THE REALITY OF ZAKAH

I recently came across an interesting fatwa from a ‘scholar’; A man asked if his wife E5C42AE1-EAC7-413A-A343-5B2B145D603Ccould pay her zakah to his parents who were receiving food stamps and Medicaid. The ‘scholar’s’ response was that this was permitted.

 

 

I now had my own question – What exactly was this opinion based upon? As always, I looked to the Quran first.

 

In terms of evidence, the Quran has this verse in Surah At Tauba, (60), which categorises who can receive zakah:

 

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاء وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

Indeed, the alms are for the fuqaraa’ and the masaakeen, and those who work in the collecting and distributing of the alms, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and those who are over burdened with debts, and [for every struggle] in God’s cause, and the wayfarer: an ordinance from God – and God is All-Knowing, Wise.

 

*Note that the term ‘sadaqaat’ is used in the verse for ‘zakah’.

 

Most of the categories mentioned in the verse are easily understood. A lot of confusion however, is caused by the different opinions on the definition of ‘faqeer’ (the singular form of ‘fuqaraa’’) and ‘miskeen’ (the singular form of ‘masaakeen’) – You can find these opinions easily by searching online.

 

Allah (azza wa jal) makes clear the meaning of the word ‘faqeer’ in Surah Al Hashr, verse 8:

 

لِلْفُقَرَاء الْمُهَاجِرِينَ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنصُرُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ

 

‘And for the fuqaraa’ of the emigrants, who were expelled from their homes and their money, seeking bounties from Allah and His pleasure, and helping Allah and His messenger. Those are the truthful.’

 

Here, the ‘fuqaraa’’ are clearly defined as those who had lost their homes and money. They did not have food, clothing or shelter – they were destitute. In today’s world, the homeless are destitute. Those in refugee camps are destitute. Those who cannot afford adequate food, heating and clothing are destitute.

 

Similarly, the story of Musa offers further proof of this definition. In Surah Al Qasas, verse 24, Musa describes himself as ‘faqeer’:

 

فَسَقَى لَهُمَا ثُمَّ تَوَلَّى إِلَى الظِّلِّ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

 

‘So he watered for their flock for them, then he turned to the shade and said, ‘My Rabb, indeed I am destitute for any good you can bestow upon me’.’

 

If you read the verses preceding this one, Musa left his home suddenly, out of fear, after killing a man. He had left everything and had nothing – no food, money, home or possessions. Again, the English term ‘destitute’ comes to mind. 

 

Now, to move onto the meaning of ‘miskeen’:

 

In Surah Al Baqarah, verse 184, Allah (azza wa jal) states:

 

أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ وَأَن تَصُومُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

 

‘Fast for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, feed a Miskeen. So whoever pays the fidya, it is good for him. And that you fast is good for you if only you knew.’

 

There are other verses like this one where the word ‘miskeen’ is mentioned with food/feeding people. These verses include Surah Al Ma’un, 3,  Surah Al Fajr, 18, Surah Al Insaan, 8 and Surah Al Muddathir, 44. These verses tell us a ‘miskeen’ is one who is in need of food. Feeding those who already have food would obviously not be charity! So, those who have to go to food banks are ‘masaakeen’. Those who have to choose heating their homes over eating are ‘masaakeen’.

 

So now we know that ‘Faqeer’ is one who is ‘destitute’ while ‘Miskeen’ is ‘one who is in need of food’, let’s go back to where this blog started – the fatwa…There are 8 categories of people who can receive zakah as defined by the Quran. If one believes his family member/relative/someone he knows is in one of those categories, can he choose to give his zakah directly to them?

 

The answer is in the verse from Surah At Tauba above. You can see that one of the categories of people who receive zakah is those who collect and distribute the zakah. The zakah at the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) was collected and distributed by an agency of people – individuals did not decide who their zakah was going to.

