Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas in Islam

One of the most widely celebrated festivals in the world, Christmas - the annual festival commemorating the 'assumed' birth of Îsa Alayhis Salâm - is the most awaited and triumphant day of the Christian calendar. Christmas has become more synonymous to great economic activity than to it's religious aspects and rituals. This is quite evident from our pre-Christmas economic boom and commercial flurry. In Western Countries, the bane of Muslim association and companionship with Christians and other Mushrikîn has subsequently resulted in a great degree of social and religious integration. The impact of this integration is quite evident in our South-African Muslim communities where Muslims have fused their Islamic culture with that of the kuffâr. Not only have they absorbed the influence of the kuffâr, but they have become overwhelmingly pre-disposed to it, resulting in the virtual abandonment of their very own pristine and pure culture. Now, unable to differentiate between what belongs to them and what belongs to the others, they are left baffled at a crossroads - unable to differentiate between right and wrong. As a result, they are totally drawn into a downright alien and un-Islamic culture grossly unaware of it.

Christmas as the word implies is a purely Christian festival in total contrast to Islamic culture and norm. Nonetheless, many unwary or rather ignorant Muslims support this festival in some form or the other - either actively or passively. Supporting the cause of kufr in whatever way is a heinous crime and a direct onslaught upon Islam and everything it stands for. Similarly, participation in any form of Christmas-related activities is a stepping stone to kufr - hence, vehemently prohibited. Let us now examine the various anti-Islamic customs with regards to Christmas.

Christmas Cards
No doubt Islam teaches us courtesy unto Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but this does not mean that our courtesy should stretch beyond the legal boundaries of Shariah. Many assert that since the non-Muslims send cards to us on occasions of Eid, we, on grounds of courtesy are compelled to acknowledge this by sending cards to them on their festive days. However, this assertion is misfounded and totally against the spirit of Islam. We are not compelled to be subservient to the "courteous " gesture of others. Islam as a code of life has undoubtedly shown us the correct etiquette and manners for every occasion. It teaches us every facet of moral behaviour in regard to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. How then can we "borrow" the anti-Islamic c haracteristic of our enemies? Repeatedly the Qur'ân and Ahadith exhort us to refrain form emulating the habits and customs of the Kuffâr - the Jews and Christians in particular. How dare we tread the footsteps of our arch-rivals in something that is totally abhorred by Islam? A hadith sternly cautions us against emulating non-Islamic groups. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam warns: "Whomsoever emulates a nation is of them." From this we deduce that emulating (tashabbuh) the kuffâr is harâm (totally prohibited) in regards to religious and social habits which are confined to them only.

Another evil which is quite common nowadays is the custom of decorating shops, offices, etc., with flashing lights, Christmas posters, trees and many other forms of decorations. Drawn into this tide of evil, many Muslim shopkeepers tend to decorate their shops in the same way as their kuffâr counterparts do, little realizing the adverse impact this has on their Iman and Deen. All forms of such decorations, whether this is done to enhance the pre-Christmas sales or merely as a formality - are not permissible. Besides it being tantamount to tashabbuh (emulation of the kuffâr), it is a sheer waste of hard-earned money. The squandering of wealth is judged by Islam as a detestable sin indeed. The Qur'ân sums up the extravagant in the following stringent statement: "Verily, the extravagant are the brothers of the Shaytân." Another verse commands: "Do not waste. Verily Allah does not like those who waste." Hence, all forms of Christmas decorations are totally harâm regardless of the intention. The same rules apply to the actual sale of such decoration because the prohibition of anything renders it's sale prohibited as well.

Little realizing the unfavourable religious consequences, many parents purchase lucky-dips, fireworks, Christmas crackers etc. simply to delight their children. We are all aware of the un-Islamic customs the purchase of lucky-dips entail. Everything about it is un-Islamic. Besides the factor of emulation of the kuffâr which in itself is prohibited, the sale of the lucky-dip is also incorrect. The fact that the contents of the box are mysterious, nullifies the sale transaction. Subsequently, the sale of the item and the item itself both fall against the in junctions and spirit of Islam. Similarly, the sale of lucky-dips, fireworks etc. is not permitted and the income derived therefrom will be classified as a harâm earning. Another factor which further exacerbates this evil is the sheer wastage of hard-earned money which could have been put to better use.

