How Our Pious Predecessors Spent Ramadan

Thu, 09/28/2006
Short Content: 
We should look to the example of the Prophet, his Companions, and the earliest generation of Muslims if we want to get the maximum benefit from this blessed month. He said: “The best of my Ummah would be those of the generation nearest to mine. Then those nearest to them, then those nearest to them."
We should look to the example of the Prophet, his Companions, and the earliest generation of Muslims if we want to get the maximum benefit from this blessed month. He said: “The best of my Ummah would be those of the generation nearest to mine. Then those nearest to them, then those nearest to them." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2652) and Sahîh Muslim (2533)]

We will look at some of the thing Pious Predecessors used to pay extra attention to during the month of Ramadan:

Reading the Qur'ân

Allah says: "The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur'ân was revealed." [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185]

For this reason, we find that the Pious Predecessors used to increase their recitation of the Qur'ân in Ramadan. Ibrâhîm al-Nakha`î tells us: "Al-Aswad b. Yazîd used to complete reading the entire Qurân every two nights in Ramadan. He would sleep between Maghrib and Ishâ'. Outside of Ramadan, he would complete reading the Qur'ân every six nights."

`Abd al-Malik b. Abî Sulaymân tells us that Sa`îd b. Jubayr would also complete a reading of the Qur'ân every two nights in Ramadan.

It is also mentioned that al-Walîd used to normally complete the Qur'ân every three nights, but in the month of Ramadan, he would read it in its entirety seventeen times.

Salâm b. Abî Mutî` informs us that Qatâdah used to normally take seven days to read the Qur'ân, but in Ramadan he would take three days to do so. Indeed, during the last ten nights of Ramadan, he would read the entire Qur'ân every night.

Al-Qâsim b. `Alî describes his father – Ibn `Asâkir, the famed author of The History of Damascus – as follows: "He used to always observe his prayers in congregation and was constant in the recitation of the Qur'ân. He would always complete a reading of the entire Qur'ân by Friday. However, in Ramadan, he would do so every day and retreat to the eastern minaret of the mosque."

Al-Dhahabî writes the following about Abû Barakât Hibah Allah b. Mahfûz: "He learned Islamic Law and read the Qur'ân. He was known for his charity and his good deeds. In the month of Ramadan, he would read the Qur'ân thirty times."

Standing for Prayer in the Middle of the Night

Al-Sâ'ib b. Yazîd relates: "`Umar b. al-Khattâb ordered Ubayy b. Ka`b and Tamîm al-Dârî to lead the people in prayer in Ramadan. They would each read hundreds of verses at a go, until we had to support ourselves with canes due to the length of time we had to stand. We would only finish praying close to the time of Fajr." [Musannaf `Abd al-Razzâq (7730) and Sunan al-Bayhaqî (4392)]

`Abd Allah, the son of Abû Bakr, relates that he heard his father say: "By the time we finished our prayers in Ramadan, the servants would have to rush to prepare food in fear of Fajr coming in." [al-Muwatta' (254)]

`Abd al-Rahmâb b. Hurmuz tells us: "The reciters (leading the prayers) would complete the reading of Sûrah al-Baqarah in eight units of prayer. When the reciters took twelve units of prayer to complete it, the people regarded it as if the reciters were making things easy for them." [Musannaf `Abd al-Razzâq (7734) and Sunan al-Bayhaqî (4401)]

Nâfi` relates that Ibn `Umar used to pray in his house during the month of Ramadan. When the people departed from the mosque, he would go off to the prophet's Mosque, taking a flask of water with him. He would not leave the mosque again until after the Morning Prayer. [Sunan al-Bayhaqî (4384)]

`Imrân b. Hudayr tells us that Abû Mijlaz would lead the prayers in Ramadan for the people in his neighborhood. He would recite the Qur'ân in full in prayer in the course of seven days. [Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah (7677)]

Giving Generously in Charity

Ibn `Abbâs says: "Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all people in doing good, and he was at his most generous during the month of Ramadan. Gabriel used to meet with him every year throughout the month of Ramadan, so the Prophet could recite the Qur'ân to him. Whenever Gabriel met with him, he became more generous than a beneficial breeze." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1902) and Sahîh Muslim (2308)]

