"Our Dialogue" 6th Edition Rev

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It is certainly not a sunnah to drink what someone else has left over in his glass. When we say that it is a sunnah, it means that Islam recommends it. To have such a recommendation, we need to have some sort of instructions by the Prophet. There is none in this particular case.

But we have to understand that in such a situation it is not sufficient that the Prophet had shared the same glass or cup with other people. In order to make sure that we know what he has recommended, he would have followed that with a verbal statement of some sort. The absence of any, means that it is not a sunnah.

It is true that we have some reports which tell us that the Prophet was offered some drink when there were so many people. There was little amount of that drink in the container. The Prophet drank from it and passed it over to the person sitting next to him. He drank his fill and passed it over again. The same was repeated over and over again until everyone drank as much as he wanted. But that was a special case and one of many incidents in the life of the Prophet which Allah facilitated in order to reassure those early Muslims that they were following the true religion taught by the Messenger of Allah who always spoke the truth.

As you say, certain diseases could be transmitted through such a practice, which means, by necessity, that it could not be recommended by Islam.

• Durood: Best form of —

What is the best form of blessing the Prophet. How many times should it be said every day? What do you think of the book called Dala'il Al-Khairat, a collection of "Duroods".

I have on several occasions warned against using Dala'il Al-Khairat because it includes phrases and things that are totally unacceptable from the Islamic point of view. I repeat my advice to all not to use this book on any occasion.

To bless the Prophet or, to use the Islamic term, to ask Allah to grant him peace and blessings, is required of a Muslim. There is no minimum or maximum of times which should be met. It is perfectly sufficient to say, "Salla Allahu alayhi wa aalehee wa sallam", when his name is mentioned. It is, on the other hand, also appropriate to remind oneself that the Prophet has delivered his message intact and given us good counsel and showed us the way to earn Allah's pleasure. Moreover, the form which we use in the last part of our regular prayer requesting Allah to grant peace and blessings to the Prophet and his household as he did to Ibrahim and his household is known to be the best form in this regard. Using it outside prayer is perfectly appropriate.

• Durood: Standing up?

In our part of the world, people argue a great deal whether it is better to be standing up or seated when we pray Allah to grant peace and bless­ings to Prophet Muhammad. Which position is the correct one?

It is of little consequence whether you are standing up or seated when you make such a prayer. Allah commands us to remember and glorify Him when we are standing up, seated or lying down. It is perfectly acceptable to read the Qur'an in any of these positions. Therefore, it is acceptable to request Allah to grant his blessings to the Prophet in any position [so long as the request is addressed to Allah only]. Moreover, why should this matter be the subject of argument among Muslims? And why do they allow it to divide them the way you describe? [ Why should Muslims prefer one position to the other? Why should Muslims change their position especially when requesting Allah to grant his blessings to the Prophet; shifting from the position they are in? When all positions are equally acceptable, the change or preference of one position over the other is something alien and that would make it unaccept­able.]

All of us love the Prophet and know that Allah wants us to follow his example. Indeed, that is the proper demonstration of loving him. We do not demonstrate our love for him by quarreling over a matter of detail, but we do show our love by following his guidance.

• Dutifulness: Definition of an un-dutiful child

What is the definition of an un-dutiful son? Can a father claim the money which his son earns. Can he take it away without his son's consent?

Islam considers it a grave sin for a son or a daughter to mistreat their parents. This is something well known in Muslim societies, where children are taught that to be dutiful to their parents is one important way which they cannot do without to earn Allah's pleasure and to be admitted into heaven in the Hereafter.

Dutiful can be divided into two main aspects: Kind treatment and financial support. A son is supposed to show respect to his father and mother, in public and private and in all situations. He should speak to them kindly, never raise his voice in anger when he speaks to them and indeed never say the slightest word which expresses disgust or contempt or lack of appreciation. If he goes out with his father, he must never take precedence over him, regardless of their respective social positions. He must take care to show him maximum respect in public. He should be civil to his father's friends and must be kind to his relatives with whom he has no connection except through his parents. We can perhaps summarize that by saying that if the father does not hesitate to accompany his son on his business or social activity on account of his son's treatment, then the son is doing right.

If one's parents are in need of financial support, then it is obligatory on the part of their children to give them support. In an Islamic state, any judge, or the ruler, can order a son to pay maintenance to his parents. What he should pay is according to his means. If he considers his parents part of his own family and provides for them in the same way as he provides for himself, his wife and his own children, then he has discharged his duties by them. If he gives them more, it is better for him because that is a sure way to earn reward from Allah. If a son's support is slow in coming, then it is permissible for his father or mother to take of his own money, without his consent, in order to cover their reasonable expenses. They must not take more than what they need in a fair manner. For example, if one's mother is ill and her son does not take her to a doctor or buy her the medicine she needs when he is able to do so, then she or his father can take the money needed for medical consultation and to buy the prescribed medicine, even if their son objects, provided that they have no money of their own. If a son discharges his duties toward his parents willingly, providing such reasonable financial support for them, then they cannot take away his money without his consent. If he refuses them that, then he is not un-dutiful.

