Defining tadlîs - ‘deceit’ in narrating hadîth

Question Title: 
Defining tadlîs - ‘deceit’ in narrating hadîth
Sheikh Name: 
Thu, 03/15/2007
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
What is tadlîs? I know that it is a way of making chains of transmission for hadîth look better than they actually are. But how could this be? How could narrators do this without being guilty of lying?
English Answer: 
In the narration of a hadîth, some narrators are known to have been guilty of trying – without lying – to improve the appearance of the hadîth’s chain of transmission. This is referred to in the field of hadîth criticism as tadlîs. Scholars of hadîth criticism identify three basic kinds of tadlîs:

1. Tadlîs al-tajwîd (making good): This is where a later narrator of a hadîth fails to mention the name of a weak narrator who comes between two reliable narrators.

This is done in cases where the two reliable narrators are contemporaries of each other. A later narrator – the one who is guilty of tadlîs – fails to mention the weak narrator that comes between the two reliable narrators. He achieves this by using language that does not imply that the two strong narrators actually heard the hadîth directly from each other. The word `an is often used between the two reliable narrators, which simply means “he quoted…” without implicating that the first reliable narrator heard the hadîth directly from the other. In this way, mention of the weak narrator is avoided.

This is the worst kind of tadlîs. It is so serious that some classical hadîth critics were of the view that a person known to be guilty of it should be rejected as a narrator and that all his narrations should be rejected. Other critics, however, accept the hadîth of such narrators, but only in cases where they use language which explicitly states that all the people in the chain of transmission heard the hadîth directly from each other.

2. Tadlîs al-shuyûkh (obscuring the source): This is where the narrator refers to his sheikh – the person from whom he heard the hadîth – by a name or title other than the one the sheikh is commonly known by.

3. Tadlîs al-isnâd (obscuring the quote): This is where the narrator quotes from someone something that he had heard from him indirectly, but uses ambiguous language (like `an) to obscure the fact that he actually heard it indirectly. He might simply say things like: “So and so said…”

Using the pronouns 'they/their' to refer to Allah along with someone else

Question Title: 
Using the pronouns 'they/their' to refer to Allah along with someone else
Sheikh Name: 
Mon, 03/03/2008
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
I was giving a lecture on an Islamic topic, and happened to say: "Allah and His messenger are innocent of what those people ascribe to them." Some people objected to my saying this, telling me it is wrong to refer to Allah and one of His creatures with the same pronoun. Are their objections correct?
English Answer: 
It is permissible to mention Allah's name along with someone else or something else in the same sentence, whether through a shared pronoun or by other means. We see this quite often in the Qur'ân and Sunnah. The name of Allah is mentioned in conjunction with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in what could easily be more than four thousand places.

However, if a certain phrase where Allah's name is mentioned along with someone else's has a chance of giving people the impression that the other entity is on the same level as Allah or as a partner to Allah, then it should be avoided, even if the statement's real meaning is innocent. It is better to avoid confusion.

What would be best is for the speaker to take the occasion as an opportunity to explain this issue properly, so people can be clear on the matter.

The only time it is prohibited to mention Allah's name along with someone or something else – whether by use of a conjunction like "and" or by a shared pronoun, or by any other means of grouping words – is where it conveys the meaning that someone or something else is equal to Allah, like sharing in His being Creator, or in His omnipotence, or in His will, or in His deeds.

Once a man said to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "As Allah wishes and as you wish."

The Prophet (peace be upon him) corrected the man, instructing him to rather say: "As Allah wishes, and then as you wish." [Sunan Ibn Mâjah (2108)]

This phrase is clear that the will of a human being is subordinate to Allah's will and dependent upon it.

In cases where a prohibited meaning is neither intended nor implied, then it is permissible to mention Allah along with something else in the same phrase.

One of the countless examples of this is where Allah says in the Qur'ân: "It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision. If any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path. " [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 36]

And Allah knows best.

“Go back and perform your ablutions properly”

Thu, 03/15/2007
Short Content: 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) saw a man who had just performed his ablutions and left a dry spot on his foot the size of a fingernail...

