Archive for the ‘Fatwa’ Category

Celebrating the National Day

Is it permissible to attend the National Day celebration? If I am obliged to attend the celebration – as an employee in the embassy – what should I do? Can I attend with the intention of giving a religious talk, advising people to obey Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him)? Please guide me what to say because the celebration date is approaching and I do not know how to answer the ambassador’s wife if she invites me.

The National Day is not a day of `Id. It is just an occasion when people gather to celebrate something, like celebrating marriage or a newborn. This is not a religious `Id and we have to clarify this difference, which many people do not understand. Based on their misunderstanding, they may cause others to have doubts in their religion and to feel as if they are committing a major sin by celebrating an occasion. It is not a sin and the basic ruling of all things is permissibility. There is no harm to attend this celebration. The Maliki School of jurisprudence deemed it undesirable to eat from `Atira (a sacrifice offered by the pre-Islamic people during the month of Rajab), while the Hanbali School deemed it permissible, since there is no text prohibiting it. People during the pre-Islamic times used to slaughter an animal in the month of Rajab. It was called Rajabiyyah or `Atira. Some scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible, based on the basic ruling. If people gather and slaughter an animal during Rajab or Sha`ban, or at any time, there is no harm in this. Similarly, if people celebrate an occasion, such as their independence or the National Day, which is common in African countries, there is no harm in this. It is also good that you can give a religious talk to the people. On the other hand, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that Muslims have only two `Ids: `Idul-Adha and `Idul-Fitr, this does not mean that he forbade people from gathering. These celebrations are not prohibited, even if you hate attending them, as long as they involve no evil. Thus, there is no need to disturb people and spread doubts regarding matters that are not prohibited according to the Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijma`, or the agreement of scholars in the same Madhhab. It is better to take the more lenient of the two opinions in such cases as these which have no conclusive evidence. Leniency and ease is among the principles of this religion. Allah says: “He has… not laid upon you in religion any hardship.” (Al-Hajj, 22:78) He also says: “Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you.” (Al-Nisa’, 4:28) And He says: “So verily, with hardship, there is (more than one) relief, verily, with hardship, there is (more than one) relief (i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs).” (Al-Sharh, 94:5-6) The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Make things easy (for people) and do not make things difficult, give glad tidings and do not put people off.” Related by Al-Bukhari (69) and Muslim (1734) on the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him). So, the basic ruling in this religion is to make things easy for people. The opinions of other scholars are respected, but they are not equal to the judgment of Allah. Peace be upon you.

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Using Zakah in Building Institutes of Al-Azhar

Is it permissible to spend Zakah money to build Azhari institutes? Bear in mind that students in our country are in a dire need of this type of education, which is not financially supported by the state. Please answer us, may Allah reward you!

Scholars differ as to this point. Some believe that the category of “for Allah’s Cause” – mentioned in the Qur’an as one of the eight categories on which Zakah may be spent – may cover building Azhari institutes. It also covers paying for tuition, paving roads and building hospitals. All of these things are “for Allah’s Cause”, as they believe. Yet, the majority of scholars believe that the category of “for Allah’s Cause” covers only those going to Jihad or to Hajj.
So there are two groups of scholars. One group thinks that the category of “for Allah’s Cause” may include any act done for Allah’s Sake. This opinion is held by the Shafi`i Imam Al-Qaffal and Sheikh Muhammad Abdu and his student Muhammad Rashid Rida, in addition to some contemporary scholars. Thus, it is permissible to build Azhari institutes from Zakah money, according to their view. However, the widely known opinion is that of the majority of scholar which prefers giving Zakah to the poor or fighters in the cause of Allah, or according to Malik, to buy weapons. Scholars of this opinion further believe that this category does not include such things in question. So, Azhari institutes should be built with money from charity or endowments. And Allah knows best.

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The Beginning of Ramadan

Every year, we face the same problem of sighting the new moon marking the beginning of Ramadan. Some Muslims here have no faith in our national committee and so fast with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They are mostly Indians belonging to the Tabligh Group who come from Fiji Island to the north of New Zealand. They do not seek to sight the new moon but they depend on a phone call they receive from their homeland, instructing them to start fasting. The youth in our country are of two groups; those who observe fast with our committee and those who observe fast with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, though our committee may sight the moon after some days. Please help us, may Allah reward you! What is your advice to us since I am living here in New Zealand? Peace be upon you.

All praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be upon Muhammad, his family and his Companions!
Scholars hold different opinions regarding the issue of sighting the new moon of Ramadan. Some say that sighting the new moon in one country is sufficient for all other countries to start fasting. The same opinion is held by some Maliki scholars, for Khalil says: “It is binding for all countries.” That is, if two upright Muslims informed that another two upright Muslims sighted the moon, then it is binding for all countries.
Other scholars say that countries far away from each other cannot depend on each other’s sighting of the new moon. Many scholars hold this opinion, which is based on a Hadith narrated by Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) in the Sahih Muslim (1087). Al-Nawawi commented on the Hadith saying: Each country should depend on its own sighting. Kuraib narrates that Umm Al-Fadl bint Al-Harith sent her son (Al-Fadl) to Mu`awiyah (may Allah be pleased with him) in Sham. Al-Fadl said, “I went to Sham and fulfilled her need. Then Ramadan was about to begin while I was there. I saw the new moon on Saturday night. Then I returned to Madinah by the end of the month. `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) asked me about the moon saying, ‘When did you sight the new moon?’ I replied, ‘We sighted it on Saturday night.’ He asked: ‘Did you sight it yourself?’ I said, ‘Yes, and other people sighted it too. They observed fast and so did Mu`awiyah.’ He said, ‘But we sighted it on Sunday night and we will continue fasting until we finish thirty days or sight the next moon.’ I asked, ‘Do you not depend on the sighting of Mu`awiyah?’ He said, ‘No, that is what the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) commanded us to do.'” Based on this hadith, sighting the new moon in a country far away does not apply, especially if both countries do not share the same hours of night; i.e., the night ends in one country before it begins in the other. The matter is subject to differences among scholars, even among Fiqh academies. The Islamic Fiqh Academy issued a decision that sighting the new moon is the only valid way, and that astronomical calculations based on the relation between the moon, the earth, and the sun can be only used as a guide.
A third opinion declares that astronomical calculations are decisive and dependable, and this is the opinion of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
As for your question, Muslims may start fasting with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or with any other country as long as sighting the new moon was established according to Shari`ah. They may also seek to sight the new moon in their own country or in a nearby country, since long distances nullify the ruling. Astronomical calculations can also be of great help, especially in this age of scientific advances. It is said that if a needle is sent to space, it can easily be found, let alone the moon which has already entered into its new phase, as it can be seen two or three hours after entering it. Thus, there are various options for Muslims in your country and there is no need for them to disagree. Those who adopt the opinion that says long distances from a country prohibit one from following its timing of the new moon are adopting a strong opinion. Those who adopt the opinion that says sighting the new moon in one country is binding on other countries are also adopting a strong opinion. Those who depend on astronomical calculations to verify or establish the birth of the new moon are also on the right. In case the new moon was seen while astronomical calculations prove it can never have entered its new phase on that date, the sighting is given preference. Although the European Council gives preference to astronomical calculations, if a group of people sighted the new moon, their opinion is given preference over astronomical calculations. This was a summary of opinions in this regard and we advise Muslims to avoid disagreements and disputes. Muslims should discuss the matter together and agree to adopt one of the methods we listed above, for all are opinions of great scholars.

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The Imam Spending the Mosque’s Money

The worshippers in a certain mosque collected a sum of money to be used in offering food to fasting Muslims in Ramadan and whatever remained could be used to for anything the mosque needed. Is it permissible for the Imam of the mosque to spend this sum on building some rooms without the knowledge of the people in the mosque? When he was asked about the money, he said he had to spend it somewhere and will return it some day

The basic ruling is that the Imam has no right to spend the money allocated to offer food to fasting worshippers elsewhere. He should not spend the money on anything else other than offering food to fasting people. If there is an amount left over after offering food to all the fasting people, and so there is no fasting person left to feed, and if the Imam is given permission by the people who gave the money to spend it as he sees best, then he can spend it on something else. But if the Imam is entrusted with the money only to feed fasting people, he has absolutely no right to spend the money on something else. If he is given permission to spend the remaining money as he sees best after feeding all fasting people and no fasting person remains, he can spend the remaining amount to answer the needs of the mosque. Ibn Sahl Al-Maliki believes that it is permissible to spend the money collected in the mosque to benefit the mosque itself, although the matter is subject to difference among scholars. Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taimiyah has a similar opinion regarding Waqf; he believes it can be spent on the Waqf establishment itself, as long as there is an urgent need. Based on this, if the Imam is commissioned by those who gave the money and there is no fasting person who needs to be feed, and spending the money on a certain channel benefits the mosque, then it is permissible to do it. And Allah knows best.

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Why Were Heavens and Earth Created in Six Days?

Peace be upon you. Can you please explain the wisdom behind the fact that Allah created the heavens and earth in six days? We are asked this question repeatedly by Hindus working here in the Kingdom. They say: If your lord can create everything just by saying “Be” and it is, why did he create them in six days? Please give us a convincing answer. Glorified be Allah above all that they associate as partners with Him. May Allah reward you with good and benefit the Muslims from your knowledge!

Firstly: Allah says: “He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned.” To those who do not know the Creator I say: He cannot be asked about anything He does while the created ones can be asked. Everything the Creator does or says has a reason. He teaches His creations by means of His Actions. He teaches them the importance of gradation and that creations evolve and develop. Just like a small boy grows up slowly until he is mature, the universe is created gradually. This is one of the wisdoms. Another is that time and place are closely connected in the journey of existence. Allah decreed that these six days and the seventh one are the bases of all calculations. The connection between time and place is very strong. This is how everything went according to a set plan until the world became ready for us, with its heavens and earth. Time is not a tangible factor while place is a tangible one and that is why Allah connected them both. Such matters cannot be understood except by people who are heedful and who submit their will to Allah.
Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to him) said, “Tell those with blurry eyes that sunrise and sunset are seen by other eyes. Some people are content with appearances and do not even look for the essence.”
Ask those people about the wisdom behind creating days or time. This is only known to the Creator and man is weaker and more trivial to ask the Creator and question Him. “He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned.” (Al-Anbiya’, 21:23) Everything Allah does has a reason and if man does not see it, this is because of his inability to see. That is what I have to say in this regard and Allah knows best.

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