Individual Responsibility

Date: 
Sun, 02/26/2006
Short Content: 
The clear thinking and reflection that Islam calls for is something that does not follow after the whims of the people, but it demands respect for the opinions of others and to give those opinions due consideration. One of us may disagree with what someone else might say, but he has to be prepared to defend that other person’s right to express what he believes.
Body: 
The individual is, without doubt, a part of society and an essential aspect of the Islamic way of life.

Allah says: “You began to say: Whence is this? Say: It is from yourselves.” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 165]

Allah also tells us: “Truly, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves.” [Sûrah al-Anfâl: 53]

Indeed, the very idea of the resurrection and the judgment in the Hereafter is founded on the concept of individual responsibility. The same can be said for our creation. Allah says: “Leave me to deal with the one whom I created in a lonely state.” [Sûrah al-Mudaththir: 11]

A person will be all alone, though he might fancy that he will be resurrected along with his wealth, his children, his particular group, or his fellow countrymen. However, the truth is that even his nearest and dearest will forsake him on that day.

Allah says: “On the day when a man will flee from his brother, from his mother and his father, from his spouse and his children. Every person on that day will have concern enough to make him heedless (of others).” [Sûrah `Abasa: 34-36]

When we observe i`tikâf in the mosque, one aspect of the wisdom behind our doing so might be so we can restore to ourselves our awareness of our individual responsibility. This is because i`tikâf frees us from the outside pressures of our group affiliations and of society as a whole, pressures that normally weigh heavily on our thoughts. When we observe a retreat in the mosques, we as individual Muslims can restore the health and natural state of our minds.

The general public can cry out, prod and push, and carry out all kinds of activities. This is why Allah guides us as follows: “Say: (O Muhammad): I do admonish you on one point – that ye do stand up before Allah, - (it may be) in pairs, or (it may be) singly, - and reflect (within yourselves): your Companion is not possessed: he is no less than a warner to you, in face of a terrible Penalty.” [Sûrah Saba’: 46]

The clear thinking and reflection that Islam calls for is something that does not follow after the whims of the people, but it demands respect for the opinions of others and to give those opinions due consideration. One of us may disagree with what someone else might say, but he has to be prepared to defend that other person’s right to express what he believes.

Each individual has to wrestle with most of the concerns that people generally have. Each Muslim faces most of the problems that confront Muslims today. When a person faces problems without the awareness of individual responsibility that Islam seeks to cultivate in him, that person finds it easy to foist the blame on outside influences. He starts talking about globalization, Zionism, hidden hands, and shadowy powers playing some clandestine game. He might blame the government, the scholars, fate, or history for whatever crisis he faces.

He will never think of blaming himself. He takes his own innocence for granted. His views and opinions are always right. He knows it all. If only everyone else would follow his lead, everything would be alright.

We might find this same person incapable of solving his own domestic problems, unable to put one and one together to make two, inexperienced, unschooled, and indecisive. He might be incapable of overcoming his bad habits and character flaws.

We see this often in a young man who has just recently become religious. He thinks that he has the keys to everything in his hands. He acts as if he, like Christ, can heal the leper and the blind with a mere touch of his finger and resurrect the dead with Allah’s leave. When he talks about the Qur’ân and the Sunnah, he acts as if only he understands it. How easy it is for him to accuse others of ignorance and misguidance.

This is a great personal failing and it contributes the general crisis facing the Muslims today and contributes nothing to the solution.

Individual responsibility varies from person to person depending on the importance of that person’s position in society, his knowledge and his expertise. Individual responsibility exists within a historical context and is not something that just appears overnight. Responsibility means having to bear burdens, fulfill obligations, uphold rights, and do what is proper.

Though individual responsibility is by definition focused on the individual, it reaps rewards for society as a whole. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Every joint in a persons body has charity due upon it for every day that the Sun rises. It is an act of charity to bring reconciliation between two people. It is charity to help a man onto his horse. Likewise, to raise his luggage up to him is charity. A good word is charity. Every step taken on the way to prayer is charity. It is charity to remove an obstacle from the road.”

Even holding ourselves back from abusing others – if we find ourselves incapable of anything else – is a form of charity that we give to ourselves.

The individual obligations discussed in the classical books of Islamic Law are nothing other than individual responsibilities. All of those obligations are prescribed to develop a person’s Islamic character so that the person can make a positive contribution to society.

In spite of this, we find a good number of Muslims preoccupied with general concerns and global problems at the expense of dealing with their own deficiencies. They think about the affairs of Muslims world and neglect the matters affecting them in their own countries. They fret about the state of humanity but fail to correct their own numerous faults or make amends for their own wrongdoings, though they may be perpetrating injustices and be beset by ignorance, indolence, and weakness of faith.

If we as individuals are in such a sorry state – where we are misappropriating the wealth of others, engaging in licentiousness, backbiting and slandering people, and operating under vested interests that cloud our judgments – then how can we speak generally about the problems of the Muslims? If we are in such a state, we will ourselves have become pat of the problem.

Therefore, in order to solve the problems of the world, we have to starts by rectifying ourselves as individuals. The first steps on the long road to reforming society are the steps we take to reform ourselves.