Al-Muhallab makes the following observation about this hadîth [Ibn Battâl, Commentary on Sahîh al-Bukhârî (4/22-23)]:
This shows the blessings of good works and that engaging in some good deeds opens the door to the performance of others. The practice of doing some good deeds assists one in further good works. We can see here that the blessings of fasting and of meeting Gabriel increased the Prophet's in generosity and charity, so much so that he became more generous that a beneficial breeze.
Al-Zayn b. al-Munîr explains the comparison with a "beneficial breeze" as follows [al-`Asqalânî, Fath al-Bârî (4/139)]:
His charity and good treatment for those who are poor and needy - as well as for those who are well-off and possess sufficient means - is as general as the relief brought by a beneficial breeze.
Al-Shâfî`î said: "It is liked for a person to increase his charity in the month of Ramadan. This is following the Prophet's example. It is also in consideration of the people's needs and their welfare, since so many of them are distracted from earning their livelihood due to their preoccupation with fasting and prayer."

Ibn `Umar used to never break his fast except in the company of the poor. Whenever someone came to him while he was eating and begged him for something, Ibn `Umar would take from his food what he deemed to be his rightful share and then he would stand up and leave the rest of the food for that person. He would then take what was in his hand and give it to his family, so that when he woke up the next morning to resume his fast, he would not have eaten anything the night before. [Latâ'if al-Ma`ârif (314)]

Yûnus b. Yazîd thells us that during the month of Ramadan, Ibn Shihâb would engage in nothing besides reciting the Qur'ân and providing food for the poor.

Hammâd b. Abî Sulaymân would take it upon himself to provide food five hundred people to break their fast with during the month of Ramadan. Then, on the day of `îd, he would give each of those people one hundred pieces of silver.

Safeguarding the Tongue

Abû Hurayrah relates that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever does not abandon false speech and acting falsely, then Allah has no need of his abandoning food and drink." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1903)]

Al-Muhallab makes the following observation about this hadîth [Ibn Battâl, Commentary on Sahîh al-Bukhârî (4/23)]:
This shows that fasting entails refraining from obscene and false speech just like it entails refraining from food and drink. A person who engages in false or obscene speech detracts from the value of his fast, He exposes himself to his Lord's displeasure and to the possibility of his fast not being accepted.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "If one of you starts off the day fasting, he should avoid obscene speech and ignorant behavior. If someone abuses him or starts to fight with him, he should reply by saying: 'I am fasting. I am fasting'." [Sahîh Muslim (1151)]

Al-Mazarî observes about this hadîth:
It is possible that the person is recommended to say "I am fasting. I am fasting" merely to remind himself, so that he refrains from getting involved in the exchange of insults.
`Umar b. al-Khattâb said: "One does not merely fast from food and drink, but also from lying, from falsehood, from vain talk, and from swearing." [Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah (8882)]

`Alî b. Abî Tâlib said: "Fasting is not to leave off food and drink, but rather to leave off lying, falsehood, and vain talk." [Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah (8884)]

Talq b. Qays tells us that Abû Dharr said: "When you fast, then be on your guard as mush as possible." As for Talq, when he fasted, he only emerged from his home in order to go to the mosque for prayers. [Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah (8878)]

Jâbir b. `Abd Allah said: "When you fast, your hearing, your vision, and your tongue should also fast – by avoiding lies and sins. You should not abuse your servant. You should maintain your composure and dignity on the day that you fast. Do not make your fasting day the same as your normal day." [Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah (8880)]

`Atâ' tells us that Abû Hurayrah said: "When you fast, do not act in an ignorant manner and do not insult people. If someone acts ignorantly towards you, say: 'I am fasting'." [Musannaf `Abd al-Razzâq (7456)]

Mujâhid said: "If you avoid two things, then your fast will be alright. You must avoid backbiting and lying."

Abû al-`Aliyah said: "A fasting person is engaged in worship as long as he does not backbite someone."

Ramadan Greetings – What a Fine Custom!

Sun, 09/16/2007
Short Content: 
Custom and traditions that do not violate Islamic teachings are permitted. Such customs are not disliked or discouraged by Islamin any way.
Greetings and salutations are customary practices. They are governed by the traditions, norms, and customs of people in society. This is as true for Ramadan and `îd greetings as it is for the general congratulations and condolences that apply to everyday events.

