Q. I am a very young revert to Islam. I am also a part time Da’yee and forced to confront Christian missionaries who are well-versed with Islamic doctrines. I request you to help me defend a faith that I believe is the real Truth from God.
- Was there condemnation between the great scholars of Islam as alleged by some Christian writers? For instance they say that Imam Shafai has said “There never was born a more damned person in Islam than Abu Hanifa.” Another scholar, Abu Hamid Ghazali in his book Manqul fi -Ilmi-Usul says: “In fact Abu Hanifa distorted the religious code, made its way doubtful, changed it’s arrangement and intermingled the laws in such a way that the code prescribed by the holy Prophet was totally disfigured.” This scholar goes on to say that Abu Hanifa was an infidel Many others also condemn Abu Hanifa this way like in Ghazali’s Mutahawwal, Zamakhshari’s Rabiu’l-Abrar etc. Differences of opinion is a thing that is said to be accepted in Islam, but if differences led to condemn a great Imam as Abu Hanifa as infidel. How can we say that they accepted and loved each other? Why so great a difference in interpreting laws?
- If ‘all companions of the Holy Prophet (Pbuh) are like stars why don’t we accept Abu Dharr?
- Regarding a practice known as Muta Nikah, the Christian missionaries quote ample evidences that Muta was practised during the life time of the Prophet, was banned a number of times but the ban was annulled again and again. They quote from Sahih Bukhari and the Musnad of Ahmed Ibn Hanbal part 1, p.25, Abu Raja reporting of the authority on Imran Ibn Hasis that Muta was revealed in the Quran. [Surah 4:24]. No verse was revealed to rescind the practice. Caliph Umar himself has attested to the practice of Muta in the following words “In the time of the Prophet two muta’s were permitted. I make both of them unlawful, and if any does it, I will punish him.”There are many such reports that say that Muta was practised till Umar forbade it. Jarullah Zamakhshari in his Tafsir-e-Kashshaf regarding Abdullah Ibn Abbass’s statment that the verse of Muta was one clear ordinance of the Holy Quran says that this verse was not repealed. Imam Malik also was of the same opinion. Mulla Sa’idu’d-din Taftazani in his Sharh-e-Maqasid, Burhanu’d-Din Hanafi in his Hidaya, Ibn Hajar in his Fathu’l Bari and others have reported this verdict of Imam Malik. How far are these things true and what about the validity of these verdicts that prove what the Shias are saying relating to the matter? Can the command of Allah and his Prophet be abrogated by a Caliph? How can such great scholars of the ‘Ahul-l-Sunnah wal Jamaah’ err regarding the fact of such an episode in history? Please verify the sources also.
Jazakallah Wasalaam, Koshy - 24422 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Mutual Condemnation of Islamic scholars: Imam Shafa’i never called Imam Abu Hanifa an infidel. It is a shameful lie to accuse him of such a thing but unfortunately, telling lies, deception, treachery and trickery is widely used by Christian missionaries for the propagation of their religion. How much Imam Shafa’i respected Imam Abu Hanifa can be gauged from the following. Once Imam Shafai visited the mosque in which Imam Abu Hanifa led in prayers during his lifetime. As a mark of respect to the late Imam, he offered all his prayers as per Hanafi Fiq’h in that mosque. Can such a person call him infidel?
Regarding Imam Ghazali, there were two distinct phases in his career as scholar. During the first phase, he used harsh words for other scholars with whom he differed but with time as he gained in knowledge and insight, he matured and it is his contribution in the second phase that made him Imam in the eyes of people. But the fact remains that even in his first phase of knowledge, though he criticised Imam Abu Hanifa he never called him an infidel. This again is a lie. I could not lay my hands on Rabi-ul-Abrar of Zamakhshari. It is most likely that the charge against him of calling Abu Hanifa an infidel is also concocted.
