Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is a woman's voice considered awrah?


Salam Shaykh I'm planning on having an assembly at my school. We're thinking about having a Qur'an recitation at the beginning of the assembly. It is an all girls school but there are some male staff members. Would it be appropriate for one of us to recite?


There are some scholars who consider women's voice as awrah to be hidden and concealed; they are of the view that her voice may arouse lustful thoughts in men. However, this view has been rejected by the majority of scholars. It is simply unacceptable based on evidence of scripture and reason. The Qur'a and the Sunnah are replete with examples of women speaking to men and vice versa. The mothers of the faithful used to teach and lecture to men and women as is well known from the precedents of Aishah as well as others.

Furthermore, we learn from the authentic traditions that Prophet (peace be upon him) allowed girls to sing on a number of occasions, and he objected to those who condemned and disapproved of it on the Eid day. He attended a wedding reception where he heard the singing. As they saw him, they added the phrase, 'among us is a prophet who knows what happens tomorrow', upon hearing it, he told them, to cut out the phrase and continue singing as they were.

If girls are allowed to sing in a mixed gathering, then there is no reason to forbid them from reading the Qur'an, which is indeed an act of worship.

Having said this, it is important to point out that both women and women are required to observe the Islamic etiquettes and adhere to acceptable standards of interaction (between males and females) on all occasions, including avoiding expressions and mannerisms that arouse carnal desires and emotions.

What is the Sharia punishment for homosexuality?


Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. Recently, we heard from the news that Gambian president Yahya Jammeh threatened to behead homosexuals, and two persons were arrested and are being held for trial. What is the Shari`ah stance on this? Jazakum Allahu khayran.


Wa`alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Brother, thank you for your question and concern to know the rules of Islam. May Almighty Allah enlighten our hearts and minds with His guidance.
The issue you raised in your question is a thorny one. For sure, homosexuality and lesbianism are heinous crimes against humanity that deserve a deterrent punishment. Muslim scholars have various views regarding the punishment of this abhorrent crime. It is high time for juristic counsels in the Muslim World to tackle this issue to reach an agreed-upon law that does suit our complicated contemporary life and situations.
Responding to your question, Sheikh Mohamed El-Moctar El-Shinqiti, director of the Islamic Center of South Plains, Lubbock, Texas, US, stated,
I agree with president Jammeh that homosexuality is a grievous sin that a Muslim must find repugnant, and that its perpetrators do not deserve to be respected or accepted in the Muslim society. This sin represents retrogression in the sound and natural human disposition and destruction to the structure of family, which is the original unit in society.
The relation between this sin and HIV/AIDS, which has killed millions of people and has caused suffering for many other millions, indicates that those promoting this sin are in fact committing a crime against humanity. This also shows that their loud protest against Jammeh's remarks is a mere hypocrisy.
However, the Gambian president, like any other president, is neither judge nor jurist, and does not have the right to prescribe a legal punishment. Punishments in the Shari`ah are not for political disputes, but they are part of a judicial system, which is maintained by an impartial independent courts. Because the Gambian president is not a jurist, and it is not expected from a man of political and military background like him to be a jurist, he does not know that his threat to behead homosexuals is based on a very weak basis in the Shari`ah.
The juristic view on which president Jammeh threatened to behead homosexuals has no basis in the glorious Qur'an or the authentic Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). This will be explained as follows:
a) No legal punishment is stated in the Qur'an for homosexuality; all what is stated in this concern is the condemnation of committing it in the context of the story of Prophet Lot and the divine punishment his people received for committing such a hideous sin.
 b) It is not reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has punished somebody for committing homosexuality, a fact that Ibn Al-Qayyim has explained by saying that "this (sin) was not known among Arabs" during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

c) There is no authentic hadith reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prescribing a punishment for the homosexuals. However, the Qur'anic description of homosexuality as a fahishah (Arabic for: abomination), which is the same description of zina (Arabic for: adultery or fornication), hints that both sins entail inflicting the same legal punishment.

d) Scholars of Islamic schools of jurisprudence have different views on the punishment to be inflicted for committing this sin: Some say that the punishment is the killing of the perpetrator, others say that it is the same as in the case of zina, and a third party are of the opinion that the judge may afflict a lower discretionary punishment, such as imprisonment.

