"…Some, by Allah's leave, are foremost in good deeds…"

from Varse: 
32
Date: 
Sun, 11/04/2007
Image: 
Short Content: 
"...Some of them wrong their souls; some are halfhearted; and some, by Allah's leave, are foremost in good deeds."
Body: 

Allah presents us in this verse with three categories of people. Allah makes it clear that in all three cases, the people have been chosen by Him. They are worshippers, and they have inherited the Scripture.

Allah begins with mentioning those "who wrong their own souls". These are the people who succumb to sin and commit acts of disobedience to their Lord. The second group consists of those who are "halfhearted". These people neither fall into excessive sin nor devote themselves to worship. The third group consists of those who are "foremost in good deeds".

To all three categories of people Allah makes the following promise: "Gardens of Eternity will they enter: therein will they be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk. And they will say: Praise be to Allah, who has removed from us (all) sorrow: for our Lord is indeed oft-forgiving, gracious." [Sûrah Fâtir: 33-34]

These verses are one of the places in the Qur'ân where Allah promises good to His servants. This passage is among the most specific in the sense of generosity that it conveys, especially where it says: "Praise be to Allah, who has removed from us (all) sorrow."

This is because all people – no matter what they experience in this world of fame, fortune, health, success, or power – they are never spared sorrow. Their sorrows might very well stem form the very prosperity that they enjoy. A person might grieve due to the loss of some of these blessings, or the demands that they pace on that person's shoulders, or because of the envy, treachery, and rivalry that those blessings incite in others.

In the hadîth where the angel Gabriel approaches Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and inquires about Islam, faith, and excellence in worship, we again see three levels for people who believe. There are parallels between this hadîth and the verse of the Qur'ân that we are discussing. Here, the first level – Islam – refers to outward acts, implying that those acts of devotion are accompanied by sinful behavior or a lack of deep devotion.

The second level – faith – refers to the deeds of the heart. These are the deeds that prevent a person from falling into sin in the first place. This is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) meant when he said: "A person does not commit adultery while he is a believer." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

Finally there is the level of excellence (ihsân). This is the highest, most illustrious level that a believer can attain. This is the level of those the verse refers to as being the "foremost in good deeds."

One of us might be at times on the level of "Islam" and at other times on the level of "faith". Sometimes, we might even attain the level of "excellence" in our faith and worship. The state of the human heart is always in flux. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The human heart is more swift to commotion that a pot of water when it is set to boil." [Musnad Ahmad]

It is a mistake to assume that all people are on the same level in their faith, piety, and religious commitment. It creates a problem if we expect that of people and hold them to expectations they are unable to fulfill. When people are not given easier options, they often simply give up or look for alternatives that are often wrong.

This is a mistake that some Islamic preachers make. When a preacher finds himself before a group of Muslims at a public venue or at a school, it is merely a trial for them when the person discussing Islam with them discriminates between them according to their appearances and their statements or passes judgment over them. This is not the Day of Judgment. It is not time to sort people into the righteous and the unrighteous.

We must leave them to their Creator. We should strive for their betterment by exercising patience and by working hard. We need to look towards gradual improvement over a long stretch of time. We need to learn from them what we need to know. None of us are the judges of the people. We must be humble before our Lord. Whoever shows humility before Allah will be ennobled by Allah.

It is not necessary for a person to be a student of knowledge in order to be a Muslim, or memorize the Qur'ân, or engage in Islamic missionary work. The more we impose conditions on the people and pile expectations on their shoulders, the fewer people we will have listening to us.

People have different temperaments. They come from different backgrounds. Some are more mature than others, more educated. Some are new Muslims or are new to religiousness. There will be among them "some who wrong their own souls; some who are halfhearted; and some who are, by Allah's leave, foremost in good deeds."

It is always a mistake to assume that all of them are going to be the same in their devotion or conduct or even in their manner of expressing themselves. This was not even the case during the earliest days of Islam. In those pristine days, great care was taken to accommodate people's natural aptitudes and temperaments. Practical expressions of faith were cultivated that were far removed from impositions, affected airs, and obstinacy.