We are easily distracted by the general problems and crises that erupt around the world and forget about the serious problems that exist within our own selves. We neglect the important task of developing ourselves and our thinking – which will contribute to solving our general problems. All of the individuals that make up the organizations, institutions, and nations of the world they have considerable power to make a difference, though they may be unsung by history and unknown in the media.

The great expansion of Islam in the early days should not only be remembered in the context of the prominent leaders whose names have gone down in history. All of those who sacrificed, struggles, and even laid down their lives, and all of the women who gave their support and lent their fortitude, they must be remembered as well.

Islamic civilization is not to be credited only to the caliphs and rulers, but to all the workers, artisans, thinkers, planners, and investors who built that civilization, though history might only remember the names of the rulers associated with it.

The meaning of individual responsibility is embodied in the teachings of the Qur’ân and Islamic thought. It is the essential building block of society. A building is made of many individual bricks.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The believers with respect to one another are like a building, each one lending support to the whole.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

“…And live with your people wherever you like”

Date: 
Wed, 02/14/2007
Short Content: 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O Fudayk, establish prayer, avoid bad deeds, and live with your people wherever you like.”
Body: 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O Fudayk, establish prayer, avoid bad deeds, and live with your people wherever you like.” [Sahîh Ibn Hibbân (4861)]

The narrators of this hadîth are all reliable.

The meaning of the hadith:

Fudayk belonged to a tribe who were all non-Muslims. Fudayk, who had accepted Islam, used to live with them. Fudayk’s people had requested him to live with them and pledged to him that they would not impose upon him in his faith in any way.

Fudayk then went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked about whether he should emigrate, saying: “O Messenger of Allah! There are people claiming that whoever does not emigrate will come to ruin.”

To this the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “O Fudayk, establish prayer, avoid bad deeds, and live with your people wherever you like.”

Ibn Hibbân explains the meaning of the hadîth as follows [Sahîh Ibn Hibbân (11/203)]:
The command to “establish prayer” is a command indicating obligation upon those being addressed under relevant circumstances.

The command to “avoid bad deeds” is a command indicating obligation upon all Muslims under all circumstances. They must not perpetrate evil and sinful deeds upon themselves or upon others. This refers to all deeds that Allah is displeased with

The imperative tense of the verb “live” in the phrase “and live with your people wherever you like” indicates permissibility. What it means is that if a person who shuns bad deeds as we have mentioned, then there is no harm in his living wherever he chooses to live, even if the location is not ideal.
Indeed, a Muslim who lives in a non-Muslim country should take the injunctions of this hadîth to heart and live his life accordingly. He should establish prayer. He should avoid fornication, drinking, and all other licentious, sinful deeds.

Its legal implications:

It is generally understood that a Muslim living in an Islamic country should not leave it for a non-Muslim country without a good reason. This hadîth is evidence that if a Muslim is already living in a non-Muslim country and is able to worship Allah and carry out the rites of his religion, then he is under no obligation to leave his country.

Scholars disagree regarding the emigration of a Muslim who lives in a non-Muslim country.

The first opinion is that a Muslim can live in a non-Muslim country as long as he is free to practice his religion. This is the opinion of the vast majority of jurists. It is the ruling followed by the Hanafî, Shâfi`î, and Hanbalî schools of law.

Those who hold this opinion cite the hadîth under discussion as evidence.

Another hadîth which is used as evidence for the permissibility of living in non-Muslim countries is where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The countries are Allah’s countries and the people are Allah’s servants, so wherever you find good living atmosphere, then live.” [Musnad Ahmad (1420) – with a weak chain of transmission]

The second opinion is that of the Mâlikî and Zâhirî schools of law – that it is obligatory for a Muslim to emigrate from a non-Muslim country to a Muslim country if he is capable of doing so.

The cite hadîth like: “Do not be in sight of each other’s house fires.” [Sunan al-Tiimidhî (1604), Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2645), and Sunan al-Nasâ’î (4780)] There is disagreement about the authenticity of this hadîth as well as about its meaning.

The third opinion is quite the opposite of the second. Al-Mâwardî and many other Shâfi`î scholars hold the view that if a Muslim is able to practice his religion freely in a non-Muslim country, then he should not leave. They argue that it is his duty to remain in that country, because if he leaves, then the country will be devoid of a Muslim presence.

Conclusions:

What all this amounts to is that there is flexibility in the matter. If a Muslim feels the need to live in a Muslim country where he can practice his religion with greater freedom and comfort, then it is a good thing for him to do so if he gets the opportunity. However, if he finds it better for him to stay where he is, then he is free to do so. As long as he is free to practice his faith, then he may stay in his country. We might add another consideration that he must take into account: He should be able to raise his children as Muslims.

And Allah knows best.

'Worship Allah as though you see Him' – What does this mean?

Question Title: 
'Worship Allah as though you see Him' – What does this mean?
Date: 
Wed, 01/02/2008
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
We are told by the Prophet (peace be upon him) that we must worship Allah as though we see him. Does this mean we should try to imagine what Allah looks like when we pray? How should we do that?
English Answer: 
It is established in the hadîth that Gabriel asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Tell me about excellence in faith (ihsân).”

