Protective headgear sufficient for Muslim girls as long as it covers

Question Title: 
Protective headgear sufficient for Muslim girls as long as it covers
Date: 
Mon, 04/16/2007
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
In Canada, girls have been prohibited from participating in a tae kwon do tournament because they wanted to wear their hijab under their protective headgear. They were told to remove their hijabs or they would not be allowed to participate. The girls refused to remove their hijabs. Did they do the right thing? Please know that the protective headgear covers their entire heads and also that the girls were from 8 to 14 years old.
English Answer: 
To start with, those girls who have not yet reached puberty are not obligated by Islamic Law to cover their heads. There is no reason for them to be barred from participating in sports in order to cover their heads.

We must also realize what “hijâb” means. It refers to a degree of modest covering. It does not refer to a particular scarf or specific style of dress. In Islamic Law, it is required for a woman who has reached puberty to cover everything except for her face and hands. It is not required for her to wear a specific headscarf or style of dress. What matters is that what she wears covers her form sufficiently.

There are various models of the protective headgear worn for tae kwon do. Some of them cover a woman’s head and hair sufficiently. At the same time, a number of helmets are open on the top in places. Muslim women should choose helmets that are not open. (In any case, small holes that do not allow for practical visibility should not be a problem.) The only matter of concern then will be the neck. The woman can opt for a helmet with a large chin guard or she can make sure that her shirt is closed up to her neck. In either case, she will be fully covered according to the dictates of Islamic Law.

Unfortunately, many Muslims today misunderstand the meaning of “hijâb”. They think it means to wear a particular scarf as a sign of Islamic identity. This is why so many Muslim women wear flimsy scarves or wear tight clothing along with their scarves. The real purpose of hijâb has been lost for some people, and for many it has become a cultural issue and an identity issue, instead of one of observing modesty according to the dictates of Islamic Law.

As long as a woman is covered according to the dictates of Islamic modesty, then she is sufficiently covered, regardless of what style of dress she adopts. She does not have to adopt a dress style that sets her apart from the society in which she lives, as long as she upholds the standards of Islamic modesty and covers everything but her face and hands.

In fact, Muslims living in non-Muslim countries should not needlessly seek to appear different than the people around them. Doing so simply causes unnecessary conflicts and hardships.

Ibn Taymiyah writes:
If the Muslim lives in a non-Muslim country, regardless of whether or not that country is hostile with the Muslim countries, he will not be obligated to make himself appear different than them. This is on account of the difficulties that doing so can pose. Indeed, it might become preferable or even obligatory for him to conform to their outward standards of appearance if there is a benefit for the faith in doing so like inviting them to Islam, or preventing hardship for the Muslims, or for realizing any other wholesome intention.” [Iqtidâ’ al-Sirât al-Mustaqîm (176)]
And Allah knows best.

---------------------------------

Question: About the tae kwon do helmets – in your answer, you forgot to mention that the ears are always exposed by the helmets. Does this affect the ruling?

Answered by Sheikh Muhammad Muhammad Sâlim `Abd al-Wadûd

From what we have learned, even women who wear scarves under their helmets in international tae kwon do competitions are required to avoid covering their ears.

This is due to safety concerns. In the event that the competitor is knocked out and the headgear cannot be taken off, a doctor will still be able to see inside the ear.

This is a legitimate safety and medical concern that is recognized by Islamic Law. Islam places a premium on protecting life and protection from injury.

Also, if we look at many helmet designs, we can see that the ear area is surrounded by padding of at least two centimeters in thickness. The ears are not exposed in any easily visible and provocative way. Therefore, the valid medical and safety considerations are more than sufficient to allow the exposure of the ears through the helmet. Muslim women should not be prevented from participation in this sport due to the safety regulation that requires the use of specific protective headgear.

And Allah knows best.

Forced marriages are wrong

Question Title: 
Forced marriages are wrong
Sheikh Name: 
Date: 
Mon, 04/16/2007
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
Many women face pressure from their parents to marry someone whom their parents pick for them, even though they do not wish to marry those men. If the daughters refuse, they can face great difficulties from their parents. Sometimes their parents bar them from getting married altogether.
English Answer: 
It is a woman’s right to choose her life partner. It is unlawful for her guardian – regardless of who he is – or for anyone else to deny her this right or to force her into an unwanted marriage. Likewise, it is unlawful for him to prevent her from marrying a suitor of equal status or to prevent her form marriage altogether in order to take her money or to use her for housework, or due to some cultural notion of honor.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A virgin cannot be married to someone without first seeking her consent.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

This is the correct opinion expressed by the jurists and it is the opinion that accords with the explicit dictates of the sacred texts.