`Umar b. al-Khattâb relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw a man who had just performed his ablutions and left a dry spot on his foot the size of a fingernail. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him: “Go back and perform your ablutions properly.”

This is an authentic hadîth related from `Umar in Sahîh Muslim (243).

The same has been related from Anas b. Mâlik in Sunan Abî Dâwûd (173), Sunan Ibn Mâjah (665), Musnad Ahmad (12515), and other books.

The narration from Anas also has an authentic chain of transmission. This is why we find it in a number of collections ostensibly devoted to authentic hadîth, like Sahîh Ibn Khuzaymah (/84-85), al-Ahâdîth al-Mukhtârah by al-Diyâ’ al-Maqdisî (1/180), and Mustakraj Abî `Awânah (1/253). It was declared authentic by al-Albânî in Irwâ’ al-Ghalîl (1/127). However, some scholars of hadîth have declared the chain of transmission from Anas to be strange.

The meaning of the hadîth:

The man’s identity is not mentioned. Ibn Abî Hâtim, in al-`Ilal, assumes that the man was `Umar himself. This is a possibility. It is not unprecedented for a narrator to decline to disclose his own name in a matter for one reason or another.

Its legal implications:

This hadîth brings up the question: Does the person making ablutions have to do so in a series of consecutive motions without any substantial pause?

It has never once been related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) ever took a long pause between washing his limbs. Everything that is narrated indicates that he consistently performed ablutions without taking a break in the middle. This is why scholars all agree – to the best of my knowledge – that ablutions should be carried out in one continuous set of motions.

Scholars differ, however, whether doing so is obligatory. They express three different opinions on the matter:

The first opinion is that it is obligatory to carry out one’s ablutions as a series of consecutive motions without any substantial pause. This is the stance of the Hanbalî school of law. It is one of the opinions expressed by al-Shâfi`î, Mâlik and al-Awzâ`î.

They argue that the verse of wudû’ gives the impression that the acts of wudû’ are to be carried out in succession. This is further reinforced by the Prophet’s actions.

They also cite the hadîth under discussion. They argue that if it were permissible to take a long pause between the actions of wudû’, it would have been enough for that man to go back and wash the dry spot on his foot. Instead, the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered him to make his ablutions over again from the beginning.

The second opinion is that it is not obligatory to do so. This is the opinion adopted by the Hanafî school of law and by Ibn Hazm. It is also the view of `Atâ’ and Sa`îd b. al-Musayyib. It is an alternative view narrated from al-Awzâ`î.

Ibn al-Mundhîr advocates this view, writing in al-Awsat (1/421):
This is what we affirm, because Allah mentions in the Qur’ân what limbs must be washed. Whoever washes these limbs in his ablutions has done what is required of him, regardless of whether he does so in rapid succession or takes a pause in between. Those who site that the limbs should not be allowed to dry in the interim have no argument, since the rate of drying varies from winter to summer.
Those who hold this view cite the following as evidence:

1. They argue that there is, in fact, no evidence to establish the obligation of carrying out one’s ablutions as a series of consecutive motions. (Of course, those who hold that it is obligatory to do so claim the evidence cited above as being more than sufficient.)

2. Nâfî relates that `Abd Allah b. `Umar relieved himself while he was in the market district. Then he started to perform wudû’ by washing his face, then his hands, then by wiping over his head with water. At this point he summoned to offer a funeral prayer, so he headed for the mosque. Upon his arrival at the mosque, he completed his wudû by wiping over his socks. [Muwatta’ Mâlik with an authentic line of transmission]

They argue that in this instance Ibn `Umar took a very long pause between wiping over his head and wiping his socks.

Those who argue against this evidence claim that it is not clear that the pause was of a considerable time. It may have been brief enough not to be recognized as an interruption For instance, he may have been performing his ablutions in close proximity to the mosque.

Others have argued that Ibn `Umar paused in his ablutions due to a legitimate need, because he feared missing the funeral prayer. Indeed, some scholars – including Ibn Taymiyah in al-Ikhtiyârât al-Fiqhiyyah – say that if a person fears that he will miss a funeral prayer, he may perform tayammum instead of wudû’.

