Tariq Hashmi

Predestination and Selection of a Marriage Partners

Question: I have a question that relates to the problem of predestination and free will. Many people say that matches have already been predetermined by God. Parents have no right to force their children to marry the individuals of their choice, they maintain. My question is: do I have authority to make a decision in this regard or the matter has the already been decided by god? I would be very grateful for your reply soon.

Answer: First of all I would like to mention that there is no religious basis for the view that pairs are made in Heaven and, therefore, we should not exercise our will in this regard. If a person has no right to choose his marriage partner and the issue is predetermined then the parents too would have no right to decide the matter for their children. Everyone would be required to wait for miracles to happen. We believe that in this case the right which the parents and elders want to exercise primarily belongs to the individuals involved. As for the belief of predestination, there is no denying the fact that the circumstances we live in and choices we have in this worldly life are predetermined. Our parents, tribe, our nation, our country, our financial status and almost everything are predetermined. We cannot do anything about these issues. This does not however mean that we should not exercise our will in any issue at all. We are obliged to respond to these circumstances and are morally responsible for our decision and actions. There are issues in our life where we need to put our effort and change them and areas where we are bestowed with the freedom of choice. We are in fact put in certain circumstances and have been given the will to respond to various aspects of the test and the trial in these circumstances. Every individual has sufficient knowledge of the boundaries between where he leaves the matters to the will of God and where he exercises his will. The line between the two kinds of matters is distinct and clear.

The matter of deciding one's life partner lies within the sphere where we are able to exercise our will. This is what we usually refer to by saying that one has have to choose the right match. To say that pairs are made in Heaven means that the Almighty already knows with who one would marry but one has to decide for one's self. Thus the sentence should only be taken as an expression of our belief that the Almighty knows what will happen in the future and what we will do next. He has all power to do what He wills. It should not stop us from putting in our efforts to acquire things of our liking deeming the existing state of affairs predetermined. Nobody would for example starve himself to death and hold that God wanted him to act that way and that He is responsible for this act. In short, it is our belief that God has predestined many things and knows everything which will happen. However, this does not mean that a person must not decide on whom to marry.

Authenticity of the Ḥadīth

Question: 1) Can you tell me about Javed Ahmed Ghamidi's views about the authority and status of Hadīth of the Messenger (sws) in religion?

2) How can a person after 1430 years reject a Hadīth which was earlier accepted by Islamic scholars?

3) Is it possible that after 1430 years some one came with new explanation and new version of Qur'ānic interpretations? I am looking for kind clarification.

Answer: Muslims believe that the Prophet (sws) communicated the religion to the world in two forms, the Holy Qur'ān and the Sunnah. The contents of the religion are, therefore, contained in these two sources. The Holy Qur'ān is the Book of God which the Prophet (sws) taught to the entire generation of the Companions (rta) who communicated it to the next generation with their consensus and it has reached us passing from generality to generality in each layer. This makes the Book absolutely authentic without a shadow of doubt. The Sunnah is the set of religious practices including the worship rituals, social customs and etiquette etc. Just like the Holy Qur'ān, the Sunnah too was taught by the Prophet (sws) to the entire generation of the Companions (sws) who transmitted it to the next generation through their adherence to it and it has reached us with the consensus of all the people in each generation of the believers. This generality to generality transmission makes it absolutely authentic like the Holy Qur'ān. No individual or scholar can add to the contents of the religion contained in these two sources. No doubt is entertained regarding their historical authenticity and no one questions their origin.

The status of the Hadīth of the Prophet (sws) is different. It has not been transmitted through generality to generality. On the contrary, it has been transmitted by individual to individual (khabar-e wāḥid). Therefore, it does not yield absolutely certain knowledge. Muslims scholars and the doctors of the science of Hadīth have always considered them a ẓannī (probable) source and it has always been considered an explanatory source.

The obvious lack of certitude of knowledge obtained through Hadīth required that the believers not accept everything that is reported to them through a khabar-e wāḥid (individual to individual report). This is precisely the reason that the scholars of the science of Hadīth decided to gauge such reports on various scales before accepting it as the word or deed of the Prophet (sws). We must appreciate that even after great care and thorough checking a Hadīth remains short of yielding conclusive truth and certitude.

The Muslim scholars checked the isnād (chain of transmitters) thoroughly to make sure that a saying attributed to the Prophet (sws) reached them through a chain of reliable transmitters without a break. They also analyzed the text of the reports as well. For example they did not accept a report that contradicted the Qur'ān, the Sunnah, the conclusive arguments, human reason and common sense. A Hadīth accepted by one scholar was never always taken as authentic by the rest. We know that a particular Hadīth was acceptable to Imām Malik while it was not that authentic for Imām Bukhārī. Similarly, Imām Muslim, who was also a student of Imām Bukhārī did not accept all the narratives included by the latter in his Ṣaḥīḥ. This is because the process of Hadīth investigation involved much subjectivity. That is why a particular narrator and his reports are reliable for one scholar and less or unreliable for another.

The process of Hadīth criticism goes on and the scholars continue judging the narratives on the scales established by the muḥaddithūn themselves. However, it does not mean that the Aḥādīth are of no use. Muslims have always given the Ḥadīth due importance. After thorough research and careful analysis they use it as an explanatory source. Muslim scholars have always believed that they must turn to the Prophetic knowledge transmitted through akhbār-i āḥād for a variety of purposes and in a number of cases. For the Ḥadīth is one of the many sources that document the life history of the Holy Prophet (sws), the best example he set in carrying out the religious obligations and his interpretations of the religious sources. This entails that no serious student of Islam can do without studying them at length.