No doubt, we should strive for progress, growth, and improvement. However, this needs to be accomplished without being pushy or insistent, without offending people or causing resentment, and without causing division in society. The enmity and discord that result from a misguided attempt at reform are often far worse than the evil tendency whose removal is being sought.

No doubt, we should strive for progress, growth, and improvement. However, it is wrong to wage a perpetual campaign for particular aspects of outward behavior – which may or may not be relevant – to the neglect of deeper, more subtle, but vital aspects of faith and life.

No doubt, we should strive for progress, growth, and improvement. However, we must take care not to judge people and discriminate between them on the strength of standards that are as superficial as they are conspicuous. True preference is on the basis of piety. Allah says: "Indeed, the best of you with Allah are the most pious among you." Piety is – first and foremost – in the heart, though it influences our actions and behavior.

It does no service to Islam to relate everything to certain social patterns or behavioral practices as if all is lost otherwise. Allah's mercy is greater than the limited perceptions of people. Someone may attain Paradise in the Hereafter due to a small good deed, or a single shed tear, or a feeling in the heart. Maybe that person helped someone in need, or showed kindness to an animal, or engaged in the smallest act of kindness with the right heartfelt intention or with the right degree of humility.

Someone else may lag behind in the Hereafter whose piety in life was far more evident and conspicuous. Maybe that person was neglectful in taking account of the heart. Maybe that person was too self-satisfied or felt superior to others. Maybe that person exhibited some pretentious behavior or imposed hardships on others that Allah did not intend. Maybe that person spoke ill of people or acted unjustly towards them.

The mercy and favor that Allah shows us all is far greater than the works that we do. The prophet (peace be upon him) said: "If Allah were to punish all of His creatures in the heavens and on Earth, He would not be unjust in doing so. If He were to show them mercy, than His mercy is far greater than their deeds merit." [Sunan Abî Dâwûd]
Verse Contnet: 
Allah says: "Then We gave the Scripture as an inheritance to those We had chosen among Our worshippers: but some among them wrong their own souls; some are halfhearted; and some, by Allah's leave, are foremost in good deeds. That is the highest grace." [Sûrah Fâtir: 32]

The distinction between the terms millah & dîn

Question Title: 
The distinction between the terms millah & dîn
Date: 
Wed, 09/28/2005
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
What is the meaning of the work 'millah', and how does its meaning differ to that of 'deen'?
English Answer: 
Millah and dîn are two words that are quite close in their meaning. We can refer to the millah of Islam or to the dîn of Islam.

Both words are mentioned in Qur’ân in this context.

Allah say: “And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians, until you follow their religion (millah).” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 120]

He says says: “And that is the religion (dîn) right and straight” [Sûrah al-Bayyinah: 5]

This does not mean that these two words are identical in meaning. Each has its separate meaning but they also converge in a shared general meaning. If one of these words is mentioned on its own, it will indicate the other.

If they are mentioned together in one context, the word millah will mean the community of people following the religion and the whole of the message brought by the Messengers, while the word dîn will mean the religious devotion and conviction of the people.

And Allah knows best.

No household chores after sunset – Islamic teaching or old superstition?

Question Title: 
No household chores after sunset – Islamic teaching or old superstition?
Date: 
Tue, 09/04/2007
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
In our country, we are taught that you should never sweep your house at night – especially at Sunset. Otherwise misfortune can befall you. They claim that this is an Islamic teaching. We are also told to stay inside at sunset. Is all of this true?
English Answer: 
It is not prohibited for believers to do their chores or to be outside at the time of Maghrib. Indeed, it is required for men to go out at that time, since they have to go to the mosques to perform their Maghrib prayers and then go outside again after prayer in order to return to their homes.

