Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Jamadi Awwal 1424 H
July 2003
Volume 16-07 No : 199

Camps \ Workshops

News Community Roundup Editorial Readers Comments Heritage Women-Space Community Series Institution Profile Insights Across the Seas Muslim Perspective Matter of Fact Children's Corner Reflection Islamic Values Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Islam & Universal Religion Guide Lines Living Islam From here & There Opinion Journey To Islam Thoughts on Life Political Diary Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

Now you can pay your subscriptions online

Our Dialogue


Is Smoking Forbidden?
Different Partsof the Kaaba
Women's Pilgrimage
Reading Certain Surahs Daily
Formal Adoption andWomen's Work
Must I Do the Pilgrimage?
Who Are the People of the Book?


By Adil Salahi

Is Smoking Forbidden?

Q. An increasing number of scholars are endorsing the ruling that smoking is forbidden in Islam, pointing out that it is the responsibility of every Muslim to look after his or her own health. They also mention the fact that smoking is addictive, though not mind-altering. But many smokers are angry because they feel that it is a matter of personal choice. Please comment.


A. The first ruling on the prohibition of tobacco smoking is more than a hundred years old. However, it was not based on health reasons, because the health risks of smoking were not known at the time. More than 20 years ago, a group of prominent scholars in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa making tobacco smoking, growing and selling forbidden under Islamic law. Later, ten leading scholars from Al-Azhar in Cairo, the oldest Islamic university in the world, issued a series of ten fatwas, with eight making it clear that smoking was strictly forbidden, while the other two saying that it is close to being forbidden.

More and more scholars have come to the same conclusion. It should be said that the Al-Azhar scholars based their fatwas on reports submitted to them by the World Health

Organization explaining the health risks of tobacco smoking. Sheikh Al-Qaradawi says: “On such matters, when doctors say that something is certainly harmful, Islamic scholars have no option but to pronounce it as forbidden.”

The health risks of tobacco smoking are too clear to be overlooked. It is the direct cause of more than 25 killer diseases. Its harmful effects are not limited to the smoker, but include his family and colleagues at work as well as those who are in close proximity to him. Besides, it is an addiction which is very difficult to break. You say that it is not mind altering. I have my reservations about that statement. It works very slowly and gradually, but it certainly alters the smoker’s mind. This is why smokers consume more cigarettes in both states of sadness and joy.

There is no doubt in my mind that smoking is forbidden. Muslim countries should adopt health policies that aim to make their territories tobacco free over a period of time. This will be a great service to their populations.

Top


Different Parts of the Kaaba

Q. Could you explain what is the significance of the semi-circle area near the Kaaba and why we offer a prayer there? As far as I know, the Kaaba itself is not the object of our worship. Could you clarify what it represents. Why do people cling to it, especially under its door? I am told that when it is washed, those who undertake the task pray inside it. Is this true and permissible? Which part of it is called the Multazam, and what does it signify?


A. You are right when you say that the Kaaba is not the object of our worship. This is certainly true. We worship God alone, and we do not represent Him in any physical form. The Kaaba is only the focus point in our worship of God Almighty. It symbolises the unity of all Muslims in all generations, as they all turn towards it when they pray. It acquires its importance from the fact that it is the first house ever built for human worship. This is clearly stated in the Qur’an: “The first House (of worship) ever set up for mankind was indeed the one at Bakkah: rich in blessing; and a source of guidance to all the worlds.” (3: 96) Incidentally, Bakkah is another name of the city of Makkah. It was built by the two prophets Abraham and Ishmael on God’s orders and by His guidance.

Muslims know that the Kaaba itself has no power to benefit or harm anyone. It is a blessed place for our worship, but worship is addressed to God alone. We greet the Kaaba by doing the tawaf around it, which is a walk encircling it seven times, during which we praise and glorify God, read the Qur’an, or pray for our forgiveness, God’s mercy or any other thing. This tawaf counts like a prayer, but ordinary speech is permissible while we are doing it.

When the Kaaba was first built, it incorporated the semi-circle area known as Hijr Ismaeel, but on renovating the building by the Arabs at one point before Islam, the stones available were insufficient, because the Arabs raised its height. This is why they reduced its size and marked the semi-circle area, which is part of its area. Hence, the tawaf goes round this semi-circle. We pray inside this area after tawaf because the Prophet did so, and he told us to learn our rituals from his practice. This means that praying inside the Kaaba is permissible, and those who are able to do so speak of a highly inspiring experience. The door is kept locked because if people were allowed to get inside, there would be much scrambling that could lead to injury or loss of life.

