Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Shaban / Ramadan 1423 H
November 2002
Volume 15-11 No : 191
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Our Dialogue


Which Assets are Liable to Zakah?
Differences in Ramadan Timings
Making up for Missed days of Fasting for Last Ramadan
Use of Contraceptive Pills by Women during Ramadan
Spending Time in Ramadan
Using a Toothbrush in Ramadan
Looking Forward to Food
Is Chewing Gum Forbidden during Ramadan?
Charity, Zakah and the Rate of Zakah during Ramadan
Lying and Abusive Talk While Fasting
Iftar Invitations in Ramadan
Toothache in Ramadan


Which Assets are Liable to Zakah?

Q.1. I have invested a reasonable amount of money in a business. Do I have to pay zakah on that investment and on the profits I receive from that investment?

Q.2. I have also bought a house on mortgage, and I make substantial repayments in order to reduce the interest I have to pay as much as possible. This has resulted in my inability to pay zakah last year. Is it permissible to defer zakah payments for a couple of years, while repaying my mortgage?

A.1. It all depends on the type of investment you have made. If you are using one of the many schemes offered by banks or governments to participate in certain funds or through stocks and shares, or through an Islamic bank, and you have ready access to your capital, then both the capital and profit are liable to zakah in the normal way. The rate in this case is 2.5%. On the other hand, if your investment ties up your capital for several years and you cannot claim it back earlier without a considerable loss or a substantial penalty, then your zakah is payable on profits only at the rate of 10%. If your investment is in a private project, the nature of the investment also affects your zakah liability. Where capital assets are needed, such as a business premises or machines for production, these are not liable to zakah. The circulating capital, which is used to buy merchandise for sale, is zakahable together with any profits at the rate of 2.5%. This includes the value of any goods you are holding for sale, which must be valued at the current prices on your zakah date. You have to confirm your case with a scholar, giving him or her the necessary detailed information.

A.2. A mortgage loan or a loan taken in the form of hire purchase of any item such as a car or machinery is not counted in the calculation of zakah liability, because of the nature of the repayment agreement. If a person is earning Rs.100,000 a year, and spending Rs.70,000 to meet his family’s living expenses, including the installments he pays on his mortgage and hire purchase agreements, he cannot claim exemption from zakah because he still owes a substantial sum on his house or other purchases. This is because the nature of such debts does not require immediate or short-term repayment. Such a person will be saving Rs.30,000 which is liable to zakah. Only if he decides at the end of the year to reduce his outstanding loans by an additional repayment, using all this saved sum for the purpose, he does not pay zakah for it. It is wrong for anyone to defer the payment of one’s zakah, saying that he has some heavy commitments. Zakah is a debt owed to God and it must be paid on time. If one has heavy commitments, his zakah liability will be proportionately reduced. But to say that zakah is unaffordable when its rate is so low is to make a false claim. When the reader increases his mortgage repayments now, he will be saving on the total amount he has to repay. This means a direct benefit. He cannot make such a personal benefit through the failure to pay zakah.

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Differences in Ramadan Timings

Q.1. After having completed 25 days of Ramadan in one country, a person travels to another country where he finds the people there have fasted only 23 days.

Q.2. A person living abroad completes the whole month of Ramadan and after it has been announced that Ramadan is over, he travels to his home country to find that the people there still have one day of Ramadan to fast.

Q.3. After having offered the Eid prayer in one country, a person travels to another, late that same night to discover that the Eid prayer will be offered the following morning. What should be done by the person concerned in each of these three cases?

A. In all these cases, we have to realise that differences in sighting the moon lead to differences in starting and finishing any lunar month. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable that one country should begin Ramadan on Monday and another on Tuesday. However the differences in the birth of the new moon can account for only one day’s difference between all countries of the world. That means that in certain areas, people should fast on one day and the rest on the following day. Differences of two days cannot be accounted for by the birth of the new moon. They can come about as a result of two things; mistakes in sighting the new moon which involve that a person declares that he has sighted it when it was not there and the impossibility of sighting due to the sky being overcast.

B. Another very important criterion to consider in answering this question is the Hadith which quotes the Prophet (Pbuh) as saying that a month can only be either 29 or 30 days. Therefore no person may fast 31 days considering that all of them are Ramadan days. If the person in the first case is absolutely certain of the correctness of the sighting of the moon in the country where he started Ramadan, or if he simply does not know, he should complete his fasting days to 30, then finish fasting. The people in the country where he may stay still have one day to fast, but that does not affect him. He prays the Eid prayer with the people where he is, when they pray it, which means the second day of Eid for him. That does not matter. On the other hand, if he has reason to suspect that the sighting of the moon in the country where he started Ramadan might have been accurate, then he completes Ramadan with the people of the country where he arrived. This means that he would have fasted 31 days, but the first of these was due to a mistake. He will be rewarded as someone who has fasted a day voluntarily.