However, punishing the homosexuals by stoning them to death is supported through only two weak hadiths, on which the scholars who adopt the views of stoning and killing build their opinions.
The first hadith is narrated on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "If you find anybody committing the act of the People of Lot (i.e. sodomy), then kill the one doing it and the one with whom it is done."This hadith is recorded by Imam Ahmad, Imam Abu Dawud, and Imam At-Tirmidhi among others. However, Al-Bukhari, Yahya ibn Ma`in, An-Nasa'i, and Ibn Hazm impugned the authenticity of this hadith.
The second hadith is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said about the one committing sodomy, "Stone the upper and the lower (i.e. both persons committing it)."This hadith is recorded by Ibn Majah, Abu Ya`la, and Al-Hakim; however, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hazm, among others, impugned the authenticity of this hadith. In his book Ahkam Al-Qur'an, judge Abu Bakr Al-Jassas commented on this hadith stating that the narrations of two of the narrators of this hadith "are not reliable by any means, and no legal punishment can be prescribed based on them (i.e. on their narrations)."
There are some similar traditions in this concern, among which a hadith narrated by Jabir ibn `Abdullah that reads "kill whoever commits the act of the people of Lot,"and another narration in which `Ali ibn Abu Talib adopted the opinion of stoning the sodomite. However, these traditions are even weaker than the ones discussed above, according to the scholars of Hadith.
Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar summarized the whole issue in the chapter of hudud (Arabic for: punishments prescribed by Islamic Shari`ah) in his book Fath Al-Bari, saying, "The narration reported on killing the one doing it and the one with whom it is done or stoning them is weak."
In fact, no scholar of the science Hadith deemed authentic the aforementioned two hadiths except Ibn Habban among the early scholars and Al-Albani among the contemporary ones. Ibn Habban deemed the hadith of Ibn `Abbas authentic, while Al-Albani deemed Abu Hurairah's hadith authentic. However, it is known among the scholars of Hadith that Ibn Habban's views are unreliable if not substantiated by other scholars of Hadith in deeming hadiths authentic. In addition, Al-Albani's opinion cannot stand against the doubts Al-Bukhari, Ibn Ma`in, Ibn Hajar, and other prominent scholars of Hadith raised as to the reliability of the narrators if these hadiths.
In brief, if these hadiths were not weak, no disagreement was to be among scholars on the punishment of sodomy since the time of the Prophet's Companions till now.
I would like to conclude this discussion by stating some important points on the historical context we are experiencing now.
First, it should be stated that sodomy (or homosexuality) is a wicked and grievous sin and a crime against society, but beheading or stoning those committing it are punishments that have no foundation in the Qur'an or the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). All what can be said is that sodomy is a fahishah, the same way the Qur'an described zina, so it has the same legal punishment — the lashing of the perpetrator one hundred times in a public place as stated in Surat An-Nur, or imprisoning and punishing him as stated in Surat of An-Nisa'.
Second, all the juristic views stating that the homosexuals are to be killed, burnt, or thrown from a high place, have no sound legal foundation, though they show how much the early Muslim society was disgusted with such a wicked, immoral practice. However, legal judgments are based on divine revelation not on the tendencies of societies.
Third, it should be stated that Islam is a religion of mercy, and the society has the duty of giving the guilty an opportunity to repent and correct his or her way. In the crime of murder, which is the most heinous crime, Islam opens the door to forgiveness and paying blood money before afflicting the qisas (Arabic for: retribution). Thus, jumping directly to the punishment indicates that the societal system has failed, and that there is a disorder in the educational thinking in the society.
Fourth, reviewing the Islamic criminal jurisprudence has become a must, because some of the punishments commonly stated in the books of jurisprudence are based on weak traditions, such as stoning the adulterer and killing the apostate. Without a serious review of these punishments, we would always find some enthusiastic persons who hurt the image of Islam using weak juristic views, though intending the good for Islam.
Fifth, independence of judiciary has become an urgent matter that should not be delayed. This is because legal punishments are the work of independent, impartial legitimate judiciary; politicians have nothing to do with such punishments.
Sixth, legal punishments need to be codified through constitutional texts and laws approved by parliaments. This also should be based on legal foundation, scholarly study, and a scrutinizing review of the rich jurisprudential Islamic heritage. By doing this, we will save Islam from the political and legal chaos it is experiencing now.
In conclusion, Gambian president Jammeh deserves respect for his enthusiasm for Islam and virtue in his society. However, before iterating his threats, he needs to wait and make sure of the legal foundation of them; otherwise, his enthusiasm may prove counterproductive, as happened with others, and, thus, harm the Muslim societies, defame the Islamic message, and contradict the Islamic concepts of justice and punishments.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Are we suppose to hate non-Muslims?


What does Islam teach us about hating unbelievers? What should we feel for our non-Muslim family members?


The Muslim is taught by his book, the Qur’├ón, to hate falsehood, distorted beliefs, and deviance, and consequently, to hate the representation of falsehood and deviant beliefs at the hands of the unbelievers. He does not, however, hate the people themselves. In fact, he should wish for them every possible good and hope that they will attain guidance and be saved from the Hellfire.