He replied: “It is to worship Allah as though you see Him, and though you do not see Him, you know that He sees you.” [Sahîh al Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) describes excellence in faith by saying: “It is to worship Allah as though you see Him”, meaning that the worshipper engages in his worship with such acute awareness of the fact that he is presenting himself before his Lord that it is as though he sees Him. He will be absolutely sincere in his worship and his heart will be full of humility, awe, and fear. This implies that the worshipper will expend every effort in perfecting his worship.

He further describes ihsân by saying: “…and though you do not see Him, you know that He sees you.”

Some scholars, like Ibn Rajab in his work entitled Jâmi` al-`Ulûm wa al-Hikam, are of the opinion that there are two degrees of ihsân being indicated here, one stronger than the other. The strongest is to worship Allah as if you see him. If you cannot attain that level of sincerity and devotion, then at least when you worship Allah, be cognizant of the fact that He sees you.

Other scholars see only one idea being conveyed. They regard the second statement (know that He sees you) to be the cause of the first (worship Allah as though you see Him). Ibn Rajab mentions this view as well. The idea here is that the way to attain the level of worshipping Allah as though you see him is to cultivate the awareness that Allah sees you.

It is important to note that under no circumstances should this hadîth be understood to mean that Allah can be seen in this world. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “…as though you see Him”.

And Allah knows best.

Holding two `id prayers at the same mosque

Question Title: 
Holding two `id prayers at the same mosque
Date: 
Thu, 12/13/2007
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
Can we hold two eid prayers at our mosque? The mosque is too small to accomodate everyone who wants to attend the prayer, and it is far too cold to pray outside.
English Answer: 
It is well-known that the `îd prayer does not have to be held in a mosque. The prophet (peace be upon him) used to hold the prayer outside in an open field. He summoned the whole community to attend, men women and children. Even menstruating women were called out to the prayer so they could hear the sermon and participate in the supplications, even though they could not engage in the actual prayer. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (324) and Sahîh Muslim (890)]

If severe cold or inclement weather in your locality makes it impractical to hold the prayer outdoors, and the main mosque in the area is too small to accommodate the entire community, then the best solution would be to hire a hall large enough to accommodate everyone.

If the community is unable for whatever reason to hire a hall for the occasion, then they should hold the `îd prayer at more than one mosque, so everyone will be accommodated.

If the community only has one mosque and that mosque is too small to accommodate the entire community, then the community may, due to necessity, hold two `îd prayers one after the other at the same mosque.

In this case, the single mosque serves the purpose of two mosques due to crowding. In this case, each prayer should be treated as completely independent, as if the prayers were being held in separate mosques. There should be a different imam for each prayer, unless there is only one person in the community who is capable of leading the prayer.

There is a precedent for praying in turns in how the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to have different groups of Muslims offer their congregational prayers in turns when they were in a state of fear.

And Allah knows best.

Mumbai – Islam's Reputation is at Stake

Date: 
Mon, 12/01/2008
Short Content: 
Do not hesitate to condemn the Mumbai atrocities in the clearest and strongest of terms. This is no time for justifications and excuses.
Body: 
Have no doubt about it. The terrorist attacks that have recently taken place in Mumbai India and which cost the lives of 143 civilians and injured 370 are an abomination.

I feel great pain and sorrow for the innocent victims of these attacks. I also feel great sorrow for the sake of my religion. Islam has been treated unjustly by these attacks. Islam's global reputation has been severely wounded.

My heart is pain stricken, and I cannot help but wonder: Those people who committed these atrocious deeds – can they really be Muslims? There is yet to be a final confirmation on the perpetrators' religious convictions, but most evidence points to their having some sort of Islamic orientation and calling themselves "jihadists". They were young – in some reports 24 or 25 years old – they needed guidance, perspective, and the experience of their elders. As for their perpetrating their crimes in the name of billions of Muslims worldwide – or even the hundreds of millions of Muslims in India – that is a grave injustice to the faith.

We need to fear Allah and not disgrace our religion. The Prophet Muhammad – whom Allah sent as a mercy to all humanity – refrained from causing any harm to the hypocrites who were plotting against the Muslims while living right in their midst and under his authority. He could have dealt with them easily in any manner he chose – and he chose to show them peace and mercy. He explained: "It will never be said that Muhammad killed his companions."

Now in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the whole world – and especially the media – is speaking about Islam, and it has become the individual responsibility of every Muslim to have a mature, clear, and articulate stance about these kinds of atrocities.

What we have now witnessed in Mumbai is something that Allah hates. We believe from the depths of our hearts that Allah hates it. The murder of those people who were staying at those hotels – all sorts of people, saints and sinners alike – is murder plain and simple, and it is intolerable.

I say this even more emphatically to the Islamic scholars of India and the Islamic organizations of that country: Do not hesitate to condemn the Mumbai atrocities in the clearest and strongest of terms. This is no time for justifications and excuses.

The whole world must condemn what happened. If America, Britain, and Europe are grieved by what happened and can speak out, then we as Muslims should be at the forefront of expressing our grief and indignation. This is not simply because that is what our religion teaches us to feel, though we must feel horrified by such sin. It is also so that we will not be cast in with the lot of the perpetrators, or be seen as supporting those criminals in any way.

