Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul Akhir / Jamadiul Awwal 1423 H
July 2002
Volume 15-07 No:187

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Our Dialogue


A man's transgression and a woman's duty
Women visiting Graveyards
Marriage with a Hindu
Who inherits me?
Serving forbidden food and drinks
Satan, Jinn and Possession
Tawaf on behalf of others
Calling one's wife as sister


By Adil Salahi

A man's transgression and a woman's duty

Q. May I present the case of a man who is kind and loving to his family, but he indulges in certain vices, such as taking drugs of the mild type. Such indulgences come from association with old friends whose religious sense is very weak. They indulge in several types of sin. When the wife tries to counsel her husband, he tells her that if he commits a sin, that is something between him and God. As for his friends, he refuses even to consider breaking up with them, as they have been friends for life. He tells her not to judge them, as she has no right to do so. What is the duty of his wife and how is she to fulfill it?


A.The life of a religious Muslim woman with such a husband is very difficult indeed. He knows that his behaviour is unacceptable from the Islamic point of view, and he knows that what his wife says is absolutely true. Yet he wants to indulge himself and cut her short. He does not want the blame she attaches to his behaviour. He may try to compensate her for the pain she feels by being kind to her and their children, but he wants his pleasure, ahead of his family’s happiness. He knows the issues at stake, but, to him, satisfying his desires comes first.

It is practically useless to try to get him to give up his drugs, particularly because it is of the mild type. He does not feel any guilt for taking them, and perhaps he is keen on continuing to enjoy them. It is unlike a smoker who realises that smoking damages his health, and would love to give it up, but the addiction stops him from trying to quit. Here it is a case of the husband having no sense of guilt, enjoying his practice and thinking that he is harming no one. But the fact is that he is harming himself, his wife and children, as well as the Muslim community as a whole. The worst to suffer are his wife and children.

The best thing that this lady can do is to enhance her husband’s religious sense. She should by all means to cultivate his God-fearing sense. That would strengthen his sense of duty to his family and make him responsible in his attitude to how he brings up his children. That may not be easy if he is uncooperative, but she must do her best. She could take him to do the Umrah and the pilgrimage, which would then provide a motivation to refrain from doing any sinful action deliberately and openly. But this should be coupled with a better knowledge of Islam, because it is knowledge of Islamic duties and prohibitions that may enhance a person’s desire to mould his life in accordance with Islam. Trying to associate with friends who are religious may be of much help. As a wife, she is duty-bound to steer her husband and family away from the path of sin. She may not be silenced by her husband’s assertion that what he does is between himself and God. His actions affect his family and they are of concern to every member of his family. If his children are young, then his wife should protect them. She may be able to get him to be cooperative by pointing out the effect his behaviour may have on their children, now and in the future. If she cannot stop him from associating with his friends, she should try to be appreciated by those friends, so that they realize that they are harming a family when they drag her husband with them. Perhaps by being good in treating them, they would start to observe certain codes in dealing with her husband. Let the idea of distancing him from those friends be suggested by someone whom he respects and values his opinions. In all her attempts, she must not adopt an attitude of quarrel, but rather an attitude of maintaining the interests of the whole family, her husband included. That could soften his stance. May God guide this lady reader to what is best for her family.

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Women visiting Graveyards

Q. My wife lost her father and then our infant child with only a few weeks difference between them. They are buried together in the same grave. She is prevented from visiting their graves because she is a woman. She is told that when a woman visits a graveyard the men buried there see her naked. Yet she feels a great longing to visit their grave, reading the Quran to them and praying God to have mercy on them. Is there anything wrong with that?


A. Islam does not place any restriction against women visiting graves and graveyards except that they must not wail and cry aloud when they are there. The Prophet originally told women not to visit graveyards, but towards the end of his life, he said to them: “I had told you not to visit graves; now I am telling you to visit them.” The reason was that Arab women used to wail at graves. The Prophet wanted this practice to be stopped. Therefore, he banned women from visiting graves to start with. After sometime, when Muslim women were better aware of how Islam wants them to behave in different situations, he allowed them such visits. In fact, the Prophet encourages visiting graveyards because such a visit reminds the visitor of his or her own death and the fact that they would have to stand in front of God when their actions are reckoned to determine their reward or punishment. Scholars like Ibn Qudamah, of the Hanbali school of law, make it clear that since this is the purpose of visiting graveyards, both men and women need such visits. Muslims, however, often deny women their rights under all sorts of pretexts.

These are un-Islamic. One such example is that which the reader’s wife has been told, claiming that she is seen naked by the dead. This is most absurd. The dead cannot see their visitors. How can they, when they have no eyesight, and no vision whatsoever? It is all a superstition. Having said that, I may add that the reader’s wife can always pray for her father and son, without having to go to the graveyard. Whatever she prays God for them, from any place, will be accepted, God willing.

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Marriage with a Hindu

Q. 1 Is it permissible for a Muslim to marry a Hindu woman without her becoming a Muslim?
What is the status of the children born into such a marriage?

