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Friday, September 18, 2020

Ask Dr. Bilal

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A: It is the nature of human beings to love others from what one gets from them. For example, one may say ‘so and so gives me so I love him, when they don’t give me I don’t love them anymore’. This is human nature – we tend to love people for what we get from them; whereas true love, the higher love which is pleasing to Allah and for which we get reward is to love our brothers and our sisters only for the sake of Allah. We meet them and separate from them for the sake of Allah. There are no ulterior motives. This means that our brothers and sisters have rights in our wealth, and we help them whenever the opportunity presents itself.

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There are a number of rights of brotherhood which the Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلم spoke of. The rights of brotherhood not only involve giving and sharing of what we have but also protecting one’s honour. When we love somebody for the sake of Allah, we protect their honor, meaning that if people are speaking ill about our brothers and sisters, we stop them and don’t allow them to backbite or slander. We are not silent in times when their honour is being destroyed; rather we are silent about their faults when there is no need to express them. There are some times when we should speak about the faults of our brothers and sisters, for example, in times of marriage. If there are things which are wrong, they should be told or informed about it. This is the question of trust and amanah, where people trust you to give the correct information.

This was the methodology of the Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلم when Fatima bint Qais asked him about the marriage to Abu Sufyan and Amr ibn ul Aas. Both these people proposed to her. The Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلم said to her, “Amr ibn ul Aas is known to beat his women and Abu Sufyaan is stingy as he doesn’t share his money.” He then said, “If you really want a good husband then marry Usamah ibn Zaid.” We see that he recommended somebody else. It is also allowed to speak about the others when it comes to business deals, where you ask someone their opinion about a person you plan to enter into a business deal with or make your business partner. You cannot just say that he or she is a good sister or brother because you don’t want to speak something bad about the person. It is your responsibility to protect your brother or sister where they may be harmed by an individual, but there is a time where you must speak. This doesn’t mean you just let loose and discuss everything you dislike about the person, rather speak only about the related information for which the request is made.

Thus, this is what is meant by meeting and parting for the sake of Allah. It also includes advising each other for the sake of Allah:

“Advise each other to truth and advise each other to patience.” 

They advise each other to be truthful. Furthermore, they excuse the mistakes of others, and try to have good thoughts about their brothers and sisters. The Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلم said: “A believer is a mirror of his fellow believer.” 

As believers, we should make dua’ for our brothers and sisters in this life as well as after their death because Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلم said: “The supplication of a brother for his brother in their absence is not rejected by Allah.” 

We should also give them the benefit of doubt where the circumstance appears as if they have done something wrong. We should try to find some excuse because it maybe that we have misunderstood, or they misunderstood and did not intend this.

Allah has warned us when he said:

“Indeed some form of doubts is sin.” 

The Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلم said: “Beware of doubts for indeed speaking about doubts is the worst of the most lying form of speech.”

Q: The Sufis hold in high esteem some legendary personalities because they chose to live in austerity.

Is this the correct position to be held by Muslims?

A: In Islam the issue of asceticism does exist, in Arabic it is called Zuhd, which means in a sense, abstinence. It means abstaining from aesthetics – being satisfied with little and living a simple life. This is something which was taught by the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam. He himself in terms of the material things of this world gave up everything he had. All the things he had, he gave away. He did not try to keep anything and he advised us to be like a traveler in this world. This concept is correct. You stop under the shade of a tree for a while and then you carry on. This world, the things of this world are like the shade of that tree, it is temporary. Islam encourages the view that we should not become lost in the material world.

The Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam also encouraged us in the way of sadaqah (charity), but at the same time Islam also recognises human needs and desires. It seeks to keep human needs and desires within certain bounds, controls, and moderation. Thus abstinence is viewed from the point of moderation. Unlike going through the extreme of abstinence, which led the Christians into monasticism – for example, giving up marriage and so forth, these are the extreme of abstinence.

When the extreme of abstinence were put in front of the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam, he rejected it. On one occasion a few men visited his wife and asked, trying to get knowledge of the way the Prophet’s Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam worshipped Allah. When the wife of the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam explained to them, one of them said that “I will stay up all night in prayer because the Prophet’s Salallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam sins were all forgiven by God, and so we need to do more.” Therefore, he said, “I will stay all night in prayer.” The other one said, “I am not getting married.” The third said, “I will fast day and night.” When the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam returned from his journey and was informed by his wife about the incident, he called them. This was what he said to them: “I stay awake and I sleep at night. Part of the night, I wake up and perform the prayer. I married. I fast and I break my fast,”and he added, “Whoever desires a way other than my way, he is not a true follower of mine.” 

