wastes his money on gambling. A bachelor
who is in need of marriage should continue to save some money for his future, even
though his parents ask him for more than he gives them. This particularly applies in a
situation like yours where the parents have enough to cater for their basic needs.

In the light of the foregoing, your way should be very clear. You must continue to be kind
to your parents and try to please them. At the same time, you must encourage them to
stop their unacceptable habits. You should not forget that their habits might be a
reaction to their early days when they were very poor. Now that they have some money in
their hands, they want to enjoy it in whatever way they can. Unfortunately, this
enjoyment is landing them in a difficult situation. Therefore, you must always remind
them that in order to make their situation even more comfortable, they should thank
Allah and show gratitude to Him by using what He has given them in a way which is
acceptable to Him.

There is nothing wrong in helping them. You will not be party to their guilt if you help
them wisely. You do not wish to see your father overburdened by debt, or chased by
creditors. You may help him indirectly, by paying off some of his debts without his
knowledge. You ask his creditors not to advance more credit to him, as a condition of
your payment of their outstanding debts. Try as much as you can to make your father
hold a respectable position in his community, without landing himself into problems. But
if he asks you to give him some money to spend on forbidden things, then do not give it
to him. If he says to you, for example, give me ten Riyals to buy a lottery ticket, then you
should not give that money to him. Instead, if you know that he has bought some
necessary articles, as meat or other provisions, on credit, you go and pay off that debt. In
this way, you know that you are helping your father in his legitimate practices. [There
may be yet other situations. Your father may demand ad-hoc money for expenses, and
then spend part of it in ways that are unacceptable to Allah. You cannot exercise control
over this. You should counsel your father against the evils of such spending. Your
manner should be polite and that of a dutiful son. That is all that is required of you.] May
Allah reward you for your attitude.

• Dutifulness: Marriage, dutifulness and disobedience
I met my husband when he was studying in the United States. He
gave me literature about Islam and I became convinced of its truth.
Shortly afterward, I became a Muslim. However, when we got
married, my father-in-law did not approve of our marriage. He
continues to be angry with his son. My husband has tried hard to
persuade his father to accept our marriage. Still the same attitude
persists. My husband is deeply hurt because he wants to show his
238                          SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                        Our Dialogue


dutifulness to his father, but he is rebuffed every time. Do you
think we have done something wrong? Is my husband in a sinful
position for disobeying his father?
We have to distinguish between dutifulness and absolute obedience to one's parents. You
can be highly dutiful, but you do not necessarily obey everything your parents say. After
all, parents are not infallible. They are human beings who are liable to err. If you know
that your father is mistaken, or in error, and you follow what he says, then you are
accountable for his bidding. He does not bear the responsibility for your action, although
it is he who has ordered you to do it. He is responsible for his action, which is telling you
to disobey Allah, but you are also responsible for what you do, which is disobeying Allah.

Again, it is highly important from the Islamic point of view to strive to please one's
parents. Kindness to parents is often mentioned in the Qur'an next to believing in the
Oneness of Allah. The translation of the following verse is but one example: "Your Lord
has decreed that you worship none other than Him, and that you show kindness to your
parents" (17:23). Unfortunately, some people interpret that as a sort of negating of a
son's or daughter's character and responsibility. This is not so. Ultimately, each one of us
is accountable for his or her action. Hence, we must do only what we are convinced to be
right and to please Allah.

In order to be dutiful to his parents, a grown-up son must treat them with kindness and
respect. If he shows disrespect to his father in public, he is guilty of grave sin. If he is
disrespectful to his father at home, he incurs Allah's displeasure. Now, deference to a
father's opinion and proper respect of one's father do not necessarily mean total
obedience in everything he says. A father may tell his son to do something in a particular
way, but the son may find that it is far more beneficial to do it differently. He knows that
his father would disapprove, but he may still do it.

