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Islamic Voice Logo

FEBRUARY 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-02 No:158    *   FEBRUARY 2000 / Shawwal 1420H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

OUR DIALOGUE

By S. Abdullah Tariq


What's Life in Barzak Like?
Is Halal Slaughter Scientific ?
Who is entitled to Heaven?
Un-Islamic Terminology
I Get Distracted in Namaz
Hijab in College

What's Life in Barzak Like?

Q. 1. Muslims bury their dead. The angels descend in the grave and put up three questions to dead bodies giving life to the deceased and torture or reward according to their actions and deeds in the world. Hindus dispose of the bodies by burning and drowning in water and others by other methods. Kindly clear the conception of all in general and Muslims in particular.

2. If a man/woman dies what is the right way to send reward to them?

(Mohd. Daud Khan ; Deoria)

A. 1. The life between the worldly life and the Hereafter is called the life of Barzakh in Qur’an. Barzakh means ‘a veil’, ‘a curtain’. The actual state of that life is unknown, otherwise it won’t be a Barzakh. There always remain confusions without understanding that all descriptions concerning the life of Barzakh are allegorical. Qab’r or grave referred to in those Hadiths is not the actual pit in which the deceased was buried. It is Barzakh, an unknown life behind curtain. The angels do not give life to the deceased. He is already alive. The soul never dies. Barzakh is not limited to the graveyard. It may be that the departed ones move around over this earth also. There is nothing to suggest that they remain idle and do not act. Only their actions will not be judged. That lease of worldly life in which a person had a chance to do good or bad to add to his account expires after the transfer from this world. There are indications in Hadiths that the soul maintains some sort of contact with the place where the last remains of a person were disposed of. The questioning of the angels may not be inside the material pits known as graves. A number of dead bodies are buried in the same grave. Here the visits of the angels to the earthly graves, the expansion or contraction of a grave for a person, described allegorically in Hadith, affect the others buried in the same grave?

The state of Barzakh is like the state of sleep. The body of the sleeping person remains on bed while his self (Naf’s) experiences joys and sorrows in some other world. At times the body of the sleeping person is also affected and bears signs of experiences of his actual self. It shows that the self (Naf’s) always maintains some kind of contact with its material counterpart.

We cannot understand the actual state of Barzakh. There is no need either. What we know is that the lease of actions to be judged expires after the death. Some people in Barzakh are happy and enjoying the time while the others are inflicted with pain in some way. The Anfus (actual personages, not their bodies) all along maintain some kind of contact with their last remains. The Barzakh period can be compared to the time before the actual trial. Allah knows who were pious and who were evil. Their last judgment will be delivered after full justice, that is after their conduct is proved to all in an open court. But knowing their fate, they are kept with honour or disgrace according to their conduct.

Eisaal-e-Sawaab

2. Transferring the reward to the deceased is called ‘Eisaal-e-Sawaab’. Eisaal means sending and Sawaab is the reward. The procedure for Eisaal-e-Sawaab is to perform any good deed worthy of reward and then pray to Allah to transfer the reward of the act to the deceased. It may be noted that such transfer cannot be made if the deeds are not rewardable. Some people observe strange rituals for Eisaal-e-Sawaab. For example if you cook food and eat it yourself with your friends and relatives, it is not an act worthy of reward and there would be no Eisaal. You can recite from the Qur’an, distribute alms or feed or clothe the needy or do any good deed for Eisaal-e-Sawaab. Thereafter you pray to Allah to deliver the reward thereof to the deceased you are praying for.

One thing about which most people are confused should be very clear in connection with Eisaal-e-Sawaab. No matter how much reward you send to the deceased it will not be of any use to him on the Day of Judgment. The account of their deeds has been closed and you cannot add any good deed to it. Eisaal-e-Sawaab benefits them in the Barzakh stage. If one is in a state of reward in Barzakh, the Eisaal-e-Sawaab assures added comforts for him and if he/she is in trouble, the transfer of reward causes reduction of punishments for him/her.