 

This is mentioned in this verse too, also in Surah At Tauba (58):

 

وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَلْمِزُكَ فِي الصَّدَقَاتِ فَإِنْ أُعْطُواْ مِنْهَا رَضُواْ وَإِن لَّمْ يُعْطَوْاْ مِنهَا إِذَا هُمْ يَسْخَطُونَ

And of them are some who accuse you concerning (the distribution of) the alms. If they are given part thereof, they are pleased, but if they are not given thereof, behold! They are enraged!

 

 

Furthermore, in ahadith, we also have relevant evidence:

 

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

 

The Prophet (ﷺ) sent Mu’adh to Yemen and said, “Invite the people to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I am Allah’s Messenger, and if they obey you, then teach them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in every day and night (in 24 hours) and if they obey you, teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay zakah from their property and it is to be TAKEN from the wealthy among them and GIVEN to the poor.”

(Sahih Al Bukhari, book 24)

The way of the religion is that Zakah is to be collected and distributed – It is not given directly to ‘potential’ recipients.

 

So, a person cannot decide if they should give their zakah to a family member or a friend in need. It should be given to an organisation so that the process is objective and fair. This way, the financial help goes to those most in need. Those that claim zakah can be given to family/directly to a recipient are opening the whole system of zakah to corruption – Their claims are not based upon evidence.

 

It may be human nature to look for grey areas but, in the religion, there are none – It is black and white. The evidence is there, if we but look.

 

 

 

Does a Muslim woman NEED a man in order to travel?

2B731165-B8BE-4FA9-B2F6-599E6655A8AFMany ‘scholars’ claim a Muslim woman is only permitted to travel with a man whom she cannot marry (‘a mahram’). While some propagate that this is the case for any travelling, others believe she can travel within a specified distance. They differ as to how far this is, with a range spanning from 25 to 64 miles.

 

They use ahadith such as the ones below and calculate the distance based upon how far people at the time would have been able to travel in 3 days:

 

Narrated Ibn `Umar:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A woman should not travel for more than three days except with a Dhi-Mahram.” (The Book of Shortening the Prayers (At-Taqseer), Sahih Bukhari)

 

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

 

It is not lawful for a Muslim woman to travel a night’s journey except when there is a mahram with her. (The Book of pilgrimage, Sahih Muslim)

 

Narrated Ibn `Abbas:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A woman should not travel except with a mahram (her husband or a man with whom that woman cannot marry at all according to the Islamic Jurisprudence), and no man may visit her except in the presence of a mahram.” A man got up and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I intend to go to such and such an army and my wife wants to perform Hajj.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), “Go along with her (to Hajj).(The Book of ‘Penalty of Hunting while on Pilgrimage’, Sahih Al Bukhari)

 

I have included the book each hadith is found in because this often sheds light upon the context and what was intended by the hadith. Surely, the collectors of the ahadith placed each one in a specific book because that is the topic they believed the hadith was about. 

 

Interestingly, Imam Bukhari put one hadith above in the book concerning shortening the prayer (i.e. the length of a journey for which you would combine prayers) and the other in a book relating to Hajj. Imam Muslim also put his in the Book of Hajj.

 

Now, if you’ve read any of my other blogs, you already know that I believe the evidence speaks for itself – as long as you are listening. We have to ask ourselves, why did the collectors of these ahadith place them in the books of Hajj.

 

What was the context of these ahadith? The last hadith (narrated by Ibn Abbas) indicates the Muslims were still at war and Hajj especially would have been a time of threat. The man in the story intended to join an army but was told instead to accompany his wife to perform Hajj. Simply put, it would not have been safe for a woman to travel for Hajj without someone who would physically protect her.

 

Furthermore, we have evidence that the Prophet’s wives travelled without a mahram in the following hadith in Bukhari:

Narrated Ibrahim’s grand-father that ‘Umar(ra) in his last Hajj allowed the wives of the Prophet(ﷺ)to perform Hajj and he sent with them ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan(ra) and ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf(ra).

 

Obviously, Umar and the wives of the Prophet understood the religion better than the ‘scholars’ of the modern world. Neither of the men sent with the wives were mahram for them all. Some claim that maybe each wife was accompanied by a mahram also but we have no sound evidence of this.

