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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why are the Muslims not united in their fasting?

Why are the Muslims not united in their fasting even though there is only one new moon for Ramadaan? In the past there was the excuse of there being no media or means of communication.
Praise be to Allaah.
The most likely reason for the differences in the start of the fast from one country to another is the difference in sighting the new moon. Such differences are well known and it makes sense that there are such differences. 
Based on this, it is not possible to expect all the Muslims to start fasting at the same time, because this would mean that some of them were starting to fast before the new moon had been sighted and even before it had appeared. 
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about those who call for the ummah to be united in fasting and for the moon sighting to be based on its sighting in Makkah. He said: 
This is impossible from an astronomical point of view, because the sighting of the new moon, as Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said, differs, according to the scientists who are well-versed in this field. Because it differs, then each country should have its own ruling, according to the reports and according to science. 
The evidence from reports is the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
“So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month”
[al-Baqarah 2:185] 
If it so happens that people in a remote region of the world do not see the new moon whereas the people of Makkah do see it, then how can the words of this verse apply to those who have not seen the new moon? The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Fast when you see it and stop fasting when you see it.” (Agreed upon). So if the people of Makkah, for example, see it, then how can we expect the people of Pakistan and countries further east to start fasting, when we know that that the new moon has not yet appeared in their region, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) connected the start of fasting to the sighting of the moon?
 The scientific evidence is the correct analogy which we cannot contradict. We know that dawn appears in eastern regions of the earth before it appears in western regions, so if dawn has appeared in eastern regions, do we have to stop eating even though it is still night where we are? The answer is no. If the sun has set in eastern regions but it is still day where we are, is it permissible for us to break our fast? The answer is no. And the new moon is exactly like the sun, except that the timing of the new moon is monthly and the timing of the sun is daily.  The One Who said (interpretation of the meaning): 
“and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Sawm (fast) till the nightfall”
[al-Baqarah 2:187] is also the One Who said (interpretation of the meaning): 
“So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month”
[al-Baqarah 2:185] 
So the evidence of both the texts and science indicates that we should establish a separate ruling for each place when it comes to starting and ending the fast, and this should be connected to the physical sign which Allaah has described in His Book and which His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) established in his Sunnah, namely the sighting of the moon and the sighting of the sun or dawn. 
End quote from Fataawa Arkaan al-Islam, p. 451. 
And he said, explaining this analogy and supporting the argument of those who say that there should be different moon sightings: 
They say that the monthly timings should be like the daily sightings. Just as different countries vary in the start and end of the fast each day, so too they must differ in the start and end of the month-long fast. The difference in daily timings is well known according to Muslim consensus; those who are in the east start fasting before those who are in the west, and they also break the fast first. 
If we accept the differences in sighting with regard to daily timings, then we should also accept it with regard to the month. 
No one can say that the verse “and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Sawm (fast) till the nightfall” and the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) “When the night has come from here and the day has departed from here and the sun has set, then the faster may break his fast” are general in meaning and apply to all the Muslims in every region. 
The same applies to the verse “So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month” and the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) “When you see it fast and when you see it stop fasting.”
As you see, this opinion is very strong, and the analogy is sound, the analogy between the monthly timing and the daily timing. 
End quote from Fataawa Ramadaan, compiled by Ashraf ‘Abd al-Maqsood, p. 104 
The Council of Senior Scholars issued an important statement on this topic, the text of which is as follows: 
Firstly: The difference in moon sighting is something which is well known, and there is no difference among the scholars concerning this. Rather the difference of scholarly opinion has to do with whether the difference in moon sighting matters or not. 
Secondly: The issue of whether the difference in moon sighting matters or not is a theoretical matter in which there is room for ijtihaad. Even people of great knowledge and piety differed concerning this matter. This is a type of difference which is acceptable, where the one who makes ijtihaad and gets it right will have two rewards, one for his ijtihaad and the other for getting it right, and the one who gets it wrong will be rewarded for his ijtihaad. 
The scholars differed concerning this matter and there are two points of view. One is that the difference in moon sighting matters and the other is that it does not matter. Each group quotes evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and sometimes they quote the same text, such as when they both quote the verse (interpretation of the meaning): 
“They ask you (O Muhammad) about the new moons. Say: These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage”
[al-Baqarah 2:189] 
and the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Fast when you see it and stop fasting when you see it.”
 That is because of different understandings of the texts, and different ways in which each group derives evidence from them. 
Based on the considerations that the Council has seen and examined, and based on the fact that the difference of opinion on this matter does not have any effect that may lead to undesirable consequences, since this religion appeared fourteen centuries ago and we do not know of any period during which the ummah was united in moon sighting, the members of the Council of Senior Scholars think that matters should be left as they are and that this subject should not be stirred up. Each Islamic state should have the right to choose whichever opinion it wishes, based on the suggestions of its own scholars, because each view has its evidence and proofs. 
Thirdly: The Council has studied the issue of proving the new moon by means of calculation, and what has been narrated in the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and they have studied the comments of the scholars on this matter. They have decided unanimously that astronomical calculations carry no weight in determining the new moon with regard to Islamic matters, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Fast when you see it and stop fasting when you see it.” And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not fast until you see it, and do not stop fasting until you see it.” And because of other evidence to that effect. 
End quote, from Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 10/102.
Islam Q&A