This matter, and others like it, are governed by a broad principle in Islamic Law. This is the principle stating that all customs – verbal and non-verbal – are lawful and permitted as long as they do not contradict anything specifically prohibited by Islamic Law or bring about consequences that are contrary to Islamic teachings.

Any custom or tradition that does not violate Islamic teachings is permitted. Such customs are not disliked or discouraged by Islam in any way.

Certain permissible customs or traditions actually bring about consequences for society that are positive, consequences that Allah loves.

In any event, we find the custom of salutations and congratulations in the Prophet’s example, which shows us that congratulating people on auspicious occasions is itself a Sunnah act.

For example, when the boycott was lifted from the three people who had stayed behind without an excuse and Allah revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that He had accepted their repentance, the Prophet (peace be upon him) congratulated Ka`b b. Malik about it, saying “Be joyful. Allah has accepted your repentance.”

In every instance where a Muslim experiences a blessing in his religious affairs, whether that blessing is personal or general, it is an occasion suited to salutations of joy. It is best to phrase the salutation or congratulation in a way that attributes the blessing to Allah. For instance, one can say: “Congratulations on what Allah has given you!”

The vast majority of Islamic jurists agree that there is nothing wrong or objectionable with the likes of `îd greetings. This is the most well-known statement of Ahmad b. Hanbal. When asked about `îd greetings, he said: “There is nothing wrong with one person saying to another on the day of `îd: ‘May Allah accept it from us and from you’.”

Some of these scholars go further and say that offering such greetings is a recommended practice in Islamic Law.

Ibn `Aqîl mentions some hadîth that provide direct evidence for such greetings.

For instance, he mentions that Muhammad b. Ziyâd relates fro, Abû Umâmah al-Bâhilî and others from among the Prophet’s Companions that when they returned from the `îd prayer, they would say to each other: “May Allah accept it from us and from you.” Ahmad regarded its chain of transmission to be a good one.

`Alî b. Thâbit tells us that he asked Mâlik b. Anas thirty-five years before about this matter, and Mâlik replied: “This has always been the practice in Madînah.”

Ultimately, we do not need a specific hadîth to show us the general permissibility of our greeting each other with salutations and supplications on auspicious and blessed occasions. We should have no doubt that the arrival of Ramadan is one of the greatest of Allah’s blessings upon us, and that it is an appropriate occasion for Muslims to exchange salutations.

Ramadân mubârak! – May we all have a blessed Ramadan!

The significance of the Black Stone

Question Title: 
The significance of the Black Stone
Sun, 09/16/2007
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
What is the significance of the Black Stone that is mounted in a corner of the Ka`bah? Did it descend from heaven? Why do pilgrims kiss this stone?
English Answer: 
The Black Stone is one of the stones of the Ka`bah. Its significance is that it is the only surviving stone from the original structure built by Abraham and Ishmael (peace be upon them both). The Ka`bah had been destroyed and rebuilt many times in its history, even before the arrival of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Black Stone is the single stone that has survived all the mishaps that have taken place since the time of Abraham and Ishmael.

The Ka`bah was again destroyed by flood during Muhammad’s youth, before Muhammad (peace be upon him) received revelation. At that time, the elders of Mecca fell into dispute over who should have the honor of putting the Black Stone in place on the rebuilt structure.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) was chosen to be the arbiter in the matter and instructed them to place the stone on a cloth.

Then four of the elders of the different clans each picked up a corner of the cloth and carried the stone to its place whereby Muhammad (peace be upon him) took it from the cloth and placed it. In this way, they all were able to share equally in the honor of placing the Black Stone in the newly-built structure, and a conflict was avoided.

Many years later, when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) offered his Pilgrimage after years of exile from Mecca, he started by kissing the Black Stone. We understand this in its context. It was a poignant homecoming for the Prophet (peace be upon him) who had years earlier been driven out of his beloved city on account of his religion

The fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) kissed the Black Stone is the only reason we do so today. We kiss it to emulate the Prophet’s practice.

The Caliph `Umar made this clear to the people when he led them in the pilgrimage. He used to kiss the Black Stone when he walked around Ka`bah any say: “I know that you are nothing but a stone. You cannot hurt or help anyone. And if I had not seen the Prophet (peace be upon him) kissing you, I would never have kissed you”.