With a few months to go before Christmas, preparations to adorn the main streets of the city centres will soon be underway. Probably, because many Muslims are unaware of the sin involved, they tend to converge on these streets at night simply to view the dazzling display of lights. There are many evils attached to this. The fact that such displays stem from purely Christian customs, it's prohibition is further enhanced. Many Muslims are probably under the false notion that since they are not actively involved in it, mere viewing will do no harm. The following Hadith will serve as an eye-opener to them. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam is reported to have declared: "Whomsoever increases the crowd of a nation is of them." Instead of taking your child to view the Christmas decorations, take him to places of better interest and to places which would benefit him in the future. The article in no way means that the Muslim tradesmen should close their doors during this period and not take advantage of such a boom. If would be foolish on the writer to even imply this. One is at liberty to utilise this period to his pecuniary advantage but within the bounds of shariah. However, other activities which stem from purely Christian customs are totally prohibited.

(Excerpt from the An Nasihah - The Advice No. 47)
Published by Madrasah Arabia Islamia - Azaadville - South Africa

Related post: New Years in Islam/ Shariah

This is to be my last post before I depart for Saudi on the 24th Dec. inshallah. I will keep the comments feature enabled but please note that after the 24th any new comments wont be approved until my return some four weeks later.

Please make dua that I am able to utilise this invitation that Allah has given for me to perform Hajj and that my Hajj and Umrahs are accepted. Inshallah I will remember you all in my duas especially those who have established/ maintain blogs online for the benefit of Muslims and to be of service to Islam. Those who have support these islamic blogs through promoting/ commenting and encouragement will also not be forgotten!

I ask for everyone to forgive me if I have wronged or hurt you in anyway whatsoever.

Jazakallah, duas requested please.
Brother in Islam Ahmed

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sutra in Salah

I was listening to a talk by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on the Sutra in Salah and thought I would share the extract below taken from
May Allah give us the ability to act upon below, Ameen.

In the name of Allah, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful

It is related that the Prophet (pbuh) said ‘If the one passing in front of the one praying knew what was against him, his waiting forty would be better for him than passing in front of him’ [Bukhari] Abu al-Nadr, one of the sub narrators, said ‘I don’t know whether he said forty days, or months or years’. In a version narrated by al-Bazzar the hadith reads ‘forty autumns’.

The offence being as serious as it is, the scholars defined what constitutes passing in front of somebody praying. If the one praying is in an open space or a large mosque, the scholars differed concerning what is considered passing in front, both opinions being deemed strong and follow-able. One opinion is that it is passing by his place of prostration, such that if one where to pass in front of him but beyond his immediate place of prostration there would be no sin upon one. The other opinion, which is ibn Abidins preference, is that one would be considered passing in front if one is within the field of vision of the one praying if his eyes were fixed on his place of prostration.

If the one praying is in a room or a small mosque then one will be sinful for passing in front regardless of how far in front of him one is. Ibn Abidin defines a small mosque as being forty cubits.

However, is the one passing in front always to blame?

The possible scenarios that may occur are four,

1. The one passing has an alternative to passing in front and the one praying did not pray in a place where he is in people’s way.
-In this case the sin is only on the one passing.

2. The one passing has no alternative to passing and the one praying was in a place where he would be in people’s way.
-The sin in this case is solely on the one praying.

3. The one passing has an alternative to passing in front and the one praying was in a place where he would get in people’s way.
-The sin is on both of them.

4. Neither does the one passing have an alternative nor is the one praying in people’s way. -The sin is on neither of them.

In all of these cases the one passing in front would be free from sin if the one praying were to keep a sutra in front of him. A sutra is an object of about a cubit in height that one places in front of one as one prays.

One last scenario that is relevant to mention is that if someone prays near the entrance of the mosque or without filling in the gaps in the row in front, one can walk in front of him to fill in the gaps. [Radd al-Muhtar, 1:427, Dar Li Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi]

Looking now to the question at hand, if the mosque is considered a large mosque then there is no problem at all as there is no harm in walking in front of somebody by a few metres in a small mosque. If it is not a large mosque then there still is no sin on the men as they are walking to fill in the rows which they can not do with out walking in front of the women.

And Allah knows best.
Sohail Hanif.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Fierce Lion & Clever Mr. Rabbit

The Fierce Lion & Clever Mr. Rabbit

Shaykh Jalaaluddeen Rumi rahmatullahi alayh [604-670AH/1207-1273AD] relates an interesting episode in his epic book Mathnawi...

