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Islamic Voice Logo
MONTHLY    *    Vol 12-11 No:143    *   NOVEMBER 1998/ RAJJAB 1419H
email: editor@islamicvoice.com

OUR DIALOGUE : BY S.ABDULLAH TARIQ


Burying of Dead Bodies
Kalki Avtar
Behaviour of Indian Muslims
Cutting Nails


Burying of Dead Bodies

Q.1. Why do Muslims bury their dead bodies and Hindus cremate them? I have a doubt because in view of Allah Ta’ala, He can raise the man from any place.

Nizamuddin Khalid; Chennai

Ans. Yes, Allah is able to recollect the scattered elements of a person’s body from any place of earth which is a tiny minuscule of His creation. It is quite easy for Him. The Qur’an declares: “And they say: When we are bones and fragments, shall we forsooth, be raised up as a new creation? Say: Be ye stones or iron or some created thing that is yet greater in your thoughts!

Then they will say: Who shall bring us back (to life)? Say He who created you the first time” (17;49-51)

There is a tradition of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) that a man willed his body to be burnt after his death and its ashes be scattered all over the land and sea. On the Day of Reckoning, he shall be asked the reason thereof? He replied that he feared God’s wrath, so he tried to avoid it being raised up from his grave for fear of Allah. Allah would ask him if he had witnessed that his constituents who recollected from wherever they were. He would be ashamed and be pardoned by the special mercy of Allah as he feared Him at the time of his death.

It is speculated by some, that the man perhaps belonged to the Indian sub-continent and his descendants started burning their dead after hearing his fate from the Prophet of their time. The speculation gains credence from the fact that the dead bodies of saints and children among Hindus are buried instead of being burnt. It probably means that those who are supposedly innocent are buried while the rest being sinners are burnt.

There may be another reason of Hindus burning their dead, “agni’ in Sanskrit means ‘fire’. According to Panini, the highest ancient Sanskrit authority on Philology, the word is derived from ‘Agrini’ which means ‘the first’ or ‘ the foremost’. Agrini was previously used for One God and later its derivative Agni replaced it. Now the same word, Agni in the Vedas is used for God as well as for fire according to the context. The dead had to be surrendered to one God agrini. With the passage of time, the word was changed to Agni which also means fire. So, the people from the land of Sanskrit started surrendering their dead to fire. It may be noted that mention of burial can even today be found in Vedas;

Let me not yet O Varuna, enter into the house of clay (the grave); Have mercy, spare me, Mighty Lord.. O Bright and Powerful God, through lack of strength I erred and went astray, have mercy, spare me Mighty Lord.” (Rigveda 7:89:1,3)

“Have thyself, Earth not press thee downward heavily (after the burial); Afford him easy access gently tending him; Cover him as mother wraps her skirt over her child, O Earth.. I stay on the earth from thee, while over thee I place this piece of earth. May I be free from injury. Here let the fathers keep this pillars firm for thee, and there let Yama (The Lord of death) make thee an abiding place.” (Rigveda 10:18:11,13)

It may be mentioned that a large number of Hindus in South India bury their dead, instead of burning.

The Muslims bury their dead as the prophet (Pbuh) guided them and as all the earlier prophets sent to all nations including India would have guided their people. All the prophets preached Islam, the religion of nature although every prophet would have used the word in the language of his nation, instead of the Arabic word ‘Islam’. It may be that ‘Svadharma’ (Nature’s religion) was used in place of Islam in India and ‘Sanatan Dharma’ (The Eternal Religion) in place of its Arabic synonym ‘Deen-e-Qayyim’. The true Sanatan Dharma or Svadharma preached burial of the dead as it is according to nature. The burning of millions of men requires a huge quantity of firewood which creates ecological imbalance. The fumes add to pollution. The electrical pyres also are not the solution, as they consume energy, much needed by the living. Burial is echo friendly, pollution-free and energy saving.

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Kalki Avtar

Q.2 (i). Does Br. S. Abdullah Tariq has any reference for his Fatwa on ‘communication with the dead”?
(ii) Please let me know about Kalki Avtar.

Naseemuddin Quraishi; Karachi

Ans. (i) I never issued a fatwa on the subject. I only advised the enquirer to benefit from the experience of a number of acclaimed saints. My recommendation was also based on my own experience. For reference, you may also turn to ‘Mehr-e-Muneer’, the biography of Peer Meh’r Ali Shah which is published from Pakistan and is available in Karachi.

ii) You may refer to the book ‘Kalki Avtar Aur Muhammad Sahib authored by Pt.Ved Prakash Upadhyay, in Hindi. The author is the head of the department of Sanskrit in Punjab University, Chandigarh and is an authority on Vedic Sanskrit. In his above book, he has tired to prove that ‘Kalki Avtar’ whose advent was prophesied by many Puranas, the works revered by a majority of Hindus, was no other than Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). The book is being translated in Urdu but to date it is published by a number of Indian publishers in Hindi only. The book can also be obtained from; “S.M. Aslam Kazmi, opposite Darul-Uloom, Deoband, Dist. Saharanpur, U.P.