The third opinion is that it is obligatory to carry out one’s ablutions as a series of consecutive motions unless there is a valid excuse for having to pause. This is the opinion adopted by the Mâlikî school of law. It is an alternate opinion narrated from Ahmad, and the one preferred by Ibn Taymiyah.

In Majmû` al-Fatâwâ (12/135-167), Ibn Taymiyah points out that many religious obligations require uninterrupted performance, but interruptions are pardoned when there is a valid excuse for it. Examples include tawâf and sa’y and the fasts that need to be observed in succession. Another example is the concession to break off prayer and resume it during times of fear, like on the battlefield. Ibn Taymiyah compares wudû’ to these other acts of worship and argues that it is not permissible to interrupt one’s ablutions except when there is a valid excuse to do so.

For instance, a person might interrupt his ablutions for a matter of religious benefit, like enjoining someone to right or forbidding wrongdoing, in a case where the opportunity to do so will be lost if he waits. Another instance would be to break off one’s ablutions to save someone else from death or serious injury.

A more common case would be where the worshipper has to perform his ablutions in a place that is very crowded. This is quite often the case during Hajj. Someone might wash one limb and then not find any access to the source of water until a good time later. This is a valid excuse for not offering one’s ablutions in a continuous motion.

This third opinion is a moderate one that takes into account the ease and leniency that is inherent in Islamic Law.

And Allah knows best.

Alcohols as a chemical group

Question Title: 
Alcohols as a chemical group
Mon, 02/27/2006
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
Can you please tell me the types of alcohol that are unlawful in Islam? Obviously drinking alcohol is haram. What I would like to know is how far this goes. Alcohol, in terms of chemistry, is one word for many compounds. Are all types haram? For example in many sauces there are types of alcohol. In shampoos there are alcoholic compounds present. Even in your antifreeze for the car...etc. Where does Islamic Law draw the line. Is there evidence in the Sunnah of distinguishing between types of alcohol?
English Answer: 

In chemistry, alcohol is a general term that is applied to any organic compound in which a hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom, which in turn is bound to other hydrogen and/or carbon atoms. In chemistry, the term does not refer to intoxicating beverages, like it does in colloquial speech. There are numerous chemicals that are referred to as alcohols in chemistry. There is no Islamic legislation against alcohols as a chemical group. Islamic Law prohibits intoxicants, not alcohols. There is no mention of the term “alcohol” in the sacred texts. The sacred texts refer to wine and to intoxicants.

The intoxicating substance in wine, beer and other liquors is known as ethanol. Ethanol is what is meant by the word “alcohol” in everyday speech. Ethanol is what is meant when someone says “alcoholic beverages are unlawful in Islam”.

Ethanol is the alcohol generally used in cooking and food preparation. The ruling on using foods that contain ethanol among their ingredients depends on how much ethyl alcohol remains in the food. Please refer to the following fatwâ in this archive for more details: "Alcohol, Intoxicants & Foods Containing Them"

There are other alcohols, especially fatty alcohols and sugar alcohols, which are used as food additives.

For instance, sodium lauryl sulfate is derived in a chemical process from another chemical known as lauryl alcohol (dodecanol). It is used mainly in soaps and detergents but can be found in some foods as an emulsifier. However, lauryl alcohol – which is sometimes used as a flavoring agent – is not the alcohol of intoxicating drinks. It is derived from coconut oil fatty acids.

Some sugar alcohols, like sorbitol and xylitol are used as sweeteners. A common sugar alcohol used as a food additive is glycerin.

We see no reason why any of these chemicals should be unlawful as food additives, unless they are derived from unlawful sources, like glycerin sometimes is.

And Allah knows best.

Bank employee who does not work with interest

Question Title: 
Bank employee who does not work with interest
Sheikh Name: 
Mon, 02/27/2006
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
Is it unlawful to work in a bank in a capacity that does not involve dealing with interest, like working in personnel management or in payroll?
English Answer: 
The work that people do for commercial banks can be divided into two broad categories: work that directly relates to the bank’s interest transactions and work that does not.

