That is What Everyone Thinks!

Date: 
Thu, 07/21/2005
Short Content: 
I have observed that often when a person is satisfied with his own opinion and convinced that his point of view is the right one, he presents it to others as if it were the view of the general public and not merely his personal opinion. This attitude is a mistaken one.
Body: 
I have observed that often when a person is satisfied with his own opinion and convinced that his point of view is the right one, he presents it to others as if it were the view of the general public and not merely his personal opinion. This attitude is a mistaken one.

To start with, not everything that people in a given time or place agree about is necessarily correct. Quite of the truth about something is beyond the understanding of the majority of the people and the one who comes with it is regarded by the general public as being eccentric or insane.

Most people do not possess the ability to critically analyze matters and study them in depth to the extent that they can distinguish what is correct from what is in error. Often, their conclusions are based on emotions, beliefs, or even impressions that they cannot account for. In many cases, people blindly follow the opinion of an important person and view the opinion with the same importance that they view the person who espouses it and therefore dread to even think of criticizing it.

Therefore, the majority view is not the criterion for knowledge. It does not indicate the truth or falsehood of an opinion.

Those who see to present their personal viewpoints as though they were the view of the majority make another serious mistake when they attribute to people an opinion that they do not really hold. It is wrong or a person to act as if he is a spokesperson for the people who has a right to speak on their behalf.

What is possible is to ascertain the general opinion of one sector of society or another by various means like the ballot box. If these means are employed properly and with transparency, they can give an accurate indication of public opinion. The municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, for instance, put an end to all the speculations and arguments among people about what the public really wanted. We should not read into those election results more meaning than they convey, but they do provide some evidence that no one can ignore.

Another means of gauging public opinion is through polls and surveys that focus on specific issues. They can provide accurate information as long as they are worded properly and are responded to by a representative sampling of the public.

Aside from such means, we cannot take the loudest or most boisterous voices to be representative of public opinion. The same can be said for the news media, which does not necessarily represent public opinion, especially when the media speak only on behalf of those who are behind them. When a forum is given to allow people to express other opinions, the situation is closer to the pulse of the people, even though experience shows us that those who are in possession of the media still have an extraordinary influence. Crafty managing directors know how to provide a margin of public participation for those holding opposing opinions, but they know where to set the limits so that the media agencies themselves continue to enjoy an overwhelmingly disproportionate representation of their own point of view.

The broadcast media, newspapers, and Internet websites express the views of those who own, run them, and have influence over them far more than they express the views of their audience or their readership. Yes, they have to take their audience’s views and attitudes into account if they are to maintain their ratings. This is reflected in the layout and presentation of the material and how much emphasis certain issues receive. Readers and viewers do have an influence on the media in such matters, but they are influenced far more than they influence.

Public opinion can be ascertained by way of soliciting the public view in a clear and wholesale manner, like what was conducted regarding the constitution of the European Community. Under such circumstances it is possible to say that the people in this country or that actually support or oppose a certain policy. This requires that the surveys are conducted in a clear and open manner where there is no chance of foul play.

We should mention that many websites have polls for their visitors to participate in. However, these polls are easily abused. It is not difficult for someone to get through the system and cast thousands of votes from his own personal computer.

A balanced approach for a speaker or writer to employ – no matter how convinced he is of his own opinion – is to avoid claiming that his views are those of the general public and to avoid seeming to speak on their behalf, unless he has solid evidence that it really is the general opinion.

The dictates of objectivity and civil conduct require from us that we learn how to express our views in a balanced manner, clearly and honestly, presenting them as our own opinions that we subscribe to without holding others to them except to the degree that they themselves also express those views.

If ten authors who believed in a certain view were to write, publish, and speak publicly about their views, they could easily give an impression to someone who does not interact with society that their view represented that of the general public. However, if that person were to mix with the people, he might find the truth to be quite the contrary.

Islam teaches us to verify our facts and to avoid attributing words to others. Allah says: “O ye who believe! If an unscrupulous person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done.” [Surah al-Hujurât: 6]

Allah also says: “And those who malign believing men and believing women undeservedly, they bear the guilt of slander and manifest sin.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 58]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “It is enough for a person to be a liar that he repeats everything he hears.”