It is the duty of the political authority to legislate punishments for any violation of these rights and also to revoke the guardianship of such men.

I call upon women to show courage and strength, and to stand up for their rights. They should not allow anyone to prohibit them altogether from their right to marriage. They should not let anyone force them into an unwanted marriage.

Which perfumes are suitable for women?

Question Title: 
Which perfumes are suitable for women?
Date: 
Tue, 03/04/2008
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) preferred to use musk, from all the perfumes. Can women use musk? Or is it better for women to use camphor? Which perfume is best for women according to the Prophet (peace be upon him)? Thank you.
English Answer: 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) distinguished between the scents to be used by men and women.

He told us that the scents used by men should be strong but not colorful, whereas the perfumes used by women should be colorful but not strong. [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (1859, 3527), Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2711, 2712), and Sunan al-Nasâ'î (1528, 1529) – and authenticated by al-Albânî]

We find that today, there are indeed clear differences between the perfumes used by men and women, but they are not the same as the differences described by the Prophet (peace be upon him) above.

It is preferable that men use their own perfumes, and avoid women’ as much as possible, and vice versa.

There is another hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him) encourages men to use scent when they go out for their Friday prayers. The Prophet (peace be upon him) allowed men to use perfumes regarded by the people of his society to be women’s perfumes if they could find nothing else.

He said: “…even from women’s perfume”. [Sahîh Muslim (1400)]

This shows that it is merely disliked to use the perfumes of the opposite sex, but that it is permitted when one needs to use perfume and cannot find something else.

Ibn Hajr comments on this hadîth, saying: "Using women’s perfume does not come under the severe warning for those men who try to imitate women, because it was permitted by the Prophet (peace be upon him)."

However, actions are by their intentions, so if someone uses a certain perfume with the express intention of to imitating the opposite sex, that person will come under the warning against doing so.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah curses men who emulate women and women who emulate men.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5885)]

Ultimately, what scents are deemed suitable for men and for women is something determined by local norms and customs. These customs can change from one time and place to another, and they are not something fixed. You should follow the norms of the society in which you live with respect to whether a certain scent is suitable for use by women.

And Allah knows best.

The Six Days of Shawwal

Date: 
Wed, 09/03/2008
Short Content: 
These six days of voluntary fasting are to the obligatory fast of Ramadan what the Sunnah prayers are to the obligatory prayers.
Body: 
Abû Ayyûb al-Ansârî relates that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) says: "Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of fasting in the month of Shawwâl, it will be as if he had fasted the year through." [Sahîh Muslim (1163)]

The month of Shawwâl is singled out for the observance of extra fasts, since this month follows immediately after Ramadan. The six days of voluntary fasting are to the obligatory fast of Ramadan what the Sunnah prayers are to the obligatory prayers.

It is related from Thawbân that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The fast of Ramadan is like observing ten months of fasting. Fasting six days of Shawwâl is like observing two months of fasting. This together is like fasting throughout the year." [Sahîh Ibn Khuzaymah (2115) and Sunan al-Nasâ'î al-Kubrâ (2860) – and authenticated by al-Albânî]

Al-Nawawî observes [Sharh Sahîh Muslim (8/56)]:
Scholars have explained that it is like observing a year of fasting because the reward of one's good deeds are multiplied tenfold. Therefore fasting the month of Ramadan is like fasting for ten months and fasting six days in the month of Shawwâl is like fasting for two months.
Virtues of Fasting Six Days in Shawwâl

1. Fasting six days in Shawwâl after observing the Ramadan fast gives the person the reward of fasting throughout the year.

2. The fasts of Sha`bân and Shawwâl are like the Sunnah prayers that accompany the five obligatory prayers. Like the Sunnah prayers, these extra fasts cover up for the deficiencies in our performance of our obligatory worship. On the Day of Judgment, our voluntary acts of worship will compensate for the shortcomings in how we carried out our duties. Most of us have deficiencies in our observance of our Ramadan fasts and we need something to cover up for those deficiencies.

[Note: The deficiencies being discussed here are not missing days of fasting. Rather, they are the deficiencies in our conduct that detract from the value of our worship.]

3. Our return to the habit of fasting right after Ramadan is a sign that our Ramadan fasts were accepted. When Allah accepts our worship, He blesses us to engage in further acts of piety. The saying goes: The reward of virtue is further virtue. Therefore, following one good deed with others like it is a sign that the first deed had been accepted by Allah. By contrast, if a person's good deed is followed by a sinful one, it is an indication that the first good deed might not have been accepted.