Working in a bank as a teller or in any other capacity where one deals directly with bank's usurious transactions is unlawful. The person who engages in such work makes himself deserving of the curse mentioned by Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), since that person is considered one of those who records the interest transaction.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah curses the one who consumes interest, the one who pays it, the one who draws up the contract, and the witnesses to the contract, then he said they are same (in sinfulness) ” [Sahîh Muslim]

The money earned by a person working in a bank in such a capacity is unlawful money, since the money is earned through means that are inherently unlawful.

The case is different for a person who works for a bank in some other capacity, not directly involved in the bank’s interest transactions, like someone who works in personnel management. Even though such work does not entail direct involvement in interest, it still entails helping others in their unlawful activities, so the employee still incurs sin for the help that he is giving the bank.

Allah says: “Help ye one another in righteousness and piety but help ye not one another in sin and rancor: fear Allah: for Allah is strict in punishment” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 2]

However, the money earned by the person is lawful money, since the job is essentially lawful in and of itself.

And Allah knows best.

Internet Forums

Mon, 01/15/2007
Short Content: 
Islamic legal rulings apply to the actions of people. The means taken to carry out those actions take the same ruling as the intended actions. Internet forums are merely a means of expressing one’s words and one’s viewpoints. A forum, therefore, takes the ruling of the content that is found on it.
Islamic legal rulings apply to the actions of people. The means taken to carry out those actions take the same ruling as the intended actions. That which is unlawful remains unlawful under all circumstances, regardless of the means used to carry it out. It makes no difference whether the unlawful act is accomplished verbally, through physical motions, through writing, on television, or on the Internet.

Take backbiting, for example. It is unquestionably unlawful. Its sinfulness is established by numerous texts in the Qur’ân and Sunnah.

Allah says: “O you who believe! Avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy on or backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it...But fear Allah: For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” [Sûrah al_Hujurât: 12]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The Muslim is sacrosanct to his fellow Muslim in his life, his honor, and his wealth.” [Sahîh Muslim (2564)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “Do you know what backbiting is?”

The people said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.”

He said: “It is to mention about your brother something that he would dislike having mentioned about him.”

Someone enquired: “O Messenger of Allah! How do you see it if what I said about him is true?”

He replied: “If what you said about him is true, then you have backbitten him. If what you said about him is false, then you have slandered him.” [Sahîh Muslim (2589)]

Therefore, it is sinful for a Muslim to backbite, slander, insult, or defame another. This is the case for when we speak and when we write, as well as when we are participating in forums online. The ruling remains the same. Internet forums are merely a means of expressing one’s words and one’s viewpoints. The forum, therefore, takes the ruling of the content that is found on it.

Some so-called Islamic forums are dedicated to defaming and discrediting scholars and encouraging people to do so. Participating in these forums – except to criticize what they are doing or to advise them to change – is prohibited, since participation takes the same ruling as the activities that are being carried out on the forum. In many cases, those who malign scholars of Islam do not usually do so for personal reasons, but because of the knowledge that they have and the good that they offer to others.

It is the duty of the one who hears or reads backbiting to condemn it and to explain to the perpetrator of the act that it is unlawful. If the admonition goes unheeded, then it is no longer permissible to continue in the discussion with the perpetrator.

Allah says: “Already has He sent you word in the Book: that when you hear the signs of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, ye are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme: if you did, you would be like them. Allah will collect the hypocrites and those who defy faith all together, into hell.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 140]

Al-Razî says in his commentary on this verse [Mafâtîh al-Ghayb (5/415)]:
The people of knowledge say this verse indicates that someone who is pleased with unbelief is an unbeliever. Likewise, someone who is pleased with some sin that is witness to and keeps in the company of its perpetrators, then he is equally sinful, even though he abstains from the act himself. The evidence for this is that Allah says that they would be “like” the perpetrators. This applies if the person sitting among them is pleased with their sinful behavior.”
It follows that Internet forums where Allah, His Messenger, and His signs are mocked are forums that a Muslim should certainly not participate in. Allah says: “And if thou ask them (O Muhammad) they will say: ‘We did but talk and jest.’ Say: ‘Was it at Allah and His revelations and His messenger that you were mocking? Make no excuse. You have disbelieved after your (confession of) belief. If We forgive some of you, others of you We shall punish because they have been guilty.” [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 65-66]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us to be wary about saying dubious things that have consequences we might not be aware of: “A servant might say something to Allah’s anger that the servant does not pay any mind to, but on account of which Allah casts him into Hell.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6478) and Sahîh Muslim (2988)]

It is impermissible to enter those forums or participate in them, partly because doing so gives those forums added strength and prestige by adding to their number of visitors.