This is the real application of this rite. It is only a matter of following what our Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us or showed us. It is known for sure that no benefit or harm can be received from the Black Stone.

And Allah knows best.

Fasting woman unsure if menses began before or after sunset

Question Title: 
Fasting woman unsure if menses began before or after sunset
Thu, 09/04/2008
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
I fasted today from dawn until sunset. After sunset, I broke my fast and offered the Maghrib prayer. Shortly thereafter, I went to the bathroom and say that my monthy menstrual period had started. I have no idea whether it started before Maghrib or afterwards. Do I have to make that day of fasting over again?
English Answer: 
You should not make up that day of fasting. This is because there is no way for you to be certain that your menstrual period began before sunset. As long as there is any doubt about when your menstrual period started, you do not go against the previous assumption based on the certainty that you were not menstruating.

You fasted the day upon the certainty that you were not menstruating. You only became certain that you had begun to menstruate when you saw the blood after sunset.

Likewise, the default assumption regarding your fasting for that day is that a fast that you have observed from beginning to end is a valid fast. This validity cannot be overturned by something wherein there is any doubt.

Your fast is intact. The legal principle here is that certainty is never overturned by doubt.

And Allah knows best.

'Keep them good company in this world'

from Varse: 
Thu, 09/04/2008
Short Content: 
The command is a gentle one – "keep them good company" – but what we must do to uphold this command is great indeed.

I was thinking about this verse, and realized just how eloquently and gently it exhorts us to honor our parents. The command is a gentle one – "keep them good company" – but what we must do to uphold this command is great indeed.

Keeping our parents company means having to spend a lot of time with them, and to do so over the long-term. This means staying with them through thick and thin. Also, long-term companionship can grow tedious, but the child must bear that tedium with honor and kindness. When we realize what we are being asked to do in this verse, we realize just how great a right our parents have over us. No one on Earth has a greater right to our good company.

What does our "good company" mean? It means to be kind and attentive. It means to consult them in all matters that concern them. It means to show impeccable manners in speaking with them, and to never let our speech betray any sense of weariness or irritation. It means to listen attentively to what they have to say – and if they are repeating the same thing for the umpteenth time, we must react to it with as much interest and delight as if we had never heard it before in our lives.

It means to be generous with our wealth, especially if our parents are in need. How many children these days are neglectful of this fact! How many more deceive themselves by saying "my parents are not in need" and therefore lose out on the blessings of spending on their parents.

How many self-centered children foist responsibility to take care of their parents onto the shoulders of their sisters and brothers. In many cases, each end every son and daughter think the same way, and as a consequence, they collectively leave their parents in the lurch!

Our attitude should be to make sure we get our share of the blessings in taking care of our parents, even if they are not in need of us. If we have brothers and sisters, we should compete with them in doing so. Allah says about our good deeds: "And it is in such things that those who compete should vie with one another."

When our parents ask us to do something for them instead of asking our brothers and sisters, we should not feel resentment. We should feel happy about it. We should, after all, be trying to anticipate their needs before our siblings do.

Part of our "good company" is to gently encourage our parents to do good deeds and seek nearness to Allah. Believe it or not, some children do the opposite, especially went their own vested interests are at stake.

For instance, a child may be blessed with wealthy, pious parents. Those parents may wish to engage in a philanthropic project or set us pa public trust. The child tells his parents, feigning genuine concern: "Be careful. Think about this, my beloved parents, you do not want to put yourselves into financial difficulty." Of course, that "well-meaning" child is only interested in making sure his inheritance is larger when his parents die!

Part of our "good company" is to accompany them when they travel – or better yet – to take them out on an excursion or vacation. Many of us are all too willing to go out with our friends, but how often do we think about taking our parents somewhere nice?

In brief, our "good company" means to make our parents as happy as possible. Indeed, this verse is giving us a weighty command.
Verse Contnet: 
Allah says, regarding our parents: "If they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; but keep them good company in this world, and follow the way of those who turn to Me. In the end, the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that you did." [Sûrah Luqmân: 15]

The Meaning of the Prophet’s names ‘Muhammad’ and ‘Ahmad’

Question Title: 
The Meaning of the Prophet’s names ‘Muhammad’ and ‘Ahmad’
Sat, 06/16/2007
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) is called “Muhammad” and “Ahmad”. What do his names mean? Does the Prophet (peace be upon him) have other names as well? Could you give me their meanings too?
English Answer: 
The word “Muhammad” is derived from the Arabic root word “hamd” meaning “praise”.