Vying in doing good deeds

Question Title: 
Vying in doing good deeds
Date: 
Tue, 06/21/2005
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
What is Islam’s understanding of competitiveness when it comes to the performance of righteous deeds? When a person competes with another, it is as if he are doing that action or that deed in order to serve his ego and ensure himself that he is better than the one he is competing with. When you compete with someone in terms of good deeds, it seems as if you would not be doing those good deeds to please Allah, but rather to serve your own ego. Likewise, you might try to win an argument...not for the sake of truth but for the sake of serving your ego. The same applies to seeking knowledge. Now these three things involve an Islamic duty. We have an Islamic obligation to seek knowledge, do good deeds, and tell someone they are wrong when they are wrong. So I was wondering.....if we compete in these things wouldn’t we be gambling with our intentions by pleasing Allah on one side and serving our egos on the other? Wouldn’t that involve a lot of risk? So, to my understanding, competition also involves a lot of risks to our duties. So wouldn’t it be something that is “disliked” in Islam?
English Answer: 
Your question brings together a number of different points that it is difficult to address with a single answer. In general, we would say the following:

1. It is well known that Allah encourages us in the Qur’ân to vie with one another in doing good deeds Allah says: “So vie with one another in good works” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 148, Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 48]

Allah says: “And vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who ward off (evil)” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 133]

Allah also says: “And the foremost in the race, the foremost in the race: those are they who will be brought nigh in gardens of delight.” [Sûrah al-Wâqi`ah: 10-12]

2. This competitiveness does not necessitate negative consequences upon others, since it is not a win or lose competition. Each Muslim strives to increase his good and go forward without this increase bringing about any decrease for anyone else.

This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited envy, wishing for another to lose the blessings that he possesses. However, he permitted a person to desire to enjoy the same blessings as well.

3. We must be ever vigilant against Satan so that our intentions do not turn sour in these endeavors. A Muslim seeks knowledge, not with the purpose of being more knowledgeable than some other person, but rather to worship Allah with proper insight and to carry out the duty of acquiring knowledge on behalf of the Muslim community.

As Muslims, we discuss and debate not so that we will be the winner of the argument, but so that we and everyone else can arrive at the truth. We engages in righteous deeds not so that others can applaud us, but to increase our account of virtues.

We enjoin virtue and prohibit vice not so that we can order others around, but so that we can fulfill our duty to the people and convey Allah’s Message.

And Allah is the giver of success.

Comparing Allah to human kings

Question Title: 
Comparing Allah to human kings
Date: 
Tue, 05/09/2006
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
Many people argue that we have to approach Allah through the religious people (who have already passed way) who are claimed to have saintly status. We are the sinners, so we cannot plea to Allah directly. They give the example that we can not go directly to the king, president and other high-profile people. We need to get the permission from their secretaries & subordinates. They argue that Allah is even more worthy of that.
English Answer: 
The comparison that they are making is a horrible one. How can Allah be compared to human kings and presidents? They are creatures. They are limited and weak. They do not have the ability to hear every petition and respond to it. Their time and resources are limited. They have their own personal desires and moods. They suffer from pride, arrogance, and all other human shortcomings and failings. These are among the reasons what they cannot be approached directly by the people.

Allah is not like that at all. The Prophet (peace be upon him) tells us that Allah says [Sahîh Muslim (2577)]:
O My servants! Truly, I have forbidden oppression upon Myself and have made if forbidden among you, so do not oppress one another.

O My servants! All of you are astray except those whom I guide, so ask for My guidance and I will guide you.

O My servants! All of you are hungry except those to whom I give food, so seek sustenance from Me and I will feed you.

O My servants! All of you are naked except those whom I clothe, so seek raiment from Me and I will clothe you.

O My servants! Truly, you make mistakes night and day and truly I forgive all sins, so seek My forgiveness and I will forgive you.

O My servants! You do not have the ability to cause Me harm, so you can never harm Me. You do not have the ability to cause Me any benefit, so you will never benefit Me.

O My servants! If the first of you and the last of you , every human and every jinn of you, were to be as the most pious heart of any one of you, it would not increase My dominion in the least.