For example, if a father who has no money of his own feels that he needs to invite some of his friends to dinner because he had been invited earlier and the extra expense this represents does not overburden his son, then the son should cover that expense because it is considered socially acceptable and reasonable. If, on the other hand, the son is of limited means and the extra expense has an adverse effect on the family finances for that week, then he is not un-dutiful if he refuses to pay the money necessary for the invitation. He should, however, reason with his father kindly, explaining the situation and assuring his father that in different circumstances he would have provided the necessary money most willingly. In this way, the father would not feel aggrieved and the son would not have to carry an extra burden.

• Dutifulness: How dutiful can you be?

My parents were very poor; they struggled hard to finance my education. My father's situation now is rather comfortable with a reasonable pension and some income from a piece of land. When I started my job here, I paid off all my father's debt. He, however, continues to waste his money on gambling, lottery tickets and other forbidden things. My mother also overspends, often buying unnecessary things. This always leads to their falling in debt. Am I required to pay off their never-ending debts? If I help them, will I be accountable for using money to pay for forbidden purposes?

You are to be congratulated on your dutiful attitude. Your worry about the present situation is also understandable. You do not wish to be party to an action which you know to be forbidden. On the other hand, you do not wish to see your parents committing things for which they will be accountable to Allah. On the other hand, you have your own responsibilities to look after your wife and children. What you have to do in this situation is to try to strike the right balance. In order to achieve that, you have to be very clear in your mind about a few very important elements.

The way Allah has spoken about being dutiful to one's parents makes this duty so important that only when parents ask their children to deny Allah or to associate partners with him that they must not be obeyed. Furthermore, no one may be obeyed in what constitutes disobedience to Allah. But even in such a case when a parent is a confirmed disbeliever, kindness to him is urged by Allah. Allah says in the Qur'an:

"If they (your parents) endeavor to make you associate with Me as partners, things which your mind cannot accept as divine, do not obey them; but even then bear them company in this world with kindness, and follow the path of those who turn towards Me" (31:15).

Asma' bint Abu-Bakr, the Prophet's sister-in-law, reports: "My mother came to visit me during the lifetime of Allah's messenger when she was still a polytheist. I went to the Prophet and asked him: My mother has come to visit me and she wants some help. Should I be kind to her? The Prophet said: Yes, be kind to your mother" (related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Your own needs and commitments have to be given due priority. A person in your position who has a wife and children must look after them properly. He must not sacrifice their interests in order to bail off a father who wastes his money on gambling. A bachelor who is in need of marriage should continue to save some money for his future, even though his parents ask him for more than he gives them. This particularly applies in a situation like yours where the parents have enough to cater for their basic needs.

In the light of the foregoing, your way should be very clear. You must continue to be kind to your parents and try to please them. At the same time, you must encourage them to stop their unacceptable habits. You should not forget that their habits might be a reaction to their early days when they were very poor. Now that they have some money in their hands, they want to enjoy it in whatever way they can. Unfortunately, this enjoyment is landing them in a difficult situation. Therefore, you must always remind them that in order to make their situation even more comfortable, they should thank Allah and show gratitude to Him by using what He has given them in a way which is acceptable to Him.

There is nothing wrong in helping them. You will not be party to their guilt if you help them wisely. You do not wish to see your father overburdened by debt, or chased by creditors. You may help him indirectly, by paying off some of his debts without his knowledge. You ask his creditors not to advance more credit to him, as a condition of your payment of their outstanding debts. Try as much as you can to make your father hold a respectable position in his community, without landing himself into problems. But if he asks you to give him some money to spend on forbidden things, then do not give it to him. If he says to you, for example, give me ten Riyals to buy a lottery ticket, then you should not give that money to him. Instead, if you know that he has bought some necessary articles, as meat or other provisions, on credit, you go and pay off that debt. In this way, you know that you are helping your father in his legitimate practices. [There may be yet other situations. Your father may demand ad-hoc money for expenses, and then spend part of it in ways that are unacceptable to Allah. You cannot exercise control over this. You should counsel your father against the evils of such spending. Your manner should be polite and that of a dutiful son. That is all that is required of you.] May Allah reward you for your attitude.

• Dutifulness: Marriage, dutifulness and disobedience

I met my husband when he was studying in the United States. He gave me literature about Islam and I became convinced of its truth. Shortly afterward, I became a Muslim. However, when we got married, my father-in-law did not approve of our marriage. He continues to be angry with his son. My husband has tried hard to persuade his father to accept our marriage. Still the same attitude persists. My husband is deeply hurt because he wants to show his dutifulness to his father, but he is rebuffed every time. Do you think we have done something wrong? Is my husband in a sinful position for disobeying his father?

