Islamic Voice
Jamadi-Ul-Awwal 1422H
August 2001
Volume 15-08 No:176

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OUR DIALOGUE


Islam and Terrorism
Why Insist on Urdu?
Divisions among Muslims
On the 'Al-Missyar' Marriage
Marriage and Separation
Delayed Bath for Purification
Artificial Insemination


Maqbool Ahmed Siraj replies:

Islam and Terrorism

Q. Can you please explain why wherever Islam is present there is fighting, war and terrorism? I admit not all of Islam is this way, however look at the terrorism everywhere (historically also). Look at the wars (Saddam Hussain claimed he was ordered by Islam), at the riots in England, the cricket riots etc. It was all because of Islam. Everybody is too scared to say it, especially the whites. But if we want peace, we must fight back Islam. The Quran dictates war. Islam allows incest - one of the causes of genetic disorders - this must explain it.

(Indian Man, IndianMan@hotmail.com)

Dear brother! Thanks for your frank query. We have removed several portions from your letters that were abusive. We are not offended. Let us discuss the problem cool headedly.

The linking of Islam and terrorism is the handiwork of the Western propaganda machine. When the US navy shot down the Iranian jetliner in the Gulf killing 253 persons on board, no one in the US media had the cheek to describe it as ‘US terrorism’. Did the US hand over the navymen to Iran for trial? No. But the US insists that Libyans who bombed the American plane be tried in the West? The Union Carbide killed 2,500 persons (besides crippling thousands more) in Bhopal. Why did not the US hand over the Carbide chief Anderson to be tried in India? Why is it that India was forced to accept a paltry sum? The United Kingdom has banned several bodies calling them terrorist but is found begging with India for the release of Peter Bleach, a confirmed British terrorist who has been convicted for arms dropping in Purulia and helping the Anand Margis. In India itself, our government released five Lativian terrorists involved in the Purulia arms drop case. It has also been widely documented in the Indian press that Tamil terrorists used the Indian territory to fight for Eelam in Sri Lanka. They bombed the Chennai’s Meenambakkam airport and some groups eliminated other groups through mass murders in Tamil Nadu. Yet they were always referred as ‘Tamil militants’ (not ‘Hindu terrorists’) by the Indian press. Similarly, the IRA bombers are never identified as Catholic terrorists.

With so much of doublespeak and double standards everywhere in matters of dealing with terrorism and terrorists, there must be some design behind Islam and Muslim along being held responsible for such acts. Individual acts of terrorism by Muslims need not be attributed to Islam. Nor the one by a Hindu terrorist to Hinduism. But the media imbalance does empower some in the developed West to accuse the media-have nots with terrorism.

Now let me come to the profile of world terrorism in the light of the facts emanating from the Western sources alone and let us judge where Muslims or the Muslim world figures in this. According to the annual US State Department report Patterns of Global Terrorism 1997 the reported incidents of terrorism from years 1992-97, the largest number of terrorist incidents occurred in Europe (831); second largest (602) in Latin America; the Middle East ranked third with 422 incidents. For the same years there were 7,621 casualties in the European incidents and 2,692 casualties in Middle East incidents. These statistics cannot be taken at the face value. They are modified somewhat by Muslim implication in incidents in Europe. But even adjusting for this factor does not detract from the suggestion that terrorism is universal and is not the exclusive preserve of Muslims. The State Department named 34 terrorist groups as of October 8, 1997. Fewer than half, 14 were related to the Middle East. The remaining 20 were associated with Asia (10), Europe (6) and Latin America (4). These statistics have made Ralph Braibanti of the Edmund a Walsh School of International Affairs in Washington to make the following comment: “The use of poison gas by the Buddhist Aum Shinrikyo, the Oklahoma Bombings by an American Christian, the long standing terrorism by Northern Irish Catholics, the violence of Indian Hindus (remember Babri Masjid and its bloody aftermath) and Buddhist against Muslims, the vicious ethnic cleansing by Christian Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo, the violence of drug-related Catholic mobs in Latin America, and the terrorism of Hindu Tamils against the Sinhalese Buddhist government of Sri Lanka demonstrates the universality of terrorism and the cultural and religious diversity of its origins.”

People naturally react and defend themselves wherever their rights are suppressed. The freedom struggles cannot be described as terrorism. And most freedom struggles emanate from the sense of nationalism, which is again a Western innovation. In the end, we all should think of a new World Order which can give us peace with justice.

You seem to be misinformed about incest in Islam. Islam does not permit incestuous marriages. But of course marriage between cousins is allowed which does not come under definition of incest. In contrast, among several communities of South Indian Hindus, maternal uncle is allowed to marry nieces and it is a common practice in Tamil Nadu. So also among Jews.