Thursday, July 28, 2011

South Africa's Wayne Parnell converts to Islam

Johannesburg: South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell has converted to Islam after a period of personal study and reflection and will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Friday as a Muslim.

Parnell confirmed in a statement on Thursday that he converted to Islamic faith in January this year and is considering a name change to Waleed, which means 'Newborn Son'.

"While I have not yet decided on an Islamic name I have considered the name Waleed which means Newborn Son, but for now my name remains Wayne Dillon Parnell. I will continue to respect the team's endorsement of alcoholic beverages. I am playing cricket in Sussex and this is my immediate focus," said Port Elizabeth-born Parnell.

"As I am approaching my first period of fasting, I ask that this special time is treated with respect. I am a young man, a professional cricketer by trade, and while I can appreciate and am grateful for the public interest in my personal life, my faith choice is a matter which I would like to keep private," said the promising Warriors left-arm seam bowler.

Proteas team manager Mohamed Moosajee, himself a Muslim, said Parnell's Muslim teammates Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir had not influenced his decision to convert from Christianity.

"Wayne already decided a few months ago to follow Islam," Moosajee said of the cricketer, who excelled during the ICC World Cup on the subcontinent.

"The decision to convert was his own decision, but I know nothing of the name change," added Moosajee.

Fellow players, preferring to remain anonymous, said they believed Parnell was very serious about his choice of religion and that he had not touched a drop of alcohol, forbidden to Muslims, since the recent Indian Premier League series.

Supporting Moosajee's denial of influence by Amla, the players said he had never attempted to convert them to his religion, although they had all been very impressed by the discipline and strict adherence that Amla showed to his religion, by refusing to participate in celebrations with them that involved liquor, staying steadfast in his daily prayers even while on tour, and refusing to wear the kit sponsored by South African beer brand Castle Lager.

In his first two years after making his debut for the Proteas in 2009, Parnell developed a hard-living reputation.

In October 2009, he was kicked out of the provincial side Warriors following an incident in a night club in the city of Port Elizabeth in the early hours of the morning.

He came to limelight when he captained the South African Under-19 team in the U-19 World Cup in 2008. He was the youngest player to get a central contract in 2009 at the age of 20 years.

He is the second Christian to have converted to Islam after Pakistan's Yousuf Youhana (now Mohammad Yousuf) in 2006.
Story first published on: Thursday, 28 July 2011 20:46

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blame the Muslims, won’t you?

