The Online Team

(Answered under the supervision of Editor)

Status of Eunuchs

Question: What is the status of eunuchs in the Islamic Shari'ah. I mean if a eunuch wants to live in accordance with Islamic laws, what laws would apply to him: of men or of women? Moreover, should such a person live a whole life of sexual abstinence? If so, would it not be the toughest test given to a human being? Don't you think, in most of such cases, the person might become faithless? Please place yourself in the position of such a person and suggest what should be the way to guide such people towards Islam.

Answer: Specific directives regarding eunuchs have not been covered in the Islamic Shari'ah. Muslim scholars can form an opinion on this matter keeping in view the spirit of the Shari'ah. There are two major viewpoints regarding eunuchs. According to the first view, eunuchs will be dealt with according to their apparent traits of gender. If their physical traits relate mostly to males, for example having a beard, they would be considered male and vice versa. The proponents of the second view hold that the religious decrees, related with sex discrimination, are not applicable to them at all. This entails that they are not obligated to wear the hijab and other obligations of similar nature.

Eunuchs normally lack the ability to have sex. Therefore the nature of their test no doubt is very tough. However, the inherent guidance regarding sexual relationship corroborated by the Shari'ah directives may not be overlooked by them. Many other people also suffer some kind of physical abnormalities in this world of trial. If we appreciate that all of us are put through a test in this worldly life, it would surely lessen the sense of deprivation. We should try to indoctrinate these people to the real nature of the fleeting life and prepare them for the eternal world where none will feel deprived of anything. Focusing on the real target and abandoning excessive care for the joy of this transitory world will greatly help. We ought to make these people realize that those who live through this life according to the stipulated guidance will certainly be blessed with everlasting bliss in the Hereafter.

Usually such people are not accepted even by their parents in the first place and later by the society. This is a totally uncalled for behaviour and may force them to adopt an indecent way of life. Instead of denial, they should be provided with an equal opportunity of education and also other facilities of life. If they are not allowed to live with normal human beings and are treated as a secondary creation, they are sure to lose the right path. It should be appreciated that they are living through certain conditions as a test not as a punishment. Love and sympathy can lead to their betterment both in faith and social status.

(Tariq Hashmi)

Must all Ahadith be reconciled with the Qur'an and the Sunnah?

Question: My understanding of Hadith is that it is not a separate source of Islam. Subject matter of every Hadith must originate from the Holy Qur'an or the Sunnah. I say this because our Prophet (sws) could never do or say anything regarding Islam that was not part of the two basic sources (the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah). Therefore, a Hadith which can not be reconciled with any of these two sources should be rejected. Is this approach correct?

Answer: Hadith is the record of the life history, sayings and deeds of the Prophet (sws). Only those of its contents, which are religious in nature or have to do with morality, should be gauged on the yardstick of the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah. It is right to say that the Prophet (sws) could not do any thing contrary to the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah but one cannot claim that all that is recorded as the acts and sayings of the Prophet (sws) need to be related to the Holy Qur'an or the Sunnah. The Prophet (sws) was a human being who lived in a particular culture during a particular period of history. He had his personal tastes, likes and dislikes for things as all normal humans have. Therefore, he must have said or done things which have nothing to do with religion. I do not think it would be necessary to establish a relation of his saying, for example that his favorite color was white, with religion. Likewise, there must be a whole lot of other things which do not relate to religion.

(Tariq Hashmi)

Regarding the advent of Mahdi

Question: Certain Ahadith prophesy the appearance of Imam Mahdi before the Day of Judgment finally come. I have been told that there is nothing in the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah that indicates the arrival of such a person. Can we say that this should not clearly be taken a part of the Islamic beliefs and that all these Ahadith are fabricated?

Answer: There are only two basic sources of religious knowledge – the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah. In general, the former contains religious beliefs and the latter encompasses practices that we need to observe. Nothing can be added to the list of the beliefs listed in the Qur'an and the practices instituted as the Sunnah. Therefore it would not be right to say that belief in the coming of Mahdi is part of the Islamic faith. Moreover the Ahadith which contain the prophecy of the coming of Mahdi are not that reliable. Two great Muslim scholars Ibn Khaldun and Allama Tamanna 'Imadi have examined these Ahadith regarding their purport and mode of transmission involved. They found all such reports baseless.