 

On the other hand, it is completely plausible that women needed a mahram when it was deemed unsafe to travel alone and that the Muslims at the time understood this. So, once it was safe, women did travel independently.

 

As always, my intention is not to issue a ‘fatwa’ or my interpretation as the truth. It is merely to research and evaluate the evidence being commonly used by ‘scholars’. It is up to each Muslim to come to their own conclusion. May Allah (azza wa jall) guide us all.

Shame on women’s bodies

 

The following is a question I received:

Aggression Blame Shame Attack Bullying

When I don’t wear a scarf, the shape of my chest becomes visible. Isn’t that shameful? Isn’t it better to wear a scarf?

 

The concept of shame in this instance is most likely founded in the environment in which you were raised. In many cultures across the world, women are expected to dress in a certain way so as to conform to societal expectations. There are many African women who wear head gear for example and not for religious reasons. Even in the Western world, women who dress scantily may be treated or labelled in a negative way.

 

The religion of Islam has no such attachment of shame to women’s bodies. If you read the Quran and ahadith, you find references to menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and sex. The religion views these as part of life and nothing to be ashamed of. 

 

For more information about the verses on what should be covered, see my blog here.

 

With regards to whether despite the evidence, it being better to wear a headscarf – We cannot legislate better than the One who created us. Adding to the religion is innovation and the Prophet said ‘….The worst of things are those that are newly invented; every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in the Fire.’ (See https://sunnah.com/nasai/19/23 for the complete hadith)

 

I believe it’s time women stopped allowing society to dictate how they feel about their bodies and subsequently dress. More importantly, it’s time for all Muslims to shed innovation for the real religion.

The confusion in KHULA

061B2F9A-94D8-43D9-97C0-36F68AC63A1DThe concept of ‘Khula’ amongst Muslims is based largely upon a sole incident regarding Thaabit bin Qais.

 

‘Scholars’ use this hadith https://sunnah.com/bukhari/68/24 to claim that:

1). If a woman asks for divorce, she must give back the mahr.

2). The wife of Thaabit bin Qais went to the Prophet so women have to divorce through a court/judge.

3). The judge or judges will decide if the woman’s request is valid.

 

So, according to most Muslims, while a man can just divorce a woman by saying the word ‘divorce’, a woman follows a completely different process.

 

Does this sound right to you?

 

Those who know Islam know that this is simply NOT the religion (See my blog on ‘Khula’ here). In fact, if we take a closer look at the ahadith about Thaabit bin Qais we find a LOT of confusion.

 

Why did the wife of Thaabit bin Qais want a divorce?

 

Firstly, in the account found at https://sunnah.com/bukhari/68/25 , the wife (Habibah bint Sahl Al-Ansarriyah) states she is ‘afraid of the kufr’. Imam Bukhari also included this version https://sunnah.com/bukhari/68/22 which states she ‘hates the kufr in Islam’ (Bukhari found a problem with one person in this chain but included this hadith in his authentic collection because it is backed up by the one mentioned prior to it – (68/25). It also appears with the same words (the wife stating she wants a divorce because ‘she hates the kufr in Al Islam’) in the collection of An Nisa’i.

 

Now, if what we take away from this account is that the wife of Thaabit bin Qais wanted a divorce because of his ‘kufr/disbelief’ in Islam, then this fits with evidence from the Quran (See my blog on this here).

 

There is a hadith (https://sunnah.com/bukhari/61/120) that names Thaabit bin Qais as from the people of Paradise. This does not mean he was a Muslim at the time of this divorce (He is known to have fought at Uhud but not at Badr). There does not seem to be sufficient information about him to know when exactly he became Muslim.

 

However, if we conclude (like the clergy have) that the problem here was the wife fearing she would ‘be ungrateful’ (translating ‘kufr’ to mean ‘ingratitude’) makes no sense whatsoever. Moreover it contradicts the Quranic verse which states the Mahr cannot be taken back by the husband (4:20 – See it here in my blog).

 

What does this event tell us about Thaabit bin Qais?