YouTube comedian and activist Strange Sanum acts out a parody video, “You Know You’re Muslim When ... ” (IMAGE FROM YOUTUBE)
As soon as reports came in Friday morning about a bombing and massacre in Norway, the knee-jerk rection by media organizations around the world was to speculate that “Muslim terrorists” were the perpetrators.
By the evening, it became clear that a 32-year-old Norwegian Christian man named Anders Behring Breivik was responsible for the attacks.
The error was clear, and yet many continued to try to link the attacks toal-Qaeda’s influence.
Some were not so keen to let the blame continue. On Twitter, YouTube comedian and activist Strange Sanun started a satirical hashtag#blamethemuslims to “highlight how ridiculous it is to blame Muslims for every problem in the world.”
The hashtag #blamethemuslims shined a light on Europe’s Islamophobia and the media’s mistake, which commentator’s around the world were only starting to point out.
Ahmed Moor at Al Jazeera wrote that the Western media’s response “demonstrates the extent to which reactionary bigotry” and anti-Muslim sentiment have “infected mainstream thought.”
Jeff Sparrow at ABC argued that this once again showed Europe’s “mainstreaming of a violent, apocalyptic anti-Muslim discourse.”
The Post’s Right Turn blog came under fire for rushing to make a “jihadist connection.”
And the New York Times was criticized by Glenn Greenwald at Salon for using the word “terrorist” when referring to Muslims but switching to the word “extremist” when the perpetrator turned out to be Christian.
By Sunday, the hashtag had become a trending topic after a series of satirical tweets by Sanum went viral.
Some of Sanum’s best tweets:
“I don’t have a job #blamethemuslims”
“Friday by Rebecca Black? #blamethemuslims”
“‘Wheres your homework?’ ‘I made it into a paper aeroplane and it got hijacked.’ #blamethemuslims”
Those who saw the hashtag but didn’t understand the irony reacted with shock or outrage. Some even sent Sanum death threats.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How can we prepare for the arrival of Ramadaan?

How can we prepare for Ramadaan? What are the best deeds in this blessed month?.
Praise be to Allaah.


You have done well to ask this question, because you have asked how to prepare for the month of Ramadaan. Many people misunderstand the true nature of fasting, and they make it an occasion for eating and drinking, making special sweets and staying up late at night and watching shows on satellite TV. They make preparations for that long before Ramadaan, lest they miss out on some food or prices go up. They prepare by buying food, preparing drinks and looking at the satellite TV guide so they can choose which shows to follow and which to ignore. They are truly unaware of the real nature of fasting in Ramadaan; they take worship and piety out of the month and make it just for their bellies and their eyes. 


Others are aware of the real nature of fasting in the month of Ramadaan, so they start to prepare from Sha’baan, and some of them even start before that. Among the best ways of preparing for the month of Ramadaan are: 

1 –Sincere repentance 
This is obligatory at all times, but because of the approach of a great and blessed month, it is even more important to hasten to repent from sins between you and your Lord, and between you and other people by giving them their rights, so that when the blessed month begins you may busy yourself with acts of worship with a clean heart and peace of mind. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
“And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful”
[al-Noor 24:31] 
It was narrated from al-Agharr ibn Yasaar (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O people, repent to Allaah for I repent to Him one hundred times each day.” Narrated by Muslim (2702). 

2 –Du’aa’ (supplication) 
It was narrated from some of the salaf that they used to pray to Allaah for six months that they would live until Ramadaan, then they would pray for five months afterwards that He would accept it from them. 
The Muslim should ask his Lord to let him live until Ramadaan with a strong religious commitment and good physical health, and he should ask Him to help him obey Him during the month, and ask Him to accept his good deeds from Him. 

3 – Rejoicing at the approach of the blessed month 
The arrival of Ramadaan is one of the great blessings that Allaah bestows upon His Muslim slave, because Ramadaan is one of the occasions of good in which the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed. It is the month of the Qur’aan and of decisive battles in the history of our religion. 
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
“Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allaah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Qur’aan); —therein let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass”
[Yoonus 10:58] 

4 – Discharging the duty of any outstanding obligatory fasts 
It was narrated that Abu Salamah said: I heard ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) say: I would owe fasts from the previous Ramadaan and I would not be able to make them up except in Sha’baan. 
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1849) and Muslim (1146). 
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 
From her keenness to do that in Sha’baan it may be understood that it is not permissible to delay making them up until another Ramadaan begins. 
Fath al-Baari (4/191). 

5 – Seeking knowledge in order to be able to follow the rulings on fasting and to understand the virtues of Ramadaan. 

6 – Hastening to complete any tasks that may distract the Muslim from doing acts of worship. 

7 – Sitting with one’s family members – wife and children – to tell them of the rulings on fasting and encourage the young ones to fast. 

8 – Preparing some books which can be read at home or given to the imam of the mosque to read to the people during Ramadaan. 