Allah commands us: "O you who believe: be upright for Allah, just witnesses." [Sûrah al-Mâ'idah: 8] He also commands: "O you who believe: be upright in justice, witnesses for Allah." [Sûrah al-Nisâ': 135]

These verses demand from us that we be clear and frank in our condemnation of the Mumbai atrocities. I call upon my children and my brothers in faith to fear Allah in their religion, and to fear for the reputation of their beliefs, and for their Prophet's reputation. We as Muslims have been sent to humanity to better their lives, not to end their lives.

Allah says: "Whoever kills any soul – save (in the dispensation of justice) against murder and those who spread violence throughout the earth – it shall be as if he had killed all of humanity, and whoso saves the life of a single soul, it shall be as if he had saved the lives of all humankind." [Sûrah al-Mâ'idah: 32]

When will we wake up and see reason? When will we face up to our responsibility towards our religion? When will we start acting like we realize there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world who share with us this religious identity? Does it make any sense to wipe their faces with mud or disgrace them? How many Muslims in India are now going suffer on account of what happened? We must speak up.

The Prophet's Life – Lessons for Islamic Work

Date: 
Thu, 12/13/2007
Short Content: 
Every aspect of the Prophet Muhammad's life has some relevance for disseminating the message of Islam, since he was Allah's Messenger.
Body: 
The study of the Prophet's biography needs to be approached from the angle of Islamic Work. This will provide a number of benefits for those who are concerned with disseminating the message of Islam.

Indeed, every aspect of the Prophet Muhammad's life has some relevance for disseminating the message of Islam, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) was none other than Allah's Messenger.

We read in the Qur'ân: "O Prophet! Truly We have sent you as a witness, a bringer of glad tidings, and a warner, as one who calls to Allah by His permission. You are a lamp providing light." [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 45-46]

I have no intention of simply enumerating the events of the Prophet's biography that have relevance to Islamic work, since that would mean presenting his biography in full. What I wish to focus on is how we can approach his biography in order to benefit from it in our efforts to spread Islam's message. Even this is a vast topic, and one that I will not be able to cover in its entirety.

I will rather focus on how the Prophet's biography enriches Islamic work from two important angles, the first being the angle of those involved in Islamic work, and the second being that of the people who are being called to Islamic teachings.

I. The benefit for Islamic workers

Studying the Prophet's life provides important benefit for those who are involved in disseminating the message of Islam. It can greatly enhance the quality and effectiveness of their efforts in a number of ways:

1. Studying the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) inspires us with hope. It teaches us courage in the face of adversity. It keeps us away from despair. We see how the Prophet (peace be upon him) had to face a society that was rife with polytheism, injustice, and cruelty. He faced these challenges with hard work and patience, kindness and forbearance, determination and hope. As a result, the whole of his society finally embraced his message. Only a year after his passing, his message reached every corner of the known world and soon thereafter the call to prayer was being heard from the borders of France to the frontiers of China.

2. The study of the Prophet's life shows us the steps that should be taken in calling people to Islam. We can see that the Prophet's approach to teaching Islam in Madinah differed from his approach to calling people to Islam in Mecca.

3. The study of the Prophets; gives us lessons in how to prioritize our efforts. Certain religious teachings and obligations are more critical than others and need to be addressed first. Essential matters of faith are the most important. We can see that most of the Prophet's efforts in Mecca were spent in calling people to monotheism.

4. In the Prophet's example, we can identify the essential qualities needed by a person who wishes to call other people to Islam. Chief among these are knowledge, forethought, and a willingness to take a gradual approach. Kindness and gentleness are essential character traits, as well as showing wisdom and sagacity in dealing with others. It is also essential for a person to practice what he preaches. A commitment to the truth and a lack of focus on material gain are indispensable aspects of a caller's sincerity. All of these qualities are evident in the Prophet's life.

2. The benefit for those being called

1. When people hear about the events of the Prophet's life, it cultivates a love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) in their hearts, and this love is an essential foundation for faith.

For Muslims being exhorted to righteousness, relating the events of the Prophet's life is an excellent approach. This is because even for those Muslims who have strayed into sin and deviance, the love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) remains strong in their hearts. Therefore, they are very receptive to hearing about his life and respond positively to his good example.

2. Hearing about the Prophet's good character, impeccable manners, and exemplary conduct is a good way to get people to want to instill those qualities in their own lives.

3. Hearing about the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) increases the people's admiration of him and makes any exhortation to righteousness have a greater impact.

4. The stories of the Prophet's life illustrate to listeners how the teachings of Islam that he brought can solve the problems of the people.

5. The Prophet's life is a practical example of how Islamic principles can be carried out in a real person's life. The context of the Prophet's life gives a tangible focus to Islamic teachings and keeps then from being mere abstractions. The noble teachings of Islam come across more vividly through the depiction of actual events than they do through dry discourse.

6. The life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the biographical account of the greatest human being who ever lived. It is natural for people to aspire to emulate such a life. People also naturally like to hear stories and this is why stories are so effective in influencing people.