Once upon a time, many animals were living peacefully in jungle when a fierce lion arrived and started devouring the animals freely. All the animals became agitated and afraid. At a hastily convened meeting, it was decided to approach King Lion and request if they be permitted to send an animal everyday for Sire’s meal: saving lion the trouble of hunting and, allowing all other animals to graze in peace. King Lion agreed.

Daily, lots would be drawn and, whichever unfortunate animals name was drawn would proceed to King Lion’s den, whilst the others lived peacefully.

Now, one day, Mr. Rabbit’s name was drawn...clever Mr. Rabbit definitely did not wish to end up as that tyrant lions dinner...and, so he schemed a very, very clever plan.

Mr. Rabbit waited and waited...Until the lion became very, very hungry and annoyed. By this time, all in the jungle could hear King Lion’s angry roaring...Grr! Grr! Grr! and became concerned. Quickly, the other animals arrived to pressure Mr. Rabbit into fulfilling their pledge.

Finally, after much persuasion, Mr. Rabbit departed towards the dreaded bone ridden den...From afar, the lion growled loudly:

“Grr! Grr! Did I not tell you animals that you would not be able to fulfil your pledge! From now on, I shall start eating anybody and everybody at will again! Grr!”
Clever Mr. Rabbit kept his cool and with a brave heart pleaded...

“Sire, being king of the jungle, you are, of course at liberty to do as you wish but, do listen to my story first. Something absolutely terrible has happened today and, we animals are afraid that we shall not be able to fulfil our pledge, because another lion has appeared in the jungle...yes, and that cheat is devouring the animals sent for your meals!

This is precisely why I am late. I was coming with my brother to you...when this other lion appeared and mauled my brother. I managed to escape, but only just! Therefore, Sire, if you wish to eat comfortably daily, you will have to see the other lion off first!”

Infuriated, angry King of the Jungle growled:

“Grr! Grr! Show me to where he is Grr! Grr!”

Sensing his opportunity, Mr. Rabbit obliged:

“Yes, of course sire...but, may I request that you carry me on your shoulders...for I am very afraid of that other lion!”

So they both proceeded through jungle until they arrived at a cliff...this overlooked a shallow pond. When the lion observed his own reflection in the water below...Instantly Mr. Rabbit screamed out loudly...

“Look, Sire! There he is and he has my brother in his mouth! Quickly, Kill him!”

Immediately, the fierce lion jumped off the cliff unto [the other lion] below...No...onto his own reflection in the shallow water containing large rocks...and was killed instantly! Clever Mr. Rabbit returned merrily skipping through the jungle, to spend rest of his life narrating to the other animals of how he had single-handedly defeated this ferocious beast.

Observe the error of the lion: for whilst possessing courage he lacked Hikmat [Wisdom] and, this was precisely the cause of his ‘downfall’.
Reproduced from: 'Ashraf's Orchard'

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Imam ibn Majah (r.a)

Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Majah (r.a) - [209 - 273 A.H.]

Imam Ibn Majah was born in the city of Qazvin in the northern Persian province of Dailam. After gaining ahadith from the many great religious scholars of his city, he travelled to seek knowledge at the young age of 21. Imam Ibn Majah is said to have visited Basrah, Kufah, Baghdad, the Hijaz, Makkah, Syria and Egypt to hear and gather ahadith.

Amongst his teachers were Jabbara ibn al Mughlis, Ibrahim ibn al-Munzar, Hisham ibn Umar and more Abu Bakr ibn Shaibah.

His status
Ibn Khallikan writes that Imam ibn Majah held the position of an Imam in the subject of hadith.
Abu al-Ali Khalili says he was a great scholar of Qur’anic exegesis, ahadith and history.
Adh Dhahabi stated that he was a hafiz and warehouse of Prophetic knowledge.

Imam ibn Majah is known to have authored 3 books, popularly known Sunan ibn Majah, at-Tafsir and at-Tarikh.

Imam Ibn Majah departed from this world during the blessed month of Ramadan 273 A.H. in Qazvin, the city of his birth.

May Allah Ta'ala fill his Qabar with Noor.
Source: Scholars of Hadith by Syed Bashir Ali

Related posts
Imam Bukhari (r.a)
Imam Muslim (r.a)
Imam Tirmizi (r.a)
Abu Dawud (r.a)
Imam an-Nasa'i (r.a)
Abdullah ibn Mubarak (r.a)