There are online many Islamic forums dedicated to the remembrance of Allah and to providing guidance and good advice to the Muslims. These sites are not only lawful, they are desirable. These forums are a noble means to a noble end. A person who participates in these forums will receive the reward of all those who follow his good advice or exhortation. This is included in the Prophet’s promise: “Whoever establishes a good practice in Islam will receive the reward for it and the reward of those who follow him.” [Sahîh Muslim (1893)]

If the forum is focused on reminding people to engage in the remembrance of Allah and to offer their salutations upon the Prophet (peace be upon him), then all those who engage in such remembrances on account of the forum will be a source of reward for those who encouraged them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever guides someone to a virtuous act will receive the same reward as the one who carries it out.” [Sahîh Muslim (1893)]

If the forum focuses on the Prophet’s Sunnah and its revival, then those who are active on it will attain the reward of reviving the Sunnah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever revives my Sunnah is someone who loves me, and whoever loves me will be my companion in Paradise.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2678)]

Muslims who have knowledge need to participate in these good forums frequently in order to strengthen them and increase their benefit. Doing so will help in spreading righteousness. Muslims should make a habit of frequenting these sites, since the strength of a website is measured in the number of its visitors.

The Internet, including its forums, is nothing more than a means. It takes the ruling of whatever it is used for. We ask Allah to bless the Muslims to use the Internet productively in a manner that will please Him. May Allah bless us to use the Internet in the service of Islam.

Performing the Pilgrimage More than Once

Wed, 11/14/2007
Short Content: 
Many people, especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, are preparing to travel to Mecca to perform pilgrimage for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time.
Many people – and especially those living in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states – are preparing to travel to Mecca to perform Pilgrimage to the House of Allah. For a number of them, it will be a second, third, or fourth Pilgrimage.

The Pilgrimage is an obligation upon every Muslim who is capable of undertaking it when the conditions of it being obligatory are all met. This is a point of consensus (ijmâ`) among Muslims. Indeed, the Pilgrimage is one of the five pillars upon which Islam is built. To deny the obligatory nature of the Pilgrimage is tantamount to unbelief.

We also know that performing voluntary worship is something good. Allah says: “And whoever does good of his own accord, indeed Allah is Thankful, All-Knowing.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 158]

However, among the voluntary acts that we carry out are those that confer all of their benefits upon the individual who carries them out, such as our voluntary prayers and fasts. In most cases, carrying out these voluntary acts of worship poses no harm or inconvenience to others, just like it provides them with no direct benefit.

Other voluntary acts of worship provide benefits for people besides those who perform them, like spending in charity and doing good deeds for people. Usually, with this kind of voluntary act, the more such deeds are performed the better it is for the worshipper and for others. There is a saying that goes: “There is no excess in doing good.” However, this is not correct all of the time.

We see that the when Sa`d b. Abî Waqqâs bequeathed all of his wealth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded him to retain some of it for himself, and that his doing so would be better for him.

We also have where Ka`b b. Mâlik said: “O Prophet of Allah! As part of my penance, I will not speak except a true word and rid myself of all my wealth by giving it away in charity to Allah and His Messenger.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Retain some of your wealth for yourself. That will be better for you.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

Then there is a third type of voluntary worship that implicates others besides the one offering it, because of limited space and other factors. The Pilgrimage is one of these. The grounds in which the Pilgrimage is performed are limited in space and can accommodate only so many people. Likewise, there is a specific time of year when the Pilgrimage is to be carried out. The Pilgrimage can neither be performed a bit early nor postponed.