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Behaviour of Indian Muslims

Q.3. I am neither against Islam nor a Hindu chauvinist. I have a few questions for some of the Indian Muslims.
i. Why are you supporting ISI in India in places like Bhatkal and Tamil Nadu?
ii. Why did you create a new town just for Muslims in Kerala?
iii. Why do not you condemn Pakistan when it sponsors terrorism in India?
iv. Why do you refuse to accept the fact that India should have one rule for every Indian?
v. Why do not you condemn demolishing of temples in India?

I have a lot of Muslim friends but I am forced to rethink about my practices because of the above questions. Can anybody answer me?

Ajay Gannerkote; XXX

Ans. ISI has found tacit support not only from a few Muslim groups but also from a few Christian groups in North-East India, a few Sikh groups in Punjab and a few Hindu LTTE supporters in Tamil Nadu. It is unfortunate but the question should not be directed to Muslims alone.

The condemnation of Pak-supported terrorism is not issued by any religious body of Muslims, Christians or Sikhs. Also, I have yet to see a statement of condemnation thereof, issued by Hindu religious groups like Brahma Kumari, Pranami Dharma, Nirankari Mandal, ISKCON, Gayatri Pariwar, Swadhyay Parivar, Radha Swami group, Theosophical Society and many others. No Neo-Dalit organization either has ever issued condemnation of Pakistan for supporting terrorism. To my knowledge, Bodh and Jain Sabhas have also never issued any statement of condemnation the effect. All responsible citizens of any religion abhor terrorism in their own capacity and politicians including Muslims, do release statements of condemnation of Pakistan from time to time. Why do you single out Muslims organizations for the job?

Hindu religious bigwigs not only did not openly condemn the demolition of Mosque in India but also a large group of religious leaders did not approve of the demolition of some temples in retaliation in Pakistan and Bangladesh, which were soon restored. Some temples were damaged in Kashmir did not approve but remained silent due to fear. In some cases, the Muslim citizens of Kashmir helped to rebuild them. Now, the Muslim Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir heading a government in which a majority of MLAs is Muslims has restored those temples. An overwhelmingly large majority of Muslims are dead against the demolition of any place of worship because the Holy Qur’an strictly forbids the forcible demolition of places of worship.

“... Had it not been for Allah’s repelling some men by means of others, temples, Churches and synagogues, the hermitories and Mosques, wherein the name of Allah is remembered, would assuredly have been pulled down..” (22:40)

Neither there is any town anywhere in India, which is meant for Muslims alone nor any such town has been demanded or being created. If you believe that, you are letting yourself swayed by the worst kind of hate campaigners, who are trying their best to divide the country. The same people however, have openly declared a number of villages, ‘Hindu Rashtra Villages’. Following is a line from ‘The Hindustan Times’, the largest circulated English daily in India. Under the heading ‘Sangh Parivar’s dream shattered’, in its Nov.1 issue on Page 7, the news item read; “Meanwhile the VHP continues to put boards at the entry of every village and towns (in Gujarat) announcing ‘VHP welcomes you to Hindu Rashtra Village’..”

India has one rule for every Indian and that rule permits every citizen to marry, divorce, or inherit according to the norms and customs laid down by his religion. Do you mean to question this law by saying that India should have one rule for every Indian? The constitution of India has provided safeguards for the minorities. There has been a demand by a small section to enforce a uniform civil code by abolishing the personal laws of the minorities. This non-issue is tried to be made an issue by the people who want to divide India through hatred. Personal laws or uniform civil codes have no bearing on the unity and integration of the country. A vast majority of the country has no interest in this so-called issue. Except for some extremist Hindu organizations and a handful of intellectuals who have been swayed by their propaganda without ascertaining the facts, no one in India thinks that the personal laws of the minorities pose a threat to the integrity of the country. Have you studied the Muslim Personal Law? Apparently it may seem that the uniform civil code is the most righteous and just thing in a democratic setup but it is not so. In a healthy and true democracy, the majority decides the laws of governing the people but a religious majority does not impose its religious customs over the religious minorities. Let me elaborate.

