They come from far and wide. On every means of transport available. By land, air or sea. Some do not even mind going all the way on foot. Young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, black or white, from all categorisations of humanity possible, we find them there. It is a journey for which life’s savings are devoted, for which aspirations are dedicated, and for which supplications are made from one’s heart and soul. But what kind of an event is this for which no advertising budgets are apportioned, yet millions are drawn to it every year? No one is goaded yet the airplanes and the hotels are all full? No material gain is obtained by it, yet people save all their life to spend on the journey? There is no scenery, no entertainment, and no amusement, yet the crowds keep coming. It is a journey involving physical, material and emotional hardship, yet the numbers keep on increasing year by year. What charm is there in dressing up in two sheets of white, in exposing oneself to the hardships of travel, and in facing the dangers of illness, disease, stampedes and even death? The talbiyyah says it all. “Labaik Allahuma Labaik” (I am here O Allah, I am here.) “Labaik Laa Shareeka laka Labaik.” (I am here, no partner do thou have.) “Inna al hamda Wal Naimata laka wal mulk” (Indeed all praise and all bounty and sovereignty belong to thee.) “Laa shareeka lak” (No partner dost thou have.)

This mantra which is on the lips of every pilgrim gives us the essence of the Hajj. That servitude is due to Allah and Him alone and that we hearken His call. That in His worship, we associate no one else. That for Him, we need to make serious efforts in life. That entire praise and sovereignty belong to Him and no one else. The Hajj is a living commentary of the Quranic verse: Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds.” (Al Anaam 6:162)

Thus it is this strong belief, which is the powerful driving force for the Hajj. Belief in Allah and His Messenger, an aspiration to have a connection with the Creator and to realise the true purpose of life. It is a journey for which even the preparation is itself an act of Ibadah, yet this is an aspect taken lightly and neglected by many. The intending pilgrims also depend on the assurances of tour operators many of whom have a reputation to disappear in the heat of the action leaving pilgrims stranded with no choice but to tend to themselves. Millions congregating at a unique point and their successive movement is no ordinary feat but one that poses great environmental challenges. The Hajj is a true Jihad, for it takes us out of our comfort zones for the sake of Allah, and teaches us to take on hardships and sufferings entirely for Him. Many can pay lip service, but few take practical action, and it is actions that speak louder than words. The Hajj is an action, it is not a comfortable sermon, but a practical hardship that resonates with the seriousness we have for our faith. The Hajj is a test, for at each and every juncture, we are tested for the development of our patience, our tolerance, our religious knowledge and its application. The Hajj is an antidote to the inflated ego. You leave behind your best dress, your hairstyle will need to go after shaving the head, the riches and comforts that you are used to will not be there for you. You will need to sleep with nothing but the earth below you and above you only skies. You will need to mingle and cooperate with people all all hues and not your preferred one’s only – all this will humble you and annihilate your ego tremendously. Thus the Hajj is about submissiveness to Allah and abandoning haughtiness. The Hajj is an admonishment. The pains and sufferings are also at times a wake up call to the erring that something is not right and reformative action needs to be taken.

There are strong parallels between Hajj and death. The Qur’an repeatedly calls death as a meeting with God, while the Kabah is the House of God. The Hajj therefore is a death and meeting with God and the return from the journey as a Hajji, a spiritual rebirth.

Just like life is a constant struggle and its end has paradise for the righteous, the hardships of Hajj are a trial for us, and its culmination takes us to a new pleasant phase in our life. After the Hajj the believer is no longer anxious and worried about the pettiness of life, but becomes calm and serene having surrendered himself fully to Allah.

First Published in DAWN on 9-9-2016


SEE THE FULL CONTEXT

Verses of the Qur’an are often quoted out of context, mistranslated or distorted to make the faith appear militant. Ignoring the fact that fighting is enjoined only in self defence in the Quran and never as an act of aggression.

For example verses from chapter 9 (Sura Tauba) are often quoted out of context to assert that Islam enjoins aggression against non believers . Verse 5 reads:

“And when the sacred months have passed,then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” 9:5

But when read in the entire context of verses 9:1-14, it is evident that fighting is not for conquest or aggression but as a means of self defense

Verse 9:13 explains the context for which the order for verse 9:5 was given:

“Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and determined to expel the Messenger, and they had begun to attack you first?”

The verse is proof that the order to fight the disbelievers in 9:5  is specific to self defense and not against non combatants.  As for those pagans who were non hostile, the same passages enjoin giving them asylum and protection.

“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” 9:6

Therefore there is no evil teaching in these passages which simply enjoin fighting in defense but treating with kindness those who are non hostile, These principles have good in them and are a model for all civilized nations today.

THERE IS NO OFFENSIVE FIGHTING IN THE QUR’AN

The Qur’an ordains:

Fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you; but do not commit aggression, for, verily, God does not love aggressors’ (2:190)

The condition of non aggression is laid down in the above verse and it is only against belligerent combatants that fighting is permissible, and that too to maintain peace.

‘if they do not let you be, and do not offer you peace, and do not stay their hands, seize them and slay them whenever you come upon them: and it is against these that we have clearly empowered you [to make war]’ (4:91). 

Thus, we can clearly see that fighting is permissible only in self-defense with the further proviso that:

‘if they desist- behold, God, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace’ (2:192),and ‘if they desist, then all hostility shall cease’ (2:193).

The verses are clear in exhorting that there is no offensive fighting for conquest or conversion in the Qur’an.

PEACE IS THE CENTRAL TEACHING

The central teaching of the Qur’an is peace. It exhorts believers in numerous verses to make peace with one’s enemies.

“Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with good, and the person who was your enemy becomes like an intimate friend.” (41:34)

The Qur’an informs the Muslims that if they behave in a just and equitable manner with non believers it may be that God will remove their enmity and they will become friends:

“As for those who have not fought against you for your religion, nor expelled you from your homes, God does not prohibit you from dealing with them kindly and equitably. God loves the equitable.” 60:8

Perhaps God will plant affection between you and those of them you consider enemies. God is Capable. God is Forgiving and Merciful.” 60:7

Make enemies into friends. God will put love and affection between believers and their enemies. Can the Qur’an be more clearer about the peaceful nature of Islam? Before giving in to those who distort the faith, we owe it to ourselves to undertake a first hand study of the Qur’an to examine what it is all about.


Human greed and unabashed materialism has begat a monster, which is ready to devour us. Excessive pollution from consuming fossil fuels is disturbing the balance of our ecosystem and threatening to destroy life on the planet.

The spectre of climate change looms upon us but nobody seems to notice. Switch on to prime time TV in Pakistan and there is hardly a mention about it. Those on the pulpit debate vociferously about trivial matters but this fire which is ravaging to engulf saints and sinners alike is hardly a cause of concern for them. Rulers plan economic growth but do not say what use it will be when the planet is no more. Businessmen ignore the environment, seeking interim profit failing to realise that our actions are like boomerangs. They eventually come back to haunt us one day.

Global warming should be taken very seriously. It is a very real danger that threatens our existence. For the sorry state of the planet no one but we, ourselves are to blame. Each one of us individually for if we do not fall in the category of mass producers responsible for carbon emissions that harm the Earth’s ozone layer we definitely are among the mass consumers who drive such mindless economics.