Clinging to the Kaaba building is not allowed, except at the Multazam, which is the part below the door. If one manages to place one’s body against the Kaaba at the Multazam, raising one’s hands and praying, one is certain of having one’s prayers answered. However, people must behave properly, without pushing or rushing one another.

Top


Women's Pilgrimage

Q. If a woman arrives for pilgrimage, having chosen the tamattu method and then finds herself in her period, she is not able to do her Umrah. The same applies if she has chosen either of the other two methods: she cannot do her tawaf. What will be her status then? Could you also explain whether in the tamattu method, the Umrah must be offered in the month of Dhul Hijjah? I understand that we release ourselves from ihraam or consecration after this Umrah, until it is time for the pilgrimage. Could you please explain to what extent, and whether one can leave the Haram area as well.


A. The menstrual period is a natural process which all women go through for a certain period in their lives. Therefore, a Muslim woman can do all her worship during her period, except for what is specifically pointed out as exempt, or need to be delayed. It is well-known that a woman does not pray or fast when she is in the period, but she is required to make up for her fasting days so as to bring her fasting month to its completion, but she does not make up for her missed prayers. In pilgrimage, a woman who is going through the period performs all the pilgrimage rituals at their respective times and places except for the tawaf. It is well known that tawaf is considered a form of prayer, and it is done in the Haram. Hence, it cannot be done except in a state of complete purity. Therefore, a woman in the period must delay her tawaf until she is clean from menses. She purifies herself in the normal manner and attends to her delayed ritual.

If she chooses the tamattu method, she will have to wait until her period is over before she performs her Umrah duties. If she finishes her period a day or more before the pilgrimage is due, she attends to her Umrah in the normal way. However, time for the pilgrimage may be due while she is still in the period. If she arrives in Makkah, say, three days before the pilgrimage, and her period starts when she is on the way to Makkah, then much of her pilgrimage would have been completed before she has finished her period. She attends to her pilgrimage duties, then she performs her Umrah duties when she is able to do so. However, it may be advisable for a woman who expects to find herself in this situation to choose the qiran method.

It is more convenient for her to do so woman who chooses either the qiran or the ifraad method and finds herself in this situation will proceed with her pilgrimage duties, but not the tawaf. If she has to go to Arafat before she has finished, she does so. When her period is over, she will have to perform her tawaf of ifaadah and this means that the tawaf of arrival is not applicable to her. It is a Sunnah anyway, and since its time is over, she simply omits it. When we choose the tamattu' method, which is the one preferred by the Prophet, we perform the Umrah on arrival in Makkah, then release ourselves from ihraam until 8 Dhul Hijjah, when we are required to re-enter into that state for pilgrimage. This release from ihraam is complete, which means that a husband and wife can have full marital and sexual relation during this period of release.

The Umrah in the tamattu' method may be offered at any time in the months of pilgrimage, which are Shawwal, Dhul Qaadah and Dhul Hijjah. A pilgrim who performs the Umrah during this period and then performs the pilgrimage in that same year is deemed to have chosen the tamattu' method, even if he does not mention that specifically at the time of his Umrah or pilgrimage. The same applies to one who leaves Makkah to travel back home after he has performed the Umrah. This means that when a pilgrim choosing the tamattu' method has completed his Umrah he may travel from the Haram area. However, this is not advisable for fear that he may not be able to come back for his pilgrimage duties.

Top


Reading Certain Surahs Daily

Q. Is there a Hadith that stresses the importance of reading Surah 36, Yaseen, in the morning, and surahs 55,
Al-Rahman, 56, Al-Waqi'ah and 67, Al-Mulk in the evening, on a daily basis?


A. I am not aware of a Hadith or a group of Hadiths that makes such a recommendation which specifically mentions these four surahs. The Prophet has recommended reading certain surahs frequently, and these four surahs are among them. For example, he is quoted to have said that reading Surah Yaseen ensures the fulfillment of the purpose for which it is read. Such reports, however, are often rather suspect on authenticity. Having said that, I stress that reading the Qur'an is a highly rewarding act of worship which is also generously rewarded by God Almighty.

Top


Formal Adoption and Women's Work

Q.1. It has always been my dear wish to take an orphan girl into my family, but the law in my country does not allow this except through formal adoption. My husband is opposed to this on grounds that adoption is un-Islamic. Is there a way out?