4. Those who observe the fast of Ramadan are given their recompense of the day of`Id al-Fitr, the day when the fast is rewarded. Getting into the habit of fasting again soon thereafter is a means of giving thanks to Allah for the blessings that we have received. There is no blessing greater than forgiveness for one's sins, and we know that fast of Ramadan is recompensed with forgiveness of one's previous sins.

Indeed, Allah has commanded us to give thanks for the blessings of the Ramadan fast and to do so by making mention of Him and through other means of giving thanks. Allah says: "(He wants you) to complete the number of days, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance you may give thanks." [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185]

Fasting these days in Shawwâl is one way for us to express our thanks for Allah blessing us in our observance of the Ramadan fast.

It is known that some of the Pious Predecessors would try to get up at night to pray the Tahajjud prayer. When Allah blessed them to wake up and do so, they would fast the next day in thanks to Allah for blessing them to observe that prayer.

Once Wuhayb b. al-Ward was asked about the blessings of various acts of devotion and he replied: "Do not ask about the blessings that can be earned by performing these acts of worship. Rather, ask how you can show your thanks to Allah if He blesses you to perform them, for he is the one who assists us in doing so."

Every blessing that Allah gives us is something that we have to be thankful about. Moreover, when Allah blesses us to show thanks, this is a further blessing from Allah that deserves further thanks from us. If we show further thanks, this in turn is another blessing deserving our gratitude. There is no end to this and we can never be thankful enough. When we recognize that our thanks is never enough, this is the highest expression of gratitude we can give.

The Legal Ruling Regarding the Six Days of Shawwâl

Al-Shâfi`î, Ahmad b. Hanbal, and Ishâq al-Râhawayh hold that is preferable and recommended to fast six days in the month of Shawwâl. This opinion has also been related from Ibn `Abbâs, Ka`b al-Ahbâr, Tâwûs, al-Sha`bî, Maymûn b. Mahrân, and Ibn al-Mubârak.

They base their opinion upon the hadîth that we have discussed above.

Others have regarded fasting six days in the month of Shawwâl to be something disliked. This view has been related from Mâlik and Abû Hanîfah. They argue that it is feared from the general public that they might misconstrue fasting these six days to be something obligatory. They also see it as emulating the People of the Scripture to exceed the number of fasting days in the prescribed month of fasting.

However, these objections are spurious in the face of the clear statements of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that encourage this fast. If we were to abandon a Sunnah act on the grounds that we are exceeding what is obligatory, then we would have to abandon all recommended fasts, including the fast of `Ashûrâ' and the fast of the middle of the month.

It has been related that Mâlik used to personally fast six days in Shawwâl. Also, later Hanafî scholars decided that there is no objection to fasting these days.

The Mâlikî jurist Ibn `Abd al-Bar explains [al-Istidhkâr (3/380)]:
Mâlik did not know of the hadîth related by Abû Ayyûb al-Ansârî, even though it is a hadîth from the people of Madînah. No one possesses all the knowledge held by others. Mâlik explained and clarified what he disliked about it – He was afraid that it would be added to the obligatory fast of Ramadan by the general public. Mâlik was extremely cautious when it came to matters of religion.

As for fasting six days in the month of Shawwâl to seek extra blessings – as Thawbân depicts it – this is something that Mâlik had no objection against – and Allah knows best – since fasting is a person's protective shield and its virtues are well-known. When we give up our food and drink for Allah's sake, it is a virtuous and good deed. Allah says: "and engage in good works that perchance you will be successful." [Sûrah al-Hajj: 77]

Mâlik was well aware of all this.
How We Should Fast the Six Days in Shawwâl

There are various opinions about this question:

1. Some scholars hold the view that it is preferable to fast the six days in consecutive order, starting from the second day of Shawwâl. This is the view of al-Shâfi`î and Ibn al-Mubârak.

2. Others are of the opinion that it is preferable to fast the six days intermittently, spreading them out throughout the month of Shawwâl. Thisis the position of Ahmad b. Hanbal and Wakî`.

3. Then there are those who hold the view that the days should all be postponed until later in the month and not close to the day of `Id, which is a time of celebration and feasting. They prefer fasting the three days in the middle of the month (ayyâm al-bîd) along with the three days right before or after. This is the opinion of Ma`mar and `Abd al-Razzâq.

There is considerable flexibility in all of this. We can choose to follow any of these approaches that we wish.

And Allah knows best.

Ululation or trilling with the tongue – is it an unlawful Arab custom?