Q. 2. Should a family offer obligatory prayers at home in congregation, how do they stand in rows?


A.1. No, it is not permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Hindu woman, or the other way round. Marriage between Muslims and Hindus is not permissible, unless the Hindu wishes to accept Islam and become a Muslim before the marriage contract is made. Marriage with Christian and Jewish women is permissible, though not recommended. The difference is that Christianity and Judaism are Divine religions, which share with Islam the concept of God’s absolute oneness. Marriage establishes a family which is the unit of society, and for that unit to function well, there must be a common belief in God’s oneness uniting all its members. That will not happen in a family where one party does not subscribe to one of the Divine religions. If a Hindu marries a Muslim according to the law of any country, such a marriage is considered unlawful from the Islamic point of view. However, the children are deemed to be Muslim, because in any mixed marriage, children follow the higher faith of their parents. Islam is considered the first on the scale, followed by Christianity, then Judaism.

A.2. If a family including parents, sons and daughters offer a congregational prayer at home, then the Imam should be the man who recites the Quran best. This means that he could be a son while the father is in the congregation. The first row is for men, including boys, and the second row is for women, including girls. Should this take place when there is a large family gathering, then the same pattern followed in mosques is followed here, with men in the first rows, followed by boys, then women.

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Who inherits me?

Q. May I ask how my estate will be divided, considering that I have one wife, one son and one daughter, but both my parents are dead. I also have one sister who has one son and two daughters of her own.

A. If you are thinking about dividing your property now, then you should not, because you do not know who of your heirs will survive you and who will not. Obviously, those who do not, have no share in your inheritance. We have been strongly urged by God's messenger (peace be upon him) not to precipitate God's will. If, on the other hand, you wish to know what will happen after your death, then I can tell you that should the situation be the same as it is today, then your wife will receive one-eighth of your property and your son and daughter will share the remainder on the basis that the son takes twice as much as the daughter. This means that after your wife takes her share, the remainder is divided into three shares, one to your daughter and two to your son. Your sister and her relatives do not have any shares. Now, all this applies after the payment of any outstanding debts you may have incurred and after the execution of any will you might have left. Therefore, if your sister is poor and you wish to do something for her, you should give her something by will. You are entitled to leave as much as one-third of your property to people other than your heirs. Your sister could receive something by will. It is up to you to decide to whom you wish to make bequests by will. You may decide to give the whole of one-third to your sister, or to divide that between her and her children, or to give her only a portion of that. This is something which you choose.


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Serving forbidden food and drinks

Q. Some people from Asia and the Middle East living here in the US have their own fast food restaurants where they serve pork and wines along with normal types of food and drink. They argue that because other restaurants serve these, their business could not survive unless they did the same, since the majority of customers are non-Muslims who want to have such items available.

Is it permissible in the circumstances to do so?


A. People advance all sorts of reasons to argue for the relaxation of religious restrictions. These reasons are always based on their personal and immediate interests, as they see these interests. But we should approach Islamic rules and principles in a different way. We should aim at implementing them to the best of our ability. When we have done that, we can look for concessions and relaxations if these are needed.

What we find in this argument is nothing more than looking for an easy way out. Restaurant owners want to have the full benefit of selling what the customers want, without looking at ways and means of doing business within the Islamic rules. Hence, they sell such forbidden stuff persuading themselves that as long as they themselves do not eat pork or drink wines, they are not violating Islamic rules. Other restaurant and hotel owners try to go round the restriction in a different way. They enter into some sort of business arrangement whereby a non-Muslim owns and serves the forbidden drinks. They give the place on rent and the non-Muslim provides the service. This is certainly better than doing this forbidden business themselves, but it is not acceptable from the Islamic point of view, since one is renting one's own property to a business that is totally un-Islamic for the particular purpose of serving one's own interests. It may be true that restaurants that do not serve alcoholic drinks cannot compete with similar ones serving such drinks in a non-Muslim community. But it is not true that such restaurants cannot be a profitable business, even in a community with a heavy non-Muslim majority.

The important thing is to know what the local community or the prospective customers need and provide it within Islamic principles. In London, one of the most successful and highly popular Indian restaurants does not serve any alcoholic drinks and advertises that it serves only halal meat. Yet its popularity is the envy of any other restaurant. This is due to the quality of the food, efficient service and reasonable prices. Muslim restaurant owners should think on these lines, rather than try to contravene Islamic rules. It is not allowed for a Muslim to sell pork or wines. No one can relax this prohibition except God, but since He has not, we have to abide by it.

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Satan, Jinn and Possession

Q.1. On reading Verses 200-201 of Surah 7, I am inclined to ask whether Satan can be in control of the nervous system of a human being. Moreover, are there two sources of evil thoughts: Satan and one’s soul?

Q.2. Considering Verse 204 of Surah 7, can a person praying in a congregation read Surah Al-Fatihah if the imam is reciting the Quran aloud?