O My servants! If the first of you and the last of you , every human and every jinn of you, were to be as the vilest heart of any one of you, it would not decrease My dominion in the least.

O My servants! If the first of you and the last of you , every human and every jinn of you, were to stand together and petition me and were I to give every person what he asked for, it would not decrease what I possess any more than the ocean would be depleted by dipping a needle therein.

O My servants! It is only your deeds that I will call you to account for and then recompense you for, so whoever finds good should praise Allah and whoever finds other than good should not blame anyone besides himself.
How poorly those people estimate their Lord by making such an ignoble comparison between Allah and their own kings and presidents, who are mere human beings!

Allah says: “No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him: On the Day of Judgment the whole of the Earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand: Glory to Him! High is He above the partners they attribute to Him!” [Sûrah al-Zumar: 67]

What is most important is that Allah wants us to ask Him directly. He loves us to call out to Him. He commands us to do so and promises us that He hears our prayers.

And Allah knows best.

Silver jewelry for men

Question Title: 
Silver jewelry for men
Date: 
Tue, 05/09/2006
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
Can a male Muslim wear silver chains, rings, or bracelets?
English Answer: 
The ruling about a man wearing silver jewelry depends on two factors, both of which are culturally sensitive.

Firstly, if the man lives in a society where silver jewelry is considered appropriate only for women or is considered an indication of effeminate tendencies, then it will be unlawful for a Muslim man to wear any kind of silver jewelry while living in such a society. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah curses men who emulate women and women who emulate men.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5885)]

Secondly, if the man lives in a society wherein the use of silver jewelry for men is specifically associated with a particular religious group, then it will be unlawful for a Muslim man living in that society to wear such jewelry. A Muslim is forbidden to wear the clothing specifically associated with a certain non-Muslim religious group. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (4031)]

On the other hand, if a Muslim man lives in a society where certain forms of silver jewelry are considered acceptable adornment for men and are not specifically identifiable with the followers of a certain religion, then we see no reason why Islamic Law would prohibit Muslims men living within such a society from wearing those particular forms of silver jewelry that are deemed by local custom to be suitable for men.

It is true that some scholars of the past have considered jewelry of all sorts to be unlawful to men, except for what is specifically stated by the texts, including a gold tooth or a gold nose out of necessity, and a silver finger ring.

However, with respect to silver and other non-gold jewelry, most scholarly objections have been based on the scholars considering all such jewelry to be appropriate only for women.

We maintain that in the absence of specific texts proscribing silver jewelry for men, the matter of its appropriateness for men should properly be referred to the customs and culture of the people.

In Islamic jurisprudence, if the legal ruling is contingent on cultural considerations (`urf), then the fatwâ will be relevant only within the cultural context for which it was intended. Custom plays a role in matters of Islamic Law where a general ruling is given without the details being precisely defined. This is the case for “women’s dress” and “non-Muslim dress”. Both are prohibited to Muslim men by clear texts. However, the definition of what constitutes women’s dress or non-Muslim dress varies from society to society and from era to era, according to local custom.

Among the evidence for the recognition of custom in Islamic Law is the following hadith related by `A'ishah:

Hind, the mother of Mu`âwiyah, said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Abû Sufyân (Hind's husband) is a tight-fisted man. Is there anything wrong if I take money from him secretly?”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Take for yourself and your children to suffice your needs according to what is customary.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî, in his commentary on Sahîh al-Bukhârî, makes the following comment about this incident: “He referred her to customary usage in a matter that was not precisely defined in Islamic Law.” [Fath al-Bârî (4/407)]

And Allah knows best.

Friday sermon short but eloquent

Question Title: 
Friday sermon short but eloquent
Date: 
Thu, 04/21/2005
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
I have read where the Prophet (peace be upon him) supposedly once gave a sermon in which he only said “fear Allah”. Is this correct? Would such a short phrase suffice as a sermon?
English Answer: 
I have not come across a sermon of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in which he only said: “Fear Allah”. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to give sermons that were balanced and of moderate length.

