Islamic Voice
Safar 1422H
May 2001
Volume 15-05 No:173

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OUR DIALOGUE

By S. Abdullah Tariq

Why are Women not allowed to Pray in Mosques here ?
Did the Angels Teach Magic?
Which Imam to Follow?
Can We Use Perfumes ?
Can She Inherit?
Spending Interest Money
Movement of Devils
Imam Ahmed Raza Khan (Barelvi)

Why are Women not allowed to Pray in Mosques here ?

Q. Why Sunni Muslim women are not permitted to enter into mosque whereas other Islamic sects like Bohras, Sulaimani women are allowed to pray in mosques?

(Ali Asgar Clipwala; Vadodara)

A. The visits of the women to the mosques for regular prayers is Makrooh in the eyes of Hanafi scholars, so in those countries or regions where Hanafis are in majority there are no separate sections for the prayer of women.

In Prophet’s time and later in Abu Bak’r era, a number of women prayed in the mosques five times a day. However the majority of them prayed in their houses except for Friday prayer and the two Idds. A majority prayed in their homes because the Prophet (Pbuh) preferred it for them. Narrated Umme Salma that the Prophet (Pbuh) said: The best mosque for the women is the most secluded room of their houses. (Musnad-e-Ahmad)

Later when many evils crept in the society, the ladies visits to the mosques became still less advisable for fear of evil teasers especially for Fajr and Isha. It is well known that Hazrat Umar did not like his wife Aatika’s visit to the mosques. Aatika knew it but continued praying in the mosque saying, If you want to keep me from going to the mosque I shall forsake it only if you forbid in clear cut words. Hazrat Umar never forbade her as the Prophet (Pbuh) had said: Do not bar the bondswomen of Allah from visiting the mosques (for prayers) though their homes are better for them. (Abu Dawood, Ahmad)

If your women ask your permission to come to mosques at night (for Maghrib and Isha), then let them come. (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmizi, Nasai)

Hazrat Umar could not forbid her but he thought of another way of making her understand. One early morning when Aatika was going to the mosque, he threw a pebble on her from a dark corner. Aatika became scared thinking it the act of some scoundrel and abandoned going to the mosque for prayers.

Later when the evils grew still more, Hanafi scholars ruled that the visits of women to the mosque (for prayers) became Makrooh. (Fatawa Aalamgiri)

The times and needs have changed since then. At the time of the above ruling of Hanafi scholars, women had no compulsion to pray in the mosques. Though the evils are more widespread today, the social needs have compelled women to come out of their homes for other needs, like shopping, education and jobs. If a lady is in her college, place of work or a public place at the time of a prayer, she has no alternative other than praying in a lawn before the eyes of a large number of men or skip the Salat at its appointed hour. Both of the above are undesirable. Her praying in a mosque in a separate section secluded for women would have been much better than in any other place where she becomes a singular source of attraction. Not praying at the time of prayer is also not permitted by Quran. It declares: Salat at appointed hours has been enjoined on the believers. (4:103)

The best course today is to provide a women’s section in all the mosques, which could be closed, for Fajr and Isha prayers, the two being in the dark hours. The women who are out of their homes for different needs should be permitted to pray at the appointed time of a Salat in the mosques at Zohar, Asr and Maghrib. The information that women’s Salat is preferred in their houses may be displayed in their section to educate and inform those women who might wish to visit the mosques though they could have easily prayed at their homes. If such women still come to the mosque for some prayers from their houses, they may not be barred in the light of Hadiths of the Prophet (pbuh). It is time that the Hanafi scholars reconsider their earlier fatwa.

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Did the Angels Teach Magic?

Q. Dr. Zakir Naik has written that angels have no free will and hence they always obey Allah. Recently I have come across a commentary of the Qur'anic verse 2:102 that two angels Haroot and Maroot came to the world with the permission of Allah to teach magic for lawful purposes but eventually yielded to the temptation of Satan. What do you think of these two angels?

(M. Abdus Samad, Gauripur, Assam)

A. The commentator in the commentary you have read has made a very grave error if what you have understood and described is correct. It is a serious charge on the angels that they disobeyed Allah. It is also against our basic tenets of belief that includes belief in all the angels of Allah (that they do not disobey and do what they are told). The relevant verse clarifies the following.

Allah sent two angels Haroot and Maroot to the land of Babel to test the people. They were deputed to teach those who were willing, a special knowledge that could be used for both good and bad purposes. They always warned people before imparting with the subject that they had been sent as a test for them and advised them not to fall prey to temptation of misusing the knowledge. The Satans (from both Jinns and men) who used to teach magic to people learnt it and tempted the people to learn it to create rifts between husbands and wives. It was at the time of Hazrat Sulaiman and the devils (from Jinns and men) taking advantage of the knowledge taught by Haroot and Maroot falsely propagated that (Hazrat) Sulaiman had taught magic to them. As Hazrat Sulaiman ruled over Jinns (good and bad) also, it became easy for the disbelievers to spread the tale. Qur’an clearly says that Sulaiman did not commit Kufr by teaching magic and the Satans twisted the knowledge imparted by Haroot and Maroot (with the leave of Allah) to use it look like magic.