9 – Fasting some of the month of Sha’baan in preparation for fasting Ramadaan. 
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast until we said: He will not break his fast, and he used not to fast until we said: He will not fast. And I never saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) complete a month of fasting except Ramadaan, and I never saw him fast more in any month than in Sha’baan. 
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1868) and Muslim (1156). 
It was narrated that Usaamah ibn Zayd said: I said: O Messenger of Allaah, I do not see you fasting in any month as you fast in Sha’baan? He said: “That is a month that people neglect between Rajab and Ramadaan, but it is a month in which people’s deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds and I would like my deeds to be taken up when I am fasting.” 
Narrated by al-Nasaa’i (2357); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.  
This hadeeth explains the wisdom behind fasting in Sha’baan, which is that it is a month in which deeds are taken up (to Allaah). Some of the scholars mentioned another reason, which is that this fasting is like Sunnah prayers offered beforehand in relation to the obligatory prayer; they prepare the soul for performing the obligatory action, and the same may be said of fasting Sha’baan before Ramadaan. 

10 – Reading Qur’aan 
Salamah ibn Kuhayl said: It was said that Sha’baan was the month of the Qur’aan readers. 
When Sha’baan began, ‘Amr ibn Qays would close his shop and free his time for reading Qur’aan. 
Abu Bakr al-Balkhi said: The month of Rajab is the month for planting, the month of Sha’baan is the month of irrigating the crops, and the month of Ramadaan is the month of harvesting the crops. 
He also said: The likeness of the month of Rajab is that of the wind, the likeness of Sha’baan is that of the clouds and the likeness of Ramadaan is that of the rain; whoever does not plant and sow in Rajab, and does not irrigate in Sha’baan, how can he reap in Ramadaan? Now Rajab has passed, so what will you do in Sha’baan if you are seeking Ramadaan? This is how your Prophet and the early generations of the ummah were in this blessed month, so what will you do? 

And Allaah is the Source of strength.
Islam Q&A

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dawood Vaid, 33

Dawood Vaid, 33
Mumbai, Maharashtra
Parallel Educationist
Sunaina Kumar
Kedar Nath Mandal
'We teach children to learn from the stories of Moses and the Prophet’ says Dawood Vaid
Photo:Ms Gopal
As an immigrant engineer working in an MNC in Dubai, Dawood Vaid’s story was similar to that of countless other Indians. But that was only half of it. The other half began when Vaid, while working as a researcher on educational projects, dreamt of starting something different. The dream was soon realised and in 2007 the Burooj Angels, a Sunday Islamic school, was born. Students in the school are taught Surahs and Hadiths, the fundamentals of Islam, and the stories of prophets, but all this is undertaken with one approach — “fun learning”. Children between the ages of 5-14 can be seen engaged in skits, quiz sessions, art and craft and board games. Vaid says the two-hour sessions are meant to provide parallel complementary education. The medium of education is English and the school even has its own curriculum. “I grew up loving school. I want to share this experience with children, and so our books and educational tools are fun, and not pedagogical,” says the soft-spoken Vaid. In four years, the school has expanded to 24 cities across India, and has 6,500 students. The 33-year-old has recently started primary schools under the name of Red Camel.
Vaid can be contacted at +91 22 27715424

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 29, Dated 23 July 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Visiting Graveyards on 15th Sha'ban

Question:In the light of the teaching of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, is it a correct Islamic practice to visit graveyards on the night of Shab-e-baraat? please narrate the Hadith related to this night.