He can try to win his father's acceptance, expressing respect and explaining the reasons
for acting against his wishes. Quite often, a father would be willing to change his views.
However, some people think that they are always right and they always know better. This
is just too bad. If you have to contend with a father of this sort, you have to accept that
you may have to disobey him on some occasions. If you do, Allah will judge your motives;
not your father.

In your particular case, what you and your husband have done is right. Your husband
simply married a woman of his choice, knowing that she is virtuous and a good Muslim.
If his father disapproved, his father's opinion is only an advice. It is not the prerogative of
a father to choose his son's wife. That prerogative belongs to the son, because he is old
enough to be responsible for his actions. Moreover, marriage is a relationship for life and
the view of the persons involved, i.e. the husband and wife, have paramount importance.
If a father is not allowed to marry his daughter away without her consent, then a father
has no authority to impose his view on his son with regard to his marriage. Yet, your
father-in-law's view is understandable if he simply had wanted his son to marry from his
own country. Nevertheless, he should broaden his mind to accept that it is not nationality
which makes a woman more suitable as a wife. It is her character, her strength of faith
and the care she takes of her husband. If your husband has no complaint on any of
these counts, your father-in-law has nothing to justify his objections.

I believe that I have made it quite clear that your husband's position is not a sinful one
for disobeying his father. Indeed, his father cannot order him to marry a particular
woman. Moreover, now that your husband is married, his father must reconsider his
    Our Dialogue               SOURCE : Arab News • Jeddah                               239


position. He should realize that his son has not willfully disobeyed him but has given due
importance to a certain fact, such as the position of his wife and the way he feels toward
her. That is perfectly legitimate.

• Dye for hair
In the past, you have mentioned that it is permissible for men to
dye their hair, but you have not clarified the position regarding a
black dye. Indeed, you have tended to make it permissible, when
the Prophet's advice was clearly quoted to avoid "black". Would you
please review the verdict with this clarification?
You seem to be clear in your mind that using a black hair dye is not allowed in Islam. I
feel you are being too strict. It is true that the Prophet has recommended Henna and
Katam as the best material to use when dyeing hair, but there is nothing specific in the
Hadith about prohibiting or discouraging the use of black dyes, except in a particular
incident to which I will be presently referring. Henna is a plant which can be used for
hair dye and which imparts to the hair a reddish color. Apparently, it is beneficial to hair,
because it is used in making shampoo. Katam is a similar stuff but it gives the hair a
darker color which is nearly black but with a touch of red. Some of the companions of the
Prophet used to dye their hair using both these dyes or different ones. Abu Bakr used
both Henna and Katam, while Umar used Henna alone.

What is important to guard against when dyeing one's hair is that there should be no
attempt to give oneself a false appearance. It happened during the days of Umar that a
man got married to a girl who was much younger than him. Shortly after the marriage,
she discovered that he had dyed his hair to appear much younger. Her parents
complained to Umar who reproached the man for giving a false appearance and ruled the
marriage null and void. But there is no other restriction on using a black dye. Az-Zuhri
says: "We used to dye our hair black when we had young faces. When wrinkles appeared
and teeth dropped, we stopped." Some scholars say that using a black dye is permissible
only during the time of war, because it gives an appearance of strength to the Muslim
army. Other scholars say that it is permissible at all times.

The incident, which has come as the source of some confusion took place at the time of
the conquest of Mecca by the Prophet. Abu Bakr brought his father to the Prophet to
declare his adoption of Islam. Needless to say, Abu Bakr's father was an old man in his
eighties. His hair had gone all gray, that you could not see a single black hair on his
head. The Prophet gave instructions that his hair should be dyed, but he told his son "to
avoid black". Scholars agree that this instruction by the Prophet did not indicate any
prohibition. It simply takes care of the old man's position. If he were to dye his hair
black, his appearance would have been ridiculous. The point was to change the total
whiteness of his hair with something respectable. I hope I have clarified this subject.