Anyone who exhibits even a little probity will realize that if just 1% of the Muslims who have never performed the Pilgrimage were to do so in a single year, it would mean no less than 12 million people. They would never find the room to stand. Most of them would end up missing out on the Pilgrimage for that reason alone. At the same time, their crushing numbers would cause many of them to injure each other. This is why only one-tenth of one percent of the world’s Muslims is permitted to perform the Pilgrimage in a given year. At this rate, it would take Indonesia’s 200 million Muslims presently alive 1000 years to all perform the Pilgrimage. This, of course, is a purely hypothetical situation.

We must also consider the difficulties that presently result from the extreme crowding, on account of which every year many people lose the spiritual meaning and the sacredness of the Pilgrimage in all the shouting, shoving, wrangling, and fighting. Annually, we see hundreds who die trampled under the feet of their fellow Pilgrims, though all of them are engaged in one of their obligatory rites of worship. This is a deeply grievous situation.

We will take it as a given that the reason people undertake the Pilgrimage is on account of their faith. Therefore, we can ask how those who live nearby to the sacred precincts can be heedless of the difficulties they impose upon their brethren by performing the Pilgrimage year after year, or even, for that matter, every second year. Do they not consider their brethren who are coming from far away to fulfill their religious obligations and not merely some voluntary act of devotion? Among those people are the elderly, the infirm, the destitute, and frail women. Do they not pay any heed to the sufferings of such people? Is their habit of performing pilgrimage every year more important to them?

In order to perform the Pilgrimage more often, some people resort to forging documents, telling lies, borrowing money, and leaving their families with needs. For others, the Pilgrimage becomes a welcomed vacation trip, to taken annual with a group of known friends.

The agencies responsible for the Pilgrimage do not permit a person to participate in it more often than once every five years. This policy is taken from a resolution passed by the Council of Scholars in Saudi Arabia. This resolution was passes in order to facilitate the management of the Pilgrimage and give relief to the people around the world who wish to perform it.

There is a hadîth – though its authenticity is disputed – whereby the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “Indeed a servant whose body is healthy and whose means of livelihood are ample, if he goes five years without going forth for the Pilgrimage, then he has been denied (blessings).” [Mu`jam al-Tabarânî, Musnad Abî Ya`lâ, Sunan al-Bayhaqî, and Sahîh Ibn Hibbân] This hadîth has been declared as weak by a number of scholars.

If the person’s own health and comfort of means are to be taken into consideration, then this means by implication that the rights and needs of others must also be considered. These others include the person’s dependents as well as the person’s fellow pilgrims who, like himself, wish to perform the Pilgrimage.

Many people rationalize their decision to perform the Pilgrimage on a frequent basis by saying: “What harm could my presence pose? I’m just one person among millions. How would my absence make any difference?”

This is faulty logic. It is such thinking that causes people to lose sight of their common human concerns and their individual responsibilities towards one another. If everybody thought and acted in this way, there would be dire consequences.

If, on the other hand, everyone who reads these words and intended to offer a voluntary Pilgrimage instead donated the cost of his voluntary Pilgrimage in charity – and likewise offered up in charity the space that his body would have occupied in Mecca during the Pilgrimage – this would contribute considerably to lessening the congestion in the sacred precincts. It would make things easier for the pilgrims and lessen the confusion and the deaths that result from the crowding.

Charity of the value of the Pilgrimage is better in these times and under present circumstances. People are in need of money these days. There are natural disasters, famines, and decades-long wars bringing devastation to many people. These people truly need to be helped.

Ahmad b. Hanbal was once asked: “Is it better for a person to perform a voluntary Pilgrimage or cement tiers of kinship?”

Ahmad replied: “If thosekinfolk are in need, I prefer that he cements the ties of kinship.” [quoted by: Ibn Muflih, al-Furû` (2/497)]

Ahmad also said: “One of you says ‘I’ll perform the Pilgrimage. I’ll perform the Pilgrimage.’ But he has already done so! Rather, cement ties of kinship, or give charity to someone in dire need, or do some good for your neighbor.” [Kitâb al-Zuhd]

The Importance of Planning & Persistence

Tue, 09/02/2008
Short Content: 
The Prophet (pbuh) had the utmost faith in Allah, but this never prevented him from planning sensibly to achieve his goals. This is a lesson for us.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) showed us the importance of planning. He was meticulous in his planning, and in that way, he taught those around him how important it is to plan one's course of action.