Many of us also fail to realise that looking after the environment is equally the remit of those who believe in God. Polluting the air, poisoning the rivers, cutting off trees, destroying flora and fauna will not only have repercussions in this world but such will also have an impact on the afterlife of the perpetrators. The Quranic description: “When he turns his back, His aim everywhere is to spread mischief (Arabic: Yufsida) through the earth and destroy crops and cattle. But Allah loveth not mischief (Arabic: Fasaad).” (2:205) warns that destroying the environment is an act of “Fasaad” (disorder, mischief) and is disapproved by God.

Going against the divine edict to reduce waste: .. waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.” (7:31) we over procure, over consume and waste profusely.

In contrast to the injunction “…Allah…loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” (2:222) our towns have a reputation for garbage littered streets and over flowing sewages. Not to mention the havoc created during Eid ul Azha, when the gory mess left on the streets is actually a blatant rebellion of Quranic injunctions to cleanliness.

Who will forget the choking suffocation caused to the elderly and those with respiratory disorders by the smoke enveloping the entire neighbourhood when some residents set fire to their rubbish? Or the agony caused by loud music during a celebration in the middle of the night? Or that of a preacher’s unsolicited sermon from a loudspeaker? It appears that the divine imperative “And do good to…neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers..” (4:36) has fallen on deaf ears.

The water we are supplied is unclean, the air we breathe is polluted, the food we eat is adulterated, the sounds we hear are agonizing. Parks and green spaces are disappearing. Shopping has become a weekly ritual for shopaholics seen stuffing groceries in plastic bags rushing to and fro from supermarkets, causing excruciating traffic jams and nervous breakdowns with their mad rush.

Take a look at our society, when it comes to managing the environment at a personal level let us admit unashamedly, we totally fail. We defy the rule revealed in the divine writ: “In order that ye may not transgress (due) balance.” (55:8) with our imbalances while shamelessly flaunting our empty religiosity at every juncture.

This is our life in which we are ever ready to worship materialism. What is it that we have but a mere empty claim to piety and godliness. We need to be educated about green living and how it impacts our future for without having a proper understanding we cannot take action. We need to make incremental changes in our everyday life. Actions like a personal target of planting trees, keeping possessions to the minimum, recycling materials at home and work, reduction of waste, and keeping the environment clean on a regular basis need to be a priority. A commitment to walking for errands instead of driving, opening up windows to make best use of natural sunlight during the day instead of using electricity, and lot more can be easily be done and should be done. Standards and procedures for sustainability at home or work need to be written down and put into action.

Study the Quran and you will discover that care for the environment and welfare of all living beings is a quintessential part of an Islamic lifestyle. Where prayer, fasting and pilgrimage are an Islamic obligation then so are frugal living and an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.

Published in DAWN

 


Islam’s holy Book does not sanction the practice of marriage of minor children, and refutes the idea left right and centre

INTRODUCTION

Worldwide underage boys as well as girls are given in marriage by elders for a wide variety of reasons. Though the claim is made from certain quarters that child marriages are exclusively an ‘Islamic’ problem, statistics show that they are widespread in many cultures, including in ‘advanced’ countries such as the United States of America, where in one state it is even legal for a girl as young as 12 and a boy as young as 14 to get married with ‘parental consent’.

Child marriages inhibit the development of children, cause pain and misery and can lead to a lifetime of disadvantage and deprivation as they are not ready for it physically and mentally. After marriage children are not able to continue their education. Young girls are particularly vulnerable to oppression. There is a high risk of death due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth; infants of such young mothers are more likely to be stillborn or die in the first month of life.

Given that Islam and Muslims are under the fire for this vile practice, it is expedient that directives from Islam’s holy book, be brought to light to determine its stance.

(1) FEMALES CANNOT BE FORCED INTO MARRIAGE

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِثُوا۟ ٱلنِّسَآءَ كَرْهًا ۖ

Verse 4:19 “O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will.” rules out marriage of minor girls under duress.

(2) MARRIAGE IS A CONTRACT

وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَٰقًا غَلِيظًا

Verse 4:21 “…and they (your wives) have Taken from you a solemn covenant (Arabic: Meethaq)..” amplifies that marriage is a ‘covenant’ (Arabic: Meesaq), and covenants are entered into by the free will of consenting adults and never by minors.

(3) THOSE WISHING TO MARRY SHOULD FREELY CHOOSE THE PROSPECTIVE SPOUSE

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا۟ فِى ٱلْيَتَٰمَىٰ فَٱنكِحُوا۟ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَٰثَ وَرُبَٰعَ ۖ

Verse 4:3 “If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four…” is addressed to adult male believers and makes it clear they are to marry females of their choice, and not the choice of their parents or guardians. Given their undeveloped physique, minor children are incapable of plural marriages.

(4) THERE IS AN AGE OF MARRIAGE. PASSING PUBERTY AND HAVING MATURITY OF MIND IS ITS PRECONDITION

وَٱبْتَلُوا۟ ٱلْيَتَٰمَىٰ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا بَلَغُوا۟ ٱلنِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ ءَانَسْتُم مِّنْهُمْ رُشْدًا فَٱدْفَعُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَٰلَهُمْ ۖ

Verse 4:6 “Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgment (Arabic: “Rushd”) in them, release their property to them..” identifies an age for marriage i.e. passing puberty, thus refuting the notion that one can be married at any age, even as a child. “Balugha” or passing puberty and “Rushd” or maturity of mind is the sign that childhood has ended and one has entered the stage of adulthood.

(5) POSSESSION OF WEALTH AND PROPERTY IS A PRECONDITION OF MARRIAGE

Also to be noted that it is when one possesses “Balugha” and “Rushd” i.e. passing puberty and attaining mental maturity or sobriety, that one should be given property and not as a minor.

أَن تَبْتَغُوا۟ بِأَمْوَٰلِكُم

While verse 4:24 “.. ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property..” makes possession of property a prerequisite for marriage, thus as a child who has not passed puberty and who does not possess “Rushd” (maturity of mind) will not be given “Maal” (wealth, property) hence he is disqualified for marriage.

(6) AGE OF MARRIAGE IS AFTER CHILDHOOD, UPON REACHING AGE OF FULL STRENGTH

هُوَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ يُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلًا ثُمَّ لِتَبْلُغُوٓا۟ أَشُدَّكُمْ ثُمَّ لِتَكُونُوا۟ شُيُوخًا

Verse 40:67 “It is He Who has created you from dust then from a sperm-drop, then from a leech-like clot; then does he get you out (into the light) as a child: then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength (Arabic: Ashuda); then lets you become old..” identifies the period after childhood (Arabic “Tifal”) is the ‘the age of full strength’ or “Ashudakum”, clearly indicating that unless one is fully developed in physique he or she remains a “tifal” or child. If we reflect deeply on this verse it is apparent that the time when a person’s body fully develops is the time when he or she qualifies for marriage and not before.

(7) A CHILD DOES NOT JUDGE THE BELIEFS OF A PROSPECTIVE SPOUSE, AN ADULT DOES

لَا تَنكِحُوا۟ ٱلْمُشْرِكَٰتِ حَتَّىٰ يُؤْمِنَّ ۚ

Verse 2:221 “Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe…” is addressed to an adult and not a child for the latter is not in a position to determine the imaan (belief) of a prospective spouse.

(8) MARRIAGE IS WITH “NISA” OR “WOMEN” AND A SIGN OF WOMANHOOD IS MENSURATION 

Verse 4:3 cited earlier identifies that marriage is to be contracted with Nisa or “women”, while verse 2:222

فَٱعْتَزِلُوا۟ ٱلنِّسَآءَ فِى ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ

“..So keep away from women (Arabic: Nisa) in their courses,…” identifies that a female becomes a “Nisa” when she has her periods, thus disqualifying young pre pubescent girls for marriage.

(9) QURAN IDENTIFIES THAT A SIGN OF WOMANHOOD IS THE ABILITY TO CONCEIVE 

The usage of the Arabic word Harath or “tilth” for “Nisa” in verse 2:223

نِسَآؤُكُمْ حَرْثٌ لَّكُمْ

“Your wives (Arabic: “Nisa”) are as a tilth (Arabic: Harath) unto you;” further indicates that a female is among the category of “Nisa” when she is able to procreate, thus making child marriages invalid.

CONCLUSION

When we look at the Qur’an from any angle, we discover a refutation for child marriages in it. Marriage with and between minors violates the clear-cut injunctions of the Qur’an that were taught by Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h). The Prophet acted on the Qur’an and conveyed the same dictates to his followers. Thus in his footsteps, Muslims should uphold the Book of Allah, raise awareness about its tenets, educate people and pass legislation that coincides with divine directives in order to eradicate this social ill. If the practice is prevailing in society then such is in defiance of Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an.

 

 


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Inept border control procedures and a lenient attitude of rulers towards rogue traders means that our marketplaces are flooded with counterfeit goods. It has become very common to find bags, watches, eyewear, clothing, and all sorts of products having marks and labels of famous brands but which are in fact complete fakes. The popularity of a brand implies that a fake using its name can also be slipped in undetected. Just like rogue traders are having a heyday cashing in on corporate fame and the simplicity of consumers, the situation is not much different when it comes to matters of faith. Alongside genuine teachers there are also pretenders who exploit the faithful. But a failure to distinguish the genuineness and authenticity of the religious teaching one is led towards can have far more drastic consequences than perhaps the discomfort of using counterfeit fashion accessories.

For the total devotion demanded by faith implies that loss of family, friends, health, and wealth can result. Even one’s very life is at stake if one has not got the criterion to ascertain religious authenticity. The possession of such a criterion, one that filters truth from falsehood, right from wrong, the canonical from the apocryphal, is therefore the key to one’s well being.

This beacon which safeguards us from hazards posed by charlatans is none other but the Quran. An attribute of the Quran is “al-Furqan” or “The Criterion between right and wrong”. Where it narrates goodness, it also cautions about badness in all its forms. The archetypes it presents are ahistorical and can be related to any time or era. For that is why it is a guidance.

Numerous type of personalities are mentioned in the Quran that incur God’s displeasure. Some are outright rejecters, some believe in God while associating partners with him. There is one particular category of the disapproved kind which is not easily detectable to the untrained eye because it styles itself as staunch believers in God and claim that its deeds are in the very name of God. The Quran cautions:

وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَبِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْءَاخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ

“And of the people are some who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day,” but they are not believers.” 2:7

Notice that they proclaim to be believers but Allah says they are not believers! This is so because:

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لَا تُفْسِدُوا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ

“And when it is said to them, “Do not cause corruption (Arabic: Fasaad) on the earth,” they say, “We are but reformers.” 2:11

One’s claim to “Imaan” (belief in Allah) is immediately dismissed if he resorts to “fasaad” (disorder in the land, damage to life and property) as a pretext of “Islah” (Reform, correction). These verses bring to light that the identity of a believer is not the label he carries but his character. Also clear is the fact that violence was never ordained by God as a method of societal reform.

The Quran also cautions about that kind of a preacher who frequently uses the name of Allah in his speeches:

وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يُعْجِبُكَ قَوْلُهُۥ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَيُشْهِدُ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا فِى قَلْبِهِۦ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ ٱلْخِصَامِ

“And of the people is he whose speech pleases you in worldly life, and he calls Allah to witness as to what is in his heart, yet he is the fiercest of opponents.” 2:204

One may ask what is wrong in citing Allah’s name in speech? The next verse gives the answer:

وَإِذَا تَوَلَّىٰ سَعَىٰ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ لِيُفْسِدَ فِيهَا وَيُهْلِكَ ٱلْحَرْثَ وَٱلنَّسْلَ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْفَسَادَ

“And when he goes away, he strives throughout the land to cause corruption (Arabic: Fasaad) therein and destroy crops and animals. And Allah does not like corruption.” 2:205

So merely using the name of Allah to endorse a speech or merely labelling one’s self as Islamic or merely doing things in the name of Islam does not establish one’s bonafide. It is by virtue of behaviour and not labels that one is to be distinguished. When those who call for reforming society resort to violent means then they are not genuine believers in God but fakes.

If one possesses the peaceful behaviour of a believer as narrated by God in His Book, then and only then does he fit the label. But sadly we see that today the words Islam and Muslim are used carelessly as an appendage to individuals committing even the vilest of deeds. The Quran makes it amply clear that every claim in the name of God is not from God. Every deed meted out in the name of righteousness is not righteous.

We owe it to our well being that we do not take each and everything that is hurled towards us in the name of God to be actually coming from God but to take guidance from the Quran by ourselves and see the type of behaviour it has endorsed and the type that it has resented.

 

First published in Daily DAWN, dated 12 February, 2016


We can observe that in the Qur’an when something or some act is made unlawful, then it is explicitly mentioned. For example, Zina (adultery/fornication) is prohibited by the explicit command:

وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا۟ ٱلزِّنَىٰٓ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ فَٰحِشَةً وَسَآءَ سَبِيلًا

“And do not come near adultery. It is immoral, and an evil way.” 17:32

Similarly murder is explicitly forbidden by the words:

وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا۟ ٱلنَّفْسَ ٱلَّتِى حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا بِٱلْحَقِّ ۗ

“And do not kill the soul which God has made sacred, except in the course of justice. ” 17:33

Intoxicants and gambling are made unlawful by the words:

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِنَّمَا ٱلْخَمْرُ وَٱلْمَيْسِرُ وَٱلْأَنصَابُ وَٱلْأَزْلَٰمُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنِ فَٱجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

“O you who believe! Intoxicants, gambling, idolatry, and divination are abominations of Satan’s doing. Avoid them, so that you may prosper.” 5:90

So we can observe by the above examples that the style of the Qur’an is that when it makes something totally prohibited then it does not leave it to guess work but explicitly and unequivocally mentions the prohibition.

However we do not find a command in the Qur’an that explicitly bans music in all its forms. Instead there is a verse from which scholars have made an inference, that what was described in it can be said about music. The verse in question is Sura 17:64

وَٱسْتَفْزِزْ مَنِ ٱسْتَطَعْتَ مِنْهُم بِصَوْتِكَ وَأَجْلِبْ عَلَيْهِم بِخَيْلِكَ وَرَجِلِكَ وَشَارِكْهُمْ فِى ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَوْلَٰدِ وَعِدْهُمْ ۚ وَمَا يَعِدُهُمُ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا

“And entice whomever of them you can with your voice, and rally against them your cavalry and your infantry, and share with them in wealth and children, and make promises to them.” But Satan promises them nothing but delusion.” 17:64

In the above verse one of Satan’s methods to mislead man from the path of Allah is mentioned as “entice whomever of them you can with your voice (Arabic ‘Saut’. Literally sound)”. Some scholars have inferred the prohibition of all types of music from this verse, terming it to be an act from Shaytan (Satan). However we cannot deduce from this verse that all kinds of music that falls in our ears such as in advertisements or TV news programmes is haraam, for such would mean that every time one turns on the television or hears a ringtone on his or her mobile phone, then he has committed a haraam act. There is even natural music, sounds that occur in nature like singing of birds, rainfall, ocean’s breeze all of which are soothing to the senses. If music were forbidden totally, then what about such phenomenon e.g. the birds that sing? God has made them and given them their beautiful sound making ability. To imply that the God who made a bird that sings also says that God prohibits singing gives birth to an irreconcilable paradox.

It is that kind of sound which mobilises one to engage in an act endorsed by Shaytan that would fall within the purview of the verse. So we must see what is the end for which music and singing is being utilised? Is the musicians voice calling one to commit a “haraam” (prohibited) act e.g. commit adultery? Are the lyrics of the song promoting hatred and killing, glorification of drugs or any other haraam act? If it is then listening to such music and lyrics that leads one to wrongdoing and disobedience of Allah should be avoided as indeed such would fall in the remit of the sound of Shaytan that stirs up or excites one to his obedience. However listening to music that is for everyday life’s convenience e.g. bells, watch alarm, mobile ringtone, news bulletin, anthems, songs etc that do not excite us to commit “haraam” acts is not “haraam” in itself.


Apostasy is the formal disaffiliation, or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy is an apostate. The Qur’an mentions that deserting the true religion of God is a sin, but it does not stipulate a worldly punishment for this act. There is no imperative given to believers to punish those who are guilty of apostasy and it is for God to judge the individual. The Qur’an goes much further when we study it, and not only is there no imperative issued to believers to take punitive action against apostates, but we also find clear-cut evidence that capital punishment is not possible for this sin. Following is proof to this effect:

(1) Qur’an shows that a person cannot be killed because of apostasy because Allah has given the individual an opportunity to repent and become a believer again.

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا۟ ثُمَّ ءَامَنُوا۟ ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا۟ ثُمَّ ٱزْدَادُوا۟ كُفْرًا لَّمْ يَكُنِ ٱللَّهُ لِيَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ وَلَا لِيَهْدِيَهُمْ سَبِيلًۢا

“Surely (as for) those WHO BELIEVE THEN DISBELIEVE, AGAIN BELIEVE AND AGAIN DISBELIEVE, then increase in disbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them in the (right) path.” 4.137

If for apostasy capital punishment were prescribed, then the above verse would not have mentioned the states of believing in Islam, then leaving it, then AGAIN believing in it, as after disbelieving in the first instance, the culprit would have incurred the punishment, but as we see there is room for repentance, it is clear in showing that in Islam, apostates are not to be killed.

(2) In 3:86-89 apostates are reminded that if they return to the true religion they will be forgiven. If capital punishment were invoked, then how will the apostates be able to return to the true religion and gain forgiveness for their past actions?

كَيْفَ يَهْدِى ٱللَّهُ قَوْمًا كَفَرُوا۟ بَعْدَ إِيمَٰنِهِمْ وَشَهِدُوٓا۟ أَنَّ ٱلرَّسُولَ حَقٌّ وَجَآءَهُمُ ٱلْبَيِّنَٰتُ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِى ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلظَّٰلِمِينَ

“How will God guide a people who disbelieved after having believed, and had witnessed that the Messenger is true, and the clear proofs had come to them? God does not guide the unjust people.”3:86

أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ جَزَآؤُهُمْ أَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ لَعْنَةَ ٱللَّهِ وَٱلْمَلَٰٓئِكَةِ وَٱلنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

“Those-their penalty is that upon them falls the curse of God, and of the angels, and of all mankind.” 3:87

خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا لَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ ٱلْعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمْ يُنظَرُونَ

“Remaining in it eternally, without their punishment being eased from them, and without being reprieved.” 3:88

إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ تَابُوا۟ مِنۢ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ وَأَصْلَحُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“Except those who repent afterwards, and reform; for God is Forgiving and Merciful.” 3:89

“Except those WHO REPENT AFTER THAT AND AMEND, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” 3.89

This is clear evidence that they are not to be condemned to death, as otherwise it is meaningless to say that their repentance will be accepted and have a chance to amend.

(3) The Prophet (p) of Islam was ordered not to compel people to join the religion.

The Prophet (p) of Islam is commanded in numerous verses that he is not to use force to win converts:

لَوْ شَآءَ رَبُّكَ لَءَامَنَ مَن فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ كُلُّهُمْ جَمِيعًا ۚ أَفَأَنتَ تُكْرِهُ ٱلنَّاسَ حَتَّىٰ يَكُونُوا۟ مُؤْمِنِينَ

“And if your Sustainer had pleased, surely all those who are in the earth would have believed, all of them; WILL YOU (O MUHAMMED) THEN FORCE MEN TILL THEY BECOME BELIEVERS?” 10.99

As the Prophet (p) followed and practised the Qur’an all his life, he never did such a thing. Forcing people to remain in one’s own belief system (religious or non religious) and killing of apostates means compelling people to be believers.

(4) Threatening to kill apostates is a trait of unbelievers, and not believers, hence law of rejectors of Islam does not become an Islamic law.

Qur’an shows that killing those who desert your beliefs is the behaviour of those who reject God, and not of Muslims and true believers in God. About a tyrant, it is said:

قَالَ ءَامَنتُمْ لَهُۥ قَبْلَ أَنْ ءَاذَنَ لَكُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ لَكَبِيرُكُمُ ٱلَّذِى عَلَّمَكُمُ ٱلسِّحْرَ فَلَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ ۚ لَأُقَطِّعَنَّ أَيْدِيَكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُم مِّنْ خِلَٰفٍ وَلَأُصَلِّبَنَّكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

“Said he: You believe in him BEFORE I GIVE YOU PERMISSION; most surely he is the chief of you who taught you the magic, so you shall know: CERTAINLY I WILL CUT OFF YOUR HANDS AND YOUR FEET ON OPPOSITE SIDES, AND CERTAINLY I WILL CRUCIFY YOU ALL.” 26.49

As it is a behaviour trait of rejectors of Islam, it is inconceivable to think that death for apostates will be an Islamic law itself.

Conclusion

Thus when we study the Qur’an it becomes clear that every individual is free to believe or disbelieve as per his wish and believers are not under any obligation by any Quranic injunction to compel anyone to remain within Islam. Islam is to be accepted by one’s free will and not through coercion.

Further Reading

Islam and Religious Freedom

 

 

 

 


Gold is precious. Because it is precious, people seek it. They will pay a price for it and are eager to have it as a possession. Because it is precious, sought after and always has a clientele, fraudsters are also drawn to it. They know full well that if they can deceptively sell worthless things disguised as gold, then they can make a lot of money.

Like gold, religion too has popular charm and appeal. Its popularity enables a global following. People seek solace in it, and approach it to find answers to life’s most pressing matters. Entire life’s savings are dedicated for its pilgrimages. Its symbols adorn people’s homes, who go to great lengths to experience the sacred. It is because of this charm that religion also draws the attention of vested interests.

While there are genuine religious guides who offer a transparent exposition of faith and are regarded accordingly in the mainstream, there are also individuals outside the mainstream that take an unfair advantage of the popular appeal of faith and operate mind controlling cults. The phenomenon of cults exists largely in most religions and has been the subject of much academic research in the West.

However in our society, though cults exist profusely given the conducive environment for their formation, little is documented about their salient features.

When time and again we hear stories of how a self styled faith healer exploited the vulnerable or when we hear about youth lured into groups involved in acts of terrorism, what we are witnessing then, is cult phenomenon.

In a society like ours, where laws exists but law enforcement is non existent, the environment is ripe for such wolves in sheep’s clothing to not only mushroom but to thrive and prosper. Cults come in a wide variety and have varying objectives. Some are militant organisations but there are also non violent groups. Some religious but others overtly secular. Irrespective of their varying types, all cults have a common strand that distinguishes them.

Cults operate with hidden agendas. They approach potential recruits in the name of righteousness, but deliberately conceal their inner core on their initial interaction.

A harmless ‘Dars’ at the home of an acquaintance could in fact be an exercise in cult recruitment. Those who do not possess religious literacy – as is the case with most – may attend the lecture and think that the preaching encountered is from God’s Book and emanates from God. But the Qur’an itself fore warns us that everything preached in God’s name is not necessarily coming from God: “There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, “That is from Allah,” but it is not from Allah: It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it!” (3:78)

Cult leaders come not only in a pious garb but also with a dramatic stage persona. They enthral audiences, and deliver a performance, which once over, obliges them to return to their real selves albeit back stage. Unknown to many, they have their hawks in the audience who keep a watchful eye on all, and who will alert the leader to stage an exit when things are not in his favour.

The public persona of a cult leader is very different from his real person, which is visible only to those who observe him in private. The ideal prey are the wealthy or the well connected who are ignorant of religious knowledge. Playboys and spoiled brats are a perfect clientele as are middle aged begum sahibs with problems at home and some cash to spare.
Youngsters from dysfunctional families and those who have suffered a personal bereavement are particularly vulnerable to cult recruitment because cult doctrine is designed to temporarily soothe their pain.

To grow, cults need not only money but also the talent and connections of members. That is why cults actively recruit for new members. Recruitment begins with misleading advertisements and false claims often spread through word of mouth. However nowadays shares and likes on social media also lend a helping hand.

Endorsements from celebrities is a well known marketing tactic of cults. While some celebrities formally join cults and actively work for them, a public figure who may not know the true colours of the group can also be targeted by the group to elicit words of praise, which are then advertised as a mark of legitimacy. Followers from high ranking officials are prized possessions in cults, because when the time is right their influence will be put to use.

The cult always has two sets of teachings – one for the public, one for the private. Newcomers are not told about the ‘special’ knowledge immediately. It is only when they are initiated and tried over a period of time that the ‘special beliefs’ of the group’s leader will be disclosed.

Outsiders thus have no idea at all about what the preacher and his group are all about. Beliefs are deliberately kept vague and often undocumented. What has been documented will undergo revision when lacunae are known, with earlier versions silently withdrawn from circulation. The group leader is reluctant to speak in front of the camera other than his own camera crew with the footage being released after careful editing. Camera shyness is a deliberate ploy to stay clear from public scrutiny and any form of accountability.

A cult environment is one where debate is stifled and critical thinking is discouraged. The group isn’t out in the public limelight but may operate out of a private residence with no signage or distinguishing marks. Cults aren’t registered bodies that have audited accounts or legal structures.

They operate mostly in secrecy and through deception. In present times, the internet and the world wide web is their territory. Once inside, members are gradually introduced to esoteric interpretations and an elitist mindset which paints everything in black and white. The cult has its own worldview which is the standard for its members. Those who accept the group’s leader and official cult doctrine are the only ones to have salvation, while the rest are destined for hellfire.

A distinguishing feature is a vocabulary coined specifically for use within the group. Peer review and academic critique is the hallmark of scholarship. In contrast cult leaders portray themselves to be beyond criticism to their followers. Critical voices are deliberately suppressed and those expressing them are gradually shown the door. Former members are shunned and existing members are discouraged from keeping any contact citing the contagious ‘impurity’ of the former.

Phobia indoctrination is another method to keep followers within the fold. When one is persuaded that something terrible will befall him should he criticise the group leader or leave the group, then this fear is sufficient to make him stay.

Solicitations for funds also do not come immediately but only after one has been fully programmed – within the group’s beliefs. For once the mind is under control, the rest comes easily.

Cult leaders are charismatic personalities albeit with a disturbed upbringing. By probing deep one is likely to discover a criminal past and even a history of mental health problems.

Religious lectures are a common tool for recruitment of new followers. It is impossible to tell if a commentary in a foreign language was in full accord with the original Arabic words of the Holy Book if one is not well versed in Arabic. When one is not in a habit of doing their own study, then he is prone to indoctrination.

The Qur’an cautions us about those who will present falsehood intermixed with truth by exhorting: “And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know [it].” (2:42). The Quran is replete with the phrase ‘Yasalunaka’ lit. ‘They question thee’ which shows that the Prophet (PBUH) never discouraged questions. It informs believers: “.. if you ask questions about things while the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you” (5:101). It identifies that reason is never to be suspended for comprehending the Signs of God is conditional upon the use of one’s ‘Aql’: “We have certainly made clear to you the signs, if you will use reason.” (3:118)

We are not to blindly follow leaders for on the day of judgement: “[And they should consider that] when those who have been followed disassociate themselves from those who followed [them], and they [all] see the punishment, and cut off from them are the ties..” (2:166).

No human is above accountability for not only those to whom the Message of God was delivered but also the Messengers will be called to account: “Then We will surely question those to whom [a message] was sent, and We will surely question the messengers.” (7:6).

Coercion by force or through psychological manipulation is ruled out as: “There is no compulsion in religion.” (2:256) There are to be no secret teachings. All is to be preached out in the open and to all mankind as: “..those who hide our revelations and guidance after We have made them clear for people in the Book, they are those on whom is the curse of Allah..” (2:159).

The Qur’an immediately disqualifies those who are persistent for monthly ‘Chanda’ by stating: “Follow those who do not ask of you [any] payment, and they are [rightly] guided.” (36:21)
We owe it our well being that before we swallow everything hook line and sinker, that we do not shy away from asking some very basic questions about the group we are being asked to join. If before offering even the most menial of jobs to people we interview them and rigorously do background checks, then why must we not do the same or conduct an investigation even more thorough when we give religious guides the responsibility to come into our lives?

No God-fearing person evades accountability for it is the very trait of the genuinely Godly to be ever prepared to give their account. One who has not wronged anyone is not afraid to answer questions because he has nothing to hide, possesses a clear conscience and has lived an open and transparent life. But the moment you realise that questions are deliberately being avoided, that the group does not want to be filmed or come on record then that is the moment for you to realise that there is more to your dear Shaikh sahab than meets the eye.