We are encouraged, however, to keep our children indoors at this time, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When night falls, keep your children indoors, for the devils are out and about at this time. When an hour of the night goes by, you can let them go.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3280, 5623) and Sahîh Muslim (2012)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “Cover your dishes, close your containers, shut your doors, and keep your children indoors at nightfall, for the Jinn are out and about and stalking.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3316)]

The meaning of “hour” in the above two hadîth is explained by another hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him) says: “Do not send out your cattle or your children when the sun sets until the blackness of the night descends, for indeed the Satans are sent forth when the Sun sets until the blackness of the night descends.” [Sahîh Muslim (2013)]

What you say about not sweeping the house at night might simply be the legacy of some traditional folk wisdom. In simple societies of the past, it might have shown bad judgment to sweep the house at night due to the insufficient lighting, since scorpions or other pests might be disturbed by the activity at a time when it will be difficult to see them. Therefore, people might have seen it as a simple matter of good sense to do their cleaning and sweeping in the light of day.

However, it is certainly not an Islamic teaching to avoid sweeping at night. Also, with modern lighting, the possible wisdom behind avoiding chores at night is no longer relevant.

And Allah knows best.

'…Until They Change What Is In Themselves' (part 2)

from Varse: 
53
Date: 
Sat, 09/16/2006
Image: 
Short Content: 
The phrase “until they change what is within themselves” is found in two places in the Qur’ân. The first is in the chapter entitled al-Anfâl and discusses a change from better to worse. The second place the phrase is to be found is in the chapter of the Qur’ân entitled al-Ra`d.
Body: 

The phrase “until they change what is within themselves” is found in two places in the Qur’ân. The first is in the chapter entitled al-Anfâl and discusses a change from better to worse. It expresses that Allah will not remove a blessing that He has bestowed on a people until they change what is within themselves. The second place the phrase is to be found is in the chapter of the Qur’ân entitled al-Ra`d. Allah mentions the misdeeds of the disbelievers, then says: “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. But once Allah wills to punish a people, there can be no turning it back, nor will they find besides Him any protector.”

The scholars of Qur’anic commentary explain these verses to mean that Allah will not take away the blessings that He has bestowed upon a people until they change within themselves and fall into disobedience.

There is no doubt that if a negative change can be effected by a change in a people’s inward condition, then a positive change can also take place. The two verses speak about a change for the worse, possibly to show just how much easier and more frequently negative changes have occurred throughout human history. For this reason, the famous Algerian intellectual Mālik b. Nabī once said: “History obeys the law of desire.”

Many Muslims, even some who are educated, recite these verses merely for their blessings, but they disregard the social implications of their meanings. Muslim history has been witness to a number of reform movements, and a number of programs have been enacted to bring about change and progress from the second century A.H. up to today. Some of these movements sought political reform, some sought scientific reform, and still others sought social reform. All of these movements stayed within the context of Islam.

In recent years, Muslim societies have had a number of reform movements imposed upon them from outside that were completely alien to their historical contexts, like socialism, secularism, and nationalism. These reform movements and programs have no doubt produced some effects, but they were never able to achieve what was hoped of them.

Is the reason for this some defect in their ideological and practical assumptions? This is possibly the case with respect to the Western reform movements that have been applied to an Islamic context that has its own distinctive history and culture. It is also possibly true for those movements that focused on partial reform and were successful in reaching their limited goals but failed to make any real change to Muslim society as a whole.

In my opinion, however, these partial reform movements might be seen as successes in a way. They had clear, well-defined, and realistic goals, even if those goals were limited to one aspect of life or restricted to one region of the world. The fact that these movements were able to fulfill their goals shows clearly that they were successful. History does not always allow people to realize all of their aspirations, and different forces have a way of canceling out each other’s effects. One person might build something while at the same time someone else is tearing it down. This makes us ask: “When will the building ever be done?

Let us look at the comprehensive reform efforts that have been enacted to see how they fell short of their goals and how their failures had to be dressed up in sentimentality, inspiring rhetoric, and eternally postponed promises. It cannot be denied, however, that some of these reform efforts managed to achieve some of their peripheral social or educational goals. I believe that the problem did not lie in the reform programs that were advanced, but in the inability of the people to accept them. Those who propose a program of unity, for example, will often find that the people have been divided amongst themselves for so long that trying to bring them together is extremely difficult and is met with stiff resistance. Those who present a program of change through jihâd often find themselves in direct confrontation with the people, with their weapons aimed at their bosoms.