Giving significance to the night of 15th Sha'ban, visiting graveyards, doing extra Ibaadah (worship) and offering extra Nawaafil Salaah with the intention of specifically doing so on the occasion of 15th Sha'ban, having illuminations, considering it to be the Eid of the dead and keeping awake for the whole night of 15th Sha'ban and encouraging others to do the same -- all these are Bid'ah (innovation) . The prophet and the Sahaabah never did so nor commanded the muslims to do so.
We don't find any evidence of such things in the entire authentic Seerah of the Prophet and his companions. According to Allamah Ibn Rajab Abu Bakr Turtoshi, Ibn Wazzah Qurtubi, Suyuti, Shokani etc. all the Ahadith pertaining to the subject are weak and unacceptable.
The Hadith that is generally quoted to support the practices done on the night of 15th Sha'ban is Zaif (weak) according to Muhaddiseen (the scholars of Ahadith) and is not to be put into practice.
Narrated Aisha (R.A.),
I missed Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) during the night and found him in al-Baqi'. He said: Were you afraid that Allah and His Messenger would deal unjustly with you? I said: Allah's Messenger , I thought that you had gone to some of your other wives. He (the prophet) said: Verily Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, comes down to the heaven of the world in the middle night of Sha'ban and forgives sins even more abundant than the hair of the goats of Kalb. (Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 739; Sunan Ibn-I-Majah, Hadith No. 1389; Ahmad Vol. 6, 238)
According to Imam Bukhari and Tirmidhi, the above mentioned Hadith has a broken chain of narrators in two places, and therefore it is weak. Allamah Ibnul Arabi (543H), in his commentary of Sunan -At-Tirmidhi, titled 'Arizatul-Ahwazi', Vol 3, Pg No. 216 adds: '....further, in it Hajjaj Ibn Artaat is not reliable.'
However, it is established that the Prophet (pbuh) did visit the Baqi graveyard once, as Allah had commanded him and he prayed for Ahle-Baqi (the people of Baqi), but the exact night of this event is not known, as there is no clear proof in this regard. The prophet had done this by the commandment of Allah (swt), therefore the Prophet was an exception to this act.
Aisha (R.A.) says that the Prophet (pbuh) said: "Gabriel came to me and said; Your Rabb commands you to go to the graveyard of Baqi and seek forgiveness for them". (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 2256)
It is permissible for men to visit graveyard whenever they wish and pray for the dead, however it is not permissible to fix a specific day or night for the purpose and consider it to be of a special virtue unless we find any proof for doing so from the Qur'an or the authentic Ahadith.
Allamah Ibnul Arabi writes: "There is no reliable Hadith regarding the 15th of Sha'ban. Although certain commentators insist that the verse from Surah Dukhan, chapter 44, verse 4: 'In that (night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom', refer to 15th of Sha'ban, but this is not true, as Allah did not reveal the Qur'an in Sha'ban. The Qur'an was revealed in Ramadan, as mentioned in Surah Baqarah, chapter 2, verse 185, and this can only be statement of a person who transgresses the book of Allah (swt) and is careless of his word". (Arizatul Ahwazi, Vol. 3, Page No. 217)
According to Hadith of Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, Hadith No. 1885: ".. Most evil affairs are their innovations, and every innovation is an error..."
So Muslims should beware of and steer clear of all innovation and bid'ah.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Muslims are fundamentalists and terrorists? - By Dr. Zakir Naik