Why are there differences among scholars in the interpretation of Shariah? The answer to this question is complex if we go through arguments and counter arguments of different scholars but it becomes very simple when we use common sense. The basic principles guiding the laws of Shariah can never change and will never change but the the understanding of Sunnah and also sometimes in implementation of those principles may change with the evolution of human knowledge. The Holy Book laid down the principles that are forever. The wisdom of application of the principles is to be learnt from the Sunnah of the Prophet. The differences among scholars are regarding the understanding of Sunnah and also sometimes in implementation of the principles. Let me elaborate.
There were mainly four types of orders and practices of the Prophet (Pbuh).
- Those orders or practices that were binding for all people for all times.
- Some orders and practices were pertaining to certain circumstances. Whenever those circumstances and conditions arose, those orders would be applicable.
- Some specific instructions were for certain specific persons. And lastly,
- Some of his practices and orders were meant for the era of the Prophet alone.
The differentiation between the above four for the understanding of Sunnah was not an easy job and hence there was difference of opinion among scholars. I now present an example of difference in implementation of the principle.
The Prophet (Pbuh) practised and recommended Qas’r (2 Rak’ats instead of 4) in Salat in journeys. He never fixed the limit of distance of the journey for that purpose. Later with the increase in population, the townships grew closer and the Fiq’h scholars thought of defining the limit of journey for the purpose. Obviously the essence behind the shortening of salat was the extra hardship of the journey. For the masses, it was expedient to convert the hardship of the journey in terms of distance. Scholars of different times and places arrived at different decisions in fixing the limit of distance considering the means of transport, and the weather conditions of the geographical area. In today’s world the application of the principle needs a revision. There are numerous means of transport ranging from a bullock cart to an aeroplane. Suppose a labourer in the hottest of seasons goes to the next town on a bicycle and the journey totally exhausts him. According to the Hanafi Fiq’h, he will have to offer full Rak’ats of normal prayer if he has gone to a distance lesser than 90 kms. Another person takes a flight from N.Delhi to Bombay in 11/2 hour without shedding a drop of sweat but he will perform Qas’r as he has travelled to a longer distance. Obviously the application of the principle in present times needs revision by capable scholars.
The differences in interpretation for the purpose of codification were natural and inevitable. While most of them remained confined to expressing the differences, some were temperamental and used harsh language too. There is no cause for alarm in this. Except for the prophets no person could be without fault. Islam does not recognise any such seat as Church or Pope as representatives of God. We can simply accept that a particular scholar erred in such and such respect while acknowledging his due contribution. It is not as frequent as the Christian missionaries have projected before you that several scholars did brand others infidel.
It is amazing that Christian missionaries are taking such pains to collect the quotations (mostly distorted) of Muslim scholars branding each other infidel. While their religious history right from the days of Disciples is full of such accusations for one another. You must read the statements of Martin Luther King, the pioneer of the Protestant movement about the Pope and vice versa to confront them if they come to you with such confusions (full of distortions of course).
Rejection of Hazrat Abudhar Ghifari!
It is mischievous to say that Muslims do not accept Hazrat Abu Dhar Ghifari. We all hold him in high esteem. What is not accepted practically by any sect of Muslims is his interpretation of the needs of a person and the maximum limit of one’s possession. Were his opinion in this respect to be followed, not a single person in the Ummah would have been capable of becoming a Zakat payer. Islam does not forbid earning good money and acquiring things of comfort as long as one fulfills his due obligations towards the society.
Did Hazrat Umar abrogate Muta’?
History tells us that the Prophet (Pbuh) permitted Muta’ on a few occasions of long collective journeys but finally forbade it forever in 10 AH after the last Hajj in his lifetime. The Nikah of Muta’ (Contract of marriage for a limited period) was an ancient practice among Arabs. Arabs were sunk in fornication and adultery while Islam did not permit sexual relations outside the genuine wedlock. The binding was so harsh on them that sensing their weakness, the Prophet (Pbuh) permitted them on four occasions of long journeys, the Muta’ which had a social sanction in their eyes. He had sensed that all of them could not bear to keep away from women for months so the temporary permission of Muta’ was granted as it was better than indiscriminate sex. It may be noted that the permission of Muta’ was on all four occasions granted on long journeys. There is not one occasion when the Prophet announced the permission while in town. It is a matter of interpretation whether the permission remained in force after those journeys or not. Those who believe in Muta’s prohibition should also learn from the Prophet (Pbuh) the wisdom of gradually implementing the laws that are hard to practise for the beginners.