 

If you have a read through the ahadith about Thaabit bin Qais here (https://sunnah.com/search/?q=Thabit+bin+Qais) you will see the picture you get is a confusing one. In the narration by Ibn Abbas where Thaabit’s wife asks for a divorce, she states, ‘It is not his religion nor his character which is the reason for the divorce.’

 

However, there are a couple of ahadith – one about Habibah and another about another wife (Jamilah bint Abdullah) where he broke the named wife’s hand/caused her physical injury – for both of the women.

 

Does this fit with the statement that ‘his character’ is not the reason for the divorce?

 

There seems to be a discrepancy here.

 

How long was the iddah (‘waiting period after divorce’) in this event?

 

In this version by An Nisa’i, (https://sunnah.com/nasai/27/109), the Prophet, according to the narration, orders Habibah an iddah of 1 month when we know from the Quran that the iddah must be 3 periods in these cases.

 

So, either this took place before the verses about iddah were revealed or we are missing other relevant information. As it is, what we are left with is a confusing picture. Even the clergy ignore the part about the iddah of one month and still insist on a three month period. Ignoring one part and taking the rest? What does that tell us about the confusing picture this hadith paints?

 

I included the hadith about Thaabit bin Qais (in my blog here) because ‘scholars’ around the world are using it to create the ‘Khula’ process and through it, take away a woman’s right to divorce more easily – she has to fight for it.

 

The responsibility of following the truth lies with us all. Nothing less will ever suffice.

 

*This blog is about the ahadith about this event. If you’d like the complete picture, see my blog here on ‘Khula, Mahr and Halala’.

 

 

 

 

Wearing a headscarf to recite Quran

Does a woman have to wear a headscarf while reciting the Quran?

 

B8BB95CA-2376-416B-A838-628B4640B3FB

 

Wearing a headscarf while reciting Quran has no basis in the religion. It is noteworthy that in other religions women wear a headscarf (e.g Sikhism, Hinduism) to show respect. Due to many Muslims sharing geographical/cultural roots with these religions, the idea that a woman’s head must be covered to recite Quran seems to be rooted in culture. Cultures where covering the head is a mark of respect. 

 

Culture is based upon repeated traditions. Religion however is more scientific – it is based upon evidence and in this case, there is none.

Question about the headscarf

 

98b7b2ad-be35-4d81-ae9f-e8b2f50d8c00How am I to understand the narration related to the story of Ifk, when Aisha covered herself when the sahabi saw her? Isn’t this proof that women should cover their heads and faces? 

 

You refer to the following (I have only included the relevant part as the story of the ifk is a very long narration (from Bukhari).

 

وَكَانَ صَفْوَانُ بْنُ الْمُعَطَّلِ السُّلَمِيُّ ثُمَّ الذَّكْوَانِيُّ مِنْ وَرَاءِ الْجَيْشِ، فَأَصْبَحَ عِنْدَ مَنْزِلِي فَرَأَى سَوَادَ إِنْسَانٍ نَائِمٍ، فَعَرَفَنِي حِينَ رَآنِي، وَكَانَ رَآنِي قَبْلَ الْحِجَابِ، فَاسْتَيْقَظْتُ بِاسْتِرْجَاعِهِ حِينَ عَرَفَنِي، فَخَمَّرْتُ وَجْهِي بِجِلْبَابِي،

Safwan bin Al-Muattal As-Sulami Adh-Dhakwani was behind the army. When he reached my place in the morning, he saw the figure of a sleeping person and he recognized me on seeing me as he used to see me before ‘hijab’. So I woke up when he recited Istirja’ (i.e. “Inna li l-lahi wa inna llaihi raji’un”) as soon as he recognized me. So I covered my face with my jilbaab.

 

Firstly, A’isha mentioned Safwan bin Al Muattal recognized her because he was used to seeing her before ‘hijab’. Now, the ONLY verse (See 33.53) which mentions ‘hijab’ in connection to women is the verse about the wives of the Prophet.

 

Following on from this, in the same Surah – Surah Al Ahzaab, verse 32, Allah tells the wives of the Prophet  that they are not like other women and it is to go against the evidence if we take verses Allah (Azza wa jall) made specific to the wives and apply it to all women. 