Sawaab-e-Jaariya

The Qur’an declares: ‘That no bearer of burdens can bear burden of another”. (53:38)

It means that acts of one person will not benefit or harm another person on the Day of Judgment. Many a person oppose the concept of Eisaal-e-Sawaab altogether on the basis of the above verse. They say that Hadiths are not acceptable when they contradict Qur’an. Moreover, they insist that the concept of Eisaal-e-Sawaab is not there in Qur’an.

But the Sahih Hadiths are plenty in this context and the concept is very much in Qur’an. In fact the principle is stated in the immediately following verses of the above verse. Verses 53:39-41 read: “That man can have nothing but what he strives for. That his striving will soon come in sight. Then will he be rewarded complete”. These verses explain that the reward of a deed for which a man had made efforts in his lifetime, shall continue to be added to his account after his death. This is called ‘Amal-e-Jaariya’ or ‘Sadqa-e-Jaariya’ or ‘Sawaab-e-Jaariya’. The good deeds of virtuous children are his Amal-e-Jaariya provided that he was actually responsible for creating those virtues in them. If he had no part in moral training of his children then he will not be credited with their good deeds. If he had established an institution of human service like a charitable hospital, the act would continue to benefit him after his death since it was a deed which he strived for and initiated. In case his children (or whoever) built a hospital, he would still get its reward provided that he had contributed in creating the spirit of service in them (or whosoever). The children in that case need not intend to transfer the Sawaab of the act to the father. It will reach him automatically while the reward of the children will not be reduced. But if he had no role in his children’s acts and they developed the virtue on their own, the reward of their deed would not be credited in his account. It may also be understood that like Sawaab-e-Jaariya, there also is ‘Gunaah-e-Jaariya’. The sins of bad deeds of the children will be credited in his account even after his death if he was responsible for creating the respective evil in them.

Eisaal is different. It is transfer. When the reward is transferred, the donor is no more entitled to it. When the Qur’an says that no man will reap the reward of other (except if he had strived for it), the declaration is obviously related to his account sheet by which he will be judged. When Sahih Hadiths say that the reward can be transferred they cannot mean that it will alter his record of deeds otherwise the Hadiths will contradict Qur’an. The only possibility of the Hadiths being true is that the transfer of Sawaab benefits the donor only upto the Day of Judgment i.e. at the Barzakh stage.

The difference between Sawaab-e-Jaariya and Eisaal-e-Sawab may be compared as under.

  • Sawaab-e-Jaariya is in lieu of those deeds which were initiated or inspired by the deceased while Eisaal-e-Sawab can be made of those acts for which the deceased had made no effort.
  • In case of Sawaab-e-Jaariya, there is no donor. A person gets full reward of his good deeds while an equal amount of reward is also added to his account who was actually responsible to cultivate the virtue in the actual doer. Eisaal-e-Sawaab is transfer of reward. There is a donor and a receiver in Eisaal-e-Sawab. One can pray that the reward of a particular good deed be transferred to the deceased. No part of such reward remains with the donor.
  • Sawab-e-Jaariya continues to be added to the account of the deceased while Eisaal-e-Sawab does not affect the record of the deceased.
  • On the Day of Judgment, Sawab-e-Jaariya will be deemed to be in lieu of the acts he strived for in his lifetime while Eisaal-e-Sawab, not affecting his actual account can only benefit him prior to the Judgment Day.
  • There is Gunaah-e-Jaariya like Sawaab-e-Jaariya. Whoever induced evil in any one will continue to receive the reward of his sin even after his death while no sin can be transferred to a deceased by anyone for which the deceased was not responsible.

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Is Halal Slaughter Scientific ?

Q. Many times I avoid arguments with my friends. It is not regression but they argue very strange and due to lack of knowledge I am not able to answer them. I feel that they do not have any idea about our customs and they are criticizing our Shariah. They always make a point about Halal meat. They say it is very cruel, that we slaughter very cruelly. Please give some light over this issue. Please also tell why we can eat sea food which they consider is not Halal.

(Irfan Ahmed Uraizee ; Uraizeei@hotmail.com)

A. We slaughter according to the dictates of Shariah and again we take seafood without slaughtering it with the permission of Shariah. Allah has created all beings and He knows what is best for us. However Islam being ‘Deen-e-Fitrat’ (the religion of nature), we can and we must find out the logic behind such orders that are objected to by others so that we may prove to them the truthfulness of Islamic way.

