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MAY 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-05 No:161    *   MAY 2000 / SAFAR 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

OUR DIALOGUE

By S.Abdullah Tariq


Has Allah Given Power to Saints?
Life Insurance, Qasar Salah
Circumcision
Islamic Rules for Circumcision

Has Allah Given Power to Saints?

  1. Some people believe that Allah has delegated powers to saints (Wali, Qutub and Ghaus). Is this concept supported by Qur’an or Hadith?

  2. God has given the key of treasures of heaven and earth to Hazrat Muhammad (Pbuh). Is there any Qur’anic support or support from Hadith to such belief?

(Mohd. Daud Khan; Majhauli Raj, Deoria)

A. 1. I do not find any verse from the Qur’an or Hadith, verifying the concept of Rijaal-ul-Ghaib (Veiled people) as presented by renowned Sufis like Sheikh Muhiuddin Ibne Arabi, Sheikh Ali Hajveri, Abu Talib Makki, Shahabuddin Saharwardi and many other famous and respected scholars and saints.

Some writers have tried to prove it from some verses of Qur’an and some Hadiths but their efforts can at best be termed as claims without any proof rather than deductions from those verses and Hadiths. For example, Suhail Bin Abdullah Tastari (expiring in 273 AH), in his Qur’anic commentary says that in the verse 10:62 (Behold! Verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear nor shall they grieve), the friends of Allah are Rijal-ul-Ghaib. Similarly, verse 13:3 reads: “And it is He Who spread out the earth and set there on mountains standing firm” . Abu Abdur Rahman Assalmi (E 413 AH), in the commentary of this verse wrote that the mountains referred to in the verse are ‘Autaad’ (a group from Rijal-ul-Ghaib). Another verse 78:6-7 is: “Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse. And the mountains as pegs?” In this verse, the Arabic word for the mountains is ‘Autaad’. Abu Mohammad Roz Shirazi (E 666 AH) claims that these are the same ‘Autaad’ from Rijal-ul-Ghaib who support the earth.

Similar is the case with Hadith. The meaning of some Hadiths have been philosophised by some writers to support their claims.

The number of Rijal-ul-Ghaib differs according to different Sufis, comprising of one Ghaus or Qutub, three Ataani, 3-7 Autaad, 7-300 Abdaal, 70-300 Nujaba and up to 400 Nuqaba.

There is no proof of the above except for the statements and descriptions of renowned Sufi scholars, a number of whom claim to have met and communicated with them. Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti says that the concept of Rijal-ul-Ghaib has become so popular that it has acquired the dimension of Tawaatur (continuity). Great powers about running the affairs of the earth are said to be delegated to these ‘Veiled people’.

In my opinion, the concept neither forms part of our faith nor we should unnecessarily contradict the claims of reliable and pious saints who claim to have known them.

2. There are Hadiths stating that the Prophet (Pbuh) was bestowed with the keys of treasures of earth. These Hadiths are basically Mutashaabeh (whose real meaning and significance is incomprehensible for average people), though they also have Muhkam (comprehensible and clear) explanations. Similarly, the Mutashabeh meaning of a number of verses of Qur’an, indicate the power and authority of the Prophet (Pbuh) over the resources of earth. I shall try to explain here the Muhkam explanations giving only the hints of Mutashabeh inferences.

Some of the prophets of Allah like Hazrat Yusuf, Dawood and Sulaiman (A.S.) were conferred with the ‘sovereign prophethood’. Hazrat Sulaiman’s reign even included the invisible beings and the forces of nature. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), being the Imam of all the Prophets, was certainly entitled to such a prophet-hood that represented the collective attributes of all the earlier prophets. But as he was the last of all prophets, he also had to be a role model for all the people for all times to come. To his honour, he was given an option between choosing from two types of prophethoods:

“Narrated Ayesha that once the Prophet (Pbuh) said to her: “O Ayesha If I wish, the mountains of gold will indeed move along with me. An angel had visited me whose waist was equal (in dimensions) to Ka’abah and said to me, ‘Your Lord pronounces Salam on you and says if you wish, you would be a ‘subservient prophet’ and if you wish, you become a ‘sovereign prophet’. (Upon this offer) I looked towards Jibriel Alaihissalam (the archangel). He indicated (as advice) that I yield myself. In another tradition Ibne Abbas narrates that the Prophet (Pbuh) looked towards Jibriel as if seeking advice. Jibriel indicated with his hand that I bow down. So I replied, I choose the subservient prophethood.”