Q.2. At the time of my marriage I made it clear to my husband that I wish to be always in work. He did not object. However, now he is saying that I should not work because it is 'un-Islamic' for a Muslim woman to work except in cases of financial difficulty. This has been a cause of friction in our family. Please advise.


A.1. Islam encourages looking after orphans of both sexes. The Prophet (Pbuh) mentions very high reward for people who take good care of orphans and bring them up as they would bring up their own children. However, formal adoption is not allowed in Islam. It is forbidden, as the Qur’an makes clear. You may refer for this purpose to Verses 4 and 5 of Surah 33, which make clear that God does not approve of anyone claiming a child as his own when that child is born to different parents. The verses include an order to call such children after their own parents. If their parents are unknown to us, then we treat them as brothers or sisters in Islam, but not as our own children.

Such are the Islamic rulings and they are clear in their import. What is strongly disapproved is the claim that a certain child is called after an adopting father, or given the name of the adopting family. This is a fraud and Islam makes it unlawful. But this does not stop Muslims from looking after orphan children. In fact they are strongly recommended to do so. But they should let those children keep their own names. Laws in different countries may make things very difficult for a family which wants to look after a certain child. For example, I know the case of a family who wished to look after an orphan girl and was keen to stick to Islamic teachings. The difficulties they had to encounter were enormous. Their task was made pretty impossible. They had no option but to leave the country where they were living, and get the child registered as their own before returning to their place of living with that child. No longer did they have to face any bureaucratic rigidity of the type that makes life difficult. They informed the child of their true relation with her when she was able to understand. There was no difficulty in the matter. Do we blame them for doing what they did? They simply tried to overcome unreasonable diffic- ulties and look after a child that had no one to look after. God will certainly reward them according to their intention. They had no desire to disobey God’s rules. You may be able to approach the difficulty in your country in a different way. You may need to seek advice. A sympathetic government official may be able to understand the Islamic requirements and suggest to you a way of meeting them while taking an orphan girl to look after. But I encourage you to seek some way of carrying out your plan. May God reward you generously for it.

A.2. If your husband had agreed to your working at the time of marriage, then he may not withdraw this commitment without a very good reason. To claim that it is un-Islamic for a woman to work is wrong. Some of the Prophet’s women companions had their own work, and he did not object. A woman who was in her waiting period after her husband had died asked the Prophet whether it was permissible for her to supervise the work in her farm. Some of her relatives objected to her doing this. The Prophet told her to attend to her work, adding: “You may have a chance to give something in charity or do some other good.” If a man is married to an educated woman who has a good job, or to a skilled woman who does some skillful work, like dress making, farming, or some handicraft, it may be highly beneficial to the family if she continues with her work, even though the income is not of paramount importance. The fact that the woman enjoys self-fulfillment as a result is very good for a better family life. .

Top


Must I Do the Pilgrimage?

Q. If a person is ill and cannot do the pilgrimage, can he ask someone else to do the pilgrimage on his behalf?


A. If such a person has a chronic illness which makes him unable to undertake the pilgrimage and the illness is unlikely to be cured, then he must get someone to do the pilgrimage on his behalf provided he can afford the expenses. He should pay that person all the expenses until he returns home - without delay. This is the proper way for someone in this condition to fulfill his duty of doing the pilgrimage.

Top


Who Are the People of the Book?

Q. Could you please explain which non-Muslims a Muslim may marry. It is my understanding that this applies to Christians and Jews, as they are the ones referred to in the Qur'an as 'People of the Book', but someone has told me that this expression means anyone who believes in God.


A. It is clear in the Qur’an that the expression ‘People of the Book’, which I prefer to translate as ‘People of earlier revelations’, refers to Christians and Jews, as they are the remaining followers of earlier divine messages. Other messages, like those of Abraham, Noah, Joseph, etc. have disappeared and practically have no followers. To try to expand the term to others who believe in God is wrong, because it relies on no sound basis. Besides, belief in God should rely on a true conception of Him. Without a divine message, such belief could be erroneous. Who would define which is a true believer in God and who is not? Hence, the only right thing is to say that a Muslim man may marry a Muslim woman or a woman who follows either Christianity or Judaism. On the other hand, a Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man.

Top


News Community Roundup Editorial Readers Comments Heritage Women-Space Community Series Institution Profile Insights Across the Seas Muslim Perspective Matter of Fact Children's Corner Reflection Islamic Values Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Islam & Universal Religion Guide Lines Living Islam From here & There Opinion Journey To Islam Thoughts on Life Political Diary Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

Al-Nasr Exports