C. The same thing can apply to the person in the second case, assuming no interruption of fasting-that means that the person concerned travelled at night after the sighting of the moon of Shawal has been declared in the country where he was staying. He arrived before Fajr on the day which still counts as Ramadan day in his country of destination. If he had completed 30 days in the first country, then he does not fast. If he has fasted only 29 days, then he fasts that 30th day in the country where he has arrived.

D. In the third case, the person concerned is recommended to join in the Eid prayer which will be his second for the same Eid. That is perfectly alright because he is joining in a Sunnah which is meant to celebrate an Islamic occasion. He is thus a member of the community.

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Making up for Missed days
of Fasting for Last Ramadan

Q. I did not fast three days in the last Ramadan and now I do not know if I can make them up now as Ramadan is round the corner. Can I make them up later? Is there any atonement obligatory for it?

A. If anyone does not fast during Ramadan because of any legitimate reason like being sick or travelling, he has to make it up on other days before the advent of the next Ramadan. If he delays making it up without any excuse up until the following Ramadan, he is committing a sin and he should make it up after that Ramadan. It is also obligatory for him to feed a needy person for each delayed day.

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Use of Contraceptive Pills by
Women during Ramadan

Q. What is the rule regarding the use of contraceptive pills by a woman during Ramadan to prevent menstruation?

A.There is no objection for using the pills to prevent menstruation, if it is not harmful to health and if the intention is to be able to fast on time and read the holy Quran, offer night prayers of Ramadan and perform Umrah and other acts of worship which a woman in her monthly period cannot offer. But if the intention is only to fast during Ramadan in order to avoid fasting on other days for making up the lost days of fast in Ramadan, I am not in favour of such pills. So the intention is very important.

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Spending Time in Ramadan

Q. Is it permissible to spend one's time while fasting in the month of Ramadan watching movies and TV programmes, listening to radio, playing indoor games or reading novels or magazines?

A. We have to remember that Ramadan is a season of worship. The Prophet (Pbuh) teaches us to utilise whatever spare time we have in Ramadan in reciting the Qur’an, offering voluntary prayers or reflecting on Allah’s creation in the universe. He has also taught us to spend much of the night in voluntary worship, in the prayer known as taraweeh. This is due to the fact that Allah rewards much more generously any good action done in Ramadan. Hence the best way of spending one’s spare time in Ramadan is to indulge in worship. It is sometimes not possible for any person to concentrate his thoughts on worship. Allah knows that human nature requires some form of diversion which does not include any forbidden aspect. Playing a game of sport is permissible, provided it does not include any form of gambling. Playing cards is strongly discouraged because they are games which depend on chance. You should also be selective in what you read of novels or magazines and in what you watch of movies. Remember that Ramadan is described as a great blessed month: it is forgiveness at the beginning, mercy in the middle and a release from fire at the end. With such a season on hand, one does not really need any diversion which may cause him to miss this great chance of earning Allah’s forgiveness and reward.important.

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Using a Toothbrush in Ramadan

Q. If one wakes up after 2.00 pm, can one brush one's teeth and use toothpaste during fasting? Is it also permissible to have a shower during the day of fasting?

A.There is nothing wrong about taking a shower during the day of fasting, whether for purification, cleanliness or keeping cool. One must make sure that one does not swallow any water. Otherwise it is perfectly permissible. Indeed if it is for purification, then it must be done before the time of maghrib-that is the time when we finish fasting.

As for cleaning one’s teeth with a toothbrush, we may state that it is not proper to use toothpaste during the time of fasting because of the likelihood that one may swallow some of it or some of the water with which the person rinses his mouth. There is no objection to using a toothbrush without toothpaste because it has a naturally cleansing effect. It is preferable to use a miswak which is a sort of toothbrush taken from a well-known tree. We are encouraged by the Prophet (Pbuh) to use this miswak at all times. The Prophet says that the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is like the smell of musk in Allah’s measure. When one uses a toothbrush, one is bound to change that smell to something inferior. Moreover there is no need to brush our teeth in the middle of the fasting day since we do not consume anything.

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Looking Forward to Food

Q.Not all people are capable of being saintly figures. Fasting should move me to be a better person, but I look forward more to the table full of food in the evening than the purely spiritual aspect. And this makes me feel tremendously guilty.

A. Men are not equal in their capacities to fulfill the piety and virtue which Allah has made incumbent upon them. Our bodies may weigh down our spirits so as to make them incapable of moving and rising towards Allah. Our material needs may overcome our humanity unless we keep up the exercise of our spirit and constantly turn to Allah in prayer rather than simply being satisfied with the mechanical perfomance of kneeling, prostration and recitation. Hence it is our duty whenever possible to stop all activities which tend to weigh us down, shackle our spirit or give dominance to our material welfare over our humanity. Allah says: “ Fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for those before you so that you may learn virtue and piety.” As human beings, we may tend to succumb to worldy pleasures and to prevent ourselves from doing this, it is better to be engaged in constant prayer towards Allah always. It is not a sin to look forward to food during iftar, but it is not right to be obsessed with food while in a state of fasting. So the best way to take away the constant thought of food is to focus on prayer to divert one’s mind.

