Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Dhu'l Qadah 1424 H
January 2004
Volume 17-01 No : 205
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Our Dialogue


Nagging Mistakes
Timing of Death and Destiny
Covering One's Feet
Pre-Recording Our Deeds
Divorce and Parents' Interference

Nagging Mistakes

Q. Sometimes after having committed a mistake that upsets a relative or a friend we recognize that we are to blame for the wrong that had taken place. However, despite our apology and the other person’s acceptance of our apology and assurances that the matter is over, we still experience a sense of guilt. How best to remove this sense that could sometimes be very troublesome?

By Adil Salahi

A.The best thing to do in these cases is to try to rectify the mistake by doing a good turn for the person affected by it. If it has resulted in a material effect, then a gift of similar or better value could go a long way towards removing all lingering doubts. If it is a mental or abstract negative effect, then you may do something that assures the other person that he is dear to you and that you really care for what serves his interests. This could be by providing advice, or a gesture of esteem, or anything that suggests that you bear him nothing but good. The Prophet says: “Follow a bad deed by a good one, so that the latter would erase it.”

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Timing of Death and Destiny

Q.1. Is it permissible for me to perform the pilgrimage on behalf of my father who died 30 years ago?
Q.2. Is it right or wrong to use the cloth we used in consecration, or ihraam, as wrappings before burial when one dies?

A.1. It is certainly an act of real dutifulness to offer the pilgrimage on behalf of your deceased father. Since he did not offer the pilgrimage in his own lifetime, that duty would be redeemed, and he would no longer be accountable for its omission. The only condition is that you should have performed the pilgrimage on your own behalf first. The pilgrimage is a duty we owe to God and should betreated as a debt which we settle when we offer it. Thus its repayment on behalf of one's parents is in the same way as repaying their unpaid debts. Thus when you offer the pilgrimage on behalf of your father, you settle his outstanding debt. If he had offered the pilgrimage himself, your offering it on his behalf counts as a voluntary pilgrimage for which you earn him great reward. Moreover, in either case, you earn rich reward from God for this dutiful action.

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Covering One's Feet

Q. I have a friend who has some problems in her legs that makes it painful for her to walk if she is wearing socks. The problem is aggravated in hot weather. Is it obligatory for a Muslim woman to wear socks or stockings, even when the climate is very hot?

A. Islam does not require anyone to bear any hardship in meeting its obligations. When a person finds a requirement causing him or her undue difficulty, concession becomes applicable. It is a rule of Islamic law that “when conditions are too tight, relaxation becomes due.” This means that if people find it too hard to attend to a particular duty in a certain way, relaxation of the rules is operated so as to give them a more comfortable way to attend to their duty. I have repeatedly said in these columns that Islam does not prescribe a particular type of dress for men or women. It outlines certain requirements, and when these are met, any type of clothes that meets them is acceptable. Hence, you find Muslim women in different countries wear different types and styles, but they all meet the basic requirements. This lady finds it painful to walk wearing socks. Hence, she must not wear them. Islam does not require anyone to wear socks or indeed any particular type of clothes. She can easily wear some long dress or pants to cover all her legs and still walk comfortably. Any woman who is uncomfortable wearing socks, particularly in the summer in a very hot climate can do the same. This is done by most people in tropical countries.

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Pre-Recording Our Deeds

Q. According to an authentic Hadith, an angel writes a human being’s age, action, and happiness or otherwise when that human being is still an embryo in the womb. What is written is final. So, why does God punish those who do wrong deeds when they cannot avert them?

Ans. The Hadith relates to God’s knowledge, not to man’s will. God certainly knows everything that takes place in the universe long before it happens. What we have to understand is that God’s knowledge is perfect and not subject to events. Nothing can be added to it as a result of an event of any type. To Him, the concept of time is different from ours, because our sense of time is based on the succession of day and night, as this succession makes us aware of passing days, weeks, months and years. To God, time is totally different. As you know, a day on another planet is different from our Earth days. The differences between planets in the same solar system are huge. But there are countless solar systems, each has its own day with different durations between planets and solar systems. This means that time differs from one place to another in the universe. To God, who is not limited by space, time has no effect. Hence, we say that He knows all things before they take place. The Hadith to which you refer states: “The creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother’s belly for forty days in the form of seed, then he is a clot of blood for a like period, then a morsel of flesh for a like period, then an angel is sent to him who is commanded to write four matters: his means of livelihood, his life span, his actions and whether happy or unhappy...” (Related by Al-Bukahri and Muslim). There are several versions of this Hadith, with slight variations. The Hadith does not say that a human being’s actions are predetermined and inevitable. It simply says that they are recorded, because God knows them in advance. But we must not forget that God has given us a free will and free choice. We feel this all the time. It is you who decide to take any action you are contemplating. You do not feel that there is a force driving you in a certain direction. Take the example of your writing to us. You heard this Hadith and it created some questions in your mind. You sat down at your computer and sent us your question by e-mail. You could have sent it by letter, or not bothered at all. It is all your choice. Similarly, the editor decided on how to answer, and his decision is made by his will, which is free and unencumbered. Hence, he is accountable to the editor in chief, and accountable to God for what he writes in answer.

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Divorce and Parents' Interference

Q.Q. May I put to you the case of a young married couple who are devoted to each other. However, the husband does not like his wife’s parents because of their interference in his affairs, and he feels that they are unkind to him, trying to find fault with him. This has led to repeated tension and conflict between him and his wife. Despite the husband’s warnings, the wife continued to listen to her parents who apparently did not do anything to defuse the situation. Rather, they let it deteriorate to the extent that after one heated argument between the couple, the wife’s parents took her away and she has been with them for more than a month, making no contact with her husband. The husband has been advised by friends and others to divorce his wife, but he is unwilling to do that because he still loves her. However, he cannot bring himself down to take the blame for all the tension, which seems to be the objective of his wife’s family. Please advise.

Ans. Such a situation does not happen overnight. It is the result of an accumulation of trouble. And no party is usually free of blame. Everyone makes mistakes, and unfortunately when tension rises, people tend to think of the mistakes of the other party, without giving a thought for their better deeds. The writer acknowledges that at one stage he behaved in a way so that his wife’s parents would take it as an insult. Well, if he insults his parents in law, he cannot expect them to be very friendly to him. I can assure him though that both they and his wife understood why he did it, and were hurt by it. Therefore, if they and his wife are now taking a tough stand, it is because they feel that he was in the wrong. They are not likely to look at their own mistakes, in the same way that he does not give much importance to his mistakes. In such a situation, it is always useful to resort to the method God has stated in the Qur’an: “If you have reason to fear that a breach may occur between a (married) couple, appoint an arbiter from among his people and an arbiter from among her people. If they both want to set things aright, God will bring about their reconciliation. God is indeed all-knowing, aware of all things.” (4: 35) The important thing in all this is that the intention of both husband and wife should aim to achieve reconciliation. With such an intention, they have God’s promise of guiding them to its achievement. People often do not give any thought to this procedure and rush instead into divorce. Divorce is a very serious step and must never be taken without careful thinking. It should be the last resort that is taken only when everything else has failed. Arbitration by two wise people, one from each family, has the advantage of making reconciliation a family affair, with everyone trying their best to accommodate the other party. Moreover, in this way, the arbiters could easily overcome what either one of the couple will not compromise on their own. In the case of our reader, he feels that he must not make the first step, because it would end with him apologizing for something he does not feel to be wrong. The wife’s parents may be adamant that without such apology, their daughter will never return to her husband. The arbiters could overcome all this in an amicable way that saves everyone’s face.

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