Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Jamadi Thani 1424 H
August 2003
Volume 16-08 No : 200
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Our Dialogue


Divorcing One's Wife in Flight of Anger
Eating With Non-Muslims
Joining a Congregation for a Different Prayer
Husband Massaging Wife's Feet
Prayer When On Duty
Horoscopes and Advertisements
Is My Tawaf Valid?

By Adil Salahi

Divorcing One's Wife in Flight of Anger

Q. In a flight of anger, a man divorced his wife more than once. When he cooled down he asked his two daughters, aged 11 and 12, as well as another woman who were all present, about the number of divorces he uttered, but they could not agree. One said that it was once only, another said twice, while the third was unsure whether it was two or three times. Is this divorce valid? And how many times does it count?

A. It is a very foolish thing for a man to let his anger take control of his senses, and destroy his marital life. Divorce is neither a method of punishment nor a tool to correct one’s wife’s behaviour. It is a remedy to end an unhappy marriage in order to allow the two parties to seek a better life with different spouses. If there is a problem between man and wife, they should seek a solution for that problem in a way that respects the rights and needs of both of them.

The man says that he was in a flight of anger at the time when he divorced his wife. What is interesting here is that he needed to confirm this with those who were present. He should ask himself whether he was aware that he divorced his wife as he was shouting at her. If the case was such that he really did not remember what he said to his wife as he gave vent to his anger, then no divorce had taken place. This is a case of blind anger when a man loses control of himself. As such, his words and actions are considered ineffective. The Prophet is quoted to have said: “No divorce ... takes place when the mind is closed up.” Most scholars understand this as meaning closed up by extreme anger.

We need to differentiate here between such a case and one of heated anger in which the man is aware of what he is doing. He remains in control of himself, although he is not properly considering what he is saying. In this latter case, his actions, including divorce, are valid even though he is in anger. In the other situation, his anger gets grip of him to the extent that he is unaware of what he says or does.

Assuming that the man in this case was aware of what he said, the number of times he pronounced the word of divorce does not count, because it was all at the same time. When the Prophet was told by a man that he divorced his wife three times at once, he was very angry. He addressed his companions saying: “Is God’s book to be trifled with when I am still alive among you?” He told the man to treat it as one divorce. This means that a divorce pronounced three times together is forbidden and incurs God’s displeasure, but it counts as one divorce. Thus the marriage can be reinstated if this divorce is the first or the second between the couple. In this particular case, I suspect that this was the first time, and as such, a remarriage is possible, without a new contract if it is done within the waiting period, or with a new contract after the waiting period.

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Eating With Non-Muslims

Q. Our non-Muslim friends invite us to meals during their festivals, returning our invitations at the time of Eid.
It is normal for them as the food is served to begin by mentioning the names of their gods.
Does this make the food unlawful for Muslims to eat?
If so, is there some method to negate what is said so that
we could respond to their invitation without offending them?

A. The Qur’anic verses that speak about mentioning God’s name on food and prohibit what is offered under the name of anyone else actually speak of animal slaughter. When a sheep or a cow is slaughtered, God’s name must be mentioned as a gesture confirming that the killing of the animal is permissible by God’s grace, so that it provides food for human beings. Therefore, if one expects to be invited by non-Muslim friends and is unsure of what they do or say at the time of slaughter, one may suggest to his hosts that vegetarian food is preferable. This applies in particular to people of non-divine religions, such as Hindus and Buddhists. As for Christians and Jews, we are permitted to eat of the meat of their slaughtered animals. We only need to start by mentioning God’s name.

The prayer the reader mentions is said just before starting the meal, i.e. when the food is served. When they start their prayer, you may say a little prayer praising God and thanking Him for His grace. Thus, your prayer is the one that counts as far as you are concerned, and your hosts have their own prayer. You may share their food, provided that it is made of what is permissible in Islam.

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Joining a Congregation for a Different Prayer

Q. If a travelling person goes to the mosque to offer Maghrib and Isha prayers,
and finds the congregation about to start their Isha prayer, what should he do?

A. There is no harm in joining a congregation offering a different prayer to the one you want to offer. What is important is to make sure that one can start with the imam and finish with him. With regard to Zuhr, Asr and Isha, there is no problem, because when the traveler joins a local congregation, he prays as they do, i.e. four rak’ahs. The problem is when you want to start your Maghrib prayer with a congregation offering Isha. If you begin with the imam, you would have finished your Maghrib when the congregation has one more rak’ah to go. Therefore, the best thing is to wait until the congregation finish their first rak’ah and start when they begin their second. Thus, you finish with the imam. Of course this means that you sit for tashahhud after offering one rak’ah, but this is immaterial, because you must follow the Imam.

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Husband Massaging Wife's Feet

Q. As a woman was coming down the stairs she fell and sprained her ankle. Her husband rushed to her help, and began to massage her foot with hot water. At this point, his sister came in. She immediately began to tell her sister-in-law off for letting her husband touch her foot, saying that this cannot be approved by Islam. Is this true?

A. I am baffled by the attitude of the man’s sister. Did she want him not to help his wife after she had sustained this injury? If so, on what basis? Is it wrong for a man to massage his wife’s foot because he has to bend in order to reach it? I want to ask this woman: would it have been all right for the man to massage his wife’s shoulder, if the injury was there? If so, what is the difference between shoulder and ankle?

The man did the right thing as he rushed to help his wife. Had he not done so, he would have failed in his Islamic duty, as well as in his duty as a husband. Had he left his wife unattended, he would have incurred God’s displeasure as he would have been guilty of an inhumane attitude. As a husband, he is responsible to look after his wife. To think otherwise is simply un-Islamic.