For any treatment to have a curative effect, the body must be able to respond to it. The effects of the treatment will always be proportionate to the responsiveness of the recipient. Comprehensive reform efforts may often be too idealistic and unrealistic due to the weakness of the recipients of such reforms. This is the meaning behind the following statements that have been authentically related from the Prophet (peace be upon him):

• He said that Islam would be at its utmost strength for 5 years.
• The Caliphate that would follow him would last for 30 years.
• Islam would remain powerful during the reign of the first twelve Caliphs.
• Whenever a door is broken down, it would never again be closed.

These are but a few of the authentic prophecies that offer little consolation. Therefore, focusing too much on political reform may actually weaken the effectiveness of the Islamic message in other areas, like the propagation of the religion, social reform, and economic development. It has produced circumstances that are very difficult to rectify or overcome. This excessive focus on one thing might just be another symptom of the Sufi mindset that focuses on seclusion and slowly takes people away from their lives and daily experiences and pulls them into an unreal, idealized world.

Nevertheless, the sacred texts confirm the existence and continued relevance of many other religious activities, like that of inviting others to Islam, personal reform, and preserving social integrity. Among these texts are the numerous narrations that refer to the “successful group.”

This is an important lesson to be learned from the Prophetic Sunnah. It gives a realistic perspective to those who wish to work for reform. In this way, they can avoid going about in a fantasy that will forever defy implementation or falling into despair and hopelessness. There is, in fact, a proper course between these two extremes. Many programs end right where they began. They raise the banner of restoring Islamic brotherhood and values to the entire Muslim world, and often look down upon programs with a limited, particular focus.

In cases like these, it is true what they say: that the people involved in reform movements may not bring about anything while those who do not subscribe to any reform program bring about real change in society, even if such change comes slowly. The strange thing is that despite their desire for comprehensive change, most reform movements start outside the level of the individual, so that people become accustomed to impose their light upon the environment surrounding them.

In contrast to this, the Qur’ān clearly guides us to the fact that the true beginning of any reform must come from within. A person must start by reforming himself, and then he can turn his attention to reforming others. This is the way the change will be a “change within ourselves”, which is what is stipulated by the verse.

Reform starts deep within the individual and then stretches out to the vastness surrounding him. Many people, contrary to this fact, target their surroundings without dealing with themselves first. Their feelings of historical power and glory continue to be an obstacle to their understanding, defining, and determining their priorities.
Verse Contnet: 
“For Allah will never change the grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in themselves: and verily Allah is He Who hears and knows (all things).” [Sûrah al-Anfâl: 53]

“Fasting is a shield…” – Keeping Our Cool in Ramadan

Date: 
Tue, 09/04/2007
Image: 
Body: 

When we fast this Ramadan, we should make the effects of our worship show up in our good conduct. As Muslims, we should always be well-mannered, respectful, modest, kind, and gentle. We should always show compassion to others. However, when we are fasting, we should be all the more conscious of our conduct and all the more ready to exercise self-restraint.

One of the most exemplary character traits that a person can have – in Ramadan and at other times – is that of clemency. We are sorely in need of this today. With all the problems in the world and in our daily lives, we often lose sight of the value of simply being nice to each other.

Clemency is our ability to retain our composure when we get upset or angry. It means that we hold back from avenging the wrongs and abuses that we suffer from others. If anger means our “blood boils”, the clemency means that we keep things under control in the heat of the moment and use good sense.

Clemency is a beautiful and balanced mode of conduct, one that is neither anger nor self-effacement. A person who cannot inculcate clemency into his character will be in either one or another bad state. He will either be angry and temperamental, or sniveling and debased.

It is important to distinguish between true clemency – which shows strength of character – and the forbearance that comes from weakness, disgrace, and inability.

Balance and poise are among the hallmarks of the Islamic faith. Clemency is a trait that exemplifies balance and the triumph of reason over our passions. As human beings, we have a natural propensity to get angry. It is abnormal to never get angry. However, one whose anger is accompanied by clemency can come though his anger blameless and unscathed.

Indeed, some people have observed that without anger there is no meaning to clemency, since a person is only described as clement when people see how he conducts himself when he is angry.