Muta’ possessed some psychological, social and moral respectability over unattatched sex. Firstly the psychological word of Nikah was attached to it. Secondly there was provision of Mehar for the woman in Muta’. Thirdly woman was required to pass the waiting period (Iddat) after the expiry of temporary marriage so that the parentage of the child (if the woman became pregnant) could be known. The child born out of Muta’ was considered legitimate and was accepted as legal heir of his father.
The gradual implementation of prohibition of sex outside (permanent) marriage can be compared with the gradual implementation of prohibition of intoxicants. Though the wines were never permitted in any Shariah of any prophet, the total prohibition was imposed in three stages. The difference between the prohibition of intoxicants and the prohibition of illegal sex is that while the former was implemented in stages by Qur’an, the Prophet (naturally with the consent of Allah) was also instrumental in its phased implementation in case of latter.
It is misleading to blame Caliph Hazrat Umar for repealing or changing a law of Shariah on his own. He only announced the strict implementation of the prohibition declared by the Prophet (Pbuh) after Hajj-atul-wida’ (the last Hajj in his lifetime). The charge of Shias on Hazrat Umar stands annulled on two counts.
- If Muta’ was permitted in Shariah and the second Caliph repealed it at his whim, the fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali whose actions are binding on Shias could again have announced its permission. The prohibition of Muta’ remained enforced during the reign of Hazrat Ali.
- No Shia would ever permit his daughter to enter into Muta’ contract with any one. The permanent marriages are announced with pride and the world knows of it but we have never come across even a small list of clerics’ daughters who were given into Muta’ proudly. It shows that the practice is practically disgraceful in their own eyes.
Following are some features of Muta’ which are not permitted in a valid and normal Nikah.
- There is no need of the presence of a witness at the time of Nikah of Muta’
- The man is not responsible for the food, clothes, lodging and maintenance of the woman during the period of their relations.
- The man is free to keep as many women as he likes at a time in his Muta’.
- The woman does not get any share in man’s succession.
- If the girl is willing, the permission of her father or guardian is not required even if she is a virgin or minor.
- The duration of Muta’ may be as short as a few minutes and may be as long as any number of years.
- The waiting period in case of separation is half of that in case of a normal marriage.
- Man is not responsible for the woman’s maintenance during her Iddat.
Below are the verses of Qur’an which in some companions’ opinion and in the opinion of Shias, legitimize the Muta’.
“...All women other than these (described in 5:22,23) are lawful to you, provided you seek them with your wealth (Mehar) in modest conduct, not in fornication. Give them their Mehar as a duty for the ‘ISTAMTA’ (benefit) you have had with them.”(5:24)
The relevant Arabic word in the above verse is ‘Famastamta’tum’ which means, ‘when you have had benefited with them’. Those favouring the Muta’ translate it as ‘when you had made Muta’ with them’. There is one clear proof in Qur’an that they are mistaken. This particular word has been used as it is in two other verses of Qur’an viz 9:69 and 46:20. I am presenting the translation of one of these. You can check the other verse yourself. First, see the translation of the verse preceding 9:69 so that the context could be known that the description is of hypocrites.