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Is Chewing Gum
Forbidden during Ramadan?

Q.Does chewing gum invalidate the fast?

A.It is obvious that chewing gum contains taste-giving materials like sweets and the flavour of mint or other substances. These materials get dissolved in the saliva which is taken in by the one who fasts. This means he has taken in things that would invalidate the fast. So chewing gum would invalidate the fast.

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Charity, Zakah and the
Rate of Zakah during Ramadan

Q.How was the rate of 2.5 per cent fixed as the rate of zakah? I feel that it is too small. Moreover, a millionaire who pays 2. 5 per cent will remain a millionaire after the payment of his zakah liability, while there are several Quranic verses which warn against hoarding money without spending it for charity. Please comment.

A.The rate of zakah is fixed by Allah himself. It is true that we do not find a Quranic verse which tells us about the rate of zakah with regard to any type of property, but we also do not find the details of prayer in the Quran. In both situations, the Prophet (Pbuh) has given us detailed guidance.It is true that in most cases, the rate of zakah is 2.5 per cent, but this is not applicable to everything. There are certain types of property where the rate of zakah is 5 or 10 per cent. For example, the produce of agricultural land which relies totally on rain for irrigation and the owner does not need to do any work, whatsoever in respect of its irrigation, carries a zakah rate of 10 per cent. Here the rate is high because there is little work. Where irrigation is partly done by machine and partly by rain, the rate is 5 per cent. Moreover what is taken out from the earth, such as minerals and treasures has an even greater rate which is 20 per cent. This is known as rikaz. The reader mentions that a wealthy person who pays only 2.5 per cent will remain wealthy. And so will he. But what of that? The point of zakah is not to deprive the rich of the means of enjoying what Allah has given them. The point is to ensure a decent minimum for everyone so that no one in society is forced to go hungry. As for the verses of the Qur’an and the Hadiths concerning the prohibition of any hoarding or treasuring of money, they apply to any money where the zakah has not been paid. Once a Muslim has paid his zakah, he has discharged his minimum duty. The description of hoarding cannot apply to him.

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Lying and Abusive Talk While Fasting

Q. Does lying, cheating and acts of dishonesty nullify a person's fast during the month of Ramadan?

A. If we read the Quranic verse, “ O you who believe, fasting is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed to those before you so that you may learn self-restraint” (2:183), then we will know that one of the prime objectives of fasting is to control the promptings of the lower passions. Allah stands in no need of the fasting of one who fails to abandon his acts of dishonesty during this month. The Prophet (Pbuh) said, “ He who does not refrain from lying and from all forms of ignorance, Allah cares little for his refraining from eating and drinking.” Far too much emphasis is placed in a society which has commercialised Ramadan in order to sell more foodstuff to hungry Muslims and too little stress is placed on the spiritual advantages. The Prophet said, “ Fasting is a shield so when one of you is fasting, he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “ I am fasting, I am fasting.” It is indeed a great pity that many do not take heed of the lessons and wisdom of fasting. Their fasting infact becomes reduced to merely starving themselves for the day.

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Iftar Invitations in Ramadan

Q. Iftar parties have become common during Ramadan. But I feel that this puts a burden on families, can lead to wastage of food and compels women to spend more time in the kitchen cooking delicacies when they should be spending more time in prayers during the holy month. Please comment.

A. This is a very narrow view that pays little attention to the fact that Islam is a religion for the community as much as it is for the individual and that it is a way of life as well as method of worship. The Prophet (Pbuh) attended lunches and dinners hosted by his companions. At no time did he say that the women in the house of the host family could have better utilised their time in prayer. He has taught that there is time for everything that is needed. Iftar parties should not be considered a burden for the host families, rather it cements social ties and friendship within the community. Moreover when you invite people to dinner or Iftar, they are likely to invite you back as their guests later. But caution should be taken that there is no wastage of food in Iftar parties and also that the ambience of the holy month is maintained by keeping the spiritual aspect of fasting in mind by the host and the guest.

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Toothache in Ramadan

Q.I had toothache in Ramadan. The dentist made a cleaning and a filling for one tooth and removed the other rotten tooth. Before the extraction, he gave me an injection to kill the pain (anesthetic). Does that invalidate my fast?

A. A filling or an anesthetic does not affect your fast. You are permitted to do either and you are forgiven because you were forced by necessity. But you should try your best not to swallow any of the medicine given or blood which filled your mouth after the tooth was extracted. The injection does not nullify your fast because it is not like food or drink.

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News| Community Roundup| Ramadan Special| Editorial| Readers Comments| Opinion| Men, Machines and Methods| Book Review Islam and The World| Living Islam| Globe Watch| Religion| Children's Corner| Quran Speaks to You| Hadith| Our Dialogue Matrimonial| Jobs| Archives| Feedback| Subscription| Links| Calendar| Contact Us

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