Q.3. Since Prophet Abraham stoned Satan as he tried to dissuade him from sacrificing his son, he must have seen him. This means that the jinn can take physical forms to harm human beings. Please comment.


A.1. The verses to which the reader is referring may be rendered in translation as follows: “Whenever any dark suggestion from Satan touches them, the God-fearing think of God, and they begin to see things clearly, even though their (godless) brethren would like to draw them into error.” There is no suggestion in these verses, or indeed anywhere else in the Quran or the Sunnah that Satan may be in control of man’s faculties. In fact, the reverse is true: these verses suggest that Satan fails to achieve his purpose with the God-fearing. How else would they remember God? It is through this remembrance that they reject the dark suggestion Satan makes to them. This includes thoughts of disobedience to God, image of falsehood, etc. There are certainly two sources of evil thoughts in the human mind: Satan and one’s own soul, or desires. To resist both is the mark of piety and God-fearing. It is done all the time by those who have a good perception of God, believe in Him and are committed to obeying Him.

A.2. The verse you refer to here means: “When the Qur’an is recited, hearken to it, and listen in silence, so that you might be graced with God’s mercy.” Certain schools of thought make this obligatory, even in prayer. This means that if the imam is reading the Quran aloud, the rest of the congregation must listen to him in silence. None can read anything at that time. The Shafie school of law, which requires everyone to read the Surah Al-Fatihah in every rakaah, advises the imam to allow a period of silence, after he has finished reciting Al-Fatihah, so that the congregation may read it in private. But if he does not, everyone in the congregation must still read it, according to the Shafie school.

A.3. The jinn cannot possess a human being or be in control of him or her. That Satan was allowed to appear to Prophet Abraham does not mean that he has a free reign to harm people. He could not do that with Abraham. Nor can the jinn do it. When people say that a certain person is possessed, they simply try to explain a severe condition of a mental illness. Mental or psychological diseases can play on people in a variety of ways. Many such diseases can now be treated. They cannot be attributed to the jinn, in the same way as the jinn are not responsible for our physical illnesses.

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Tawaf on behalf of others

Q. I have been told that it is permissible to perform the tawaf on behalf of anyone, regardless of his or her status. However, someone else has told me that this is only so, if the person on whose behalf we are offering tawaf is invalid, poor, too old or deceased. Please clarify.


A. The Prophet (Pbuh) tells us that tawaf is a kind of prayer, except that it is not invalidated by ordinary talk. It is an essential part of the pilgrimage and the Umrah, whose validity depends on the performance of tawaf. Other than this, it is recommended, or a Sunnah, at any time. It is permissible to offer the pilgrimage and the Umrah on behalf of another person who is unable to offer such a duty personally, as in the case of a deceased person or one who suffers from a chronic illness. We cannot offer such a duty on behalf of one who is able to undertake the journey physically and financially, but happens to be too busy or unenthusiastic about performing his duty for any reason. Some people do not offer their daily prayers, or offer them intermittently. We cannot do anything to help them. Similarly, if a person has the ability to offer the Umrah or the pilgrimage, but does not take steps to do so, we cannot help him by offering these duties on his behalf even if such a person happens to be a parent or a dearly beloved relative. To offer tawaf on behalf of another person is the same as offering two rakaahs of Sunnah on his behalf. Why should we do so, if the person concerned does not want to pray? Moreover, to offer something on behalf of another person is limited only to acts of worship that admit performance by proxy. There is clear difference among scholars as to whether this is permissible in the case of prayer, fasting and other physical acts of worship. It is perhaps the weightier view that such acts of worship cannot be offered by proxy. The pilgrimage and Uumrah are different because they have been clearly stated by the Prophet to allow that. Financial acts of worship, such as sadaqah, may be offered on behalf of others.

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Calling one's wife as sister

Q. A friend of mine one day called his wife as his sister. He was then informed by a friend that now his wife is no longer so, but rather he should seek a ruling on the status of his marriage. Please clarify.


A. It all depends on the man’s intention when he said this. In pre-Islamic days, some Arabs used to punish their wives by saying: “You are to me the same as the back of my mother.” God condemns this practice in Surah 58, and He describes it as invalid in Surah 33. It is forbidden for any Muslim to do so, and if he does, then he incurs a punishment which is specified in Surah 58. The punishment is to free a slave. If this is not possible either because the person cannot buy a slave and free him, or because slavery is, by God’s grace, eradicated, then the person concerned must fast for two months before his wife is lawful to him again. If one is physically too weak to fast, then he should feed 60 poor people. Now, if this man who called his wife as his sister was merely joking with her, and had no intention of forbidding himself further marital relations with his wife, then nothing is required. However, he should refrain from doing so in the future. On the other hand, if his intention was to make his wife forbidden for him, then the case is the same as that of the Arabs of old, which is known in Islamic Fiqh as zihar, and it carries the punishment of fasting for two consecutive months before marital relations could resume between them.

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