Jâbir b. Samurah said: “I used to pray with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his prayer would be of a moderate length as would be his sermon.” [Sahîh Muslim (866) and Sunan al-Tirmidhî (507)]

Abû Wâ’il relates: `Ammâr delivered to us the sermon. It was short and eloquent. When he (`Ammâr) descended (from the pulpit) we said to him: “0 Abû al-Yaqzân! You have delivered a short and eloquent sermon. Would that you had prolonged it.”

`Ammâr b. Yâsir then said: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying: “The length of a man’s prayer and the shortness of his sermon bears witness to his erudition. So lengthen your prayers and shorten your sermons, for indeed in eloquence there is magic.” [Sahîh Muslim (869)]

This shows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not prolong his sermon. Instead, he would deliver a sermon of modest length but carefully crafted to be rich in meaning.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had the ability to say few words that conveyed many meanings.

The person who intends to give a sermon should follow the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and make his sermon of modest length, selecting language that conveys his intended meaning clearly, concisely, and eloquently.

And Allah knows best.

Writing poetry

Question Title: 
Writing poetry
Sheikh Name: 
Date: 
Thu, 04/21/2005
Sender Name: 
kkj
Question in English : 
I love to write poetry. It is a hobby of mine. I write it for my own pleasure. Is it lawful in Islam for me to do so?
English Answer: 
Poetry is language. With respect to its Islamic ruling, it is no different than prose. What is good of it is good and what is evil of it is evil.

As long as it is free from licentious speech and condemnable meanings and conforms to the dictates of Islamic Law, then composing poems is a permissible undertaking.

This is conditional upon it not wasting a person’s time and keeping him away from prayer and the remembrance of Allah.

Allah says about the poets: “As for poets, the erring follow them. Have you not seen how they stray in every valley, And how they say that which they do not do?” [Sûrah al-Shu`arâ’: 224-226]

However, then Allah goes on to say: “Save those who believe and do good works, and remember Allah much, and vindicate themselves after they have been wronged.” [Sûrah al-Shu`arâ’: 227]

Allah makes an exception of those poets who have certain qualities, like the remembrance of Allah and the observance of prayer.

Therefore, do not allow the writing of poetry to keep you from your virtuous deeds.

Touching the private parts & wudû’

Question Title: 
Touching the private parts & wudû’
Sheikh Name: 
Date: 
Thu, 03/09/2006
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
I have read that there are two hadith that conflict on whether touching your private parts breaks your wudû’. Which is the correct position?
English Answer: 
Scholars have differed regarding the question of whether touching one’s penis nullifies one’s wudû’.

Some have said that touching one’s penis nullifies one’s wudû’ under all circumstances. They cite the hadîth related by Busrah bint Safwân: “Whoever touches his penis should perform wudû’.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (181), Sunan al-Tirmidhî (82), Sunan al-Nasâ’î (447) and Musnad Ahmad. (7076)]

Another opinion is that under no circumstances does touching one’s penis break wudû’. The text cited as evidence that touching the private parts does not nullify wudû’ is the hadîth where a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked: “What do you think a man (should do) who touches his private part during prayer?”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Is it not just a part of your body?” [Sunan al-Nasâ’î (165), Sunan al-Tirmidhî (82), Sunan Abî Dâwûd (182), Sunan Ibn Mâjah (483) and Musnad Ahmad (16286)]

Another opinion is that it is preferable to perform wudû’ after touching one’s private part but not obligatory.

A fourth opinion is that it touching one’s penis breaks wudû’ if sexual desire is involved. Otherwise it does not. These last two opinions take both hadîth into consideration.

In conclusion, I would say that it is safer to perform wudû’ after touching one’s penis, but it is not obligatory to do so.

And Allah knows best.

Contractor paying bribe to secure contract

Question Title: 
Contractor paying bribe to secure contract
Date: 
Thu, 03/09/2006
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
The business environment in my country is very corrupt. If a professional or a businessperson wants to secure a contract to supply any product or service to an institution, company, or government parastatals, he will likely be asked by an official or representative of that establishment to give him a share of the profit or a bribe for being awarded the contract. If the person seeking the contract refuses to pay the bribe, he will not win the contract even if he is qualified to do the job. What does a Muslim do if he is required by such officials to pay a bribe?
English Answer: 
If the contractor is deserving of being awarded the contract and is fully capable of carrying out the project in the manner desired and the only thing preventing the contractor from being rewarded the contract is the official demanding money – in that case there is no problem – Allah willing – with the contractor paying this money to the official.