Snakes causing miscarriage & blindness

Question Title: 
Snakes causing miscarriage & blindness
Date: 
Sat, 11/25/2006
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
How have the scholars explained this hadith: Sahih Muslim (5544) where Salim relates on the authority of his father. that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "Kill the snakes having stripes over them and short-tailed snakes, for these two types cause miscarriage and they affect the eyesight adversely." So Ibn 'Umar used to kill every snake that he found. Abu Lubaba b. 'Abd al-Mundhir and Zaid b. Khattab saw him pursuing a snake, whereupon he said: "They were forbidden (to kill) those snakes who live in houses."
English Answer: 
Al-Nawawî writes about this hadîth in his commentary on Sahîh Muslim, entitled al-Minhâj:
This is a call from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to kill these types of snakes.

Some scholars said the Muslim may kill any snake, except for what is found in the houses of Madînah.

Other scholars said the exception is for snakes found in houses, whether in Madînah or elsewhere. These should not be killed as a general rule.

However, the types of snakes mentioned in this hadîth should be killed wherever they are found.

The reason for killing such snakes is as said in the hadîth, they may cause miscarriage. This is because when a woman sees them, she will be frightened and may lose her pregnancy due to the fear.
Al-Nawawî also discusses the question of blindness, He mentions that some people take this literally, that merely looking at the snake can expose someone to the danger of blindness, while others take it as a consequence of a snake’s attack. Al-Nawawî writes:
In this regard, there are two sayings for the people of knowledge; the first was mentioned by al-Khattâbî and others that these snakes have the ability of causing blindness merely by looking at them for a remarkable ability Allah has made in their sights if confronted by the human’s sight. This is supported by the narration of Muslim that these snakes “steal human sight". The other saying is that these snakes will threaten the human’s sight by stinging or biting.
He finally seems to make a reference to the spitting cobra (a snake he calls al-nâzir). The term “spitting cobra” refers to a number of snakes of the genus Naja that can project their venom and often aim for the eyes. If its venom reaches the eyes, it can sometimes be fatal for the victim, but it usually causes permanent blindness.

Also, the The Rinkhals cobra (Hemachatus haemachatus), which does not belong to the genus Naja, is closely related and can spit venom. The Rinkhals is one of the most effective venom spitting snakes.

And Allah knows best.

“…he will relieve them of their burdens and the fetters they used to wear” – Facilitation in Islamic Law

from Varse: 
157
Date: 
Sat, 11/25/2006
Image: 
Short Content: 
Allah says: “He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burdens and the fetters that they used to wear.” [from Sûrah al-A`râf: (157)]
Body: 

We should know that ease and facilitation are among the distinctive qualities of Allah’s final Message to humanity.

This noble verse depicts for us the features of Islam by describing the characteristic of its Prophet. It outlines the rights that he has and gives glad tidings to his followers that they will be successful. The verse describes at once both the Message and the Messenger, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) was an unlettered man who did not learn from any scholar, prophet, or indeed any other human being. He was taught what he knew by none other than the Lord of All the Worlds, and he was foretold and described in both the Torah of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus.

He was the final Prophet about whom the other Prophets gave glad tidings, and the one whom they pledged to believe in and help.

He is described in this verse as enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, permitting what is good and prohibiting what is foul. He relieve them of their “burdens and fetters”, a phrase which refers to the severity of the Law that the previous communities of faith were subject to. This is a graphic description of the state of restrictive and hardship that Islamic Law did away with, supplanting it with a Law of liberality and ease.

The word in the verse translated here as “burdens” literally means, according to al-Nadr b. Shumayl: “a heavy knot”. It can be used to refer to any heavy burden, since it weighs down the one carrying it and impairs his movements.

As for the “fetters”, they are literally the iron manacles bound by chains that are placed upon the neck and arms. Murtadâ writes in the dictionary Tâj al-`Arûs: “This word is repeatedly used in the Qur’ân and Sunnah to refer to heavy impositions and wearisome duties.”

Indeed, this verse gives us a graphic image of a person bound in irons, stooping down under the heavy load he is carrying upon his back. How can such a person carry out the duty of being vicegerent on Earth? This is the state of the people before Allah sent His final Prophet (peace be upon him) who “relieved” them of their burdens, who brought the key to open those fetters. This is a declaration that the religion of Islam – the true and tolerant – is not burdensome.

Facilitation and the removal of difficulty are not merely Islamic legal axioms expressed by jurists in statements such as: “difficulty requires facilitation” and al-Shâfi`î’s famous “If a situation becomes constrained, it warrants flexibility.” It is more than theory. Making things easy and removing difficulties are among the foremost objectives of Islamic Law. The following discourse in al-Muwâfaqât (2/121-122), by the Mâlikî legal theorist al-Shâtibî, illustrates how this is:
The sixth discourse is on the fact that Allah in His Law does not seek to impose hardships and misery upon the people. The evidence for this is as follows:

First, there is the scriptural evidence that articulates this meaning. For instance, Allah says: “…and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 157]

Then in the Qur’ân we find: “Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as You did lay on those who were before us!” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 286]

In the hadîth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited this passage from the Qur’ân and informed us that upon its reading: “…Allah says: ‘I have complied’.” [Sahîh Muslim (126)]

Allah also says: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185]

And: “He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78]

And: “Allah desires that He should make light your burdens, for man was created weak.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 28]

And: “Allah does not desire to put you to any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you, and would perfect His grace upon you, so that you may give thanks.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 6]

In the hadîth, we have: “I was sent with the true and tolerant religion.” [Musnad Ahmad (21260, 23710)]

We also have: “Whenever Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was given a choice between two options, he would always take the option that was easiest, as long as there was no sin involved in it. If it was sinful, he would be the furthest person from it.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3560) and Sahîh Muslim (2327)]

He only said “…as long as there is no sin involved…” since there is no hardship in abstaining from sin, since it is merely refraining from something.

