Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Ramadan / Shawwal 1423 H
December 2002
Volume 15-12 No : 192
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Our Dialogue


Prayer and Short Travel
Zakah on Shares and Investments
Thinning Eyebrows
The Mortgage and Tax
Is Necktie a Symbol?
Parents arranging Marriages without Consent
The Position of the Four Schools of Thought
Inventing a Sunnah


By Adil Salahi

Prayer and Short Travel

Q. I travel to work a distance of about 50 miles, staying at my place of work from Monday to Friday, and go back for the weekend. May I ask whether this distance counts as travel which permits shortening my prayer? Do I treat my stay at work as travel that gives me the concessions associated with travelling?

A. Scholars mention a certain distance for travel that justifies using the concessions God has given us in prayer and fasting. The distance varies a little, but the figure quoted in most cases is 80 km, with some people adding or taking away a few kilometers. But the view which is more valid in this respect does not rely on distance, but on social custom. It is what people consider to be travel, rather than the distance or the time it takes to cover that distance. It is not so much the distance, but the general acceptance of society of what constitutes travel. Before the advent of the age of fast transport, a journey to another town at 25 kilometers distance was universally considered to constitute travel. Today, this would be a short trip that justifies neither shortening prayer nor breaking one’s fast. Therefore, the reader is the best to know whether his trip to his place of work constitutes travel or not. If it does, there remains the question of the regularity of the travel, and where he is considered to be a traveller and where he is resident. The answer to this question is where he normally considers himself to be at home. If at the place he spends the weekends he has a home, where his wife and children live, then this is where he resides, and his trips to work are travel. So, he shortens his prayers when he travels to work. On the other hand, if he simply spends his weekends in the city because of the variety it offers, staying with friends, rather than in his own home, then he is a traveller when he is in the city and a resident where he works. He should look at the situation and make his own decision.

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Zakah on Shares and Investments

Q.1. Earlier this year I liquidated my investment in interest-bearing accounts and placed them in a sort of investment which is locked for several years. I do not have any access to this money for the duration of the fund, but I expect to receive profits at the end of this period. Could you please let me know what zakah will be due from me on this investment.

Q. 2. You mentioned that zakah is due on the market value of shares in companies. May I ask whether this applies to all stocks and shares or there is a difference between shares held as an investment in the form of dividends and shares held to be sold when their price gets higher.

A.1. Money that is locked in an investment of this type is liable to zakah when the investment matures. So, when you receive your money back on its date of maturity, both capital and profits are zakahable at the rate of 2.5%. To say that it is liable to zakah every year is to place an undue hardship on the owner who may have little else to pay zakah from while the investment is locked.

A.2. There is a difference between the two types of investment in shares. If one is trading in shares, buying and selling according to the fluctuations of the market, then such shares are treated like other commercial commodities. Their market value is calculated on his zakah date and he pays zakah for that value every year. These shares are not different from the merchandise a businessman has in his shop, supermarket or other outlets. The rate of zakah payable is 2.5% of the market value every year.

By contrast, a person holding shares in a company for the income they generate does not pay zakah on the value of his shares, but on the profits or dividends he receives. His zakah becomes payable on the day of receipt of such returns, whether they are paid annually or every six months, or shorter or longer periods. He does not wait for a year after receiving his payment. Rather, he pays his zakah straightaway at the rate of 10% of the amount of returns. This ruling is based on analogy with agricultural land irrigated by rain only. Its produce is liable to zakah on harvest day at the rate of 10%.

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Thinning Eyebrows

Q. I have thick eyebrows that come all across my face, with no partition in the middle. Is it permissible for me to cut them in the middle, or to cut unwanted thick hair?

A. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) has made it clear that all types of changing one’s appearance are not permissible. On eyebrow thinning, he curses the woman who undertakes the task and the one who requests it to be done for her. If this is not acceptable in the case of a woman, it is certainly less so for a man too, because changing one’s appearance is one way of changing God’s creation, which is forbidden in Islam. In the Qur’an, God says about the unbelievers: “In His stead, they invoke only lifeless symbols - thus invoking none but a rebellious Satan, whom God has rejected, for he had said: ‘Of Your servants I shall indeed take my due share, and shall certainly lead them astray, and fill them with vain desires; and I shall command them - and they will slit the ears of cattle (in idolatrous sacrifice); and I shall command them - and they will corrupt God’s creation.’ But all who take Satan rather than God for their master do incur a manifest loss.” (4: 117-119) Here corrupting God’s creation is clearly shown to be part of Satan’s designs against humanity. The Prophet has warned against all aspects of such change, including removing or thinning eyebrows, trimming teeth, etc.

Having said that, a case may be made for a person who suffers from some abnormality in his or her appearance, which causes them much distress. If one has an abnormally thick hair in some part of one’s face, which makes that person subject to taunts, ridicule or other forms of irritation, and if this is seen to weigh heavily on such person, then this may be a case for relaxing the restriction. However, this applies to individual cases. We cannot give a general ruling except to say that in such a case there may be room for permissibility, depending on the special circumstances of the case.

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The Mortgage and Tax

Q. This is about an argument that has been put for and against buying a house on mortgage One point is that of taxes, whereby a house buyer reduces his burden of income tax when he buys his house on mortgage. Is it not true to say that Islamic law aims to reduce a person's burden, rather than increase it? If so, should not this be taken into consideration when issuing a verdict on the permissibility of buying a house on mortgage when there is no alternative?

A. Some scholars have taken up this point of tax reduction when issuing their rulings that the mortgage transaction is permissible. However, I feel this to be a weak point, because we should not be looking for ways to avoid tax payment. Government taxes are necessary for the funding of public services, such as education, transport, health, etc. The tax question could be important when we look at the overall picture of what the mortgage arrangement involves, but it is not a major factor in its permissibility or otherwise.

In general, Islam recognizes the need for imposing taxes for the benefit of the community. The Prophet (Pbuh) says: “There is a duty on wealth other than zakah.” He left this duty unspecified, so as to allow the government of the Islamic community to determine what it needs and for which services to provide funding.

To my mind, the strongest argument in favour of the mortgage transaction is that it gives the borrower much more than the money he or she borrows. I am referring here to the full ownership of the whole house one buys, despite paying only a portion of the price. This means that he benefits by the full utility of the house, and on selling it, he receives the increase in the price of the whole house.

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Is Necktie a Symbol?

Q. In one of your answers in these columns in the past issues, you said it is permissible to wear a necktie. You have disregarded its significance. In my opinion, a necktie is a symbol of the crucifixion. As such, it would not be permissible to wear.

A. Indeed, it would not be permissible to wear if it is truly a symbol of the crucifixion. But it is not. I lived for many years in Britain, and I never met anyone who suggested that such symbolism exists. Besides, had it been ever thought to have such association, we would have seen all priests, bishops and archbishops wearing it. But none of these wear it except for clergymen who wear ordinary suits, shirts and ties. Members of the Christian clerical order may have the cross symbol on their church garments, but none of these has a necktie as part of their official clothing. The reader suggests that a necktie looks like a cross, but it does not without a long stretch of the imagination to suit our fancy. One more point, the necktie has become part of the normal dress in many parts of the Muslim world. As such, it is perfectly permissible to wear.

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Parents arranging Marriages without Consent

Q. Is it the role of the parents only to decide on their children's marriage without even asking their son or daughter? What if either one does not wish to be married to the chosen party? If the marriage contract is already done without the consent of either, what is the position? What should the party concerned do if they do not agree to the marriage?