It is the emphatic passive participle of that root and can be translated as “the Oft-Praised One”.

As for Ahmad, is the superlative form of the same root word “hamd”. It means “the Highly Praised One”.

Ahmad is the name Jesus (peace be upon him) mentioned when he foretold of his coming.

Allah says: “And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was revealed before me in the Torah, and bringing glad tidings of a Messenger who will come after me, whose name will be ‘the Highly Praised One’ (Ahmad).” [Sûrah al-Saff: 6]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also had the name al-Mutawakkil, meaning “the one who relies on Allah”.

The Prophet informs us that Allah said to him: “…and you are My servant and Messenger and I have named you al-Mutawakkil.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) enumerated a number of his names when he said: “I have many names: I am Muhammad. I am Ahmad. I am al-Mâhî (the Obliterator) by whom Allah obliterates disbelief. I am al-Hâshir (the Gatherer) who gathers the people at my feet. I am al-`Aqib (the Successor) whom none comes after.”[Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

The Companion Abû Mûsâ al-Ash`arî relates the following:
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) called himself by many names, some of which we committed to memory and some of which we did not. He said: “I am Muhammad. I am Ahmad. I am al-Muqaffî (the Sender). I am al-Hâshir. I am the Prophet of Penitence. I am the Prophet of Mercy.” [Sahîh Muslim]
And Allah knows best.

Voluntary Relief Work & the Benefits of Getting Involved

Sat, 06/16/2007
Short Content: 
Relief works gets the Muslims involved in the dynamics of fulfilling society’s needs and brings a flowering of cooperation, love, and civic loyalty.
Involvement in relief work is a rewarding experience for the Muslim volunteer. It realizes for the volunteer a number of Islamic as well as personal objectives. In this article, we will be highlighting some of the most important opportunities and benefits that carrying out relief works provides for us as Muslims.

Receiving Allah’s Blessings and Rewards

A person can attain Allah’s blessings and rewards for every good work that he is involved in, as long as he makes his intention that he is doing so seeking Allah’s pleasure. When a Muslim engages in relief work, he is doing good for others by fulfilling their needs.

There are numerous verses in the Qur’ân, as well as the hadîth of the Prophet (peace be upon him), that attest to the virtue of this work.

Allah says: “Help one another in righteousness and piety.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 2]

Allah also says: “And whoever does good voluntarily, then surely Allah is grateful, knowing.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 158]

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Allah will not cease to help His servant as long as that servant is helping his brother.” [Sahîh Muslim (2699)]

He also said: “Whoever is working to fulfill his brother’s need, know that Allah will be taking care of his needs.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2442) and Sahîh Muslim (2580)]

These words should be more than sufficient to inspire us to become more charitable.

2. Direct Involvement in Fulfilling the Needs of Society

Relief works gets the Muslims involved in the dynamics of fulfilling society’s needs. In this way, the values of cooperation, love, and civic loyalty are cultivated. Social harmony is achieved. The spirit of brotherhood is fostered.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The believers are, to each other, like a building, each part supporting the rest.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (481) and Sahîh Muslim (2585)]

3. The Rewards of Personal Satisfaction

Helping other people brings happiness to the heart. There is nothing like the satisfaction that one feels when he sees the joy that he has brought to the lives of others or when he sees that his efforts have removed their hardship and put an end to their despair.

Engaging in unselfish work purifies our souls. It makes us love the good fortune of others and allows us to share in their joys. We then truly love for others what we love for ourselves.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) has told us: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother – or his neighbor – what he loves for himself.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (12) and Sahîh Muslim (64)]

4. Warding Off Affliction and Hardship

Helping others is a means by which Allah keeps hardship and affliction from befalling ourselves. It is a means by which Allah brings to us prosperity and good fortune.

5. Awakening Latent Strengths and Learning Skills that Society Has to Offer

A person who engages in voluntary relief work develops new strengths and learns new practical skills. He develops expertise that he otherwise would not even be acquainted with. He also strengthens his people skills.