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Why Insist on Urdu?

Q. I have a question. Why the Muslims in India stress on Urdu language, why is that we fight for this language, why the parents ask their children to go to Urdu schools? Though I myself was educated through Urdu medium and I am not opposed to Urdu either, but this is not the language of Allah. Why can't you write in such a way that people should forget Urdu and start learning Arabic, the language of Quran. If you look at the past and if we think a little bit, we will understand that one of the reason for the downfall of Islam is that Muslims stopped learning the language of Allah, the Arabic. Can you Comment on this?

(Mohammed Aslam, Mac Alpine Circle, Morissiville - 27560 , USA)

Not all Muslims of India speak Urdu, nor Urdu is monopoly of Muslims alone. Till independence, a lot of Urdu writers and poets were Hindus or Sikhs. Urdu is the mother tongue of nearly 55 per cent Indian Muslims, mainly in the Gangetic basin states. Muslim insistence on Urdu is mainly because of the fact that education, particularly primary education, should be imparted through mother tongue in order to be effective. This is so for speakers of all languages. It can be explained through an example. Urdu speaking students in English medium schools (for that matter everyone studying in English medium schools in India) learn 'F for Fish' or 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep..' through rote but the ones who recite Saare Jehan se achcha Hindustan Hamara learn by comprehension which is preferable. Children who comprehend are more creative. It is why the UNESCO recommends primary education through the medium of mother tongue. It is why nations of Europe, China and Japan insist on imparting education only through the respective national languages. This is also the secret behind Japan and China's phenomenal success in economic sphere. The two languages have thousands of characters to be learnt. They are written downards. The best of Japanese typists can type only eight words per minute. Yet the two nations insist on their citizens learning through their mother tongue. This also checks the brain drain. Few Chinese and Japanese work abroad, yet their goods flood the market all over the world. But look at the wretched South Asians. Millions of them work in the Gulf, Europe, America and South East Asia. But their goods are nowhere to be found. This should be a challenge to our self-respect. But we take pride in it. We inherited this curse because of English education which has smothered our creativity and made us fancy the outside world. We can begin correcting this malady by introducing education through the mother tongue.

Cultural continuity can be ensured for Indian Muslims if Urdu is preserved. Ghalib, Iqbal, Braj Narain Chakbast, Raghupathi Sahay Firaq Gorakhpuri, Prem Chand will remain accessible till Urdu remains on the scene. The Muslims' insistence on Urdu should be seen in this perspective.

It is erroneous to say that Arabic is the language of Allah. Allah has created all the languages spoken by people all over the world be it Tamil, Hindi, Sanskrit, Congolese, Serb or Croat. Indian Muslims would do well to learn Arabic to the extent it enables them to understand the Holy Quran and Hadith. But Arabic cannot be expected to be a popular medium of education, entertainment, cultural exchange, research, market needs etc. in India. A language to play all such roles should be a highly developed one and its knowledge should be shared by a considerable number of Indians, not only Muslims.

Thirdly, Urdu is far better placed even as an Islamic language. Urdu was thriving as a language of literature while Arabs were in deep slumbers during the last 400 years. So Urdu has the best of commentaries of Quran, Fiqh, fatawa (religious edicts) and seerah. These are much more informed than the ones produced by Arabs themselves.

All these make Urdu's case a robust one. Yet we must bear in mind that Urdu is the mother tongue of only about half of Indian Muslims. Non-Urdu speaking Muslims should continue to stick to their respective languages such as Bangla, Assamese, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam etc and make contribution to their literature and culture. There is no preferred language of Islam. Urdu's question in India is cultural and not religious one. Absence of Urdu reading facility has culturally impoverished Muslims.

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Adil Salahi replies:

Divisions among Muslims

Q. Qur'anic and Hadith injunctions are clear that Muslims must remain united. Yet a Hadith tells us that Muslims will be split into more than seventy groups, which are all in hell except one. Please comment.

A. It is true what the Prophet (Pbuh) said about the division of people who claim to be Muslims. They are split in groups, some well known, while others are relatively obscure. Since their differences are over matters of faith, then it is only logical that only one is bound to follow the truth contained in Allah’s message. This is the clear message to which the Prophet points out when he mentions this division. He also mentions that people of earlier religions, particularly the Jews and the Christians, have also been split into too many groupings and sects.