Marriage with a Convert and Parental Consent

Question: I really need some guidance on the matter of my marriage. I met this guy through a friend and became good friends with him. Over the course of time, I started having feelings for him. He is not a born Muslim, so I did not give my feelings much importance. He converted a few months ago. He asked me to marry him, and also added that his conversion has nothing to do with me. He has truly embraced Islam. Now my parents are not agreeing to this arrangement at all. Their major concern is the social pressure a girl's parents feel in these circumstances. They don't want to answer anybody's questions about me marrying someone outside our caste and culture. They have given me the option to leave them and do whatever I want. I really love my parents and cannot bring myself to hurt them. But at the same time I don't want to leave this guy and wait for them to arrange my marriage with a total stranger. This guy is well read. Has a good job. He is very intelligent and honest. My parents have no interest in knowing him. They told me to stop arguing and don't ask for any reasons. They said that their unhappiness over this matter should be the reason enough for me leave this idea alone. I am in a very difficult situation. I fully understand my rights in Islam when it comes to choosing my partner. I would really appreciate some guidance on the matter from you. Thanks a lot!

Answer: Thank you for writing to us. I will try to respond to your question in the light of Javed Ahmad Ghāmidī's views. Please note that the Islamic sharī'ah gives all the right both to male and female adult believers to choose their marriage partner. However, we are obliged to follow the norms of the society. And just as we are obliged to respect the parents and give them due regard they too are expected to be considerate. It is no doubt very important to seek the backing of the parents and family and their open approval, for no marriage is successful without backing and support from the family and friends. When we marry on our own we have no guarantor, in absence of the society, family and friends, to protect the rights of any of the couple. We know that our relationship does not go on smooth forever. There are always hard times when friends and family step in and provide us moral and social support. Since we know that Islam not only promotes the institution of family, it explicitly introduces measures to keep the union intact. Here we can see that the Islamic teachings implicitly stress the importance of the role of the parents, the elders and the society. This is why approval and support of the parents is very necessary and you seem to acknowledge that. I would suggest you try to talk to your parents respectfully and with the help of their friends and other elders among the near relatives. Their help can be of great help in setting the affair. Pray to God to help you put your problem before your family. You should not leave any stone unturned in trying to please them before taking a serious step.

Having said that, I must clarify that parental consent is not a condition of the validity of a marriage. You can, therefore, decide to go for the court marriage if all efforts fail and you realize that your right is unjustly being denied you. In that case, the position of the parents and family will be replaced by the court. This, however, may demand from you the price of losing the love and care of your family and the society and if, God forbid, your husband does not behave well in future you may find yourself helpless.

Eating non-Dhabīḥah Meat

Question: My name is Ali Ahmed. I am 15 years old. I was born and live in the U.S.A. Since then my family and I have always eaten dhabīḥa meat only. Also, whenever we are going outside or if I am in school, I don't eat non-dhabīḥah meat, and it can be very hard to find places to get dhabīḥa food. In our American Muslim community, a variety of Muslims of different nationalities eat non-dhabīḥah meat. Many Muslim scholars claim that because we are not living in a Muslim nation, we can eat non-dhabīḥah food when outside or travelling or in hotels and restaurants. So my question: is it permissible to eat non-dhabīḥah food if necessary or if dhabīḥah meat is not available? I have asked many other Muslim scholars, but I received the knowledge that there are two schools of thoughts and that there is no clear option. Please reply with your expert opinion as soon as possible.

Answer: We believe that three conditions are to be fulfilled before we can eat flesh of an animal. First, it should be an allowable animal. Second, it should be slaughtered properly. Third, it should be slaughtered by invoking Allāh's name. All these conditions cannot be abandoned in any circumstances. This entails that we should not eat the flesh of ḥarām animals or animals slaughtered by those of the people who do not believe in Allah and, therefore, do not invoke Allah's name while slaughtering the animal. Animals slaughtered by the People of the Book who do not respect their Scriptural teachings in this regard too are not allowable to eat.

The Qur'ān says:

وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّالَمْ يُذْكَرْ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَلَيُوحُونَ إِلَى أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُمْ وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْإِنَّكُمْ لَمُشْرِكُونَ(121:6)

And eat not [O believers] that animal on which Allah's name has not been pronounced [at the time of the slaughtering of the animal], for this is a fisq. And certainly, the devils do inspire their friends to dispute with you, and if you obey them, then you would indeed be polytheists. (6:121)

It is also necessary to slaughter animals in a way that guarantees that blood is poured out completely. To ensure this the Islamic sharī'ah has prescribed a way. Since this has been prescribed by the Almighty, we have to follow it and we are not allowed to eat the flesh of animals slaughtered by any other way. It is a positive directive which commands adherence. Now we know that the non-dhabīḥah flesh is not allowable. The only condition when we are allowed to take such meat is in utter necessity (iḍtirār). However, it is upon you to decide when there is no other way left for you. We must also remain clear that we will have to explain such an act before God on the Last Day.

Are we really convinced that there is no other way left and we must eat non-dhabīḥah meat or should we die or endanger our existence? Will we be able to convince God that we were in really such a situation or were we eager to eat ḥarām food and were trying to find ways to render it allowable for us? These questions we must ask ourselves before using any allowances in this regard.