We have to distinguish between dutifulness and absolute obedience to one's parents. You can be highly dutiful, but you do not necessarily obey everything your parents say. After all, parents are not infallible. They are human beings who are liable to err. If you know that your father is mistaken, or in error, and you follow what he says, then you are accountable for his bidding. He does not bear the responsibility for your action, although it is he who has ordered you to do it. He is responsible for his action, which is telling you to disobey Allah, but you are also responsible for what you do, which is disobeying Allah.

Again, it is highly important from the Islamic point of view to strive to please one's parents. Kindness to parents is often mentioned in the Qur'an next to believing in the Oneness of Allah. The translation of the following verse is but one example: "Your Lord has decreed that you worship none other than Him, and that you show kindness to your parents" (17:23). Unfortunately, some people interpret that as a sort of negating of a son's or daughter's character and responsibility. This is not so. Ultimately, each one of us is accountable for his or her action. Hence, we must do only what we are convinced to be right and to please Allah.

In order to be dutiful to his parents, a grown-up son must treat them with kindness and respect. If he shows disrespect to his father in public, he is guilty of grave sin. If he is disrespectful to his father at home, he incurs Allah's displeasure. Now, deference to a father's opinion and proper respect of one's father do not necessarily mean total obedience in everything he says. A father may tell his son to do something in a particular way, but the son may find that it is far more beneficial to do it differently. He knows that his father would disapprove, but he may still do it.

He can try to win his father's acceptance, expressing respect and explaining the reasons for acting against his wishes. Quite often, a father would be willing to change his views. However, some people think that they are always right and they always know better. This is just too bad. If you have to contend with a father of this sort, you have to accept that you may have to disobey him on some occasions. If you do, Allah will judge your motives; not your father.

In your particular case, what you and your husband have done is right. Your husband simply married a woman of his choice, knowing that she is virtuous and a good Muslim. If his father disapproved, his father's opinion is only an advice. It is not the prerogative of a father to choose his son's wife. That prerogative belongs to the son, because he is old enough to be responsible for his actions. Moreover, marriage is a relationship for life and the view of the persons involved, i.e. the husband and wife, have paramount importance. If a father is not allowed to marry his daughter away without her consent, then a father has no authority to impose his view on his son with regard to his marriage. Yet, your father-in-law's view is understandable if he simply had wanted his son to marry from his own country. Nevertheless, he should broaden his mind to accept that it is not nationality which makes a woman more suitable as a wife. It is her character, her strength of faith and the care she takes of her husband. If your husband has no complaint on any of these counts, your father-in-law has nothing to justify his objections.

I believe that I have made it quite clear that your husband's position is not a sinful one for disobeying his father. Indeed, his father cannot order him to marry a particular woman. Moreover, now that your husband is married, his father must reconsider his position. He should realize that his son has not willfully disobeyed him but has given due importance to a certain fact, such as the position of his wife and the way he feels toward her. That is perfectly legitimate.

• Dye for hair

In the past, you have mentioned that it is permissible for men to dye their hair, but you have not clarified the position regarding a black dye. Indeed, you have tended to make it permissible, when the Prophet's advice was clearly quoted to avoid "black". Would you please review the verdict with this clarification?

You seem to be clear in your mind that using a black hair dye is not allowed in Islam. I feel you are being too strict. It is true that the Prophet has recommended Henna and Katam as the best material to use when dyeing hair, but there is nothing specific in the Hadith about prohibiting or discouraging the use of black dyes, except in a particular incident to which I will be presently referring. Henna is a plant which can be used for hair dye and which imparts to the hair a reddish color. Apparently, it is beneficial to hair, because it is used in making shampoo. Katam is a similar stuff but it gives the hair a darker color which is nearly black but with a touch of red. Some of the companions of the Prophet used to dye their hair using both these dyes or different ones. Abu Bakr used both Henna and Katam, while Umar used Henna alone.

What is important to guard against when dyeing one's hair is that there should be no attempt to give oneself a false appearance. It happened during the days of Umar that a man got married to a girl who was much younger than him. Shortly after the marriage, she discovered that he had dyed his hair to appear much younger. Her parents complained to Umar who reproached the man for giving a false appearance and ruled the marriage null and void. But there is no other restriction on using a black dye. Az-Zuhri says: "We used to dye our hair black when we had young faces. When wrinkles appeared and teeth dropped, we stopped." Some scholars say that using a black dye is permissible only during the time of war, because it gives an appearance of strength to the Muslim army. Other scholars say that it is permissible at all times.

The incident, which has come as the source of some confusion took place at the time of the conquest of Mecca by the Prophet. Abu Bakr brought his father to the Prophet to declare his adoption of Islam. Needless to say, Abu Bakr's father was an old man in his eighties. His hair had gone all gray, that you could not see a single black hair on his head. The Prophet gave instructions that his hair should be dyed, but he told his son "to avoid black". Scholars agree that this instruction by the Prophet did not indicate any prohibition. It simply takes care of the old man's position. If he were to dye his hair black, his appearance would have been ridiculous. The point was to change the total whiteness of his hair with something respectable. I hope I have clarified this subject.

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