When the Prophet was asked to define which group is the one which will escape hell and be admitted to heaven, his answer was very clear. He said: “That which follows what I and my companions follow.” Hence a strict adherence to what the Prophet followed will bring us in line with his companions who followed his instructions and teachings in an exemplary way. We have a clear and full record of what the Prophet and his companions practiced. So we do not need to pursue any philosophical thought or any man-made creed or doctrine. We have to give practical evidence of the declaration we make when we state that we believe in Islam, namely the declaration: “I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger.”

What is the role of a messenger if not to bring a message? And if Allah has sent us a message, it only stands to reason that we should follow it.

The Prophet has given us the perfect example of following that message and his companions followed his guidance and gave us a full social example of that message in practice. When we declare that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger, then we are committing ourselves to reject every thing that is in conflict with his guidance. Indeed that is the only way to lead to heaven. The Prophet tells the truth and his Hadith states the issues before us very clearly.

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On the 'Al-Missyar' Marriage

Q. I like to know the ruling on a "passer-by", or Al-Missyar, marriage. What is exactly meant by it, is this a new type of marriage? The case is reffered of Sawdah, the Prophet's wife who relinquished her rights in favour of Aisha, his other wife. Which of them did the Prophet marry first?

A. Al-Misyar, or passer-by, marriage is an arrangement of marriage in the full sense of the word. However, the wife chooses to relinquish some of her rights because she prefers to be married with limited rights to staying single. This is a new type of marriage, the fact that people did not resort to such marital arrangements until recently. It is a marriage in the full sense of the word, intended to last for life. However, the husband is normally an already married man, but he may have some problems with his existing marriage which need not lead to a complete break-up. His new wife may decide that she will be happy to marry him, if he stays with her one night a week, or less or more often, as the case may be. She is entitled to be completely looked after like any wife, but if she is rich, she may forgo that right. Any arrangement that they may agree voluntarily, without pressure, is acceptable.

Sawdah, the Prophet’s wife, was married to him before Aisha. She was the first wife he married after the death of Khadeejah. She continued to enjoy all her rights, but when she noticed that Aisha had a special place in the Prophet’s heart, she relinquished her nights in favour of Aisha. She did this as a gesture of love for the Prophet. Her action and the Prophet’s acceptance indicate clearly that relinquishing some rights by one wife in favour of another is acceptable, provided it is done freely, without pressure.

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Marriage and Separation

Q. Is it true that when a husband and wife have been living separately for more than six months, their marriage becomes invalid and that they will have to go through a remarriage if they want to continue to live together?

A. No, all this is wrong. A marriage is a bond made by Allah, and it can be dissolved only through the ways He has laid down. These do not include separation of the spouses. What the reader is confusing here is the fact that a man should not stay away from home for more than four months without his wife’s consent and the effect of such absence on his marital status. If he stays away for that duration and his wife objects to any longer absence, then she is entitled to apply for divorce on grounds of husband’s absence. There are other rulings concerning long absence, but the marriage is never automatically dissolved.

There must always be an application by the wife for nullification of the marriage when her husband is away for a prolonged period of time.

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Delayed Bath for Purification

Q. Is it permissible to have a meal or do any activity when one is in the state of ceremonial impurity, having had intercourse with one's wife. Can we delay taking the cermonial bath?

A. The Prophet (Pbuh) has told us that a believer does not get impure. It is perfectly permissible for a person in such a condition to attend to anything he or she wants, whether it is eating or working, or completing any task. It is obviously better not to delay taking a bath in order to be able to attend to one's duties, such as prayers. But if one needs to delay it for any reason, one may go about one's business, including eating.

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Artificial Insemination

Islam safeguards lineage by prohibiting zina and legal adoption, thus keeping the family line unambiguously defined without any foreign element entering into it. It likewise prohibits what is known as artificial insemination if the donor of the semen is other than the husband. In such a case, as the well-known professor, Shaikh Shaltut, says, “It is a despicable crime and a major sin, to be classified in the same category as adultery. Both (adultery and artificial insemination by anyone other than the husband) are similar in nature and in effect; that is, in both cases the tillage which belongs exclusively to the husband is intentionally inseminated by a stranger. Had the form of this crime not been of a lesser degree, such insemination would have been punishable by the same hadd punishment as is prescribed for adultery in the divinely revealed Shari’ah. There is, however, no doubt that insemination by a donor other than the husband is a more serious crime and detestable offense than adoption, for the child born of (such) insemination incorporates in itself the result of adoption - the introduction of an alien element into the lineage - in conjunction with the offence of adultery, which is abhorrent both to the divinely revealed laws and to upright human nature. By this action the human being is degraded to the level of an animal, who has no consciousness of the noble bonds (of morality and lineage) which exist among the members of a human society”. ??

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