A Muslim should endeavor to show this trait with everyone. The most noble of people are those who stand above tit-for-tat knavery. The person who responds to ignorance with kindness elevates himself above the other. This is not even the case when responding to kindness in kind, since that merely puts both parties on an equal footing.

This is why it is so important that a Muslim exhibits clemency with all people. If his heart is not strong enough to feel it, he should at least make an outward show of forbearance. This will, in time, grow into true, heartfelt magnanimity. Clemency is like any other character trait. A person is either naturally endowed with it, or he can learn it and make it part of his character with effort.

Ramadan is the ideal time for us to develop this quality. We need to translate the restraint we show regarding our desire to eat and drink in this month into the ability to restrain our tongues and our hands when we are abused. We must, indeed, use our fast a shield, protecting us from bad behavior.

We need to say to one who looks to fall into a dispute with us – “I am fasting.” We need to remind ourselves as well as the other party. Maybe this is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) specifically instructs us to say it twice.
Short Content: 
“One who fasts does not use obscenities or act in an ignorant way. If someone argues with you or insults you, say: ‘I am fasting.”
Hadith: 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fasting is a shield – one who fasts does not use obscenities or act in an ignorant manner. If someone argues with you or insults you, say: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting’.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1795)]

Offering Supplications after Voluntary Prayers – Who Says I Can’t?!

Question Title: 
Offering Supplications after Voluntary Prayers – Who Says I Can’t?!
Date: 
Sat, 08/04/2007
Sender Name: 
m
Question in English : 
I entered the mosque one day and offered two units of prayer as tahiyyah al-masjid. Afterwards, since it happened to be one of the preferred times for supplication, I began to supplicate to Allah. Another person in the mosque came over to me and told me that what I was doing was wrong. He said we are not supposed to supplicate after offering a voluntary prayer, since this is not established in the Sunnah. What is the truth about this matter?
English Answer: 
It is encouraged for a Muslim to beseech Allah in supplication at all times. Allah says: “And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 186]

This is especially true at the times when supplications are most readily answered. These times include the interval between the adhân and the iqâmah, the last third of the night, the last hour before sunset on Friday, and when it rains. These and other times are mentioned in the Sunnah.

With respect to the five obligatory prayers, the scholars have determined that it is not best to supplicate immediately thereafter. This is because there is something else which is strongly encouraged for us to engage in at that time – the prescribed remembrances. It is not recommended for the worshipper to busy himself with something else – even something that is good in and of itself – at the expense of a prescribed Sunnah.

With respect to the time after completing a voluntary prayer, there is nothing specifically mentioned in the Sunnah to recommend it as a time to single out for supplications. Therefore, we should not treat it as a special time to set aside for our supplications.

However, the time after one makes the taslîm form a voluntary prayer is just like any other time. A person is free to supplicate at this time as the inclination takes him. Supplication is a generally encouraged form of worship.

And Allah knows best.

Calling someone to Islam on their deathbed

Question Title: 
Calling someone to Islam on their deathbed
Date: 
Wed, 07/04/2007
Sender Name: 
noe
Question in English : 
I accepted Islam two years ago. Now my grandmother who is not Muslim is in the hospital, and the doctors feel that she does not have much longer to live. Is it possible for me to explain Islam to her and call her to embrace the faith by simply declaring her belief? It would not be possible at this time to teach her about prayer and wudû’ and other obligations. What should I do?
English Answer: 
We praise and thank Allah for guiding you to Islam. We ask Him to strengthen you in faith and to guide your grandmother.

You should strive hard to convince her about Islam and to have her declare her faith that “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”

This is established by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his own actions.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) visited the home of a Jewish man in Madinah whose son was on his deathbed. He invited the boy to accept Islam. The boy turned to his father, who said to him: “Listen to the father of al-Qâsîm.”

Then the boy said: “I bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.”

Soon thereafter the boy died. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stood up and with happiness said: “Praise be to Allah who has saved him from the Fire.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1356)]

On another occasion, the Prophet (peace be upon him) visited his uncle Abû Tâlib on his sickbed, while he was very near to death. He implored from him: “My uncle, say that there is no god but God. It is a statement that I can come to your defense with before Allah.”