 

Secondly, it is very relevant that we take note that A’isha said she covered her face with her jilbaab. She did not use the word ‘khimaar’ (which is used in common day Arabic to mean ‘a headscarf’. In other words, she used her clothing to cover her face as the verse had ordered people to interact with the wives of the Prophet through a screen/barrier.

 

In other words, the story of the ifk actually indicates the implementation of the verse of ‘hijab’ for the wives of the Prophet. It has nothing to do with covering the head.

Questions on the headscarf

1). There’s a Hadith that clearly states that a women should cover all of herself, except for her face and hands. Aren’t your assertions that a woman shouldn’t wear a scarf going directly against this Hadith?

 

May Allah reward your efforts to uncover the truth about this issue. The hadith you mention is in the collection of Abu Dawud:

 

Aisha said, “Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of God (pbuh) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of God turned his attention from her and said, “O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her except that she displays parts of her body except this and this,” and he pointed to the face and hands.

 

Now, this hadith is categorised as weak because it is ‘mursal’. In other words there is a gap in the chain of narration – the narrator never met A’isha. Hence, Abu Dawud declared it weak. I realise that more recently, Sheikh Albanee decided it was ‘saheeh’ or authentic as he used it as proof that Muslim women are NOT required to cover the face. He asserted that this hadith must be authentic because it would then explain ‘except that which is apparent’ (the verse in Surah An Nur, which you can find here).

 

In other words, the categorization of ‘saheeh’ was not based upon an analysis of the chain but because he felt it fitted his understanding of the issue. So, it is still weak and cannot be used to base our actions upon. 

 

2).  How am I to understand the narration related to women going to Hajj at the time of the Prophet, when they covered their faces when men passed by? Isn’t this proof that women must cover their faces and heads?

 

The collection of Abu Dawood has this statement from Aisha, the wife of the Prophet:

 

عن عائشة قالت : ” كَانَ الرُّكْبَانُ يَمُرُّونَ بِنَا وَنَحْنُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مُحْرِمَاتٌ ، فَإِذَا حَاذَوْا بِنَا سَدَلَتْ إِحْدَانَا جِلْبَابَهَا مِنْ رَأْسِهَا عَلَى وَجْهِهَا ، فَإِذَا جَاوَزُونَا كَشَفْنَاهُ ”

 

Narrated Aisha, “The riders would pass us while we were in ihram with the Messenger of Allah. When they got close to us, one of us would draw her jilbaab from her head over her face. When they passed by, we would uncover our faces.

 

This account, however, contradicts the following hadith from Bukhari:

 

The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said, “The woman in the state of Ihram should not cover her face, or wear gloves.”

 

How can it be that the wives of the Prophet covered their faces in ihram when he clearly stated that a woman should not cover her face or hands and he was with them at this time? Obviously there is a problem with the authenticity of Abu Dawud’s account (The collection of Abu Dawud is deemed less authentic compared to Bukhari). So, we cannot use the account attributed to A’isha as credible evidence.

 

Some argue that this Hadith in Bukhari means women did cover their faces normally. However, by that same token, would these same ‘scholars’ claim that when Muslims were told in the Quran not to approach the prayer while intoxicated (4.43), it meant they were usually drunk? Of course not! 

 

If you would like more information about the issue of ‘covering the face’, please look here

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The Muslim headscarf – NOT Allah’s religion

B8BB95CA-2376-416B-A838-628B4640B3FBFor centuries, most of the clergy have claimed women must (at the very least) wear a headscarf. Women’s dress is probably the most talked about issue both in the Eastern and Western world and the headscarf is now synonymous with a woman’s religion.

 

Before we look at the evidence, we need the context, the backdrop – if you like. The culture of the Arabs at the time of the Prophet; the people were scantily clad and often exposed their private parts.* Keep this in mind as you read on.

 

As usual, I will let the evidence speak for itself and you can make up your own mind but prepare to be shocked.