This is because in this case the award is truly the contractor’s right, and it is permissible for a Muslim to spend money in pursuit of securing his legitimate right.

The money, however, is unlawful for the official who takes it, since it is bribery and unlawful seizure of another’s wealth. In this case, the ruling for the one who pays the bribe is different than the ruling for the one who receives it. The reason for the difference is that the one paying it is seeking to secure his legitimate rights while the one who receives it is taking the money from him wrongfully.

If the contractor is not qualified to carry out the project and does not deserve to be awarded the contract, and the only way that contractor can secure the contract is to pay a bribe, then both parties to the bribe will be sinful.

And Allah knows best.

Eating forgetfully or mistakenly while fasting

Question Title: 
Eating forgetfully or mistakenly while fasting
Date: 
Thu, 03/09/2006
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
Mistakenly, I broke my fast two minutes prior to sunset. What is your ruling on the validly of this fast? Do I have to make it up?
English Answer: 
A fasting person does not invalidate his fast if he does something to break his fast either in ignorance or out of forgetfulness.

Allah says: “There is no blame on you for what you do by mistake, but only for what your hearts have deliberately resolved upon.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 5]

Also: “Our Lord! Do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 286]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has pardoned my people for what they do by mistake or out of forgetfulness and for what they are coerced into doing.” [Sunan Ibn Mâjah (2043) and authenticated by al-Albânî in Sahîh al-Jâmi` (1731)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever forgets he is fasting and eats or drinks something should complete his fast, for it is merely that Allah has given him food and drink.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1933) and Sahîh Muslim (1155)]

We also find in Sahîh al-Bukhârî where Asmâ’ bint Abî Bakr said: “We broke our fast on one overcast day in Ramadan during the time of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), then the Sun reappeared.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1959)]

It is not related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered them to make up their fast. Therefore, if someone eats on a day of fasting believing that dawn has not yet arrived and then realizes that it has, his fast will be valid and he will not have to make up that fast on another day.

Source: Majmû` Fatâwâ wa Rasâ’il Fadîlah al-Shaykh Muhammad b. Sâlih al-`Uthaymîn (19/24)

Scholars who never married

Question Title: 
Scholars who never married
Date: 
Mon, 02/21/2005
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
Can you please name few famous scholars – those we usually refer to when religion is discussed – who never got married. I know two of them: Imam al-Bukhârî and Ibn Taymiyah. I tried to find information on the Internet about others, but I could not find anything.
English Answer: 
It is true that Ibn Taymiyah never married.

As for al-Bukhârî, he did indeed get married. However, he did not have any male children, as mentioned by al-Hâkim in Ma`rifah `Ulûm al-Hadîth.

Sheikh `Abd al-Fattâh Abû Ghuddah discusses the lives of a number of famous scholars who never married in his book al-`Ulmâ’ al-A`zâb (The Bachelor Scholars – first edition published by Maktabah al-Rushd). The following scholars are among those he mentions:

1. `Abd Allah b. Abî Najîh: one of the leading and most prolific commentators of the Qur’ân.

2. Bishr b. al-Hârith al-Hâfî: the famous ascetic.

3. Muhammad b. Jarîr al-Tabarî: the most prominent of all Qur’ân commentators, the author of Jâmi` al-Bayân better known as Tafsîr al-Tabarî.

4. al-Zamakhsharî: the famous scholars of Arabic grammar and rhetoric and the author of the commentary on the Qur’ân entitled al-Kashshâf.

5. Hanâ’ b. al-Sirrî: the famous scholar and ascetic, author of Kitâb al-Zuhd.

6. Abû `Alî al-Qârî: a leading scholar of the Arabic language

7. Abû Sa`d al-Sam`ânî: the author of al-Ansâb, the famous work on genealogy.

8. Al-Nawawî: the leading scholar of Shâfi`î Law, the author of al-Minhâj, a commentary on Sahîh Muslim and of the hadîth compilation Riyâd al-Sâlihîn.