6. Making New Friends and Acquaintances

Volunteer work is a great way to meet new people. It provides opportunities to get to know people from different backgrounds and different walks of life.

7. Self-Empowerment

Involvement in relief work makes a person realize that he can make a change. He can have a positive affect on society. This work gives a real sense of the truly important place that the individual has in his community and in the world at large.

Prohibiting what is Harmful

Sat, 06/16/2007
Short Content: 
Applying this legal principle is not as easy as it sounds. Almost everything in the world contains some harm and provides some benefit.
There is a general principle in Islamic Law that harm is to be avoided.

The principle is articulated in the hadîth where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “There shall be no harm nor the causing of harm.”

This hadîth is related in Sunan Ibn Mâjah, al-Muwatta’, Musnad Ahmad, Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah, and other works.

Despite some weakness in the hadîth’s various chains of transmission, al-Ulâ’î says: “This hadîth has supporting narrations that bring it to the grade of authentic (sahîh) or at least to that of good (hasan). It is valid as evidence.”

Al-Nawawî writes: “This is a good (hasan) hadîth. Its various chains of transmission strengthen one another.”

Al-Albanî is among the contemporary hadîth scholars who declared it to be authentic. [al-Silsilah al-Sahîhah (1/249)]

Along with the hadîth, a general survey of the Islamic legal rulings establishes a pattern where the principle of preventing harm can clearly be discerned. It is on this basis that Islamic jurists have drawn the general principle that “harm is to be avoided”.

In turn, this principle has been applied by jurists to ascertain a host of Islamic legal rulings.

Applying the principle that “harm is to be avoided” is not as easy as it sounds. How does a scholar determine what is harmful and what is not? What criteria can he apply?

When we look at the various things that Allah has permitted, we see almost none of them are free from having some capacity to cause harm. Likewise, when we consider the things that Allah has prohibited, we see that almost none of them are wholly harmful or devoid of any benefit.

Practically everything that Allah has forbidden us has the ability to provide at least some benefit, just like almost every permissible thing can at least cause some harm.

We can see this very clearly where Allah says: “They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin as well as benefit for people, and their sin is greater than their benefit. And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, that you may ponder” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 219]

The verse admits that gambling and intoxicants bring benefits to people, but adds that the harm in these things outweighs those benefits.

The opposite is true for lawful things, though they also provide a mix of benefit and harm. Take something that is certainly permissible: commerce – the activities of buying and selling. These activities can certainly be harmful. They have a great potential to bring about financial loss.

This means that the question of benefit and harm is rarely ever going to be answered in clear, black-and-white terms. It is always one where the jurist will have to consider various shades of grey.

The great legal theorist al-Shâtibî took note of the fact. He explains in al-Muwâfaqât, his landmark treatise on the purposes of Islamic Law, that Allah’s purpose in what He permits and what he prohibits is to permit what is overwhelmingly beneficial and prohibit what has a preponderance of harm.

Wherever that harm in something far outweighs the benefits it provides – as is the case with intoxicants – Allah prohibits it. When the benefits outweigh the harm, it is permitted.

The latter situation is the case with most of what we eat and drink, like meat, fruit, and sweets. All of these foods can cause harm, especially if taken in excess. However, the overall benefit in food is greater than the harm. Certain foods cause harm in a limited number of circumstances. Other foods, especially meats and fatty foods, have a natural propensity to cause harm, but that propensity is low in comparison with their benefits.

What we say about food also applies to the tools that we use. Consider the computer screen that you are probably reading this article on, it has a clinically proven ability to cause eye strain and sometimes even permanent visual impairment. However, it is one of the most indispensable and widespread tools of our day, from which most of us derive great benefit. Moreover, if we are responsible in how we use the computer monitor, its potential for harm can be greatly minimized.

When we apply the general principle that harm is to be avoided, it is possible that certain foods, certain activities, or certain devices can be unlawful for some people but not for others. If a person has a medical condition that makes eating certain foods a danger to his health or his life, that food will be come unlawful for him, though its ruling with respect to the general public will remain unaffected.