 

I always start with the Quran – There are 2 verses in the Quran about how Muslim women should dress in public. The first is in Surah Al Ahzaab (59):

 

يأَيُّهَا النَّبِىُّ قُل لاًّزْوَجِكَ وَبَنَـتِكَ وَنِسَآءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَـبِيبِهِنَّ ذلِكَ أَدْنَى أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلاَ يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً

 

O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to lower their Jalabeeb over their bodies. That will be better that they should be known so as not to be harmed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

So, this verse commands:

 

1). All Muslim women to ‘lower’ their ‘jalabeeb’

The majority of ‘scholars’ claim the jalabeeb (plural of ‘jilbaab’) means to cover from head to toe. Some even include the eyes/one eye. They equate ‘jalabeeb’ in this verse with a cloak worn by modern day Muslim women. They present no evidence whatsoever to back up their claim. However, anyone with common sense will understand that the ‘jalabeeb’ here refers to something the women already owned. It simply refers to clothing/garment.

 

So, in other words, Allah told the women to cover more of their bodies than they currently were (remember the culture of the time!)

 

2). Women were commanded to lower their ‘jalabeeb’ so that they could be recognised as Muslims and as a result, not harmed.

 

Another significant point to note here is that many translations of the Quran wrongly translate ‘fa la yu’dhayn’ as ‘not be molested’, immediately connecting the concept of covering to sexuality.

 

The verses just before this one, using the same word (yu’dhoon), tell us about ‘harming’ God, the Prophet and the believing men and women. Common sense would dictate that it is obviously not anything sexual being suggested here – you cannot ‘molest’ God. 

 

In summary, this verse commands women to cover up their bodies more than they had been at that time to be different from the pagans. It is general. The specifics came later in the 2nd verse.

 

The 2nd verse is from Surah An Nur (31):

 

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَـتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَـرِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلاَ يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلاَ يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِى إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِى أَخَوَتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّـبِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُوْلِى الإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُواْ عَلَى عَوْرَتِ النِّسَآءِ وَلاَ يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ وَتُوبُواْ إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

 

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and cover their private parts and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent, and to draw their covers all over their Juyub and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their women, or their right hand possesses, or the Tabi`in among men who do not have desire, or children who are not aware of the nakedness of women. And let them not cover their legs so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.

 

Now, as mentioned, this verse is very specific. It includes:

 

1).  Women must cover their private parts (just like men are commanded in the verse prior to this one) and not expose them except that which is apparent. ‘That which is apparent’ is defined differently by ‘scholars’ – Some claim it is what is necessary to see (ie. one eye/eyes) while others propagate it is the face. BUT it is obviously related to the covering of the private parts. In other words, it means cover up the private areas except that which is impossible to hide (eg. the size of the hips or bottom).

 

2). Their ’juyub’ (plural of ‘jayb’) must be covered – this refers to covering the chest area/breasts/cleavage. Again, ‘and not to reveal their adornment except that which is apparent’ means cover the chest with fabric except that which is impossible to hide (eg. size of bust). The covering of the chest may be relaxed in the company of the list of people which follows.

 

‘Scholars’ claim the ‘khumr’ mentioned here means ‘headscarves’ but linguistically, the root خمر – also used to refer to ‘alcohol’ in the Quran – means ‘cover’. It is only over time that the word has now evolved to imply a headscarf when the Quranic meaning is the original one. Here, it means ‘cover with clothing/fabric’.

 

3). Their legs must be covered in a way which doesn’t make what they are covering visible/apparent. In other words, clothing must cover the legs and not be so tight/transparent that there is nothing left to the imagination.

 

This part of the verse is commonly translated as ‘And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment’ but the verb used here is the same verb as is used to state the chest must be covered (ضرب). Therefore, in the same verse, about the same topic, it has to mean the same thing.

 

Anyway, how would stamping your feet reveal anything except the sound of anklets? Any claims to this are based on shaky evidence.

 

The Quran makes it very clear. Women are commanded to cover their private parts, their chests and their legs. In other words, to dress modestly. So, where is the command to wear a headscarf ?