Ayesha says after that the Prophet (Pbuh) never held his back on a support while eating and used to say, “I eat like a slave and I sit like a slave”. (Sharah-us-Sunnah quoted by Mishkat)

Mark the first sentence of the above Hadith. Even after he had opted for the subservient prophethood, the Prophet (Pbuh) told Hazrat Ayesha, “If I wish the mountains of gold will indeed move along with me”. He was bestowed with the collective prophethood of both subservience and sovereignty but he chose to remain subservient, not making use of his sovereignty. Remember how he was oppressed, pained and wounded in Taif? When he appealed to God to give him strength to bear, the archangel appeared with the angel of mountains and offered that if he willed he could directly ask the angel of mountains to crush the people of Taif beneath the surrounding mountains. That the Prophet (Pbuh) declined this option is a history but the most significant part of the event is here that follows. Instead of being told to ask Allah to destroy his enemies, he was informed that the angel of mountain was under his direct command. In effect this was the power of Kun-Fayakun (Be and it will be).

The aggrieved animals complained to him, the trees saluted him, the goats’ dry bags overflowed with milk by his sight and, food of a few would suffice for groups upon his touch, he would predict the martyrdom of the warriors and outcome of the battles in advance and sitting in Madinah, would give a running account of the battle in Yarmuk and there are instances of nature obeying his will. Those were his Mo’jzas (miracles), the miracles of a prophet, one could say. Of course they were the miracles given to him by Allah but if you reflect there is a marked difference in his miracles and the miracles of other prophets. The miracles of earlier prophets were fixed and known and Qur’an speaks of them as their miracles while his miracles were not a few and known miracles and the Qur’an does not refer to them as his miracles. The Qur’an says:

“And they (the disbelievers) say: Why are not portents sent down upon him from his Lord? Say: Portents are with Allah only, and I am but a plain warner.” (29:51) and

“And they say: If only he would bring us a miracle from his Lord! Hath there not come unto them the proof of what is in the former Scriptures?”. (20:133)

Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) did not call them his miracles and the Qur’an does not say so either. He was ordained, “And say: My Lord! Cause me to come in with a firm incoming and to go out with a firm outgoing. And give me from Thy presence a sustaining authority”. (17:80)

This indicates that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was bestowed with the sovereign prophethood along with the subservient prophethood but he chose to use the latter while the glimpses of the former revealed in his life, now and then. He was given the keys of the treasures of the world. A Hadith recorded by Bukhari testifies to it. “Narrated Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (Pbuh) said: I have been sent with comprehensive WORDS, I have been supported by sway and one night when I was asleep I saw that the keys of the treasures of the earth were brought to me and given in my hand”. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Leaving the Mutashabeh significance of the Hadith, I would say that its Muhkam inference is: “I and my Ummah will conquer and control the resources of earth. Islam will prevail over the super powers of the time of his companions and the treasures of Qaisar and Kisra will be distributed among them. Islam shall one day be the religion of all and the earth will make its resources available to my followers”.

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Life Insurance, Qasar Salah

  1. I want to know about the Islamic guidance regarding investing in Life Insurance Corporation schemes.

  2. Also if a person has to travel 55 kilometres everyday to his work and then travel 55 kilometres back home in the evening, can the Qasar salah be offered at the place of work? Kindly let me know if possible.

(Tahir Mahajan; J&K)

A.1. The setup of Life Insurance Corporation of India is against Islam on two counts.

  1. The major share of its income is by interest from investment in Government securities.

  2. A number of Ulema see no harm in insurance of property but there is no dispute among them about insurance of life being unlawful in Islam except in those communally sensitive areas where there is a real threat to their lives from communal riots.

Islam cannot permit investment in such a venture whose earning as well as services are against the tenets of Islam.

A.2. It depends on the judicial assessment of the person concerned whether there is usually sufficient inconvenience faced by him or not in the course of his journey.