“Allah has promised the hypocrites, both men and women, and the unbelievers, the fire of Hell. They shall abide in it. It is sufficient for them; theirs shall be a lasting torment”. (9:68)
And now, the next verse with the actual translation of the relevant word in question:
“As in the case of those before you, they were mightier than you and had greater riches and more children. They had BENEFITED from their portion and you have BENEFITED from yours as did those before you. You indulge in idle talk as they did. They! Their works are fruitless in this world and in the Hereafter, and they are the losers”. (9:69)
I am again reproducing the same verse below but this time I am putting the word Muta’ in the translation of the word FAMASTAMTA’TUM, which Shias claim to mean Muta’, the same word, which occurred in (5:24)
“As in the case of those before you, they were mightier than you and had greater riches and more children. They had their portion of Muta’ and you have had your portion of Muta’ as did those before you. You indulge in idle talk as they did. They! Their works are fruitless in this world and in the Hereafter, and they are the losers”. (9:69)
I have no hesitation in saying that those companions who against the opinion of other companions thought that the verse (5:24) of Qur’an authenticated Muta’, erred in its interpretation.
Q. Will only Muslims go to Heaven? Who are the people who will enter Heaven?
A. Muslim means one who has submitted to the Will of God. How can he who has not submitted to His Will expect to earn reward from him? However a Muslim is neither by birth nor anyone who is registered as a Muslim in a Government census. Whoever has Iman (Belief in Oneness of Allah, the Last Day and accountability and all His Prophets) and does good work can expect his reward. A spy of the enemy nation, if caught, can not expect pardon on the basis of his good social behaviour. The loyalty to the Government is a pre-requisite for good works to be recognized. Iman is loyalty to the lone Sovereign of the universe. Good deeds and works are the manifestation and proof of loyalty. Qur’an is very explicit about it that both are necessary.
An essential clarification is also required here. Iman or the Faith cannot be ascertained by declaration alone. It is inside the hearts and Allah knows all. Only he is a person of Faith whose Faith is accepted by Allah as genuine. It has been made clear in Qur’an that all those who declare themselves to be Muslims are not necessarily Faithful. See the following verse.
“Those who are distant from the center of knowledge claim that they believe. Tell them: ‘You do not believe; rather you can say that you profess Islam’. Iman has not yet found its way into your hearts” (49:14)
On the other hand Allah can accept the Faith of those who had Iman in their hearts but could not openly declare for circumstances known to themselves and Allah knew the genuineness of their concealment. The examples of such people are mentioned in Qur’an 40:28-45 and 48:25.
There is no claim on Allah of anyone on the basis of their birth in a particular family. Paradise is for those who truly believe in the eyes of Allah and do good works also. Qur’an has repeatedly warned those who call themselves Muslims that paradise is not their right by birth. These sort of claims, Qur’an clarifies, were made by those who were corrupted believers. Those who are called Jews once truly believed in Moses (pbuh) and followed his teaching but later when their Faith and deeds were corrupted they started claiming that they would enter paradise on the basis of their Faith and if the punishment for some deeds had to be inflicted upon them it will be temporary after which they will be entered into the eternal paradise. Qur’an warns Muslims not to be in the footsteps of Jews who make such claims:
“And they say: “The fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days”; Say: “Have ye taken promise from Allah for He never breaks His promise? Or is it that ye say of Allah what ye do not know?
Nay, those who seek gain in Evil and are girt round by their sins they are Companions of the Fire therein shall they abide. But those who have faith and work righteousness they are Companions of the Garden therein shall they abide.” (2:80-82)
Q. My brother borrowed a huge sum of money for carrying out a business and after the business started to flourish he became greedy. He started making false allegations and back biting me and insulted me in public with false claims. When I offered to withdraw from all business relations with him due to the above reason, he refused to return the money and continued to abuse me. Now I have decided to sever all ties with him but not to take any revenge. Is my stand correct?