There are many similar texts that convey the same meaning.

If He intended to bring hardship to us, He would not have wanted to make things easy and lighten our burdens. He would rather have wanted difficulties and adversity, and this is a notion which is patently false.

Secondly, there is the existence of concessions in Islamic Law, which is something indisputable that all Muslims know about. For instance, there are concessions to shorten and combine the prayers, to break the fast, and to eat unlawful foods in cases of necessity. This aspect of Islamic Law shows us with certainty that there is a categorical principle of removing difficulty and hardship. We find the same idea in the prohibition of delving too deeply into matters, of not-picking, and of that which leads to not being able to persist in doing of good works.

If Allah wanted to burden us with difficulties, there would be no concessions or reductions of duties in Islamic Law.
Al-Shâtibî also says [al-Muwâfaqât (2/299)]:
The aforementioned scriptural texts are general in scope, encompassing both severe and intermediate degrees of difficulty. Even if we were to assume that the removal of difficulty is not mentioned in a general context, we would still be able to conclude that it is a general principle from the vast number of disparate situations wherein the principle of removing difficult is found. We see that tayammum is permitted in the absence of water. Prays can be performed seated by one who finds it difficult to stand. A traveler can shorten his prayers and break his fast. Prayers can be combined due to travel, sickness, or rain. A person can utter words of unbelief under the threat of death… to a host of other examples that, taken together, indicate a general purpose of eliminating difficulty. Therefore, a categorical ruling for the removal of difficulty in all matters can be ascertained through inductive reasoning.
In the same context we find the principle of adopting the easiest opinion. The Shâfi`î legal theorist al-Zarkashî writes [al-Bahr al-Muhît (4/340)]:
Adopting the easiest opinion might take place between different schools of thought. It might take place between two conflicting indicators. Some jurists have adopted this approach, on account of the verse: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185]

And the verse: “He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78]

And the Prophet’s statement: “I was sent with the true and tolerant religion.” [Musnad Ahmad (21260, 23710)]

This principle is different than the principle of taking the least possible amount, since that requires there to be agreement on what the least is, which is not the case here. In brief, this principle refers back to the general axiom that the default ruling for harmful things is that they are prohibited, and adopting the easiest opinion is such a means of prohibiting harm.

Other scholars have opined that it is obligatory to adopt the more difficult opinion, just as there are those who say that one must adopt the greater quantity.
The Hanbalî legal theorist al-Tûfî, while discussing the issue of choosing between two mutually incompatible pieces of evidence, writes: [Sharh Mukhtasar al-Rawdah (3/669-671)]:
The second scholarly stance is that the more difficult of two opinions should be adopted. This is because of the saying attributed to some of the Companions: “Truth is heavy, while falsehood is light and infectious.”

[This statement has been attributed to both Ibn Mas`ûd and Hudhayfah b. al-Yamân. Refer to Ibn al-Mubârak, al-Zuhd (290, 850), al-Zuhd al-Hannâd (499), al-Hulyah (1/134), and al-Fiqh wa al-Mutafaqqih (1211)]

Then there is the old parable that goes: “If you are torn between two choices, then avoid the one that is closest to your desires.” [al-Fiqh wa al-Mutafaqqih (1212)]

Then there is the hadîth where ``A’ishah narrates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whenever `Ammâr has been faced with two options, he would always choose the more difficult.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (3799), Sunan al-Nasâ’î al-Kubrâ (2876) and Sunan Ibn Mâjah (9148)]

In some narrations, it reads: “more sensible” instead of “more difficult”.

Taking these two narrations together, the idea comes across that what is most sensible is to adopt the more difficult option.

The third scholarly stance is that the easier of two opinions should be adopted. This is because of the general statements in the scriptures that indicate the tendency in Islamic Law’s for making matters easy. These include the verses: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185] and “He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78]

These texts also include hadîth like: “There shall be neither harm nor the causing of harm.” [Musnad Ahmad (2719) and Sunan Ibn Mâjah (2341)] and “I was sent with the true and tolerant and easy religion.” [Musnad Ahmad (21260, 23710)]

Our predecessor, al-Muzanî, said: “Among the axioms of Islamic Law is to apply the evidence that indicates the easier of two conflicting possibilities on the strength of the idea that this possibility is the one that encompasses the truth.”

I must add that it is established that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would always take the option that was easiest, as long as there was no sin involved in it. I must also point out that there is a difference between this and what was mentioned about `Ammâr always adopting the most difficult option. `Ammâr was a legally accountable man who was being extra cautious for the sake of his soul and his faith.