It must be understood that the distance of travel is in fact immaterial for the purpose of Salat Qas’r being applicable or permissible. It is essentially the hardship due to which the facility was granted. Earlier, the means of transportation were limited. A person either travelled on foot or the back of an animal. Judging by the amount of hardship faced by a person in his travel, the Fiq’h scholars, for the convenience of masses, translated the hardship into distance and codified the amount of uniform distance for all people (under the circumstances and means of travel of their time). For example Hazrat Ibne Abbas and Ibne Umar performed Qas’r in a journey equivalent to 77 Kms. According to Maliki, Shafa’i and Hambali scholars, the minimum journey for the purpose is 48 miles or of a distance covered in one day and night. Hanafi scholars opine that it should be a minimum of 60 miles or a journey of a distance that can be covered in three days and night on foot or a camel’s back. These scholars base their opinion on a tradition recorded by Imam Bukhari that the Prophet (Pbuh) said: “It is not lawful for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to undertake a journey of a day and night (another tradition says, the journey of three days and nights), without being escorted by a Mahram”. These traditions have been taken to define the parameters of a journey.

On reflection, the journeys, in the eyes of Shariah may not necessarily consist of at least one day and night (on foot or by camel) for all purposes. The above parameters of a journey are described for the purpose of a woman travelling without a Mahram. This definition of a journey may not necessarily be applicable for the purpose of Qas’r Salat. Moreover with the advancement in means of transportation, the application of the code of 48 or 60 miles for Qas’r Salat has become ridiculous. Imagine a person travelling a distance of 30 Kms, on a bicycle in ferocious summer will not shorten Salat or leave the fasting while some one boarding a plane from Bombay to Delhi reaching in less than 100 minutes, without shedding a drop of sweat shall be entitled to condonation! This is not judicious. The reason of granting convenience was the labour or hardship faced by a traveller rather than distance.

In the light of above discussion, the opinion of Imam Ibne Qayyim expressed in Zadul-Ma’ad carries more weight at least in present day, when there is a vast difference in speeds and comforts of different passenger carriers. He says that Qas’r is permitted in all such journeys that can be termed as journeys in common terminology, irrespective of the length of travel.

Hazrat Anas is reported to have performed Qas’r in a journey equivalent to that of 24 Kms and it is reported about Hazrat Ali that he went to an oasis, (probably at a distance of less than 50 Kms), led people in Qas’r Salat of two Raka’ats and came back to Madinah the same day. (P.49, Vol.II, Ma’alimul Sunan, quoted in Fiqah-us-Sunnah by Mohd. Asim, Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi)

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Circumcision

Q. 1.  What is the reason behind Khatna (circumcision) ?
2.  Can a person become Muslim without Khatna?
3.  What is the proper time for performing Khatna?

(Luqman ; Shillong)

A. Circumcision (Khatna) is a Sunnah of all prophets. Allah ordained upon prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) to circumcise himself and his son Ismael (A.S.) and according to Torah made it obligatory for all his progeny and followers to follow suit. Jews to this day comply with the order. Prophet Issa (Jesus) A.S. was circumcised and there is nothing on record that he absolved his followers of the order. After the Christ’s departure, his self-proclaimed disciple (Saul) Paul prevailed upon other disciples to declare the abrogation of this Sunnah of the prophets.

The circumcision is known as the Sunnah of Ibrahim (A.S.) as he was the first prophet on record to have received the order thereof. However, knowing today the medical advantages of circumcision, and considering that all the earlier prophets were pre-historic and their Shariahs are not available, it is more probable that the earlier prophets had also been told to undergo the discipline.

We know that cleanliness of male genitals is almost impossible without circumcision. Besides the problem of maintaining cleanliness for prayers and recitation of Qur’an, the unhygienic state of genitals might cause many a disease not only in the male but to his wife also. A recent survey of nursing homes revealed that almost all the women patients of genital cancer were non-Muslims. More recently the research papers of two Melbourne University obstetrics and scientists Prof. Roger Short Dr. Robert Szabo have announced that circumcision of all male babies is a must for prevention of Aids and sexually transmitted disease. Following are some extracts from the news published in Times of India.

“New evidence suggests that circumcision of all male babies could help to halt the global Aids epidemic... Prof. Roger short and his co-author (of the research paper) are convinced that a high level of receptors - sites to which invading organism attach themselves - on the inside of the foreskin make it responsible for transmission.

Short and Szabo noted a sharp difference in the prevalence of HIV infection in the ‘Aids belt’ countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In some areas the infection rates are as high as 25%, in other areas as low as 1 percent. The lower infection rates were clearly associated with the practice of male circumcision. “The presence of an intact foreskin”, says the Short-Szabo paper, “has consistently been shown to be the single most significant factor associated with the much higher prevalence of HIV in countries of the Asian belt”.