Islam And Universal Brotherhood - Part 1

By Dr. Zakir Naik
There are various types of brotherhoods - brotherhood based on blood relations, brotherhood based on regional affiliations, or brotherhood on the basis of race, caste, creeds, ideology, etc. But all these types of brotherhood are limited in their scope, coverage and benefits.
Islam, on the other hand, prescribes Universal Brotherhood. It rejects the thought that human beings have been created in castes or in different levels. In the Glorious Qur’an, in Surah Hujurat, Chapter No. 49, Verse No. 13, Allah (SWT) describes the Islamic concept of Universal Brotherhood:
‘O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most Righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
This Verse of the Glorious Qur’an indicates that the whole human race originated from a single pair of male and female. All humans have common great-grandparents and ancestors.
Further, Allah (swt) says that he has made nations and tribes, so that humans can recognize each other, and not so that they may despise each other and fight amongst themselves.
This verse also clarifies that the criteria for judgment in the sight of Allah (swt) does not depend on caste, colour, creed, gender or wealth, but on Taqwa - God consciousness, piety and righteousness. Anyone who is righteous, pious and God-conscious, is honoured in the sight of Allah (swt).
Further it is stated in the Glorious Qur’an in Surah Ar-Rum verse. 22, that:
‘And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages, and your colours: Verily in that are signs for those who know.’
These variations in colour and language are not for the purpose of creating animosity or differences between groups of humans. Every language on earth has its own beauty and significance.
A foreign language may sound strange and funny to you, but it sounds sweet to those for whom it is the mother tongue.
Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an, in Surah Israa, Ch. 17, Verse 70:
‘We have honoured the sons of Adam’
Allah does not say that He has honoured only the Arabs or the Americans or a particular race. He states that He has honoured all the children of Adam, irrespective of race, caste, colour, creed or gender.
While there are many religions that believe that humankind originated from a single pair - Adam and Eve (peace be upon them), there some faiths that say, that it is because of the sin of the woman (Eve - may Allah be pleased with her) that the humans are born in sin. They blame only on the woman, which is Eve, for the downfall of human beings.
The Qur’an speaks about the story of Adam and Eve (peace be upon them) in several chapters, but in all the places, the blame is placed equally on both -Adam and Eve (peace be upon them).
According to Surah Araf, Ch. 7 : Verses 19 to 27 Both of them disobeyed Allah (swt), both of them repented, and both were forgiven.
Both are equally blamed for the mistake. There is not a single verse in the Glorious Qur’an, which puts the blame only on Eve (may Allah be pleased with her).
In Surah Taha, Ch. No. 20, V. No. 121, it is stated that Adam (pbuh) disobeyed Allah (swt).
Certain faith, on the other hand state that because Eve disobeyed God, it is she who is responsible for the sin of humankind’. Hence God cursed the woman, and said that she will bear labour pains. This means that pregnancy is a curse.
Islam of course does not agree with this unjust view.
In Surah Nisa, Ch. No. 4, V. No. 1, Allah states: ‘And (reverence) the wombs (that bore you).’
In Islam, pregnancy does not degrade a woman - it uplifts a woman. In Surah Luqman, Ch. 31, V. No. 14, it is stated that:
‘And we have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents. In travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning.’
The Qur’an says in Surah, Ahqaf, Ch. 46, V. No. 15...’We have enjoined on man to be kind to his parents. In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.’
Islam states that men and women are created equal.
According to a Hadith mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, Vol.No. 8, in the Book of Adab, Chapter 2, Hasith No. 2:
‘A person came to Prophet Mohammed (saw), and asked him, ‘Who is the person who deserves the maximum love and companionship in this world ?’
The Prophet replied, ‘Your mother.’
The man asked, Who next?’
The Prophet said, ‘Your mother.’
The man asked, ‘After that who?’
The Prophet repeated for the third time, ‘Your mother.’
The man asked, ‘After that who?’
Then the Prophet said, ‘Your father.’
So, 75% or 3/4 of the love and companionship of the children are due to the mother and only 25% or 1/4 of the love and companionship goes to the father. In other words, the mother gets the gold medal, she gets the silver medal, as well as the bronze medal. The father has to be satisfied with a mere consolation prize.
These are amongst the teachings of Islam.
In Islam, men and women are equal - but equality does not mean identicality. There are many misconceptions about the status of women in Islam. These can be removed if one studies the authentic sources of knowledge of Islam and its teachings - the Glorious Qur’an and the Sahih Hadith.
While men and women are overall equal, equality does not mean identicality. Let’s take an example. In a class, two students - student ‘A’ and ‘B’ get the highest marks in a subject - 80 out of 100.
The question paper consisted of 10 questions, each of 10 marks.
In the first answer student ‘A’ gets 9 out of 10, student ‘B’ gets 7 out of 10. So in question 1 student ‘A’ has a degree of advantage than student ‘B’.
In question 2, student ‘B’ gets 9 out of 10, and student ‘A’ gets 7 out of 10. So in question 2, student ‘B’ has a degree of advantage, than student ‘A’.
In the remaining 8 questions, both get 8 out of 10, and if you total the marks of both the students, both get 80 out of 100.
So if you analyze, both student ‘A’ and ‘B’ have got over all equal marks.
But in answers to some questions, student ‘A’ has a degree of advantage and in answers to some other questions, student ‘B’ has a degree of advantage - but in terms of overall marks, both are equal.
Similarly in Islam, men and women are equal.
Brotherhood in Islam does not only mean that the same sexes are equal. ‘Universal Brotherhood’ in Islam means, that besides race, caste, and creed, even the sexes are overall equal. Men and women are equal in Islam, but in some aspects, men have a degree of advantage while in some other aspects, women have a degree of advantage - but overall both are equal.
For example, if a robber enters my house, I will not say, ‘I believe in women’s rights, and I believe in women’s liberation and therefore my sister, my wife, my mother, should go and fight the robber.’
Allah says in Surah Nisa, Ch. 4, V 34, ‘God has given the one (man) more strength than the other’’. Men have more strength than the women.’
So where strength is concerned, men have a degree of advantage. Since they have been given more strength, it is their duty to protect women. Here the men have a degree of advantage.
Where love and companionship from children is concerned, the mother gets three times more love and companionship than the father. Here women have a degree of advantage.
For more details, you can refer to the video-cassettes of my talk on ‘Women’s Rights in Islam - Modernizing or Outdated? Part I has the lecture and Part II has the Question-Answer session.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is Allah Forgiving or Revengeful?