In Islamic Shariah, while meat (of permitted animals) is permitted the consumption of blood is prohibited. Your friends who argue with you may themselves not be prepared to consume blood even after being cooked. The Islamic way of slaughter assures that blood gushes out of the animal’s body, while it is retained inside the body of the animal if it is killed abruptly. The consumption of meat of such animals in whose bodies the blood is retained is unhygienic. Consumption of blood is harmful for human beings while meat devoid of blood is wholesome.

As for charge of cruelty to animals in slaughtering them the Islamic way, it has now been proved scientifically that Halal slaughter is the humane method while western method of killing by stunning inflicts acute pain to the animals. Professor Schultz and Dr. Hazim of the Hanover University, Germany disclosed this after the following experiment. They implanted several electrodes surgically at various points of the skull, just touching the brain of several animals under test. Then some animals were slaughtered by a swift deep incision as desired by Islamic Shariah, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides as also the trachea and oesophagus while others were stunned using a captive bolt pistol as is done in western countries. EEG and ECG were recorded on all the animals under experiment. The experiment amazingly revealed that the animal brain did not feel pain as EEG recorded zero even when the animal’s body was convulsing vigorously, letting out the blood in the Halal method of slaughter. On the other hand EEG showed intense pain immediately after stunning in the western captive bolt stunning method, even though the animals were unconscious.

Those animals, whose respiratory system is such that they breathe inside and cannot survive outside the water, are Halal. The flow of blood in the bodies of such animals is so minimal that it does not flow out no matter how their bodies are cut. Hence there is no need of slaughtering them to draw the blood out of their bodies.

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Who is entitled to Heaven?

Q. Will only Muslims go to Heaven? Who are the people who will enter Heaven?

A. Muslim means one who has submitted to the Will of God. How can he who has not submitted to His Will expect to earn reward from him? However a Muslim is neither by birth nor anyone who is registered as a Muslim in a Government census. Whoever has Iman (Belief in Oneness of Allah, the Last Day and accountability and all His Prophets) and does good work can expect his reward. A spy of the enemy nation, if caught, can not expect pardon on the basis of his good social behaviour. The loyalty to the Government is a pre-requisite for good works to be recognized. Iman is loyalty to the lone Sovereign of the universe. Good deeds and works are the manifestation and proof of loyalty. Qur’an is very explicit about it that both are necessary.

An essential clarification is also required here. Iman or the Faith cannot be ascertained by declaration alone. It is inside the hearts and Allah knows all. Only he is a person of Faith whose Faith is accepted by Allah as genuine. It has been made clear in Qur’an that all those who declare themselves to be Muslims are not necessarily Faithful. See the following verse.

“Those who are distant from the centre of knowledge claim that they believe. Tell them: ‘You do not believe; rather you can say that you profess Islam’. Iman has not yet found its way into your hearts” (49:14)

On the other hand Allah can accept the Faith of those who had Iman in their hearts but could not openly declare for circumstances known to themselves and Allah knew the genuineness of their concealment. The examples of such people are mentioned in Qur’an 40:28-45 and 48:25.

There is no claim on Allah of anyone on the basis of their birth in a particular family. Paradise is for those who truly believe in the eyes of Allah and do good works also. Qur’an has repeatedly warned those who call themselves Muslims that paradise is not their right by birth. These sort of claims, Qur’an clarifies, were made by those who were corrupted believers. Those who are called Jews once truly believed in Moses (Pbuh) and followed his teaching but later when their Faith and deeds were corrupted they started claiming that they would enter paradise on the basis of their Faith and if the punishment for some deeds had to be inflicted upon them it will be temporary after which they will be entered into the eternal paradise. Qur’an warns Muslims not to be in the footsteps of Jews who make such claims:

“And they say: “The fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days”; Say: “Have ye taken promise from Allah for He never breaks His promise? Or is it that ye say of Allah what ye do not know?