When one of the unbelievers attains guidance, the Muslim should be as joyous for his sake as our Prophet (peace be upon him) was when a Jewish boy converted to Islam just before he died. The Prophet (peace be upon him) left his home saying: “All praises are for Allah who saved him from the Hellfire.”

The hatred one should have is for their deviance or sinful behavior, but not for the people themselves.

This is why a Muslim cannot be blamed for his affection towards his son, wife, and others, even if they are not Muslims. However, such affection should not cause him to neglect any part of his religion. That is why the Muslims who, on account of their wives and children, failed to emigrate to Madinah as they were commanded were rebuked for staying behind. Indeed, Allah describes our wives and children as a trial.

In fact, the ones who encourage hatred are certain Western and other non-Muslim politicians and media personalities who seem to be doing everything in their power to instigate enmity against Muslims in various parts of the world. By their practices, they seem to be trying to give the Muslims lessons in hatred and rancor.

If there are some moderate and reasonable voices in the West and in places like India, they are being drowned out by the overwhelming clamor of extremism and anti-Islamic rhetoric. Admittedly, the same thing can be said for the Muslims as well. However, I must stress that the West is suffocating the moderate and temperate voices in the Muslim world who are on the correct Islamic methodology, the methodology that is the way of salvation for the Muslim nation.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Can women go to funerals?

I can't remember if I have something like this. Too lazy, I'll check later.


As-salamu `alaykum. Is it permissible for Muslim women, including the widows, to attend funeral prayers and go to the cemetery for burial? Jazaka Allah Khayr.


Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother, we would like to thank you for your question and your apparent interest in the teachings of Islam regarding funerals.
As for your question, visiting graves for women is a debatable issue; while some scholars see that it is permissible, others prohibit it.

We are for the opinion of permitting it on the condition that a woman, as well as a man, abides by the Islamic guidelines and follows the Prophetic teachings related to the matter.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,

There is nothing wrong for the women to attend funeral prayers and go the cemetery as long as they abide by the Islamic guidelines.
It is notworthy that visiting graves for women and men had been prohibited in Islam in the early days. This was due to the fact that there were reasonable grounds for suspicion that the Arabs, newly converted to Islam and fresh from paganism, might associate the right to visit graves with grave worship rituals.
There was, however, no reasonable ground for such suspicions when the Islamic concept of tawhid (monotheism or oneness) of Allah became deeply entrenched in the Islamic consciousness. Accordingly, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) lifted the above ban. He then went a step further by making grave visitations a recommended practice because of the associated benefits.
He said: “In the past I have forbidden you from visiting graves, but now you may do so, for it might remind you of the next world.” (Muslim from Buraydah from his father)
As the above statement of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is stated in general terms, scholars disagreed as to its precise interpretation;
One group thought that the permission was general to include both males and females, since the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never indicated that the permission had been limited only to males.
A second group, however, said that women were excluded from the above permission and according to them women are forbidden to visit graves. They supported their view by another statement of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “Allah has cursed women who frequent graves for visitation.” (At-Tirmidhi from Abu Hurayrah)
The first group cited a number of traditions in support of their view that women are permitted to visit graves. One of them is the report in Al-Bukhari, which states that once the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saw a woman weeping over a grave. He advised her to exercise patience. It is not stated anywhere that he told her it was forbidden for women to visit graves. It is only reasonable to assume that had visiting graves been haram for women, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would have clearly stated so in this case.
As for the hadith that the second group cited to support their view, the first group explained that it was aimed at women who frequent graves for wailing and lamentation.
The above explanation seems more plausible when we take into account the fact that the pagan Arabs were in the habit of hiring professionals—who were mostly women—to practice the ritual of wailing and lamentation on the graves.
The view of the first group is further confirmed by the report from `A’ishah. When someone objected to her about her visit to her brother’s grave, she said that the prohibition was in the early days of Islam and that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had later allowed it. A similar view has been attributed to Umm `Atiyyah who said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had never firmly prohibited women from visiting graves.”

In conclusion, let us say that the issue of women visiting graves has been debated by scholars of the past. After having reviewed the various traditions in this respect, Imam Qurtubi concluded that women are permitted to visit graves on condition that they refrain from wailing and lamentation. Both Imam Ibn Hajar and ash-Showkani, both of whom who were thoroughly grounded in the science of Hadith, also tend to favor this view.
As for a widow, it is important for her, while venturing out, to observe the rules of ‘iddah. Therefore, she should avoid beatifications, shun interaction with males, and return home at night.
Allah Almighty knows best.