The Prophet (peace be upon him), on the other hand, was a legislator who was making things flexible for his followers so that they would not be subjected to difficulties. He had instructed: “Make things easy; do not make them difficult.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (69) and Sahîh Muslim (1734)]

He also said to some of his Companions in a tone of censure: “Among you there are those who drive people away.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (702) and Sahîh Muslim (466)]
With reference to the hadîth about `Ammâr quoted by al-Tûfî, the phrase “more difficult” seems to be a typographical error. The term in Arabic for “more difficult” is ashadd is found in some narrations as asadd, which means “more correct”. The difference in Arabic is no more than the absence of dots on one of the letters. Therefore, the hadîth about `Ammâr in reality has nothing to do with the question of t

On the strength of the evidence, scholars throughout history have preferred to adopt the easier of two opinions in matters of disagreement whenever adopting the opinion that appears strongest in and of itself happens to result in severe difficulty or hardship. They would opt against adopting what is indicated by analogy and narrow the scope of generally stated texts, on the strength of the general legal principle that: “overwhelming difficulty warrants the waiver of an injunction.”

As the Prophet said: “Were it not for the hardship it would bring upon my people, I would have ordered them to use the tooth stick.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (7240) and Sahîh Muslim (253)]
Verse Contnet: 

Allah says: “Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burdens and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honor him, and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: It is they who are successful.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: (157)]

Having someone convey one's salutations to the dead

Question Title: 
Having someone convey one's salutations to the dead
Date: 
Mon, 09/25/2006
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
Is it permissible to have someone who is visiting Madinah to convey my greetings and salutations to the Prophet (peace be upon him)? Can I have someone who is visiting the graveyard convey my greetings to the people who are buried there?
English Answer: 
Commissioning someone who is going to Madinah to convey one's salutations to the Prophet (peace be upon him) is a baseless practice.

This behavior was never exhibited by the Companions, the Successors, the Pious Predecessors, or the people of knowledge.

There is no narration whatsoever to support it.

We know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is informed about the salutations that his followers address to him.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not make my grave a festival place. Offer your salutations to me, for indeed your salutations will reach me from wherever you where” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2042)]

In another narration: “Your greeting will reach me from wherever you are.” [Musnad Abî Ya`lâ (469)]

Therefore, enlisting someone else to convey one's salutation to the Prophet (peace be upon him) is an unfounded innovation.

Indeed, commissioning others to convey one's salutations to the dead in general is unlawful. Though it is permissible to visit the dead at their graves and address one's greetings to them directly, it is not right to have someone else convey one's greetings to the grave on one's behalf.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to visit the graveyard of Baqî` and say salutations to the denizens of the graves, and he would supplicate for them. He taught his Companions to do the same, and he taught them what to say.

He said: say: "Peace be upon you, O inhabitants of this abode (i.e. “the graveyard”) from among the believers and Muslims. And, God willing, we shall be joining you. I beg of Allah peace for us and for you.” [Sahîh Muslim (975)]

Hence, salutation is being given directly from the live person to the dead. Allah has made matters easy for Muslims in that they can offer salutations on their Prophet (peace be upon him) from wherever they are, and they may do that as much as they like. They will be rewarded more for their increased salutations.

It is related that Allah has assigned some angels to inform the Prophet (peace be upon him) of these salutations on their behalf. [Musnad al-Bazzâr (1425, 1426) and al-Targhîb wa al-Tarhîb (1667-1664)]

And Allah knows best.

And may Allah's peace and blessing be upon our Prophet Muhammad.

Ramadan is the Season for Inviting Others to Allah

Date: 
Thu, 09/13/2007
Short Content: 
This is an ideal season for calling others to Allah, especially our fellow Muslims whose hearts in Ramadan are more receptive and humble.
Body: 
We praise Allah that He has guided us to the path of salvation. We seek His assistance in elevating the word of truth and calling to what is right.

Islamic work – calling people to Allah – is one of the most emphatic and important duties in Islam. It is one of the greatest forms of worship by which we draw nearer to Allah.

The month of Ramadan is an ideal opportunity for us to engage in this noble activity, especially with our fellow Muslims. The people’s hearts in Ramadan are humbler because they are more aware of Allah’s remembrance during this month. They are more responsive to exhortation and more inclined to repentance.

There are many ways we can engage in calling people to Allah during this blessed month. Islamic work entails elevating Islam, advancing it, and bringing it nearer to the people. It likewise entails dispelling all negative influences and false notions that turn people’s hearts away from the truth.

The activity of calling to Allah embraces every word, every deed, every stroke of the pen, and every expenditure of effort or wealth that serves the religion and is in accordance with Islam’s wisdom. There can be no doubt that knowledge is at the heart of calling to Allah. Knowledge is its foundation, its guide, and its greatest benefit.

However, Islamic work requires effort along with knowledge. Everyone must work according to his abilities and strengths.

My esteemed brothers and sisters who are observing the fast, the sacred texts have come to us commanding us to call people to Allah. The Qur’ân extols the honorable status of this activity and warns us against laxity. The texts speak of the tremendous virtues if Islamic work and the great reward in store for those who engage in it.