At that time, Abû Jahl and `Abd Allah b. Abî Umayyah were in the room. They said to Abû Tâlib: “Would you desire to leave the religion of `Abd al-Mutalib?”

Abû Tâlib died at that point, declaring that he remained on the faith of `Abd al-Muttalib. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1360) and Sahîh Muslim (24)]

Therefore, you should follow the Prophet’s example and try very hard to convince your grandmother to accept Islam. It will be better for her as well as for you that she embraces Islam.

I ask Allah to guide her to the truth at your hands.

Breastfeeding your baby when you need to make ghusl

Question Title: 
Breastfeeding your baby when you need to make ghusl
Date: 
Wed, 07/04/2007
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
If a woman has engaged in sexual intercourse with her husband and has yet to bathe, is she allowed to breastfeed her baby? Please give your answer in light of the Qur’ân and Sunnah.
English Answer: 
The state of janâbah is a state or ritual impurity on account of sexual activity. When a Muslim is in the state of janâbah, he or she is prohibited from engaging in certain acts of worship.

There is nothing in Islamic law to prohibit a woman from breastfeeding her baby while she is in a state of janâbah.

In fact, such a restriction would go against the very wisdom of Islamic Law that seeks ease and facilitation and that seeks to save people from injury and harm. Such a ruling would bring great difficulty to the mother and could lead to serious harm for the baby who is in need of sustenance.

A Muslim should never feel personally impure because she is in a state of janâbah. The state of janâbah is a state of ritual impurity (hadath) not a state of physical impurity (khabath). It is an abstract state wherein a person cannot perform certain acts of worship.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) made this clear to us.

Abû Hurayrah relates to us that he saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) while he was walking down a road in Madînah. Abû Hurayrah hid himself out of sight of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Then he went off, bathed himself, and went to the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him: “Where have you been, Abû Hurayrah?”

He said: “I was in a state of major ritual impurity (janâbah) and I disliked that I should sit with you while in such a state.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Glory to Allah! A Muslim never becomes impure.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (283) and Sahîh Muslim (371)]

This shows us that the state of janâbah does not make a person physically impure. It is merely a state of ritual impurity. It certainly does not make a woman’s breast milk impure.

A person in a state of janâbah can do everything except engage in certain acts of worship. He or she can engage in all mundane activities, including shopping, cooking, eating, and taking care of children.

And Allah knows best.

Spending on sinful father’s wasteful habits

Question Title: 
Spending on sinful father’s wasteful habits
Sheikh Name: 
Date: 
Mon, 06/04/2007
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
My father always asks for me to give him money. However, he spends most of it on drink and on pornography and on his friends who are just as bad as he is. I do not want to keep giving him money to squander on these people and their ugly activities. What can I do?
English Answer: 
Our parents have a great right over us. Allah has commanded us to uphold their rights, whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim, whether they are virtuous or sinful – even if they are openly hostile to Islam. Upholding their rights becomes even more important as they grow older.

We are commanded to obey them in what is lawful and not to obey them in sin. In all cases, we are supposed to show kindness and exercise patience.

Allah says: “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him. And his weaning was in two years. (Hear the command), ‘Give thanks unto Me and unto your parents. Unto Me is your (final) goal.’ But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not: Yet bear them good company in this life, and follow the way of those who turn to Me in repentance. In the end, the return of you all is to Me, and I will inform you of what you used to do.” [Sûrah Luqmân: 14-15]

The more you honor your father, the greater an act of piety it will be for you. It will weigh heavily in your balance of good deeds in the Hereafter.

You do not have to give him money if you feel it will bring him to harm. You can honor your father by purchasing for him things that he needs, like clothing and food, and by giving him gifts.

At the same time, you should gently advise him and guide him to better things. You should never be pushy, however, or show impatience. You should never be harsh in your dealings with him.

Seek Allah’s help in frequent supplications. Ask Allah to guide your father.

May Allah bless you and guide your way.

Emulating & Resembling Non-Muslims

Date: 
Tue, 06/28/2005
Short Content: 
The prohibition of emulating the unbelievers is a principle of Islamic Law about which there is no dispute. However, there are various forms of emulation and ways of resembling the unbelievers, and they all take different rulings.
Body: 
The prohibition of emulating the unbelievers is a principle of Islamic Law about which there is no dispute.