QuestionThe Qur'an says several times that Allah is most Merciful and Forgiving but also says many times that He gives severe punishment. Is He Forgiving or Revengeful?

Answer1.    Allah is most Merciful
The Qur'an says several times that Allah is the most Merciful. In fact all the 114 Surahs i.e. chapters of the Glorious Qur'an except for Surah Taubah chapter 9, begin with the beautiful formula, Bismillah-hir-Rahman-nir-Rahim, which means, "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful".
2.    Allah is Forgiving
The Glorious Qur'an mentions in several verses including Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 25 and Surah Maidah, chapter 5 verse 74:
"And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
3.    Allah gives severe punishment to the deserving
Allah besides being Merciful and Forgiving is also strict in giving punishment to the deserving. The Qur'an mentions in several verses that Allah will give severe punishment to the unbelievers and rejecters of faith. He will give punishment to all those who disobey Him. Several verses of the Qur'an describe the various types of severe punishment that Allah will give in hell to all those who disobey.
"Those who reject our Signs, we shall soon cast into the Fire; as often as their skins
Are roasted through, we shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise".
[Al-Qur'an 4:56]
4.    Allah is Just
The question is, whether Allah is forgiving or revengeful? An important point to be noted is that Allah besides being Merciful and Forgiving, He also has to give severe punishment to the deserving wicked or evil people, because He is also Just. The Qur'an mentions in Surah Nisa: "Allah is never unjust in the least degree".
[Al-Qur'an 4:40]
It is further mentioned in Surah Al-Ambiya:
"We shall set up scales of justice for the day of Judgement, so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least. And if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed, we will bring it (to account): and enough are we to take account".
[Al-Qur'an 21:47]
5.     Example: Teacher forgives a student who copies in the examination
If during an examination, a student copies and the teacher who supervises in the examination catches the student red-handed, the teacher says that he is very merciful and kind and forgives him and allows him to continue copying. Those students who have worked hard for the examination will not call the teacher merciful and kind but will call him unjust. This merciful act of the teacher will encourage the other students to also copy. If all the teachers are merciful and kind and allow the students to copy then no student will ever study for examinations and all will pass with flying colours by copying. The theoretical results of the examinations will be excellent in which all the students will pass with first class and distinction but practically these students will be a failure in life. The whole purpose of the examination would be defeated.
6.    This Life is a Test for the Hereafter
The life in this world is a test for the Hereafter. The Qur'an says in Surah Al Mulk: "He who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed; and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving".
[Al-Qur'an 67:2]
7.     If Allah forgives all and punishes none, who will obey him?
If Allah (swt) forgives each and every human being and punishes no one, then why should the human beings obey the command of Allah (swt)? I do agree that no one will go to hell, but this world would become hell to live in. If all human beings are going to go to heaven then what is the purpose and use of the human beings to come to this world, this life cannot be called a test for the hereafter.
8.    Allah only forgives if a person repents
Allah (swt) only forgives if a person repents. The Qur'an says in Surah Al-Zumar, chapter 39 verse 53-55:
"Say: - O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
"Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (will), before the penalty comes on you - after that ye shall not be helped."
"And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the penalty comes on you - of a sudden, while ye perceive not!"
[Al-Qur'an 39:53-55]
There are four criteria for repentance: First, agree that the act is wrong. Secondly, stop it immediately. Thirdly, never do it again in future. And lastly, compensate for the loss if caused to anyone.