Laws are of two kinds. One which has bearing over the society and the other pertaining to an individual and his family. The laws concerning the society are same for every citizen whether they are criminal or civil laws. Among the laws concerning individuals and their families, the laws related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and Waq’f properties come under the minorities’ personal laws. Is it essential for the integrity of the country that the norms of marriage and divorce of all Sanatan Dharmis, Arya Samajis, Bodhs, Jains, Sikhs and Christians become uniform? Would there be no permission for all the above to marry according to their religious customs in the proposed uniform civil code? Why should there be even that liberty? Why should not all be bound to marry under a uniform custom laid down by the religious majority? Please understand that no gentleman of my country is interested in disturbing my liberty of how I marry, divorce or wish to distribute my personal property among my would be inheritors.

Not all the laws pertaining to mutual relations within the community come under the Muslim Personal Law. If a Muslim steals from a Muslim, usurps his property, do business with a Muslim, murders or acquires by force the personal property of his wife, then he will be judged by the same law which is applicable to a non-Muslim for the above crimes. Islam does not forbid us to abide by the Indian constitution in these matters. I love my country and respect its constitution, which has permitted me to follow my religion in matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance. The majority of my compatriots are fully satisfied over this right given to me and they never consider it a threat to the integrity and unity of the country. However, a small group wants to destroy this religious identity of mine which has no clash with my love for the country. The above group is trying to mould public opinion for its line of thinking.

Turban and sword are the religious symbol of Sikhs. It may not be in public interest to carry a sword in the market where all the others are unarmed. A turban cannot provide the safety of a helmet in road accidents. In the military services, sporting a turban in place of military helmets may at occasions be debated as a compromise in the security of the country. The Sikhs may leave the services but will not negotiate with the beard and turban. No identity of Islam can ever pose a threat to the security of the country while the probability of such dangers being present in the identities of Sikh religion cannot be altogether discarded. Nobody raised the question of priority among the turban and the country. For the country, Sikhs have made sacrifices. We gladly permit them to retain their religious identity even if that identity has no mention in the cultural heritage of the country prior to 300 years. 300 years ago, a new tradition was added in Indian culture. This diversity is our culture. Another new tradition originated merely 60 years back. Some fellow citizens, in the name of spirituality, started refusing to eat any cooked food unless prepared by fellow Brahma Kumaris. We did not brand it a diversion from the mainstream. This group has also done important contributions for the country. While reserving the right to preach that this custom has no bearing on spirituality, we do not impose our will over them and do not demand to declare it a crime. This tolerance is our culture. This demand of some self-proclaimed representatives of Hindutva can not be termed as nationalism that Muslims should marry, divorce and inherit according to their norms instead of following Islamic guidance. This is a sick mentality. The psyche of hate and unconfidence. There is no limit to this mentality. Who can refrain this mentality from demanding in future that Muslims should bury there dead instead of following the rules of religion? In 1996, those people were assessing the extent of repercussions of government taking hold of charge of Zakat from Muslims, if they come in power.

Brother, As you have stated in your questionnaire, your queries are concerning the behaviour of ‘some of the Indian Muslims’, not a majority of them. Still you prefer to declare that you are forced to revise your attitude. (Towards whom? Towards a lot of your Muslim friends!). I request you that you re-revise your line of thinking and beware of the forces of hate and disintegration by exploiting sentiments through false propaganda.

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Cutting Nails

Q.3. After cutting our nails, how should we dispose the same? As we are residing in apartments, can we first put it in our dustbin and later throw it outside? Is it true that the nails should not be kept inside the house? Also please tell me, is there any time fixwd when we are not supposed to cut our finger/foot nails. Please reply in the light of Qur’an and Hadith.

Abdul Aleem; Chennai

Ans. Life will be very difficult if we are required to refrain from what we cannot find in Qur’an and Hadith. The rule of Shariah is that everything is permitted which is not clearly prohibited. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Do not indulge in things which Allah has declared Haraam. And there are things regarding which He has intentionally kept silence. This silence is a blessing for you, so do not argue therein.” (Daar-e-Qutni)

You can collect and throw nails in the dustbin until the dustbin is emptied outside. Shariah has not stopped us from keeping the nails inside the house.

I have heard a Hadith from an Aalim (which I could not trace in any collection) that the Prophet (Pbuh) forbade cutting the nails after sun-set. May be it is because uncleanness is stuck to the nails and throwing them about the living place is against the nature and spirit of Islamic codes of cleanliness. He probably forbade to cut nails after day-light because then there were available only earthen lamps whose light was insufficient to see the tiny nails scattered all over the place. However, since we do know the exact wisdom behind the order, it is advised not to cut nails after daylight.

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