Nay, those who seek gain in Evil and are girt round by their sins they are Companions of the Fire therein shall they abide. But those who have faith and work righteousness they are Companions of the Garden therein shall they abide.” (2:80-82)

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Un-Islamic Terminology

Q. A lot of Un-Islamic terms have crept in the Islam (of Ajam) as it crossed the continents from Hijaz. A few such are Khuda, Namaz, Roza, Baqreed, Mulla, Moulvee, Maulana, mosque etc. which are common and many more. If these terms can be used instead of actual Islamic terms what is wrong with them and why terms such as Bhagwan, Puja, Bart, Goruporab, Guru, Waheguru, temple, Mandir etc are not used?

(Abdul Hadi ; Burnpur)

A. As Islam crossed the boundaries of Arabia, many of its terminologies were replaced by their synonyms or counterparts in local languages in day-to-day use. It is neither unnatural nor wrong if the meaning and sense of the original word is not altered when it is replaced in any other language. For example when Iran embraced Islam, Khuda replaced Allah, in common man’s vocabulary. Though literally Allah cannot be translated as Khuda there is no harm in using the word if the meaning of the word has practically changed to mean Allah in the common usage. There never is a misunderstanding and ambiguity to the personage the word refers to, when it is used. Similarly Namaz and Roza etc have completely lost their earlier meaning and nobody in the world is in doubt that they now refer to Salat and Saum when spoken. Islam has no prejudice against languages while it censures Un-Islamic concepts.

As for words like Bhagwan, Bart (V’rat), guru, temple and Mandir, these retain their un-Islamic sense and may not necessarily refer to their Islamic counterparts. Bhagwan is used for gods and goddesses, V’rat for Hindu way of fasting, guru for any religious teacher and temple and Mandir for places of worship other than mosques. If and when whole of India embraces Islam and these words lose their present connotations, there will be no harm using them for their Islamic equivalents. If and when Bhagwan indisputably refers to only One God, there will be no harm in using it as Khuda is used. These words can still be used in Islamic terminology but utmost caution is required while using them. If in a sentence they are unequivocally referring to their Islamic equivalents, they can be so used. For example we can say that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was the real Jagat Guru. On this logic, though caution is required in using Bhagwan for One God, there is no harm in using Waheguru as also Ishwar or Parmeshwar as they always refer to One God without partners. That there is no prejudice of languages in the eyes of Allah can be gauged from the fact that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was prophesied as Periclytos and Narashansa in earlier scriptures instead of by his proper name. These words are synonyms of Muhammad in their respective languages.

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I Get Distracted in Namaz

Q. 1. Will Allah punish us if we are disturbed by various thoughts during Namaz?

2. Does Islam allow us co-ed. Without Purdah in medical field (dissection of a naked dead body?).

3. Can a boy and a girl speak to one another after engagement?

4. Is plain recitation of Qur’an right without proper pronunciation (sound) of words?

A.1. No, if the effort of proper concentration had been made and even then some outside thoughts crept in, it is no sin. However if your Salat becomes a habitual ritual with no personal effort of concentration then it is up to Allah to accept it or not.

2. It would have been better if Muslims had established medical colleges for girls. Till such time, the co-education in medical sciences is unavoidable. It is a religious need of Muslims that there should be Muslim lady doctors. Learning dissection and handling dead bodies is a medical necessity. It is permitted for medical students, boys as well as girls like it is permitted for a doctor to unclothe a patient if it is a medical necessity.

3. Till they marry it is not permitted that they meet in seclusion where others cannot see them. Otherwise if they are not alone they are permitted to talk to each other even before the engagement.

4. By sound, if you mean the tone of Qir’at, it is not necessary but as far as possible the pronunciation of the words should be correct. For those who are unable to pronounce certain Arabic letters, the reading with not-so-accurate Arabic words is also permitted.

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Hijab in College

Q.Nowadays it is not that easy to maintain Hijab because most of us study in co-education though we want to maintain strict Hijab. What can be done under such circumstances? Will God forgive us?

A.Hijab or veil is required while passing through streets. In the classroom it is not obligatory for you to sport a veil. There are girls and women in India and abroad who stick to covering their faces before the strangers in all circumstances, attend classes and do other diverse jobs while sporting the veil. They testify that they experience not only no discomfiture but feel more secure. However for the girls in their classrooms the adherence to wearing the scarf is necessary. Head and hair are included in the Sat’r (concealable parts) of a woman.

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