Question Title: 
Ululation or trilling with the tongue – is it an unlawful Arab custom?
Date: 
Wed, 08/15/2007
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
In some Arab and African cultures, women engage in ululation at wedding feasts, funerals, and other special occasions. I heard that this is a bad and blameworthy custom. Is it really sinful?
English Answer: 
The trilling that some traditional Arab, Somali, Berber, and Swahili women do with their tongues on weddings and other special occasions – known as zaghradah in Arabic – comes under the default ruling of permissibility that applies generally to customs and cultural practices.

Al-Sheikh al-Sa`dî writes in Nayl al-Ma’ârib (4/206):
The default ruling for all verbal and non-verbal customs is that they are lawful and permitted. They are not to be prohibited or even frowned upon unless they present an express violation of Islamic Law or bring about some evil consequences. The basic permissibility of things is established by the Qur’ân and Sunnah.

Such practices are not carried out as a form of devotion. They are just cultural practices that people have adopted on special occasions. They are harmless practices.

Indeed, some permissible customs even bring benefits to the people and play a positive role in society, especially when they are associated with activities that are laudable.
I see nothing wrong with women engaging in this habit of trilling on special occasions. It is just like the handclapping and beating of the daff that women engage in at such times in many cultures.

Ibn Taymiyah writes regarding festivities: “Beating the daff and handclapping are among the activities of women.” [Majmû`ah al-Rasâ’il al-Minbariyyah (2/171)]

[The daff is a tambourine without bells.]

And Allah knows best.

Shortening prayers on journey of over 80 km…but why 80 km???

Question Title: 
Shortening prayers on journey of over 80 km…but why 80 km???
Date: 
Sun, 07/15/2007
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
I follow the opinion of Ibn Taymiyah and others – that travel is best defined by prevailing customs and not by a specific distance. However, I read in a lot of places that scholars say that a journey must be at least 80 km one-way for a person to shorten his prayers. How do they come up with this number?
English Answer: 
Many scholars are of the opinion that a traveler cannot shorten his prayers or break his fast unless he is undertaking a journey of at least 88 kilometers.

The chief line of evidence cited by scholars who hold this view is as follows:

1. It is narrated with a weak line of transmission that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “People of Mecca! Do not shorten your prayers on a journey of less that four barîd – the distance between Mecca and `Asfân.” [Mu`jam al-Tabarânî al-Kabîr (11162), Sunan al-Dâraqutnî (1/387), and Sunan al-Bayhaqî (3/137)]

2. Though the hadîth is weak, this ruling is established as being the opinion of the Companion Ibn `Abbâs.

When people asked him if they could shorten their prayers on the way from Mecca to `Arafah, he replied: “No. But you can do so if you are going to `Asfân, Jeddah, or Ta’if.” [al-Talkhîs al-Habîr (2/46)]

3. It was the practice of both Ibn `Abbâs and Ibn `Umar to shorten their prayers and break their fasts whenever they undertook a journey of more than four barîd.

Ibn `Umar, for instance, shortened his prayers on a journey from Madinah to the town of Dhât al-Nasb, which was at a distance of four barîd. [Fath al-Bârî (2/566)]

One barîd is equal to 22.176 km. This means that four barîd equals 88.704 km. This is where that number comes from.

This distance is, in fact, roughly the distance between Mecca and Jeddah.

It is important to understand that those who set this as a minimum distance for a journey are talking about the full distance of the journey one-way, and not the distance when a person can start shortening his prayers. He can start shortening his prayers as soon as he departs from his own locality, as long as the journey he is taking is at least 88 km long.

It is also important to note that this distance of 88 km is not something that all scholars agree upon. There is considerable disagreement on this matter from the earliest times to the present. There are roughly twenty different scholarly views on the issue.

And Allah knows best.

The difference between jinn & devils

Question Title: 
The difference between jinn & devils
Sheikh Name: 
Date: 
Sun, 07/15/2007
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
What are the jinn? How are they different from the devils or from Satan?
English Answer: 
The jinn are a race of intelligent beings created by Allah with free will and with accountability to Him.

They are, therefore, one of the two “great worlds” that Allah mentions in the Qur’ân: “Soon shall We settle your affairs, O both you great worlds!” [Sûrah al-Rahmân: 31]

Allah created both sets of beings with free will expressly to worship Him. Allah says: “I only created the Jinn and humanity to worship Me.” [Sûrah al-Dhâriyât: 56]

As for Satan (Shaytân in Arabic), he is Iblîs, the singular being who was created directly from fire, just like Adam was created from dust. Allah says: “And He created the jinn from a smokeless flame of fire.” [Sûrah al-Rahmân: 15]

Since he was created from fire, he has a natural tendency for anger, passion, and reprehensible behavior. He refused to prostrate before Adam as Allah had commanded him.