Some commentators have misunderstood the said verse and concluded that the angels taught magic with the leave of Allah. When magic is Kufr, it is wrong to interpret that Allah would have sent angels to teach Kufr even as a test. Probably to absolve Allah (SWT) of the charge, the commentary you are referring to, has shifted the responsibility of teaching Kufr to the angels. There was no need for this twist as there is nowhere in the verse that angels committed Kufr either with or without leave of Allah (I seek refuge of Allah against such thoughts). The angels taught something, which the devils twisted, to look like magic and used it to create rift between husband and wives. After the clarification, read the verse in question.

And (those who twisted the truth) follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Sulaiman. Sulaiman did not commit Kufr but the devils committed Kufr by teaching mankind magic and that which was revealed to the two angels in Babel, Haroot and Maroot. They (the angels) did not teach it to anyone till they had warned: We are (here for) only a test; so do not commit Kufr after (learning this knowledge from us). And from these two (angels) they (the devils and their followers) learn that by (misusing) which they cause division between husband and wife. But they injure thereby none save by Allah’s leave. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. And surely they know that whoever trades therein will have no part (in the rewards of) Hereafter. And surely evil is the price for which they sell their souls, if they but knew. (2:102)

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Which Imam to Follow?

Q. In your reply (Jan-2001) to Mr. Hanif Guliwala you explain two Hadiths of Prophet (Pbuh) which show us two characters of Prophet (Pbuh). My question is: Why there are four Imams, not one Imam? Is it not conflicting within us? Which Imam we should follow? Why they don't say one thing about Islam? Why they are so confusing, and why we are so confused about these Imams?

(Mohammad Wasim Fazal ; Lucknow)

A. Following two Hadiths were quoted in the reply you referred to. “Whosoever has an Imam, the recitation of Imam is his recitation”. (Musnad-e-Imam Abu Hanifa, Dar-e-Qutni); “Who did not recite Surah Fateha in Salat, his Salat was not complete”. (Bukhari, Muslim).

It was explained in the said reply that the first of the two Hadiths is regarding audible recitation of the Imam as in Faj’r and the first two Rak’ats of Maghrib and Isha while the\ second is related to the inaudible recitation of Imam like in Zohar, As’r etc. and the supplications of Rukoo, Sajdah and Qa’adah. There is no contradiction between the two instructions of the Prophet (pbuh).

There are not just four but hundreds of saintly scholars whom we refer to as Imam in regard of their guidance to us but our greatest and the real Imam remains the holy Prophet (pbuh). He guided the Sahaba in every walk of life through his actions and instructions. Like in the above instance, the companions generally knew the context of the instruction given to them and no confusion arose. With the passage of time, people started getting confused as they did not know the exact context of all the saying of the Prophet (pbuh). It was then that to them some Hadiths seemed mutually contradictory. There was another essential intricacy besides many others. New complexities arose and unprecedented situations required solutions with the passage of time and the average people were not adept in deriving the solutions in the light of Quran and Sunnah. Rising to the occasion, the scholars started codification of Islamic laws for the convenience of the masses. The codification came to be known as Fiqh. Since the exercise started around a century after the Prophet (pbuh), it is not surprising that the scholars differed in their opinion on many issues. The Sunni Muslims regard four earliest pioneers of Fiqh as the most authentic Fiqh authorities who codified the law. They are Imam(s) Malik, Abu Hanifa, Shafai, and Ahmad Bin Hambal. There are many reasons for differences of opinion among them on many problems but the chief reason is the difference in their understanding of context of the Prophet’s actions and instructions.

Scholarly investigation is an evolutionary process but unfortunately the followers of four schools of thought became four sects of Sunni Muslims as they preferred blind following over research based modifications and improvements. When two scholars have opposite views on a subject, on most such occasions at least one of them has to be on wrong footing. Later scholars, by impartial investigation and unbiased research, could have analyzed the reasons forwarded by the four Imams behind their different ruling and in most instances could have come to right conclusions but the allegiance factor dominated the impartial investigation.

For an average Muslim, it is safer to follow any one of them till he is capable of coming to the right conclusion on certain issue of difference, in the light of Quran, Sunnah and rationale. One should leave blind following and not hesitate to make amend to the extant of that particular problem of which he has acquired knowledge and found that the Imam, he was following erred in that matter.

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Can We Use Perfumes ?

Q. I was reading the dos and don'ts of Islam when I came across this line which said using perfume with spirit is an abominable act. I am disturbed ever since as most of the wonderful perfumes are the ones with alcohol and I use a lot of perfume to dispel body odour. Consumption of alcohol is wrong since it gives way to loss of sensibility, engulfing us in sinful acts. In perfume it is just used on clothes, so what is the harm?