In cases like these, experts who have the ability to weigh the benefits and harms are the ones who need to make the determination. For instance, a doctor would have to decide when it comes a diabetic having sugar in his diet or a heart patient eating high-cholesterol foods. If the doctor determines that such foods are a serious danger for the patient’s life, it would be unlawful for the patient to eat such foods. Likewise, if the doctor determines that the health benefits of a certain medicine outweighs its negative side effects, it will be lawful for the patient to take that medicine.

Weakness of: ‘Whoever wipes over the nape of his neck…’

Question Title: 
Weakness of: ‘Whoever wipes over the nape of his neck…’
Wed, 05/16/2007
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
Can you please verify if the following hadîth is authentic, since Hanafî jurists cite it to support the practice of wiping ober the neck in wudû’. Abd Allah b. `Umar Ibn Umar narrates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever performs wudû’ and wipes over the nape of his neck, he will be saved from wearing a chain around his neck on the the Day of Judgment”. The famous commentator of Sahîh al-Bukharî, Allamah Ibn Hajar Asqalaani, writes in his book al-Talkhîs al-Habîr that this narration is authentic (sahîh). Al-Shawkânî has also affirmed this in Nayl al-Awtâr (vol. 1, p.204). If the narration is correct, shouldn't all Muslims adopt the practice of wiping the neck during wudû’?
English Answer: 
It is correct that Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî discusses this hadîth in al-Talkhîs al-Habîr.

The following is what he says about it [al-Talkîs al-Habîr (1/134-135 # 97)]:
It is narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever wipes over the nape of his neck is saved from the neck-chain.”

Abû Muhammad al-Juwaynî quotes it and then says: “The scholars of hadîth do not look favorably upon its chain of transmission There has been disagreement as to whether the practice is a Sunnah or a nicety.”

However, the Imam [al-Haramayn] counters this by saying – as we summarize – that the students [of al-Shâfi`î] had no need to disagree about the ruling when the hadîth that indicates it is weak.

Al-Qâdî Abû al-Tayyib says: “There is nothing established in the Sunnah to support it.”

Al-Qâdî Husayn says: “There is nothing in the Sunnah to support this practice.”

Al-Fawrânî says: “There is no narration to support it.”

Al-Ghazâlî quotes this hadîth in al-Wasît and then Ibn al-Salâh comments on it saying: “This hadîth is unknown from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is rather the statement of one of the Pious Predecessors.”

Al-Nawawî says in [al-Majmû`] Sharh al-Muhadhdhab: “This hadîth is fabricated. These are not the Prophet’s words.”

In another place, he writes, “There is nothing authentic related about this from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is not Sunnah. Rather, it is an innovation. Al-Shâfi`î did not mention it, nor did the majority of the students. It was only mentioned by Ibn al-Qâs and a small minority. Ibn al-Ruf`ah raised the objection that al-Baghawî, who is a leading hadîth scholar, considered it to be a preferable act. However, there is no basis for declaring it a preferable act except a report from the Prophet or a Companion, since there is no place for analogical reasoning in this matter.”

Perhaps, al-Baghawî relied in this matter on what Ahmad and Abû Dâwûd narrated from Talhah b. Masraf from his father that his grandfather saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) wipe over his head until he reached the ociput and the nape of the neck. However, this has a weak chain of transmission, as we have already discussed.

As for the person from the Pious Predecessors that Ibn al-Salâh mentions, perhaps he is referring to what Abû `Ubayd relates in Kitâb al-Tahûr from `Abd al-Rahmân b. Mahdî from al-Mas`ûdî from al-Qâsim b. `Abd al-Rahmân from Mûsâ b. Talhah who said: “Whoever wipes the nape of his neck along with his head is protected from the neck-chain on the Day of Resurrection.” It is possible to say that though it is a chain of transmission that stops at a Companion, it has the strength of a hadîth that goes back to the Prophet, since it is not something that can be said on the basis of personal opinion. This would make it mursal.

[This is the entry for this hadîth, quoted in full from al-Talkhîs al-Habîr as published by Maktabah Nizâr al-Bâz, first edition – Mecca and Riyadh: 1997]
Ibn Hajar does not mention the strength of the chain of transmission for Mûsâ b. Talhah’s statement. It is weak, since it contains the narrator al-Mas`ûdî who was known to confuse his narrations.

The claim that Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî declared the hadîth is authentic is a false claim, as the above quote from al-Talkhîs al-Habîr establishes.