(Ismail Yousuf ; Bangalore)
A. In the situation you have described, your stand can not be called unjustified. Islam permits you four recourses.
“The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto. But he that forgives and seeks reconcilement shall be rewarded by Allah. He does not love the wrongdoers. Those who avenge themselves when wronged incur no guilt. But great is the guilt of those who oppress their fellowmen and conduct themselves with wickedness and injustice. These shall be sternly punished. To endure with fortitude and to forgive is an act of great resolution. (42:40-43)
(iv) Lastly, you are recommended to keep clear of him. “So keep clear of them and put your trust in Allah. Allah is enough as a disposer of affairs”. (4:81) Keeping clear (I’raaz) is not exactly severing all relations altogether. It includes a will and effort, if possible, to reform him who has resorted to evil due to ignorance. “Hold to forgiveness, enjoin justice and avoid the ignorant”. (7:199)
- To take the matter to a court of law or Shariat court or to personal mediators: You would have been fully justified in opting for any one of these.
- To take revenge: You were permitted to take revenge not exceeding the excesses committed against you.
- Forgive him: This would have been the best course. The holy Qur’an recommends:
Q. I have come to learn that Moplah Muslims of North Malabar live in matrilineage units and among them the matrilineage is an exogamous unit. This is almost exactly as practised by the Khasis (including Jaintias) and Garos of Meghalaya. The growing “Khasi Muslim” community here is also resorting (according to traditional law) to the traditional family system of matriliny and perhaps exogamy, whereby marriage within the same clan (maternal) is prohibited. How far are these practices in conformity with Shariah (Qur’an and Hadith) and science?
(M. Ali Haider ; Shillong)
A. Both type of genes producing good qualities as well as bad multiply and occur frequently in the progeny. Marriage in close blood is against the advice of today’s medical science if there is known genetic disorder in the family. There are some distinct advantages in the marriage within the clan. The character and background of the proposed spouse is better known and predictable besides better chances of mutual adjustment due to similar cultural traditions. Its disadvantages are also known today. The chance of occurrence of genes producing bad effects can be further minimized by marrying in a totally different caste instead of mere avoidance of the sub-caste. Should we then say that the matchmaking be considered only where DNA tests show different lineages? That would be very impractical. Besides, there is a chance of inheriting bad genes of other clans or castes by marrying distant. It should be a matter of individual choice, weighing social and medical pros and cons of both, taking into consideration, the known history of both the families. If we look far ahead, all human beings are related to each other by blood. A barrier had to be defined by religion between the permissible and prohibitory limits of relations for the purpose of marriage. The closest relation beyond which the marriage is forbidden has been specified by the Creator Himself who has created and hence knows the qualities and deficiencies as well as what is good and bad for all. It must however be understood that those limits are the minimum limits and have been fixed for all races and all times. Sticking to the borderline of prohibition against a medical advice is neither the intention of Qur’anic injunction nor personal wisdom. The wisdom lies in keeping to a safe margin from the line of prohibition especially when the medical guidelines demand so in certain times. The law the Qur’an has laid down states:
“Henceforth you shall not marry the women who were married to your fathers. That was an evil practice, indecent and abominable. Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your parental and maternal aunts, the daughters of your brothers and sisters, your foster-mothers, your foster-sisters, the mothers of your wives, your step daughters who are in your charge, born of the wives with whom you have lain; but it is no offence for you (to marry them) if you have not consummated your marriage with their mothers. (Forbidden to you also) are the wives of your own begotten sons and to take in marriage two sisters at one and the same time unless this had happened in the past. Allah is Forgiving and Merciful”. (4:22,23)
It may be pointed out here that traditionally the Companions did not usually marry their first cousins. There are less than one percent known cases of marriages as close as first cousins. It is also stated that the Prophet (Pbuh), generally, advised against marrying very close. Imam Ghazali has quoted a Hadith of the Prophet (Pbuh) saying: “Do not marry in close relatives as the offspring may be inflicted with deficiency” (Note: I could not find this Hadith anywhere in any book of Hadith I possess.)
There is no harm in sticking to its family traditions as far as the members of a group understand that Islam did not forbid them marrying within the maternal or paternal clan. There is no person who does not follow the local or family traditions at least to some extent. The Prophet expressed appreciation for the Pajama of Majoos (Zoroastrians - Iranians) but never wore it himself although it was more Satar-concealing than a Lungee.