However, there are various forms of emulation and ways of resembling the unbelievers, and they all take different rulings. The various forms that such resemblance can take come under two broad categories:

The First Category – Unlawful Emulation

There are two levels to this kind of emulation.

The first level: The more serious of these two levels is tantamount to apostasy and is dealt with as such in Islamic Law.

This is where a Muslim’s emulation and imitation of the non-Muslims takes place in the heart as a tendency or longing for unbelief. This would include participation in their religious rites and festivals to the extent of revering those rites and their appointed days as sacred in the same way that the unbelievers do.

Allah says: “Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with you unless you follow their form of religion. Say: “The guidance of Allah – that is the (only) guidance.” Were you to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached you, then you would find neither protector nor helper against Allah.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 120]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever resembles a people are of them.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (4031)]

Ibn al-Qayyim mentions in his book Ahkâm Ahl al-Dhimmah: “It has been related from Ibn `Umar that he said: Whoever passes through the foreign lands and then engages in their rites and festivals and emulates them until he dies while in that state, he will be gathered along with them on the Day of Resurrection.”

There can be no doubt that religious holidays are, as Ibn Taymiyah observes, among the most distinguishing and conspicuous features of a religion.

The second level: This is where such resemblance does not go so far as to bring the emulator to the point of unbelief, but where the resemblance is a prohibited and sinful act. This would include, for instance, giving gifts to the Christians on their religious holidays, because it communicates to them a type of approval, conformation, and encouragement of their beliefs.

The Second Category – Permissible Resemblance

There are two levels to this kind of resemblance.

The first level: This is where resemblance is merely permissible. This would include wearing the same kind of clothing as the non-Muslims as long as that clothing is not a specific, distinguishing dress of their faith.

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî discusses the distinction in Fath al-Bârî, his commentary on Sahîh al-Bukhârî while discussing the hadîth where Anas says that he saw people wearing tayâlisah (a shawl-like garment that used to be worn by judges) and described them “as if they were the Jews of Khaybar.”

Ibn Hajar then explains: “It is suitable to use the account of the Jews as evidence during an age where the tayâlisah was a part of their distinguishing religious rites. This is no longer the case at these times and these close fall under the ruling of what is generally permitted.” [Fath al-Bârî (10/275)]

The second level: This is where resemblance of the non-Muslims is preferable. Occasionally, it can even be obligatory. This would include resembling them in their general manner of dress in order to facilitate calling them to Islam.

Ibn Taymiyah writes: “If the Muslim lives in a disbelieving country, whether or not that state is hostile with the Muslim states, he will not be obligated to expose himself as different than them. This is on account of the difficulties that doing so can pose. Indeed, it might become preferable or even obligatory for him to conform to their outward standards of appearance if there is a benefit for the faith in doing so like inviting them to Islam, a prevention of difficulties for the Muslims, or the realization of any other wholesome intention.” [Iqtidâ’ al-Sirât al-Mustaqîm (176)]

We cannot doubt that our resembling them in their steadfast pursuit of scientific knowledge and education, in their precision in manufacturing, and the way they serve and develop their nations are matters of priority that we as Muslims are required to resemble them in.

And Allah knows best.


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Note for clarification:

Ibn Taymiyah's statement above does not mean that women living in non-Muslim countries can uncover what Islamic Law requires them to cover. Proper hijâb is obligatory. However, hijâb is merely a degree of covering. It is not a particular type or style of dress, as some people believe. It is not a “symbol” of Islam, nor is it some abstract religious duty that has no rationale behind it. It is not a mere display of religious identity. It is not a particular “head scarf”. It is a question of what Islamic Law defines as decent and indecent exposure.

Consequently, a woman can figure out stylish ways to dress modestly and cover her hair and neck that do not make her conspicuous in the society in which she lives, and thereby avoid difficulties. What matters is that she covers what she is required to cover.

And Allah knows best.

Fatwâ Department Research Committee of IslamToday chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî