"Our Dialogue" 6th Edition Rev

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Abdul Qadir used to hold classes on daily basis teaching the Qur'an, the Hadith and Fiqh, and explaining the differences be­tween various schools of thought in Islam. The classes were held in the morning and evening, while Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani recited or listened to the recitation of the Qur'an after the mid-day prayers. Thereafter, he dictated his rulings on reli­gious or legal questions referred to him. His rulings, or fat­was, generally followed the Shaf'ie and Hanbali schools of thought.

Following the example of the Prophet, his companions and suc­cessors and great past scholars, Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani touched on the current problems of his days, analyzed the reasons for the miseries and maladies of the people and provided answers to their doubts and deficiencies. Along with this, his sincerity and earnest zeal for the welfare of the people fired his enthu­siasm and enhanced his appeal to people's hearts.

The forces of worldliness had become so strong during Abdul Qadir's time and the entire social and economical life of the community appeared to be woven into the context of the prevail­ing political situation that people had developed a tendency to rely on kings and the noble elite for the realization of their worldly ends. Abdul Qadir tried hard to drive it home to the people that only Allah could bring them benefit and spare them harm. He stressed that all worship should be addressed to Allah alone. No false object of worship could be entertained. In one of his speeches, he explained this meaning by saying: "You put your trust in your own self, in others, in your wealth, in your rites and customs, in your trade and business, or in your rulers; but in whatever object you place your reliance, it be­comes, to say the truth, your object of worship. If you fear someone or expect harm or favor from him, or else you deem him as your intercessor with Allah, then he is the object of wor­ship for you."

Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani did not preserve his admonition to ordi­nary people alone. He fearlessly performed the duty of enjoin­ing what is right and forbidding what is wrong. This is a duty incumbent on all the Muslims, particular their scholars. Therefore, whenever Abdul Qadir considered it necessary, he publicly denounced actions of even the highest government offi­cials. He bitterly criticized faults of the great ones without the slightest consideration for their power or position. Ibn Katheer, the highly renowned commentator on the Qur'an, high­lights this fact, saying of Abdul Qadir: "He admonished all — the caliphs, viziers, kings, jurists, elite and the laity — to adopt the righteous course and to forsake what Allah has for­bidden. He openly and unsparingly criticized everyone to his face. He used to denounce the authorities sternly if they ap­pointed anyone to public office who was known for his cruelty, heavy-handiness or tyranny. He never cared for anyone if he saw the commands of Allah being overstepped."

He also criticized other scholars and jurists for paying too much attention to the concerns of this world and who were pre­pared to accept office or be in the entourage of the rulers. He held such scholars and jurists responsible for the waywardness of the kings and ruling chiefs.

The moral and spiritual excellence of Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani, his unflinching devotion to Allah's cause, the effectiveness of his sermons, the inspiring and regenerating influence exercised by him over the people in his own time, and the upright charac­ter and moral rectitude of those who have had an opportunity to be instructed by him, mark him as one of the most eminent workers for the Islamic cause. His greatest achievement was brought about by his inspiring and impressive teachings which made thousands of people turn away from the lust of power and wealth and his ability to inculcate the true spirit of faith through self-correction and purification of the soul. In short, his was a striking example of the innate power of Islam to produce a true spirit of religion, love of Allah and moral righteousness in an age of crass materialism. Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani died at the age of 90, in the year 561 A. H.

This brief account of the life and work of Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani gives a totally different picture of this eminent scholar from that held by numerous people who think of him as a man of physical miracles. I even heard from some people that Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani used to fly over the heads of those at­tending his circle in the mosque. Such stories are absolute rubbish and they do not do any service to Sheikh Abdul Qadir or his cause. Sheikh Abdul Qadir was a dedicated worker for the cause of Islam and we would do well if we follow his example by purging all traces of impurity of faith and mistaken concepts from our hearts and minds. May Allah have mercy on Abdul Qadir and re­ward him for his dedicated efforts.

• Ablution: Concept behind it

Islam establishes some kind of link between worship and other legislations. Washing some parts of our bodies as we do in ablution or having a full bath as we do in grand ablution are not merely meant for physical cleanliness. This is an attempt to unite the cleanliness of the body with the purification of the soul in the same act of worship which a believer addresses to his Lord.

• Ablution: Contact with the opposite sex

Schools of thought differ on the point of whether ablution is invalidated as a result of coming in contact with a member of the opposite sex. Therefore, if a person has to walk in a crowd, particularly in tawaf, where there is always the possibility of such a con­tact, should one make his intention as he performs his ablution on that particular occa­sion that he is following the Hanafi school of thought?

There is no rigidity in Islam about following a particular school of thought. Indeed, it is very rare that a person fol­lows a single school of thought. Most people imagine that they do, but in practical life, they can hardly prove that. Let me explain.

A person who has learned enough about Fiqh and how rulings on different matters are made is required to look at the evidence supporting any ruling made by any scholar on a particular ques­tion. He compares the evidence and determines which opinion is supported by better and stronger evidence. He then follows that ruling. This means that he may be following the Shaf'ie school of thought in respect of certain practices, and the Hanafi school of thought on a number of other issues, while he follows Imam Malik in certain matters and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in oth­ers. He may go further than that and follow other leading scholars and imams on other questions. There is nothing to stop him from doing so as long as he is able to determine for him­self the reason which makes him follow one imam on a particular question and another in a different matter.

A lay person who has very little knowledge of Fiqh is sometimes thought to be the person who follows a single school of thought all the time. This is wrong. He may follow that school of thought in his worship, particularly prayers, because he learns these in childhood according to a particular school of thought. But when it comes to other matters, he goes to a scholar to ask about the rulings governing different questions. When the scholar answers him, he does not begin to ask the scholar in which book he read that ruling and whether it conforms to the Hanafi or Shaf'ie school of thought. He simply trusts his judg­ment, because he knows that he is an expert.

Let us take this particular question on ablution. If a layman who believes himself to be a follower of the Shaf'ie school of thought comes in contact with a woman during tawaf, he feels unable to interrupt his tawaf for a fresh ablution. He contin­ues and then tries to find a scholar. When he puts the question to that scholar, the latter reassures him that his tawaf is valid. He tells him to go ahead and offer his prayers in the normal way. If the man is somewhat rigid, the scholar will try to reassure him saying that a casual contact is different from a deliberate contact which stirs up certain feelings. Here the scholar is giving him the ruling of another school of thought. The layman does not inquire about that. He accepts the ruling and is happy with the outcome.

The situation is comparable to that of a person who wants to build a house. He goes to an architect and tells him to draw him a plan with certain specifications. When the architect has done so, the man does not ask him how he has determined the strength of the pillars and in which book of architecture he read that a particular number of pillars going so much deep into the ground will be able to support a building of the height he wants. He simply accepts the judgment, because he is an expert, in the same way as the scholar is an expert concern­ing religious rulings.

When we ask whether any person follows a particular school of thought rigidly, we might find some people doing so. These are scholars in their own right, and they have consciously chosen to follow a particular school of thought, because they believe that the method of construction and deduction of rulings it follows is the best.

• Ablution: In bathrooms

Is it appropriate to start ablution with the name of Allah if one is doing it in the bathroom where there is a toilet?

No, that is not appropriate. Mentioning the name of Allah in the bathroom is wrong. People obviously need to do the ablution in the bathrooms and they have learned that many supplications are recommended when they wash different part of their body as part of their ablution. What I would like to say is that none of these supplications has been recommended by the Prophet. There is nothing authentic about them. It is true that every action of a Muslims is recommended to start with "bismillah", which means "In the name of Allah". But even then, one should not say this phrase in a bathroom where there is a toilet. It is sufficient if he is only conscious of that without giving his consciousness any vocal or verbal expression.

• Ablution: Invalidation caused by illness or obsession?

I suffer because my ablution is frequently invalidated as a result of wind. I am often unable to complete my prayer with the same ablution. With Friday prayers the problem is acute, because I often find myself leaving the mosque to have a fresh ablution. Sometimes I ignore the condition, hoping that God will accept my prayers, as He surely knows my condition. I will be grateful for your advice.

There is one of two possibilities for your condition. It is either a pathological condition, which means that you have an illness, or it is a case of obsession. There can be no other explanation. You will need to deal with either possibility in a proper manner so that you can rid yourself of an unnecessary problem.

The first possibility, i.e. the discharge of wind involuntarily is caused by some illness, is perhaps less probable. The well-known remedy to deal with such a condition, however, is to take charcoal tablets; inexpensive and available without prescription from any pharmacy. You may like to consult a doctor.

However, the other possibility is more likely. You may have developed this obsession, that you are unable to hold on to your ablution, as a result of your keenness to do your worship in a perfect manner. The situation is not uncommon among people who are very conscientious in their attitude to their worship. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has warned us against this because of the problems such a situation creates. He has also advised that we should try to control the situation.

The first step to deal with such an obsession is to determine that one should not allow it to control him. Then one supplicates for God's help in dealing with it. Thirdly, one should understand that religious matters are not determined on the basis of doubt, but on the basis of certainty. For certain, when you stand up to do your prayer, you have done your ablution. Then your ablution can be invalidated with a certain action such as going to the toilet [and easing yourself] or discharging wind. The proof of the latter is either with its sound or smell. If you smell nothing and have not heard the wind being discharged [and you have not willfully released wind without any sound], then no discharge has occurred. Besides, wind cannot normally be discharged if one is sitting upright. Its release requires a different posture. Thus, if you are sitting properly in the mosque, listening to the sermon, and you feel something which causes you to suspect that a wind discharge has taken place, you must confirm this with either sense — hearing or smelling. If you have no confirmation of either type, then there is no certainty to supersede the certainty of your having done your ablution. You continue to listen to the sermon and do the prayer when it is called. When you have applied this method for a few days you will find that it disappears completely.

• Ablution: Invalidation — Certain misgivings

By how many ways is ablution invalidated? Does touching a non-Muslim or touching a woman intentionally invalidate ablution?

Everything that is discharged through one's private parts, whether wind, fluid or solid, invalidates ablution. It is well known that a discharge of semen requires a full bath or grand ablution. But everything else that is discharged through either private parts requires a fresh ablution, i.e. wudhu before one can offer prayers.

Sound sleep is also a cause to invalidate ablution. Some scholars are of the opinion that a mere sleep is sufficient cause to require a new ablution, while the majority of scholars suggest that if a person sleeps while seated in a position which makes any release of wind impossible, his ablution is not invalidated.

Loss of consciousness is another reason for fresh ablution before prayer. It does not matter whether this is caused by drunkenness, medicine, or by natural causes.

Similarly, a temporary loss of mental powers through madness is also a cause which invalidates ablution.

Finally, touching one's genital organ with one's hand [skin to skin] invalidates ablution. There are Hadiths to support what we have said regarding each of these causes. Limitation of space prevents me from quoting them in detail. They are readily available in any book of Fiqh or Hadith.

There are certain actions which some people think to be reasons for having a fresh ablution. It is appropriate to mention them briefly, emphasizing that they do not invalidate ablution.

The first is touching a woman, skin to skin. Some scholars find this as enough reason to invalidate ablution, the majority are of the opinion that such touching is not the type referred to in the Qur'an as requiring ablution. They consider the Qur'anic statement to mean sexual contact.

Secondly, bleeding from any part of the body with the exception of menstruation. It does not matter whether it is extensive or little bleeding or whether it is through an injury or through one's nose. Nor does vomiting or eating camel meat invalidate ablution. The same can be said of loud laughter during prayer and giving a dead person a final wash.

There is no evidence to support that these are the actions which invalidate ablution.

If someone doubts whether his ablution has been invalidated or not, scholars tell him that it has not been invalidated unless he is certain that it has been. In other words, he must be sure that he has done any of the invalidating actions mentioned above to require a new ablution before he prays.

• Ablution: Nail polish — use of

It is said that ablution is not valid if a woman wears nail-polish. At the same time, it is said that ablution is valid if one wipes over one's stockings, instead of washing one's feet. If I apply my nail-polish after I take my grand ablution at the end of my menstrual period, why must I remove it before renewing my ablution, if I do not have to remove my stockings for the same ablution?

The analogy you have drawn may sound logical. There seems to be a case for comparison. However, matters of worship are not decided on the basis of logical arguments. In our worship, we follow the Prophet's guidance. Whatever he says we must follow. That is because he is the messenger who is infallible in matters of faith and worship. On one or two occasions, he suggested certain things which were not the best course of action in their relevant situations. But these were matters which have nothing to do with religion. As far as Allah's message is concerned, he conveyed that to us complete and intact. Everything he said to us is correct. Moreover, it is how Allah wants us to worship Him. With regard to prayer, the Prophet instructs us; "Pray as you have seen me pray." When he went to pilgrimage, he said: "Learn from me your rituals." Therefore, we do not determine our actions in matters of worship on the basis of logical analogy, but on the basis of what we have learned from the Prophet.[Added; Islam prohibits prostration or kissing of stones, which is termed as idol-worshipping. Yet, during pilgrimage, we are directed to kiss the Black Stone.]

In the case of ablution, when any substance covers any spot of the parts of the body that we need to wash and it prevents water from reaching the skin, then ablution is invalid because it remains incomplete. Therefore, if the nail-polish you use, prevents water from reaching your nails, it spoils your ablution. Sometimes people use a certain red liquid to heal their cuts or wounds. This takes a long time to wash away, but it does not effect the validity of ablution, [Added: Use of hinna, for instance, does not invalidate ablution.] since it does not prevent water from reaching the skin. As for wiping over socks or stockings, we know that the Prophet once did that. Hence, it is permissible. But it applies to socks and shoes only, not to any other part of the body. For example, we cannot wipe over gloves or over our sleeves in order not to wash our hands. If we do that, then our ablution is not valid.

• Ablution: Physical contact with wife

If a man touches or comes into physical contact with his wife or another woman, does this invalidate his ablution?

According to the Shaf'ie school of thought, any touch or physical contact between a man and a woman he is eligible to marry, including his wife, invalidates ablution when their skins get into touch. If either has a cover over the place where the contact is made, then this ruling does not apply. Other schools of thought do not agree.

The Hanafi school does not consider such contact as enough to invalidate any ablution. There are further details in other schools of thought distinguishing one sort of contact from another. When the touch is an accidental or a normal touch, then there is no question that the ablution remains valid. If the touch is accompanied by sexual thoughts or arouse feelings of a certain type, then it does invalidate ablution. It is certainly better to follow a middle course. I am, therefore, more inclined to say that normal everyday contact between a man and his wife does not invalidate ablution.

[Added: There should be no physical contact between a man and a woman he is eligible to marry, other than his wife, in any case - ablution or no ablution.]

• Ablution: Purification — women's

Is it necessary for a woman to have a full shower or bath before she prays, if she has had a vaginal discharge which may happen at any time of the day without a particular cause?

Having a full shower for purification is necessary for a woman only at the end of her menstrual period and after the discharge of postnatal blood has stopped. It is also obligatory for both man and woman after sexual contact which involves even partial penetration. For a man, it is obligatory after ejaculation, whether deliberate or voluntary, as in the case of a wet dream.

When we have learned this, the simple answer to your question is that a discharge of the type you have described does not require a full shower. It should be treated, however, in the same way as urine, in the sense that it invalidates ablution. Purification must be carried out first, by washing the place with water. If it has fallen on any part of your clothes, or your body, the spot where it has fallen should also be washed. When you have carried out this, you only need to have a new ablution in order to be able to offer your prayers.

However, if a woman is in doubt as to whether this discharge is the beginning or end of menses, she has to ascertain the fact first since the difference in ruling is total. If the discharge is white in color, there is no doubt that it does not require a full shower. A simple ablution is sufficient.

• Ablution: Shower instead of ablution

If time and circumstances permit, is it better to take a shower or ghusl instead of having ablution in order to get ready for prayer? What is the proper way of doing the ghusl when it is due?

No, it is not preferable to go beyond what God requires of us, even though it is of the same nature. What God wants us to do in order to have the purification for prayer is to wash our faces and hands up to our elbows, wet part of our heads and wash our feet. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has taught us to add a few things to that by way of recommendation. It is the proper attitude to do what is required and not to add to it. The question here is not one of time and availability of water, etc. It is a matter of worship and in worship we do only what God has bidden us. We do not add anything to it.

If one is taking a shower for cleanliness, one washes all the parts of his body which he is required to wash for ablution. Nevertheless, such a shower does not count as ablution because it is taken for a different reason. If one needs to have ablution, when having a shower, one should make the intention to do that and then go over the parts he washes for ablution as he normally does. In other words, he has to separate the two actions so that intentions are not confused together.

Ghusl is the Arabic term for grand ablution. It involves the washing of one's head and body completely with water. Since this is an act of purification taken for a religious purpose, it is deemed to include ablution. It certainly may be done under the shower. Now it may be asked what is the difference between this and an ordinary shower. The answer is in the purpose for which each one is taken and the intention formed at the time when it is started.

Ghusl must be taken after intercourse, a wet dream, ejaculation with desire, and after the menstruation period or postnatal discharge. It is very strongly recommended on Friday to the extent that some leading scholars consider it obligatory. It is also recommended for the Eid and many other occasions. It is very simple to do. We are encouraged to start it with ablution, after which a person takes water with his hand and goes with it through his hair, rubbing it against the skin of his head. When he has done that three times, he pours water over the rest of his body. A shower is a very good way of taking ghusl or grand ablution, but one must make sure that all of one's body is properly washed.

• Ablution: Touching private parts

Could you please quote a Hadith in support of your claim that ablution is invalidated by the touching of one's private parts? What if this happens as one is drying himself after having had ghusl?

It is the view of most scholars that to touch one's private parts, skin to skin, invalidates ablution. Their view is based on the Hadith by a companion of the Prophet, Yassrah bint Safwan, who stated that she has heard the Prophet saying: "He who touches his private parts must not pray until he has performed ablution". (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, Al-Shaf’ie, Ahmad as well as others). Another Hadith related by Ahmad quotes the Prophet as saying: "Any man who touches his private parts should perform ablution and any woman who touches her private parts should have ablution."

In the light of these Hadiths, if you touch your private parts, when you are drying yourself after having had grand ablution, you need to perform ablution, i.e. Wudhu, before you pray.

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