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Prayer When On Duty

Q.1. As a medical doctor, I find myself on call at times when the congregational prayers are offered. At other times, I may be at home but on call. Is it permissible for me to offer my prayers at home or at the hospital in such situations?

Q.2. In my home country, an obligatory prayer may become due more than half an hour before the congregational prayer is offered in the mosque. Which is better: to offer the prayer immediately after it is due or to wait for the congregation? May I also ask if it is permissible to read the Qur'an when one is wearing shoes?

A.1. When you are on duty, you should attend to your duty first. God has given us a range of time for each prayer so that we may be able to adjust our praying time as fits our different situations. Had He willed, He would have made it obligatory for us to pray at a particular time, without giving us any leeway. But He has not done so. Instead, He allows us a very wide scope so that we can manage to attend to our prayers and our duties without difficulty. In your case, when you are on duty in the hospital or the health center, you pray when you have your break, at your place of work. If you are on call at home, you either pray at home, or go to the mosque taking your mobile phone or pager with you, so that you switch it off only at the time of prayer. When the prayer is over, you check whether there was a call and return that call. If this is impractical, then pray at home.

A.2. You choose what suits you best. If your time is flexible, then wait for the congregation. If you have duties or some business to attend to, then pray early and attend to your business.

You may wear your shoes when reading the Qur’an, and you may pray wearing your shoes, but in this latter case, you need to be sure that no impurity has fallen on them.

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Horoscopes and Advertisements

Q.1. What is a horoscope? Do Muslims believe in stars and their roles in human life?

Q.2. When photography is unwelcome in Islam, why do we see advertisements in newspapers with photos of men and women, and most of the latter without the hijab?

Q.3. On what conditions are women allowed to work outside their homes, considering that a woman needs to be accompanied by a mahram when she steps outside her residence?

A.1. The Oxford dictionary defines a horoscope as follows: “An observation of the sky and the configuration of the planets at a particular moment, esp. at a person’s birth; a diagram showing such a configuration of the planets; a prediction of a person’s future based on this.” As such, a horoscope is an attempt to define the future through the means of stars. From the Islamic point of view, all this is strictly forbidden. Muslims may not resort to this type of practice for any reason. It is all fabrication. Indeed, scientific studies undertaken in Britain have proved that it has absolutely no sound basis. The Prophet says: “Whoever seeks the help of an astrologer or fortune-teller denies what has been revealed to Muhammad.” There can be no stricter form of prohibition. Unfortunately most magazines, papers and other publications make a horoscope a regular feature in their publications. This is all wrong and unacceptable.

A.2. There are two points about this: adverts and photography. The two are unrelated, because you could have adverts with or without photos. Advertising is needed by producers, manufacturer, traders, etc., to market their merchandise, and it is needed by the media as it constitutes an important part of their income.

Photography is thought by many people to be included in the Hadith that condemns tasweer, or the production of a likeness. This is due to the fact that we use the same Arabic word for photography. But the Prophet spoke about it long before the invention of photography. Hence, it is important to refer to the original meaning of the word during the Prophet’s lifetime in order to determine whether it applies to photography. When we do, and when we study the usage of the word in the Qur’an, we are bound to conclude that the word was used to refer to something totally different. Its meaning in the Qur’an is “to create something or to shape, mould or fashion it.” When such effort aims at producing something very much like God’s creation, it is certainly forbidden. As for photography, it is the printing of a reflection of an image through a lens. As such, it is not much different from looking into the mirror, which is certainly permissible.

A.3. There is no such a thing as requiring women to stay at home all the time, or that they must be accompanied by a male relative when they step outside. This is required only when a woman travels so as to have protection against any unforeseen mishap and assistance in any case of emergency.

Women always worked inside or outside the home, and there is nothing to prevent a woman from working as long as she abides by Islamic rules in the same way as a man is required to do. Some women among the Prophet’s companions had their business or other types of work. Some were farmers, and others worked in trade. Rufaydah was a nurse and she looked after some of the Prophet’s companions who were injured in battle. Umar appointed women to public office, such as Al-Shifa’ who was the market inspector in Madinah.

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Is My Tawaf Valid?

Q. When we went from Mina to Makkah to perform the tawaf of ifaadah during our pilgrimage,
I was not feeling well, running temperature. The bus journey took a very long time,
and I might have dozed off for a while. When we arrived in Makkah I was feeling better and went in to do my tawaf. Later I had some doubts about the state of my ablution, although at no time did I feel that I consciously invalidated it. We sacrificed a sheep in compensation, but some scholars back home say that this was not enough. This is causing me much worry. Please advise.

A. The tawaf of ifaadah is one of the essential duties of the pilgrimage. These essential duties are of a special type, which puts them in a special category of their own. If one misses one of these, one’s pilgrimage is not valid. These essential duties include entering into the state of consecration, or ihraam, at the point of meeqat, attendance at Arafat on Dhul-Hijjah 9, and the tawaf of ifaadah. No compensation can be offered for missing any of these. It is, therefore, important to look at the case of this reader to determine whether she did her duty or not.

It is very likely that you were asleep for sometime during the bus journey, considering your state of health, the medication you had and the very slow-moving journey. However, if you were sitting comfortably in your seat when you dozed off, then your ablution is not invalidated by mere sleep. Unless the person sitting next to you advises you that you need to have a fresh ablution, you do not need to do so if you are sleeping in the seated position.

What invalidates ablution is a discharge through one’s private parts, not the actual sleep. Since you have never been aware of invalidating your ablution, it remained valid. As such, your tawaf of ifaadah is also valid, God willing and you do not need to make any compensation.

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