One good example of this was how he planned his emigration from Mecca to Madinah. He decided on the route he was going to take, set a date for his departure, and he made sure to have a reliable guide and sufficient provisions. He arranged the matter with Abû Bakr, and made sure that they could leave from Mecca undetected.

All of this planning, and all of the precautions that the Prophet (peace be upon him) took, did not contradict with his utmost reliance upon Allah in any way. This is because a Muslim is supposed to take all the lawful and practical steps available and then place all of his or her trust in Allah to bring about the desired results. That is the true meaning of relying on Allah.

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked whether it is better to tie up one's camel or trust in Allah to keep it from running off, the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "Tie up the camel and trust in Allah." [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2517)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had the utmost faith in Allah, but this never prevented him from planning sensibly for what he wanted to achieve. This is a lesson for those who wish to disseminate the message of Islam to others. It is vital to have a well-thought-out program before embarking upon this noble work. In doing so, we are following our Prophet's example.

The worst thing we can do is simply react to what goes on around us, responding to those who criticize Islam without planning or forethought. It is imperative that we understand the circumstances we are dealing with, and thereby respond judiciously and productively to what takes place in the world. We need to take a long view.

We can see how the Prophet (peace be upon him) took the long view when he went to the city of Tâ'if to spread the message of Islam. After presenting Islam to the leaders of the city in a polite and respectful manner, the city's elders replied by setting the street urchins upon him, commanding the urchins to drive him out of town by pelting him with stones. He bore this patiently, and merely continued in his plan to call the various tribes of Arabia to Islam. Members of these tribes were always coming to Mecca for the pilgrimage, and he would present himself to them during the pilgrimage season.

In spite of the persecution that he and his followers were facing daily in Mecca, he persisted in representing Islam to all the tribes of Arabia. He kept to his plan until finally he met with a delegation from the tribe of Khazraj coming from the city of Madinah. The members of this delegation recognized him to be the Messenger of Allah. This would lead ultimately to the emigration of the Muslims from Mecca to Madinah.

The Prophet's foresight had surely paid off. When he had seen how his own people – the tribe of Quraysh in Mecca – were so violently opposed to his message, he realized the need for a practical plan that would bring him the support that he needed. He carefully planned how and when he would meet with each of the tribes, in spite of the fierce opposition of Quraysh, and he succeeded in meeting with all of them.

Likewise, after gaining the support of the delegation from Khazraj, even more careful planning was needed in order for him to meet with a subsequent delegation from Madinah representing both of its tribes, the other being the tribe of `Aws. This second meeting, which took place duringthe pilgrimage season of the following year, included seventy-five citizens of Madinah, representing men and women from both tribes. They pledged their loyalty and support for the Prophet (peace be upon him) and invited him and his followers to come to Madinah.

Arriving at this goal took many years of persistence and planning. It meant the end of persecution for the Muslims and the beginning of a new era.

“He used to break his fast with fresh dates before prayer” – Iftâr in Detail

Fri, 09/14/2007

This hadîth describes how the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to break his fast. The most important thing the hadîth shows us is that he used to hasten to break his fast as soon as the time of the Maghrib prayer – the time of sunset – arrived. Anas clearly tells us that he ate the dates “before going to prayer.”

Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged his followers to break their fasts as soon as possible.

He said: “The people will continue to be upon what is good as long as they hasten to break the fast.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1821) and Sahîh Muslim (1838)]

He used to offer the following supplication upon breaking his fast: “Thirst is gone, the blood is refreshed, and the reward is granted, by the grace of Allah. [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2357) and graded by al-Albânî as a good hadîth in Sahîh Sunan Abî Dâwûd]

It was the habit of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to break his fast with dates, as we see in the hadîth narrated by Anas above. It is not mentioned in the Sunnah that for breaking the fast, the dates should be an odd number.