(Fathima Bano ; Bangalore)

A. Final prohibition of intoxication was imposed vide the following verse: O believers, intoxicants and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that you may succeed. (5:90)

In the above verse, intoxication and gambling are declared satanic acts. No scholar from the above verse deduces that touching the playing cards or gambling arrows is unlawful. Their use in gambling is prohibited. On the same logic, alcohol itself is not unclean but its consumption is forbidden. What is Satanic about intoxicants and gambling? The Quran explains in the next verse: ‘Satan intends to create enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants and gambling and he seeks to turn you from remembrance of Allah and from Salat. Will you then desist’? (5:91)

It is also clear that the enemity and hatred is created from consuming intoxicants and playing games of chance. It is not created by touching alcohol or cards. Another pointer in the above verse is that by means of these evils Satan intends to keep you away from Salat. Now, there is another verse dealing with the subject of intoxicants and Salat, which may make the answer to the query more comprehensible. It states: O believers, do not go nearby Salat when you are intoxicated till you comprehend what you utter (4:43)

The verse specifies the duration of keeping away from Salat when one is in a state of intoxication. It is not instructed to keep away till he takes a bath. He who is under the influence of intoxicants has to keep away from Salat till his mind is clear enough to comprehend what he says. In the same verse, it is directed that a bath is required to go nearby Salat when one is unclean from sexual discharge. If alcohol were unclean to touch, a bath would have been necessary for one who became polluted from touching it.

On the basis of above hints from Quran it is clear that though some Scholars prefer being cautious, there is no harm in using perfumes containing alcohol.

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Can She Inherit?

Q. If a daughter of a Muslim couple decides to marry a non-Muslim (Mushrik) person: 1) Is she a Muslim as she perform Salah? 2) Is she still entitled to receive her share of inheritance from her father's and her mother's property? 3) Is it possible for the parents to de-bar her from any inheritance in their own lifetime? Is it illegal for her siblings to debar (de-legitimize) her from the inheritance after the death of her parents (on the basis that she has married a non-Muslim)?

(Rizwan ; srr7771@hotmail.com)

A. Qur’an prohibits a Muslim lady to marry a Mushrik, but many Muslims do many things that are forbidden and it does not make them non-Muslims. She is living in continuous sin but cannot be branded as a non-Muslim if she declares herself to be a Muslim and offers Salat. She is entitled to all her rights of inheritance. Fiqh scholars have decried that there are only two counts that debar a Muslim from the right of inheritance. The change of religion and his/her being of such low intelligence that he/she is unable to look after his/her affairs. The parents of the woman in question are not permitted in Shariah to make any will to debar her from inheriting.

The concept of declaring ‘Aaq’ (A parent’s announcement of severing ties and barring them from inheritance) has no place in Islamic Shariah. Her children cannot claim any inheritance from their grandfather or grandmother if she is alive at the time of death of anyone of them.

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Spending Interest Money

Q. I have a confusion. As answer to one brother's question you have mentioned that interest money can be used for some good cause but without expecting Sawab. The confusion arises that for Muslims good cause and bad is defined by Allah (SWT). Could you please clear this confusion.

(Malik Bilal Ahmad ; London)

A. When it is suggested by most Ulema that a bank’s interest must be drawn and spent in a good cause without expecting Sawab, it does not mean that it is a good cause for the one who is spending the money. Had it been a good cause for him he would have expected reward on it. A good cause in the above statement is that in which by spending, a spender would have expected to earn Sawab, had his earning been from a lawful source. The cause still remains a good cause but is no more a source of reward or Sawab for his spending who spends out of an unlawful source of earning. It is a way out or a lesser evil for one who has invested in a banking institution or a like. He can not be permitted to leave the interest money in the bank as his money will then be used for promoting the interests of the bank.

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Movement of Devils

Q. One of my friend told that after Asar Namaz devils will be roaming. He said that it is in Bukhari Shariff.

(Sohail Ahmad Jaffery ; sohailjaffery@rediffmail.com)

A. The actual Hadith is following: Restrain your children when the darkness of night unfolds or it is evening as the devils are spread around at the time. After an hour of night is passed, leave them and close the doors of your houses. The devils do not open the closed doors. (Bukhari)

The Hadith is allegorical. Evil schemes usually originate and are incorporated at night. The Prophet (Pbuh) instructed to keep watch over children from their going out after sunset to safeguard them from evil influences in their immature age. After an hour or so of the sunset it is opportunate time to close the doors of the houses. The time to keep watch over children from going out is before closing the doors after the night (sunset) breaks. Those who may spoil them will not break open the doors to come to meet them.

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Imam Ahmed Raza Khan (Barelvi)

Q. Can you please tell me if Imam Ahmed Raza Khan (Barelvi) studied at Deoband and did he study with Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi. Dates with any other info would be appreciated.

(Siddiq Patel ; Siddiq_patel@hotmail.com)

A. Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan was a contemporary of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi. He neither studied at Deoband nor he studied anywhere with Maulana Thanvi. Both these scholars had considerable differences with each other on some subjects. The teachers and mentors of Maulana Ahmad Raza were his father (Maulana Naqi Ali Khan), Mirza Ghulam Qadir Beg (Urdu and Persian), Maulana Abdul Ali of Rampur, Shah Ale Rasool and Shah Abul Hasan Noori, both of Marehra. His Dastar Bandi (conferring of recognition of completion of Islamic learning) occurred in Nov. 1869 when he was 13 and the same day he was adjudged a full fledged Mufti by his father.

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