The Prophet’s Salallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam has provided us with the best way. In Islam, it is the middle path; abstinence in the sense of not becoming a slave to materialism – ‘Abd Dirham, ‘Abd Dinar (the worshiper of the Dollar or the Peso). You don’t go to those extremes, but at the same time, if you do not have wealth, how can you be charitable? To be charitable is one of the noble characteristics of the human spirit. When the human spirit gives of what it has to others, it overcomes the desire to horde wealth and be greedy.

Instead it grows and that is why Zakat means growth – growth of the human spirit. If you do not have anything to give, how can you grow? So Islam does not say do not gain anything. No! Gain from this world, but share so that you can grow. This is the balance that Islam promotes. The concept of abstinence is a part of Islam, however, it is not permissible to be extreme.

Some scholars say this is a sort of reaction to the extreme materialism, which had developed in the later days of the Umayyad and the early Abbasid period of Islamic dynasties. Because so much wealth was coming in, some of the practices of the empires were setting up thrones with diamonds, jewelry, etc. And Muslims were taken by the fashion, pomp and glory; however, those people who were leaning towards abstinence reacted to this materialistic lifestyle. They went to an extreme trying to draw people away, but once you go to an extreme you deviate from the Sunnah of the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam.

Q: If a person wants to do an act of worship and detects insincerity in himself, should he go ahead and carry on that act of worship and struggle with one’s sincerity?

A: Yes it’s better to struggle with the act than to give up because Shaytan comes to us and puts doubts in us so that we find elements of insincerity in every act, because to the degree one is sincere, one is rewarded. So, if we are sincere 50 percent then we will get a reward of 50 percent. Therefore, don’t give up and abandon acts when one has doubts.

As it is mentioned in the hadith: Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “A slave may pray and have nothing recorded for it except a tenth of it, or a ninth, or an eighth, or a seventh, or a sixth, or a fifth, or a quarter, or a third, or a half.” 

Q: If we see great blessing or achievement with a disbeliever, should we say ma sha’ Allah?

A: Yes, because it is through Allah and only by His will, that they achieved it.

It is by Allah’s will that they sent a rocket ship to Mars, and that the scientists could roam around on Mars and analyse its dirt. Ma shaa Allah! But of course, it is very foolish not considering the needs of the earth which we can see; but ma shaa Allah it is an achievement based on knowledge which Allah has given them to be able to achieve such an accomplishment.

Q: Why are Muslims allowed to marry Christians and not Hindus even though the former worship Jesus, a human being, in the form of idols, statues, etc., which falls into the category of idol worship?

A: “…The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. (Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time, when you have given their due Mahr (bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), desiring chastity (i.e. taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girlfriends…” 

This is a special concession made in the Qur’an, stated to the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam), for Christians and Jews, because of the fact that within their scriptures, remains a large amount of authentic material. In spite of their deviation, difference and error in their practices, etc., their scriptures still contain the true version of the message.

Recently we had a number of Christians who converted to Islam saying, “I became Muslim by reading the Bible itself.” Thus, this is a special concession given, and you will find that the Qur’an mentions in many places that the closest people to the Muslims are the Christians. This closeness is actually the fact that the Jews are closer in terms of the various legal terms, etc., whether it is in the similarity of food laws or that of teaching. However, the Qur’an says that the Christians are the closest because they were following the last messenger before the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam). Although the Jews remained in accordance and maintained the law, by rejecting Jesus they blinded themselves. This made it much more difficult for them to accept the truth. Generally, for every Jew that accepted Islam, one will find 1000 Christians.

Imam al-Tabari said, commenting on this verse:

“…and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time” this means, free woman from among those who were given the Scripture, i.e., the Jews and Christians who followed the Tawraat (Torah) and Injeel (Gospel). “Before your time” O believers in Muhammad, from among the Arabs and all of mankind, you may marry them also “when you have given their due Mahr” i.e., when you give the mahr or dowry to those whom you marry from among your (Muslim) chaste women or their chaste women.” 

It is not permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Magian (Zoroastrian), Hindu, Communist or idol-worshipping woman, etc. The evidence for that is the verse in which Allaah says, (interpretation of the meaning):


“And do not marry Al-Mushrikaat (idolatresses) till they believe (worship Allaah Alone). And indeed a slave woman who believes, is better than a (free) Mushrikah (idolatress), even though she pleases you…” 

And Allah knows best.


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