And Allah knows best.

For the Sake of Calling to Islam

Sun, 05/28/2006
Short Content: 
The destiny of Islam is intrinsically tied to the destiny of the Muslim ummah. It is not tied to the destiny of any individual, group, organization, or country. Islam is greater than all of that. It is a mistake to tie the future of Islam – or of Islamic work – to the fate of some group or another.

The Muslim ummah is vital, caring, and fruitful. Its still retains its youthful vitality. With Allah’s help, it is able to compensate for the deficiencies that come over it in every age. Nations rise and fall. Personalities come and go. Great works, schemes, and projects fall to dust. However, the Muslim ummah remains.

The destiny of Islam is intrinsically tied to the destiny of the Muslim ummah. It is not tied to the destiny of any individual, group, organization, or country. Islam is greater than all of that. It is a mistake to tie the future of Islam – or of Islamic work – to the fate of some group or another. Likewise, it is wrong to regard the future of Islam in light of the contributions of a certain individual or to the continuation of some activity that we believe to be beneficial and productive.

No doubt, there are many contributions being made by many people that have a clearly positive effect in the advancement of Islamic work. However, all of these things are but means that are not irreplaceable. A person might die and the Muslim ummah will live on, and Allah may replace that person with even better people.

It is injurious for people to tie the future of Islamic work to any specific individual, no matter how highly people might hold him in their esteem. Every person is but a mortal human being with limited potential. He is prone to make mistakes as well as to be correct. He is subject to the influences that surround him, whether they be social, economic, political, or personal, and he cannot escape them. Many people clasp their hands over their hearts and fear that a certain beneficial door or pathway will become blocked, or that some orator will not be able to ascend the pulpit and speak, or that some writer not be able to write. We need to ask such people: What is it then? How many are the orators, writers, and Islamic workers that Allah has at His disposal. How many are the pathways to good that are at our disposal.

Surely, we should grieve when a door of opportunity is closed. However, it is wrong for us to think that the future of Islamic work is inexorably tied to it. No one can be blamed for being affected by the silencing of a voice or the absence of a true word that used to be spoken. However they will be blameworthy if they start to think that the future of Islamic work is ruined and that the means to carry it out have perished.

The Muslim ummah is something bountiful and fertile. If one voice becomes silent, there are a thousand voices behind it to take its place. If one orator dies, Allah will bring forth a thousand others like him.

By vesting our hopes in personalities, we place too much upon their shoulders and, whether we like it or not, we end up stifling a lot of potential for goodness that our ummah can bring forth. Who out there can carry the future of Islamic work upon his shoulders as if he is its living embodiment?

We do justice to consider each person in his natural place and keep our perspectives from becoming distorted. No one needs to be slighted or denied the credit that they and their contributions are due. At the same time, we should not elevate anyone above their true worth and expect from them what they are unable to deliver.

In times of weakness and decline, it is easy for people to seize upon anything near at hand that they find to be strong and then pin upon it all of their hopes. This is why we see many good people shrinking away from the public and electing to remain silent, simply because they cannot bear the burdens and that the people foist upon them because of their working for Islam. They cannot handle being put in such a position of absolute accountability.

Allah says:

“Every soul is held in pledge for what he earned.” [Sûrah al-Tûr: 21]

“Every soul is held in pledge for what it earned.” [Sûrah al-Mudaththir: 38]

“On the Day when every soul will come pleading for itself, and every soul will be repaid what it did, and they will not be wronged.” [Sûrah al-Nahl: 111]

“And We have made every man's actions to cling to his own neck.” [Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 13]

From what verse of the Qur’ân are some people today getting the idea that for a person to be something he has to be everything? Where do they get the idea that all responsibility should be foisted upon the shoulders of a few people so that everyone else can be relieved from carrying theirs?

The only difference between the person who is carrying out this work and the rest of the people is that we have one person who is doing his duty and the rest who are failing to do theirs. So may Allah reward the one who is fulfilling his duty and may He bless his work. However, the basic accountability upon all the people is the same. It may be that those of us who are not mobilizing ourselves have greater natural talents and stronger personalities than those who are doing so. Why should we forget ourselves and bury our own talents? Why should we not ourselves assume what others have neglected or have failed to carry out in the fullest possible manner?