Allah says: “Behold! We said to the angels, "Bow down to Adam": They bowed down except Iblis. He was one of the Jinns, and he broke the Command of his Lord. Will ye then take him and his progeny as protectors rather than Me, when they are an enemy unto you? Evil would be the exchange for the wrong-doers!” [Sûrah al-Kahf: 50]

As for the term devil – or shaytân in a generic sense – it refers to all intelligent beings who choose to act in an evil and iniquitous way, regardless of whether they are form Adam’s descendents or from the descendants of Iblis.

In his book, Terms from the Qur’ân and their Definitions, al-Râghib al-Asfahânî writes:
Every rebellious being – whether from the Jinn or from humanity – is called a devil (shaytân).

Allah says: “And thus did We make for every prophet an enemy, devils from among human beings and jinn, some of them suggesting to others varnished falsehood to deceive (them), and had your Lord pleased they would not have done it, therefore leave them and that which they forge.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 112]
And Allah knows best.

Paying the Zakah on gold & silver in modern currencie

Question Title: 
Paying the Zakah on gold & silver in modern currencie
Date: 
Thu, 07/03/2008
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
When paying one's Zakah on gold or silver, will the monetary amount due be based upon the original purchase price of the precious metal or its present market value?
English Answer: 
Originally, the Zakâh on gold and silver was paid as a percentage (2.5%) of the gold or silver itself. Gold and silver were the currency at that time. Therefore, if a person had kept a thousand gold coins (dinâr) in savings for a year, he would simply pay 25 gold coins as Zakâh at the end of that year.

Today, gold and silver are not used as currencies, but rather as an investment. Consequently, people usually prefer to pay the value of the gold or silver in in cash so they can keep their investment intact.

The present market value of the gold or silver at the time of paying Zakâh should be used to determine the amount of Zakâh that is due, since paying the equivalent in currency is taking the place of paying the Zakâh from the precious metal itself.

And Allah knows best.

Mother breastfeeding her baby for more than two years

Question Title: 
Mother breastfeeding her baby for more than two years
Date: 
Thu, 07/03/2008
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
Is it permissible for the mother to breastfeed her child for longer then two years if there is a need?
English Answer: 
Allah says: “And the mothers should breastfeed their children for two whole years for him who desires to make complete the time of nursing.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 233]

This verse makes it clear that the complete duration of the nursing period is two full years.

This means that no mother can be obliged to nurse her child for longer than that. Also, it means that the father is not obliged in Islam, to pay for a wet nurse for more than two years. Also, after the two year period is over, a father who is divorced from his child's mother will no longer have to provide the specific support that the divorced mother is entitled to receive for nursing the child.

At the same time, we do not know of any evidence to prohibit a mother from nursing her child for more than two years if that is what she determines to be in the child's best interests.

And Allah knows best.

Many chains of transmission do not always indicate an authentic hadith

Question Title: 
Many chains of transmission do not always indicate an authentic hadith
Date: 
Thu, 07/03/2008
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
My question is whether or not a large number of chains of transmission support each other and make a hadith an acceptable one, even if all the chains of transmission are weak?
English Answer: 
Only in a few cases do various weak reports strengthen one another. This is the case when many people narrate the same hadîth from a clearly reliable source. Those who relate the hadîth from that reliable source are all honest and upright, but they might have somewhat weak memories. In this case, since all of them say they heard the same thing from the same reliable narrator, their various narrations corroborate and lend strength to each other.

Such hadîth are called sahîh li-ghayrihî (authentic by virtue of corroboration) or hasan li-ghayrihî (good by virtue of corroboration), depending on the degree of weakness of the mildly weak narrators in question.

In most cases, however, the existence of a large number of chains of transmission for a report do nothing to strengthen that report. For instance, if there are gaps in the chain of transmission, there is the possibility that those gaps could indicate the same weak narrator, or even worse, a liar.

When there are various named narrators in the chains of the hadîth whose identities are unknown, there is the possibility that they very weak or untrustworthy people who quote the same well-known – but inauthentic – text. If they are dishonest people, they might be quoting the same baseless text deliberately. If they are honest but extremely weak, their bad memories might cause them to confuse narrations they had previously heard and attribute baseless hadîth to the wrong narrators.

Therefore, the existence of many narrations of such quality do not lend any strength to the hadîth being reported. This is usually the case.

And Allah knows best.