However, it is related from Anas that Allah’s Messenger (peace) never went out in the morning on the day of `Id al-Fitr without eating some dates, and that they would be an odd number. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (953)]

There is another hadîth attributed to Anas that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever finds dates should break his fast with them. Whoever does not, should break his fast with water, for indeed water is a purification.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (694)]

This hadîth is weak.

Nevertheless, it is certainly the Sunnah to emulate the Prophet’s practice by breaking our fasts with dates, when they are available. However, a Muslim may break the fast with other foods, if that is what he or she wishes to do.

There is no strict requirement regarding the type or quantity of food that may be eaten before observing the Maghrib prayer, though clearly the Prophet’s example is to eat only a little bit at that time.

It has become the custom for some people to eat dates along with other finger foods, like samosas and sweets, before prayer. These foods are often provided along with dates at various mosque, including the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. There is nothing wrong with this custom.

All the same, the Muslims should be conscious of the time. They should not become so preoccupied with eating that the prayer is postponed or in any way neglected. It is a mistake for men to neglect congregational prayer at the mosque because of what they are eating.

The iftâr that Muslims are supposed to observe is to take some food before offering the Maghrib prayer. After the Maghrib prayer, the Muslims are free to eat when and how they like up to the time of dawn.

Allah says: “Eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then strictly observe the fast until nightfall, but do not associate with your wives while you are in retreat in the mosques. These are the limits imposed by Allah, so approach them not. Thus Allah expounds His revelation to mankind that they may ward off (evil).” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 187]

There are no preferred times for meals, except to have a meal right before the time of dawn. Otherwise, the Muslim can take his or her meals at any time of the night. Some people prefer to eat a large dinner after the Maghrib prayer. Others prefer to postpone eating until after observing Tarâwîh. Still others prefer to make their pre-dawn meal the main meal of the night. People have various preferences. Also, families and cultures have a wide variety of customs in this regard.

In any case, Muslims should observe the same moderation in eating that they are supposed to show throughout the rest of the year, if not more so. They should not overindulge in food during the nights of Ramadân.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The child of Adam fills no vessel worse than his stomach. Sufficient for the child of Adam are a few morsels to keep his back straight. If he must eat more, then a third should be for his food, a third for his drink, and a third left for air.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2380) and Musnad Ahmad (17186) and authenticated by al-Albânî in Sahîh al-Jâmi`]
Short Content: 
He used to break his fast with fresh dates before prayer. If unavailable, he would use dried dates. If unavailable, he would take a few sips of water.
Anas b. Mâik narrates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to break his fast with fresh dates before going to prayer. When fresh dates were unavailable, he would break his fast with dried dates. When dried dates were unavailable, he would take a few sips of water. [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2356)]

Praying with one’s sleeves rolled up – Must I roll them down?

Question Title: 
Praying with one’s sleeves rolled up – Must I roll them down?
Tue, 08/14/2007
Sender Name: 
Question in English : 
I was doing some work and had my sleeves rolled up. At prayer time, I prayed just as I was. Someone told me that I was wrong and that a Muslim is not supposed to pray in rolled-up clothing. Is this true?
English Answer: 
A person should leave his clothes as they are when he starts praying. He is not allowed to roll up his garments above the ground or roll up his sleeves specifically upon commencing his prayer or because of his prayer.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the authentic hadîth: “I was ordered to prostrate on seven bones and to roll up neither hair or garment.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (809) and Sahîh Muslim (490)]

Therefore, the ruling does not refer to clothing that is already rolled up for some other reason. The hadîth merely prohibits rolling up clothing at the time of prayer.

What the hadîth mentions about not to tucking up the clothes means not to fold or tuck up one’s clothes or his hair to avoid it touching the ground. What is understood from this is to avoid any act of arrogance like disliking one’s clothes or hair to touch the ground.

When one bows or prostrates, one should have no problem with one’s clothing bowing or prostrating as well. The person needs to be humble.

However, if a person rolls up his clothing to avoid personal discomfort or for some genuine benefit – and not just a desire to keep the clothes from touching the ground –then we do not see this as being a problem.

And Allah knows best.