(Tariq Hashmi)

A Historical Error in the Qur'an

Question: Surah Taha (20:85-87 and 20:95-97) states that the calf worshipped by the Israelites was made by a Samaritan but neither the country of Samaria (where Samaritans come from) nor the term Samaritan existed during this time (the time of the Exodus) and so it is certain that Moses (sws) could not have used the term or had any dealings with a Samaritan. The term was not used by anyone until around 722 BC, hundreds of years after Exodus. Thus, the Qur'anic claim of being error free cannot be justified.

Answer: The Holy Qur'an has not indicated the fact that the man who made the calf was a Samaritan. It only mentions the name 'Assamiri. It is only one of the interpretations of the word that led you to form such an opinion about the divine book. The question as to who was this 'Assamiri' has been subject of different interpretations. Some of the interpreters hold that the name shows that it is an attribution to a certain tribe. There are counter interpretations and the one offered by Abdul Majid Darya Abadi, based on the Jewish sources is worth mentioning. He writes:

The word sounds more of an appellation than of a personal name. If we look to old Egyptian, we have Shemer, a stranger, and foreigner. As the Israelites had just left Egypt, they might quite well have among them an Egyptian Hebrew bearing that nickname. And it is recorded by the rabbis that the initiative in the matter of the calf worship was taken not by the Israelites but the Egyptians who had joined them at the time of the Exodus, and who were the source of a great deal of trouble to Moses and Israelites. (JE. III, P. 509).1

This, I think, is the most acceptable interpretation of all. If somebody claims that the word 'Assamiri' refers to a particular tribe, a country or a culture of a specific period he must substantiate his claim first to merit consideration.

(Tariq Hashmi)

Rights of the Spouse's Parents

Question: What does the Qur'an and A%hadithsay about the rights/relationship between husband's parents and wife and in the same way between wife's parents and husband?

Answer: I am afraid there are no categorical injunctions in the Qur'an that specifically mention the rights of the spouse's parents. The Book of Allah, however, asserts that you should show kindness to your parents (4:36). What needs to be appreciated is the fact, that marriage is a contractual arrangement that binds two persons into one sacred bond. As an obvious corollary of this agreement, a wife's relations become her husband's and a husband's relations become hers. It is for this reason that I opine that the aforementioned directive of treating your parents well extend to your spouse's parents as well. You are, indeed, obligated to show kindness to them as you do to your own. What needs to be kept in mind is the fact that you and your spouse are standing in a position of 'give and take'; the time, care and love that you extend to her family would obviously be returned to yours.

(Jhangeer Hanif)

Is Jihad a Collective Obligation?

Question: May you continue your efforts for propagation of Islam. I have a confusion. At this critical situation when all non-believers are together for crushing Muslims, is Jihad ard-i- Kafayah (collective obligation)?

Answer: This is a very delicate question that you have asked. You are right: the whole non-Muslim world seems to be united against Islam and its followers. But don't you think that the real responsibility for such withering international relations rests mainly with the Muslims themselves? Except for the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta), rest of the Muslims had only been authorized by their Lord to present the message of Islam in a lucid and most appropriate manner; but they went so much further as to threatening the world into subjugation, in case they didn't embrace Islam. This undoubtedly gave rise to a nameless fear that cannot be overcome even by telling them time and again that Islam is indeed the torchbearer of peace and universal brotherhood.

As far as your question is concerned, it must be kept in mind, that the only Jihad that an Islamic state can undertake is against injustice and persecution. It must be noted that this war against persecution may as well be waged against all the perpetrators of persecution, be it a Muslim country or a non-Muslim one, if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the crisis. The Qur'an reads:

What has come upon you that you fight not in the cause of God, and for the oppressed men, women, and children, who pray; 'Get us out of this town, O Lord, whose people are oppressors; so raise for us from Yourself one who will protect and raise for us from Yourself one who will help. (4:75)

Only a state has the authority to launch an armed struggle against persecution. The directives for Jihad were given when Muslims succeeded to establish an Islamic State in Madinah. The implication evidently is that the authority to uplift arms rests with an Islamic state only. No individual or a group of individuals have been authorized to undertake this job. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

A Muslim ruler is the shield [of his people]. An armed struggle can only be carried out under him and people should seek his shelter [in war]. (Bukhari: No. 2957)

The jurists also subscribe to this view. Thus, Sayyid Sabiq has delineated in Fiqhu'l Sunnah:

Among Kafayah obligations, the third category is that for which the existence of a ruler is necessary e.g. Jihad and execution of punishments. Therefore, only a ruler has this prerogative. Because, indeed, no one else has the right to punish another person.2

(Jhangeer Hanif)

Influence of a Tablighi

Question: My father lives in Lahore. He has started to go to the mosque more regularly, which is a good sign. However there are some Tablighi people in the mosque who are teaching him different things? I don't know the content of teachings, but ever since his personal visits to a Tablighi, he has become more secretive and withdrawn from his family.