The link is stronger than with more familiar indicators such as promiscuity, other sexually transmitted diseases and multiple marriage.

Even more startling evidence came from a recent studying Uganda, reported in February. This showed that among a large group of discordant couples, where one is infected and one not, no circumcised male became infected over 30 months, even though their wives were HIV positive! Short describes these results as startlingly significant.

Outside Africa there is the same pattern. Countries with low circumcision rates such as Thailand, India and Cambodia, have between 10 and 50 times the rates of infection compared with countries with high circumcision rates such as the Philippines, Bangladesh and Indonesia... Shot and Szabo believe that about 80% of male HIV infections in the world happen through the foreskin...” (P. 15 New Delhi edition of Times of India, March 28, 2000)

Fiq’h scholars differ in their opinion about the compulsion of circumcision in Shariah. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik and a majority of others it is a Sunnah while some scholars including Imam Shafa’i, it is Waajib. Looking at its necessity for cleanliness and hygiene and considering that Allah had ordained Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) to circumcise himself when he was 80, it seems that Waajib is more likely. Were it not at least next to Fardh (i.e.), prophet Ibrahim would have been spared at his old age. Circumcising his son Ismael would have been sufficient for the initiation or renewal of a Sunnah.

A majority of Ulema are of the opinion that the parents should get a male child circumcised before the age of 10.

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Islamic Rules for Circumcision

By Mustafa A.Ahmed

Cirumcision is a universal practice which is greatly influenced by cultural and religious traditions. It is the most frequent operation on males not only in Islamic countries, but also other parts of the world. For example, in the United States of America more than one million male infants are circumcised each year (1). The performance of circumcision is one of the rules of cleanliness in Islam. It is reported by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) mentioned:

Five are the acts quite akin to fitra: circumcision, shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking the hair under the armpits and clipping (or shaving) the moustache Recorded in “Sahih Muslim”, “Sahih Bukhari”, “Musnad Ahmed” and “Sunnah At-Tirmidhi”).

The word fitra in relation to cleanliness can refer to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Pbuh) with regard to this matter, and fitra also “implies an inner sense of cleanliness in man which is proof of his moral convictions and mental health”.

Circumcision means removal of the foreskin of the penis. The Islamic scholar Al-Mawardi said, “The ideal method is to remove the skin completely from the beginning of the glans, and the minimum condition is that nothing is left to cover the end of the glans.” The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) recommended performing circumcision at an early age. Al- Mawardi stated that the chosen time is the 7th day after birth, but it can be carried out up to 40 days after birth or thereafter until the age of 7 years, depending upon the health of the infant or child at the time.

There is an ongoing debate on the value of neonatal circumcision (1). Indeed, the position of the American Academy of Paediatrics since 1975 has been that there are no valid or absolute medical indications for routine circumcision of newborn male infants. On the other hand, the results of recent clinical and epidemiological studies are supportive of the practice of circumcision in newborn and infant males. From a two-part study involving cohorts of 3,924 and 422,328 infants respectively Wiswell and Roscelli found a higher rate of urinary tract infection in uncircumcised compared with male circumcised infants. These investigators observed that as the circumcision frequency rate decreases, the incidence of urinary tract infections increases.

Infection usually begins in the foreskin which becomes swollen and difficult to retract. A medium for bacterial growth and further spread of infection is provided by the faecal material trapped between the foreskin and glans of the penis. Such a condition probably leads to other more serious complications. The cause for cancer of the penis is not known, but it is associated with related infections. According to current belief, cancer of the penis occurs less frequently among Muslims and Jews. Whether this is so and is a benefit of circumcision should be investigated in carefully controlled clinical studies. Foreskin complications are more common in uncircumcised children. According to the report of Herzog and Alvarez early circumcision of male infants protects them from these conditions. Proper hygienic care of the penis, which includes regular washing, will prevent some infections, but among children this is difficult to maintain and is probably not as effective as circumcision. Some conditions, such as phimosis, often lead to circumcision at a later age that could have been prevented if it had been performed earlier. The possible risk for long term urological complications in the infected, uncircumcised male infant has not been properly studied. It is known, however, that as many as 50% of male infants with urinary tract infections will subsequently reveal demonstrable radiologic abnormalities.

Thus, the performance of circumcision and the practice of Sunan Al- Fitra as recommended in Islam is medically beneficial and reflects the wisdom of the Islamic statements.

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