Allah commands us in many ways. He commands us to call the people, saying: “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching.” [Sûrah al-Nahl: 125]

“Say: I am commanded to worship Allah and to not join with Him any partners. Unto Him do I call and unto Him is my return.” [Sûrah al-Ra`d: 36]

Allah, likewise, commands us to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. He says: “You are the best of nations brought forth for humanity. You enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and believe in Allah.” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 110]

Allah commands us to convey the Message: “O Messenger! Convey what has been revealed to you from your Lord.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 67]

He commands us to carry out this activity with one another: “And exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to patience.” [Sûrah al-`Asr: 3]

We are told to give warning: “And give warning to your nearest kinfolk.” [Sûrah al-Shu`arâ’: 214]

And to give glad tidings: “And give glad tidings to the believers.” [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 112]

As for the virtues and benefits of calling to Allah, these are mentioned in numerous verses of the Qur’ân and countless hadîth of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

At the forefront of these virtues is the fact that calling to Allah is an act of worship and obedience. It is something that pleases our Lord.

It is also something that makes us safe from His displeasure and from his punishment.

This noble activity is a means of strength for Allah’s religion. By carrying out this activity, we are following in the footsteps of His Prophets and Messengers.

It is an activity that is loathed b the enemies of Islam. It offers relief to the victims of ignorance, superstition, and the shackles of blind custom.

Calling to Allah is a means of multiplying the positive effects of our good deeds, both in this life and in the Hereafter. It is a means of bringing Allah’s mercy upon us and of dispelling affliction.

The best of our speech is a word uttered in inviting to Allah. Allah says: “Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, works righteousness, and says: Indeed I am of those who submit in Islam.” [Sûrah Fussilat: 33]

The reward of guiding one person is better than the world and everything that it contains. Calling to Allah is the concern of the most compassionate of people, the purest of heart. They are the inheritors of the Prophets.

My esteemed brothers and sisters who are observing the fast, there are qualities that everyone who wishes to engage in calling others to Allah should cultivate within themselves. They are: knowledge, acting upon knowledge, sincerity, patience, kindness, good manners, generosity, altruism, humility, wisdom, mercy, and concern for achieving unity upon truth.

There are other qualities by which a caller to Allah should beautify his conduct. They are: forgiveness, responding to evil with good, trust in Allah, having certainty in Allah’s help, satisfaction with even the slightest progress, and striving for the utmost good. Also, an Islamic worker must shun envy, hastiness, and competition for worldly gain.

Among the etiquettes of calling others to Allah is to always be gentle of approach, concerned for the guidance of others, and cognizant of a sense of responsibility. There should be a strong and close connection between the caller and his Lord. The caller should be continually engaged in the remembrance of Allah, in supplication, and in all acts of devotion. He should always make sure to set a good example for others and look for every opportunity to call people to the truth. He should never disparage any good effort, no matter how small it might be.

Among the etiquettes of Islamic work is to deal with people on their own level. We should show concern for their problems and try to help them, while never burdening them with our own. We need to be sensitive to the sensibilities of those whom we are calling and try to understand their circumstances.

When we call people to Allah, we must avoid argumentation except within the strictest of bounds, and then do so in the best possible manner. We should establish a good relationship with people, encourage them to keep good company, and use wisdom to get them away from bad company.

We should get to know the person whom we are calling. We should know his name. We should show that we are interested in him as a person and make him feel important. We should get him involved in activities that will benefit him.

We should start with what is most important and keep our priorities in order. We should never seek to promote ourselves.

We should employ various approaches in our work. Sometimes we may use beautiful preaching, sometimes we may give gifts, and sometimes an indirect approach proves to be the most effective.

My esteemed brothers and sisters who are observing the fast, this is what it means to calling others to Islam. These are its virtues, its qualities, and its etiquettes. Hasten to become callers to Allah in this noble month of Ramadan. Each of us can do so in his or her own way. One person can impart to others the knowledge that he has. Another can spend of his wealth, use his reputation, or offer his hard work. In this way we can realize all manner of good and spare ourselves the evil consequences of neglecting this duty of ours.

In this month or Ramadan, I call out to the student of Islamic knowledge and point out to you the golden opportunity that you have right now to call others to Allah. The hearts of the people are at their most receptive and most responsive to what a person of knowledge has to offer. As students and scholars, you should therefore feel your responsibility to others more acutely during this month and expend every effort in carrying out your duties. Leave no room for excuses or shortcomings.

I, likewise, call out to those whom Allah has blessed with ample means. You can bring your wealth to positive effect by supporting Islamic workers in their work, preparing them, and publishing books that will benefit the people. All of this comes under the banner of Islamic work. Do you not want to be counted among those who call others to Allah?

I call out to people of influence. Bring your influence and good reputations to bear in facilitating the efforts of calling people to Allah. I call out to those who are working in the media. Use your position to promote goodness and to share in calling to Allah with a good word. You can send the truth far and wide and share in all the vast rewards that this entails.

I call out to those who have knowledge of the Internet to employ it as a means of inviting people to goodness during this auspicious month. You have the ability to with the least effort and expense spread truth and goodness over the widest possible expanse. You speak to the world while sitting in the comfort of your homes.

I call out to all Muslims, men and women, to share in calling people to Allah. We need to do all the good that we can during this month of Ramadan. We must give advice to those who are neglectful and heedless. We need to remind those of us who forget and teach those who do not know.

“And who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, works righteousness, and says: Indeed I am of those who submit in Islam.” [Sûrah Fussilat: 33]