My father is aged and retired, I fear that he might become a victim of Tabligh and then sell everything for the so called worthy causes. Please advise me what to do. Without prejudice I find that this Tablighi is an aggressive man on the phone and also very rude. My father does not listen to me and I fear that the Tablighi might take control of him. Please advise.

Answer: Your concern is but logical and I would suggest that just for a moment imagine yourself your father's place; this would probably provide you with the answer to many questions. He is a retired person and most probably he needs some activity in order to keep himself busy. Have you suggested him some activity which could fulfill his spiritual needs? Have you asked him in pleasant atmosphere the gain, which he has acquired from the Tablighipeople. Have you discussed with him their philosophy. Have you discussed with him the equivalent alternatives of his present activity? Have you tried to understand the background of that Tablighi's rudeness? It might be a reaction of some past dialogue with you.

It also seems that there is a communication gap between you and your father: have you striven to bridge this gap? Try to assure your father and that of his Tablighi friends that you are their well-wisher and not an opponent of their cause. Place before them your social reservations and disturbance which might occur to your family setup and ask them the solution to that. Try to study the basis of their philosophy and the religion as a whole. Thereafter, put before them your queries in a pleasant atmosphere; and unless they provide you with the satisfactory answer, continue to ask them with steadfastness. It is high time you equip yourself with the 'weapon of reasoning' but that requires serious study and comparative knowledge of different philosophies of various religious schools of thought. No doubt it is a difficult modus operandi but, in turn, it will provide you with a tenacious hold on the subject. Moreover, also try to develop your own relationship with the mosque. It will help you a lot not only in order to find the alternatives but also to fulfill your own religious needs which are undoubtedly required of every Muslim irrespective of the fact whether he is young or old. Also try to seek the help of some other friend of your father who also has some influence upon him. Put before him the whole situation and seek his suggestions. It might be helpful in this regard. Try to spare some time for your father, open your heart before him and let him realize his importance in your existing family setup. This will, insha 'Allah, be fruitful though it will take some time and always remember that sincerity of intention and motive is a prerequisite to succeed in such an undertaking.

(Siddiq Bukhary)

Why is 'Love' not a name of Allah?

Question: Why isn't 'love' one of the ninety-nine (99) names of Allah?

Answer: Just as we are unable to encircle the attributes of Allah, similarly His names are also countless. The Holy Qur'an says all beautiful names are His. The names, which are mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, allude to some of His attributes. These are the famous one and easily comprehendible by us. However, the Qur'an has not provided us with a comprehensive list of His attributes. The authentic narratives ascribed to the Prophet (sws) are also devoid of such a list.

As far as love of God is concerned, it should not be considered similar to that of humans. His mercy is nothing but an embodiment of His love. We are being nourished and nurtured owing to His love only. Moreover 'Wadud' is a name, which refers to His love. It means an entity that loves.

(Siddiq Bukhary)

Ombudsman in Islam

Question: Please inform me of any book on the importance and the role of ombudsman in Islam and also let me know about some sites.

Answer: Man has been bestowed with a reasoning faculty which distinguishes him form other creatures. He has not been sent in this world totally blind, rather innate guidance has already been fed into him. This is the very reason that Islam does not go into technicalities and explain details of each and every system. On the contrary, it delineates some principles which must be adhered to in all circumstances.

Similar is the case of ombudsman. Providing justice at each and every level is a basic requirement of Islam and for this purpose, it does not give a particular system. Each and every system capable of providing justice in its real sense would be Islamic and it makes no difference that whatever its name is. It may be a judge, a court, a panel of judges, or an ombudsman. The term 'ombudsman' is a modern one imported from Scandinavian countries. However, it does not mean that Islamic history is silent in this regard. Throughout various ages of Islamic history, the concept of justice and that of Muhtasib (ombudsman) have remained alive and effective. However, socio-geographical and cultural changes have led to some diversity which is but natural. So if they fall within the purview of principles provided by Islam, they but would be Islamic.

It is difficult to pinpoint the name of a book or some site. However, history would provide you with sufficient proof in favour of this institution, right from the Rightly Guided Caliphate to that of modern era. The problem is not the presence of this institution or that of nomenclature but its implementation according to the Islamic principles, which is still awaited as was in the past.

(Siddiq Bukhary)