Q. It is said that by reading the holy Qur’an running the forefinger of the right hand on each line of the Qur’an and reciting Bismillah, whatever (lawful) is asked for, is granted by Allah. I want to know more about it.
(F.R. ; Bangalore)
A. There is no basis for this belief in Shariah or known science. In Prophet’s time and up to well after the reign of Hazrat Usman, who issued six standard canonic copies of Qur’an to different regions, the Companions usually did not possess written manuscripts of the Book. They recited from their memory and hence there was no question of running a forefinger along the text. However there are personal experiences of the pious people that defy known logic. I cannot comment on the one you have mentioned, as I have never heard of it.
Some people may argue that whatever the Prophet (Pbuh) did not do, is not correct. It is their exaggeration. The rule is that whatever the Prophet (Pbuh) did not forbid, is permitted. However, though the Qur’anic verses may be of help in genuine needs, the real purpose of Qur’an should not be forgotten. It is a guidance for mankind to pass the test of life successfully for the next and eternal life. It will be a trade of heavy deficit if such an invaluable gain is forgotten and only minor worldly gains are sought after. What you might gain from running a forefinger over the verses is like a drop of water in an ocean compared to what you will surely gain by trying to understand the meaning of those verses.
Q. To do what Prophet did is Sunnah. Is having more than one wife Sunnah?
A. Some orders and permissions were exclusively for the Prophet and his Ahl-e-Bait (his wives, daughter, son-in-law and their progeny). For example, accepting Zakat is prohibited for his progeny. The prophet’s wives were not to marry others after his demise. The Salat of Tahajjud was obligatory for the Prophet (Pbuh). The above do not apply to all Muslims. All such exclusive orders and permissions have been clearly mentioned either in Qur’an or in the Prophet’s sayings.
The Prophet (Pbuh) had exclusive instructions and permission for his marriages. Those do not apply to other Muslims. The conditions in which, a Muslim is required or permitted to marry more than one wife, are known from the Qur’an and the practice of the Prophet’s close companions.
Q. If husband asks his wife to do Hijab and she tells him she will do Hijab only when Allah gives her Hidaya. (She is a New Muslim who accepted Islam recently). Can husband force her? If not, explain.
A. Allah has already given her Hidaya when she embraced Islam. Hidaya means guidance or showing the correct path. It is wrong to put onus of one's intention and efforts on to Allah. He does not force any one on any particular path. The tone of the question indicates that she knows Hijab (at least a long robe or Chaadar to be wrapped over the body to cover the clothes) is required in Islam (for going out) but is putting the responsibility of her non-compliance over Allah. A wife can disobey the husband if he imposes such conditions upon her that are against Islam but when he asks something required by Islam, then the disagreement amounts to the disobedience of Allah. The question here is bigger than merely of the disobedience of the husband. She must realize that she embraced Islam to submit to Allah. She changed the course of all her life and now is spoiling the fruits of her sacrifices by earning His displeasure by not adopting Hijab which is to her own advantage even in this world. Yes, the husband should explain to her, quoting Allah and His Prophet's order and then he can put pressure over her. Had not she given her consent to Nikah with him in the Name of Allah, which implies that she had taken a vow at the time of Nikah to abide by the orders of Allah in her marital life.
Q. Nowadays it is not that easy to maintain Hijab because most of us study in co-education though we want to maintain strict Hijab. What can be done under such circumstances? Will God forgive us?
A. Hijab or veil is required while passing through streets. In the classroom it is not obligatory for you to sport a veil. There are girls and women in India and abroad who stick to covering their faces before the strangers in all circumstances, attend classes and do other diverse jobs while sporting the veil. They testify that they experience not only no discomfiture but feel more secure. However for the girls in their classrooms the adherence to wearing the scarf is necessary. Head and hair are included in the Sat’r (concealable parts) of a woman.
Q. Is nuclear research and testing allowed in Islam?
A. Yes, if the intention is to use it for the benefit of mankind and in the service of Allah, it is not only allowed but also essential.