A. The answer is clearly outlined in the following Hadith reported by Aishah: “A young woman came to me and said: ‘My father married me to a nephew of his, hoping to improve his social standing, and I dislike this marriage.’ I told her to wait until the Prophet returns. When he came back, she told him, and he sent for her father. When he came, the Prophet put the matter to her. The woman then said: ‘Now I choose what my father has done, but I wanted to know whether women have any say’.” There are several other Hadiths confirming this principle. To quote but one: “A man married his virgin daughter without obtaining her consent first. She complained to the Prophet and he annulled the marriage.” (Related by Al-Nassaie)

The principle of seeking a woman’s consent to her own marriage is reiterated in a large number of authentic Hadiths. Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet as saying: “A widow may not be married unless she is consulted, and a virgin may not be married unless her consent is obtained. People asked, ‘How does she consent?’ He said: ‘She keeps quiet’.” (Related by Muslim). It is clear from these Hadiths, and many others, that no marriage may be valid without the consent of both parties. If parents go through the formalities of marriage of a son or daughter, then the matter is up to the person concerned. He or she may either approve or reject the marriage. If the marriage is thus rejected, it is formally annulled. This, however, may require going through certain processes to conform to the laws operative in a particular society. Perhaps I should add that it is forbidden for a father to marry his daughter away without her consent.

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The Position of the Four Schools of Thought

With reference to Adil Salahi's answer in Islamic Voice, September 2002 under "Our Dialogue" on the position of the Four Schools of Thought, I would like to highlight these points.

H.S.A Wajid, Bangalore

* The answer is contradicting and will send wrong signals to the Muslim and non-Muslim readers- “That there is no ruling in the Qur’an and the Sunnah to show the Muslims on how to behave” as there was no ruling to answer the numerous situations and problems of the new followers, who embraced Islam shortly after the Prophet’s (Pbuh) death.

* This is something unbelievable, how can the basic fundamental sources of guidance of this great universal religion of Allah lack an answer?

* Adil Salahi’s answer is brief and clear and cent per cent in line with the reasoning of our learned Ulema to justify their stand that the divisions in the Muslim Ummah is God-gifted. It is believed that a Muslim who does not belong to any of the four Schools of Thought and its scholar is not considered to be a true Muslim and such a person will not have his or her place in jannah. This is not the fault of the innocent Muslims, but they are made to understand in this way by the Ulema of these four Schools of Thought

* To justify their stand on these four Schools of Thought-very often the Ulema from these Schools quote these Arabic words Iqtalaaf-Ummah-Rahma-as if it is revealed by Allah in the Qur’an or the Sunnah-meaning the differences among the Muslim Ummah are gifted by Allah. So in this way, our Ulema are certifying that the differences in the Muslim Ummah will be there till the last day of judgement and it is all right with our innocent and ignorant Muslim masses.

* With regard to the divisions in the Muslim Ummah, should we not think why these divisions and these four Schools of Thought and why not one School in which only Allah’s last revelation-the Qur’an and the Sunnah are taught?

* Islam is not an imaginary religion, there can be differences in the opinion of human beings, but there cannot be a second thought in the straight and perfect way of Allah which has been revealed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

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Inventing a Sunnah

Q. I would like to ask about cupping, or hijamah, which is mentioned as part of the medical treatment used at the time of the Prophet. Some people are suggesting that this is a Sunnah, which is good to have even if one does not have any medical complaint. They say that in case of illness, the first thing that should be done is to resort to cupping. Please comment.

A.The Prophet had cupping administered to him when he was unwell, but this he did as part of the medication that was available at his time. He never had cupping at other times. So, to claim that cupping is a Sunnah when it is not needed for medical reasons is definitely wrong, as it relies on no evidence whatsoever. Nor is it a Sunnah to resort to cupping in the case of illness. The Prophet used it because it was a method known and practised in his time. It was one of the techniques to which doctors resorted as they did not have better options. Now that we have much better and more advanced techniques, we do not resort to cupping to cure our modern diseases which are far more complicated than those known at the time of the Prophet. The case would have been different had the Prophet stated that cupping would remain the first port of call in medical treatment. But he did not, because he knew that medicine would make much progress over the years, and he wanted his followers to benefit by such advances.

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News| Community Roundup| Editorial| Readers Comments| Men, Machines and Methods| Globe Watch| Political Diary| Issues
Breaking News| Indian Muslims Abroad| Book Review| In Focus| Face To Face| Reflections| Children's Corner| Quran Speaks to You
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