QUESTION

Is it correct that “Taurat” is not the name of a book revealed by Allah but is the title of all those verses in the Qur’an that contain “Hukm Allah”, (Order, command of God) as stated in Al Maida 5:43. Does the Qur’an justify the view that “Taurat” is nothing but the name of all do’s and don’ts internally within the Qur’an?

ANSWER.

Qur’an makes it clear that “Taurat” did not just contain Law, but also events and narratives. The verse in question is as follows:

وَكَيْفَ يُحَكِّمُونَكَ وَعِندَهُمُ التَّوْرَاةُ فِيهَا حُكْمُ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّوْنَ مِن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ ۚ وَمَا أُولَٰئِكَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“But how is it that they come to you for judgement while they have the Torah, in which is the judgement of Allah? Then they turn away, [even] after that; but those are not [in fact] believers.” 5:43

Those who maintain the view that “Taurat” is the name of all the do’s and don’ts of the Qur’an refer to the expression in above verse; “.. Torah, in which is the judgement (Arabic: Hukm) of Allah..” and assert that “Taurat” should be defined as all those verses of Qur’an which contain “Hukm Allah” or commandments of God.

However it is not correct to infer from verse 5:43 that all those verses of the Qur’an that are legislative are called as “Taurat”. Such would be a faulty inference which ignores all other verses of the Qur’an whose subject matter is the “Taurat”. We should not form conclusions from one or two words only but bring into inflection all the passages where the topic is discussed. We should identify the complete features of the “Taurat” by analysing its recurrence within the Qur’an. The following points bring to light such features:

1. Taurat did not contain just “Hukm Allah” but also “Wa’ad” (Divine promise):

إِنَّ اللَّهَ اشْتَرَىٰ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ ۚ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَيَقْتُلُونَ وَيُقْتَلُونَ ۖ وَعْدًا عَلَيْهِ حَقًّا فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ وَالْقُرْآنِ ۚ وَمَنْ أَوْفَىٰ بِعَهْدِهِ مِنَ اللَّهِ ۚ فَاسْتَبْشِرُوا بِبَيْعِكُمُ الَّذِي بَايَعْتُم بِهِ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

“Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah , so they kill and are killed. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah ? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.” 9:111

To be noted:

وَعْدًا عَلَيْهِ حَقًّا فِي التَّوْرَاةِ

“..a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah ..”

Above verse clearly says that Taurat contains a promise of Allah. Therefore along with “Hukm Allah”, “wa’ad Allah” is also its feature. Hence the statement that “Taurat” contains ONLY the law (bearing verses in Quran) is proved wrong when we analyse verse 9:111.

2. Taurat cannot be a subset of the Qur’an or just a certain number of verses of the Qur’an because Allah mentioned Taurat separately from Qur’an.

To be noted in 9:111 are the words:

فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ وَالْقُرْآنِ ۚ

“… in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an…”

Note that “Taurat”, “Injeel” and “Qur’an” are mentioned separately in the verse.

If indeed “Taurat” was a component of the Qur’an and not a separate revelation on its own , then it would be meaningless to mention it separately as by the mention of “Qur’an” the “Taurat” which is subsumed within it is also included.

But as Taurat is highlighted distinctly, it shows that it is not a collection of certain verses of the Qur’an but has its own distinct identity.

3. The Quran identifies that along with “Hukm” (commandment) and “Wa’ad” (Divine promise), Taurat also contains “Mathal” (Parable)

Verse 48:29 also identifies the features of the “Taurat”

مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا ۖ سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ ۚ

“Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Taurat..” 48:29

To be noted that in the above verse, the words:

ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ ۚ

“..This is their similitude in the Taurat..”

Thus above clearly demonstrates another feature, that the “Taurat” is not restricted to “Hukm Allah” but also contains “Mathal” i.e. simile, or parable.

CONCLUSION
Its is clear from the Qur’an that the “Taurat” contains:

“Hukm” or Commandment as said in 5:43

“Wa’ad” (Promise) as said in 9:111

“Mathal” (Parable or similitude) as said in 48:29

We also see that Taurat is mentioned separately from Qur’an in 9:111.

Therefore in the light of above verses, it is clear that the “Taurat” does not refer to all the do’s and don’ts of the Qur’an, but is a distinct book having more than do’s and dont’s. Taurat was a revelation of Allah which contained laws as well as events such as parables, promises.


Q. I was Baptised a Roman Catholic as a baby in 1983, attended a RC Primary and Secondary School, completed First Holy Communion and Confirmation within the RC Church. I always had a strong faith. I realised I was a Homosexual when I was 13 years old (1996) and continued to attend Church regularly until I was 16 years old. I discontinued attending Church and a RC Sixth Form Centre in approximately 2000 due to feeling alienated due to being Gay. I have always kept my faith in God but felt a hypocrite especially with the RC belief in relation to Homosexuality. Over the past 7 months I have been looking back into Religion and wanting more information especially in relation to Islam.

A. The principal authoritative text for Islam is the Quran. For one who wishes to know the Islamic view about any matter should first and foremost consult the Quran. Following is Quranic guidance about the subject you have enquired about:

1-Qur’an shows lusting after members of the same sex is disapproved by God

وَلُوطًا إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِ أَتَأْتُونَ الْفَاحِشَةَ مَا سَبَقَكُم بِهَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ مِّنَ الْعَالَمِينَ
إِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ الرِّجَالَ شَهْوَةً مِّن دُونِ النِّسَاءِ ۚ بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌ مُّسْرِفُونَ

“And Lot, when he said to his people, ‘What, do you commit such indecency as never any being in all the world committed before you?”

“See, you approach men lustfully instead of women; no, you are a people that do exceed.”

Quran 7:80-81 Translation by A. J. Arberry

To be noted in above:

“..you commit such indecency..”

“..you approach men lustfully instead of women..”

” are a people that do exceed.”

Above statements from the mouth of a Messenger of God shows that such behavior is not approved by God.

2- Numerous Quranic verses categorize the practice of lust with members of the same sex as “Fahisha” or “indecent” acts and about “Fahisha” it is said that such is “Haraam” (prohibited)

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ

“Say: ‘My Lord has only forbidden indecencies (Arabic: FAWAHISH), the inward and the outward..” 7:33 Arberry

3- The Qur’an makes sex between two men a cognizable offense (when done in public and in front of witnesses) but such is not a capital crime.

وَاللَّذَانِ يَأْتِيَانِهَا مِنكُمْ فَآذُوهُمَا ۖ فَإِن تَابَا وَأَصْلَحَا فَأَعْرِضُوا عَنْهُمَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا

“If two men among you are guilty of lewdness (Arabic: Fahisha), punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.” 4:16 Yusuf Ali

The statement: “..If they repent and amend, Leave them alone..” shows one can be reformed of this behavior and it does not warrant the death penalty as is suggested in the Bible.

4- Quran shows sex is a controllable urge. One can be celibate if they wanted to. This shows homosexual urges can also be kept under check.

وَلْيَسْتَعْفِفِ الَّذِينَ لَا يَجِدُونَ نِكَاحًا حَتَّىٰ يُغْنِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ

“And let those who find not the means to marry be abstinent till God enriches them of His bounty. ” 24:33 Arberry

The order “..be abstinent till God enriches ..” show that sexual urges can be kept under control and should be kept in check instead of pursuing their fulfilment by “haraam” means.

Thus the verses of the Qur’an clearly inform us that homosexuality is disapproved by God. One should not engage in this behaviour, and if done, then one should repent and strive for reform.


بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but the Messenger of God, and the Seal of the Prophets; God has knowledge of everything.” 33:40

The verse 33:40 gives us three solid proofs of finality of Prophethood and shows from three different dimensions, the cessation of prophets after Muhammad (p.b.u.h)

(1) End of prophethood by virtue of lineage

The Quran shows that in some instances Prophecy continued in the family. A prophet’s son was also a prophet and prophecy continued among male descendants. E.g. Ibraheem (p.b.u.h) was a Prophet, his sons Ismail (p.b.u.h), Ishaq (p.b.u.h) and Yaqoob (p.b.u.h) were also Prophets. Yusuf (p.b.u.h) was also a Prophet like his father Yaqub (p.b.u.h) and grandfather Ibraheem (p.b.u.h). Zakaria (p.b.u.h) was a Prophet and his son Yahya (p.b.u.h) was also a prophet of Allah. Thus we can see the trend in the Quran for prophet hood continuing among male descendants of a prophet. However after the advent of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) this was not to be the case. The phrase:

مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ

“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men..”

Makes it crystal clear that Muhammad (p.b.u.h) did not have any male offspring, thus continuation of the prophetic office by virtue of lineage has ended. No new prophet as a male descendant of Muhammad (p.b.u.h) can arise after him as he “is not the father of any one of your men..”.

Here it is also important to clarify an important point. Some cults in their Taweel (interpretation) of the verse 33:40 claim that since Muhammad (p.b.u.h) was not an “Abba” i.e. father or forefather therefore he did not exist historically as a person but keeps reincarnating in the person of various individuals such as their cult’s founder. This Taweel of theirs is flawed on many counts. Firstly the expression does not stop at “Muhammad is not an Abba” but continues to “of any of your men..”. Secondly the verse is not a negation of the historical existence of Muhammad (p.b.u.h) but simply a negation of his male lineage. It should be understood that if “A” is not the father or forefather of any man then this does not mean “A” did not exist as a physical human being at a certain point in time. All it means is that “A” does not have sons.

As Muhammad (p.b.u.h) is not the father of any man, therefore the verse makes it clear that the continuation of prophets from father to son has ended.

(2) End of Prophethood by virtue of limited period of commission of a Prophet

The Quran shows that previous prophets were sent for specific time periods, and to specific communities. After one prophet was gone another was sent after him. However in the case of Muhammad (p.b.u.h), he is not sent for a specific era or community only. His era is from the day of his advent to the end of times and he is the Messenger of God to all mankind till the day of judgement. This is apparent in the following expression:

وَلَٰكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ

“..and but he is the Messenger of God..”

This expression will be read in the present tense till the day of judgement, thus Muhammad (p.b.u.h) is the Messenger of God till end of times. Logically, if he “is” and not “was” the Messenger, then no other Messenger or Prophet replaces him or comes after him.

Thus no new prophet or Messenger will arise by virtue of end of period of a Prophet’s era. “..He is the Messenger of God..” shows Muhammad’s era is from the day of his advent till the end of times.

(3) End of Prophethood through the seal of prophets

وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ 

and the seal of the prophets..”

Through Muhammad (p.b.u.h) prophethood has been sealed forever as the seal cannot be broken. The phrase ” Seal of the Prophets ” makes it clear that no new Prophet will come after Muhammad (p.b.u.h). He is the seal of finality of Prophets. “Khaatam” is seal of closure and finality in Quran, and not a stamp of approval for any existing or future Prophet as is wrongly claimed by some cults. The Quran itself explains what is the meaning of “Khatam” or seal.

خَتَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِمْ ۖ وَعَلَىٰ أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

God has set a seal (Arabic: Khatama) on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a covering, and there awaits them a mighty chastisement.” 2:7

..a seal on their hearts and on their hearing..” is not a stamp of approval or attestation, but a seal of closure, i.e. one which terminates or ends the (spiritual) function of one’s heart and hearing. Another verse makes the meaning clearer:

الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَىٰ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

“That Day, We will seal (Arabic: NAKHTIMU) over their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their feet will testify about what they used to earn.” 36:65

“.. We will seal over their mouths..” shows that when God will “seal” the mouths of disbelievers their hands will speak, thus the meaning of “Khatam” is made clearer. When the mouth has a seal then it is stopped from its function of speaking and the hands take over this function. Thus it is abundantly clear that when an object has a seal then the function of the seal is to end the object. “..We will seal over their mouths..” (2:7) and “God has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing..” (36:65) explain the function of “..seal of the prophets..” (33:40) to end, to stop, to terminate, to cease, the coming of further prophets. The text of the Qur’an in no way warrants “Khatam” to be “a stamp of approval” for any existing or future prophets.

Muhammad (p.b.u.h) is thus the seal of finality of all prophets who were before him and as the seal cannot be broken, no new Prophet is to arise after him.

End Notes

1. Translations are from “The Koran Interpreted: A Translation by A. J. Arberry, Oxford”

2. p.b.u.h is an abbreviation of “peace be upon him”, a mark of respect by Muslims for all Islamic prophets whenever their names are mentioned.


What is the activity of Salat? What are its exact times? How many Rakahs should be done? Can one read Salat in a non Arabic language? Are there are any special conditions for women and prayers?

Salat is an act of Ibadah (Servitude to Allah), which is ordained by Allah over believers at stated timesi. The Qur’an informs us that the command to establish Salat was given by Allah to all Prophets/Messengers and believers. It is a physical act which involves the body postures of Qiyaam (Standing), Rukuu (Bowing) and Sujood (Prostration) and is performed at specific times of the day. During Salat we ask Allah for guidance (al fatiha) and then recite a sura or ayat as a reply to that request. Thus Salat is a means to recall, memorise, rehearse the guidance of Allah, to praise Him, and to surrender to His will, so that such guidance becomes part of our daily life and we recall it when we are in a situation to practice the guidance. If done properly and in accordance with Qur’anic guidance, Salat develops our minds, bodies and souls, and enables us to truly and completely give submission to our Creator. If there is an act of Ibadah that we have to do everyday, continuously, till the last day of our life, then that act is Salat.

THE METHOD OF SALAT

The Qur’an does not stipulate a step by step procedure of Salat because it is an act of Ibadah that was existing during the time of previous prophets and the Qur’an has retained the same practice. The central place where Salat is preserved is the Kabah, which is the focal point of believers. The Qur’an says that as Allah’s Book is guidance, so is the Kaaba a source of guidance for believers, and instructs us in many verses to believe in its signs:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings.” 3:96

Note that in above verse Kaaba has been termed as the “First House”, and as “guidance for all worlds”. As the Kaaba is the first house and the focal point for guidance believers of all times and eras, till day of judgement, it is there that Salat was practiced in times and eras of all Prophets including Muhammad (p) and Salat continues there even today. We too should take guidance from there as in the Qur’an, Allah commands believers to adopt Musallah (place of Salat) from Maqam Ibraheem at Masjid-al-Haraam (which is the masjid surrounding the first house).

وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا وَاتَّخِذُوا مِن مَّقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى ۖ وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], “Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].” 2:125

Maqam Ibraheem is a place near the Kaaba where the Imam stands to lead the congregational prayer. By observing the actions of the Imam we can earn the complete method of Salat. Following the command of Allah: “..And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer..” we have to pray in the same method and at the same timings that is established at the Musalla at the Haram. Thus the method of Salat that is established inside the Kaaba, the number of Rakaat, the postures, the recitation, the timings, all are to be followed.


THE NUMBER OF RAKAAT

We have seen the Quranic command to take the place of Salat from Maqam Ibraheem. At the Musalla of Maqam Ibraheem, the Rakaat that are performed consist of: two for Fajar, four for Zuhr, Four for Asr, three for Maghrib and four for Isha. There are two Rakaats during Salat ul Jum’a. Funeral Prayer is also performed at Masjid-al-Haraam. Thus in line with the order of Allah, as believers we should perform our prayers exactly in the same method in our local mosques/homes.


THE TIMINGS OF SALAT

The Salat timings that are established at Masjid-al-Haraam are Fajar, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha. Tahajud is also prayed but it is Nafilah and the Tawaaf does not stop. Moreover that there are five prayers in the day is also established by the following verse:

وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ ۚ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ذِكْرَىٰ لِلذَّاكِرِينَ

And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things, that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord):

In the above verse the nominative masculine dual noun “tarafay” (at the two ends) and the  accusative masculine plural indefinite noun “Zulafan” (approaches) clearly indicate that during Nahar (day) there are two prayers, while Layl (night) has three or more prayers (Arabic plurals refer to three or more). We also see a confirmation of these timings established at Masjid al Haraam, such that during day light there are two prayers (Zuhr) (Noon) and Asr (Afternoon), while night time has three prayers of Maghrib (Dusk), Isha (Night) and Fajr (Dawn).  Thus the command to take the Musallah (place of Salat) from Maqam Ibraheem is also in confirmation of verse 11:114. We should follow the Salat at five times a day, which are two during day (zuhr and Asr and three during night (maghrib, Isha and Fajr.) The Qur’an also mentions a Nafl prayer called Tahhajud which is to be performed at Night. At Masjid al Haraam the Azaan for Tahajud is also given, but the Tawaf does not stop for a congregation. The congregational prayers which are obligatory are the five prayers. When they are happening, the tawaaf stops and prayer is performed. For Nafl (optional prayers) like Tahajud or Taraweeh or Witr Prayers during Ramadan, the tawaaf around the Kaaba does not stop, indicating that these are optional.


TAHARAH (PURIFICATION) IS A PREREQUISITE FOR SALAT

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ ۚ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا ۚ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ ۚ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَٰكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that ye may be grateful.” 5:6


We can see in above verse that before performing Salat we need to be in a state of taharah (purification). This is attained by performing ablution by washing the face, arms to the elbows, performing masahaa (wiping) of the head and washing the feet to the ankles. In a state of Janaba (sexual emission) tahara has to be done. This is by bathing the whole body as mentioned in 8:11 (see below). Things which break the ablution are Safar (travel) Maraz (Sickness, vomitting etc), Al Ghaith (breaking wind, extretion/urination) Laamastum Nisaa (Sexual touch of women i.e. Sexual arousal). If any of these acts take place then ablution will have to be performed again. If one is in Junub (i.e. has sexual ejaculation) then the command “fa taharoo” purify yourself applies which is described by taking shower/bathing entire body in 8:11. However if water is not available or if one is travelling or is sick then “tayyamam” (dry ablution) can be done by rubbing against clean earth particles. Also see 4:43.


SALAT SHOULD NOT BE DONE DURING MENSES

We have seen in above verse that the Qur’an says that one of the conditions of Salat for believers is “Taharah” (Purification). It is mandatory that before one performs Salat he or she should be in a state of Tuhoor. For women, this means being in a state when they are not having monthly mensuration cycle, as the Qur’an says:


وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْمَحِيضِ ۖ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَاعْتَزِلُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي الْمَحِيضِ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ ۖ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ


They ask thee concerning women’s courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean. But when they have purified themselves, ye may approach them in any manner, time, or place ordained for you by Allah. For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” 2:222


The above verse is clear in indicating that women are not having Taharah during monthly cycle. The verse mentions two states (1) “yathurna” (when they are pure) indicating the stage when mensural blood has stopped and (2) “ tatahharna” (When they have purified themselves) this is by taking a bath as stated in 8:11

إِذْ يُغَشِّيكُمُ النُّعَاسَ أَمَنَةً مِّنْهُ وَيُنَزِّلُ عَلَيْكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً لِّيُطَهِّرَكُم بِهِ وَيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَلِيَرْبِطَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتَ بِهِ الْأَقْدَامَ


Remember He covered you with a sort of drowsiness, to give you calm as from Himself, and he caused rain to descend on you from heaven, to clean you therewith, to remove from you the stain of Satan, to strengthen your hearts, and to plant your feet firmly therewith.” 8:11


“..rain to descend on you from heaven, to clean you therewith..” shows shower/bathing entire body makes one tahir (purified/clean). When it is said that women are to purify themselves after their monthly courses: “..But when they have purified themselves..” then it is by taking a shower/bath. Thus it can be inferred from above verses that believing women should not perform Salat during mensuration. Once mensuration is finished, then they should take a shower/bath, and then it is permissible for them to perform Salat.

IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING THE QURANIC RECITATION DURING SALAT

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنتُمْ سُكَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعْلَمُوا مَا تَقُولُونَ وَلَا جُنُبًا إِلَّا عَابِرِي سَبِيلٍ حَتَّىٰ تَغْتَسِلُوا ۚ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَفُوًّا غَفُورًا


O ye who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say,- nor in a state of ceremonial impurity (Except when travelling on the road), until after washing your whole body. If ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands. For Allah doth blot out sins and forgive again and again.” 4:43

The command “..Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say.” makes it mandatory on us to understand the meaning of the words of Salat we recite.


PRAYING IN NON-ARABIC LANGUAGES

Salat is to be performed according to the command of Allah i.e. He commands believers to take the Musallah from Maqam Ibrahim near the Kaaba. In accordance with this command we should pray in the language that is the medium at that place i.e. the Arabic language. Salat in non Arabic language is not valid because by doing that (a) we are not following the command of Allah of taking our Salat from Maqam Ibraheem and (b) we are not reciting the actual words that were revealed by Allah which were Arabic words and not non Arabic words. Thus we should familiarise ourselves with the meanings of those Arabic words that we recite in Salat. Also if one were to pray in a language other than Arabic then they cannot lead in prayer those people who do not follow that language. Imagine an Imam reciting words in Turkish, will non Turks be able to join his congregation? As Islam is an international Deen it has one uniform language of the Qur’an, whose standard is to be followed by everyone. We have to understand the Qur’an in its original and recite it in Salat in its original language. Translations do not replace the original.