 

Well, put frankly – it isn’t in the Quran.

 

Despite all the attention given to how Muslim women dress, there is NO book on women’s dress in the collections of ahadith. In fact there is actually more information about men’s dress (eg. Gold, silk, covering the private parts)! So, it cannot be found in ahadith either. Surely, if the women covered their heads, we would have some evidence about how and when they wore it.

 

So, in conclusion, the headscarf does not seem to be based upon evidence and Allah’s religion. The reasons for it differ between communities and time periods in history. It is a concept intertwined with symbolism/recognition, belonging, misogyny, patriarchy, and culture. I am not the first to state this view and am sure will not be the last.

 

Sometimes, the truth is a bitter pill to swallow but our religious practices must be based upon evidence and our Lord’s commands, not what makes us comfortable because we are used to it. The headscarf is not a woman’s religion. It’s a direct result of centuries of misogyny, patriarchy and culture. More recently, it is now associated with belonging/recognition and even liberation. The solution to this is my answer to most problems in life – Knowledge. Muslims (men and women) need to know the real religion instead of relying on the mere opinions of clerics. It will be a tough road to begin with but we owe it to ourselves and to future generations. May The Almighty guide us all.

 

*If you read the Quran in it’s entirety (verses about covering the private parts) alongside ahadith about dress (easily found online), this becomes very clear.

 

 

 

 

Detangling the Muslim beard

C8F42E55-B1F7-4150-8C48-FFC0AA3436DEDepending upon the clergy to define our religion for us has led to different beliefs about a Muslim man’s beard. There are, broadly speaking, three different opinions:

 

1). The beard is not part of the religion.

2). It is only a recommendation and so is purely a matter of personal choice.

3). It is an obligation and must either be left to grow without cutting/trimming or be at least a fistful in length.

 

Disagreements between Muslims because there are differences between the ‘scholars’. 

 

Just as Muslim women are judged by how they dress, Muslim men who trim or shave their beards are also subject to criticism from other Muslims. Stereotypically, the longer the beard, the greater the piety of a man. Of course, like many stereotypes out there, this isn’t actually the case.

 

So, what is the truth about the beard?

 

The evidence is found in Ahadith:

 

عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ خَالِفُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ، وَفِّرُوا اللِّحَى، وَأَحْفُوا الشَّوَارِبَ ‏”‏‏.‏

 

Ibn `Umar said, the Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘Do the opposite of what the pagans do. Grow the beard and cut the moustache short.’ (Bukhari)

 

There are other versions of this hadith with the same meaning. Men were ordered to keep the moustache short and to grow a beard. The rationale behind the beard is also given in the short hadith – to be different from those who were disbelievers in Islam.

 

So, those who place themselves in groups 1 and 2 above – believing that the beard is not a part of the religion are clearly GOING AGAINST the evidence. The terms used in the hadith are imperative, ordering an action (I have highlighted these).

 

On the other hand, those (in group 3) who claim the beard must be a certain length or never cut/trimmed have NO EVIDENCE. They use the following statement about Ibn Umar cutting his beard below a fistful and argue that the Companions knew the religion better than us.

 

Nafi’ said, ‘Whenever Ibn Umar performed hajj or umra, he used to hold his beard with his hand and cut whatever remained outside his hold’. (Bukhari)

 

I do not dispute that the Companions knew the religion better than us but there is a difference between a personal habit and following the command of Allah and His Prophet. Clearly, due to there not being any evidence from the Prophet or the Quran about the length of the beard, leaving a fistful after hajj/umra was the practice/habit of Ibn Umar. It was not a command of the Prophet and there is a lack of evidence that the Prophet himself grew his beard in this way.

 

So, in conclusion, once we move away from the opinions of the clergy, the truth is easy to see; A Muslim man has been ordered to grow a beard to be different from those of other faiths. It has absolutely nothing to do with how pious one is nor should it be used as ammunition against a person if the scarf/beard is missing. Tearing someone down is so much easier than lifting them up. Yet, as Muslims we aspire to leave the easy option behind us and struggle for what is right.

 

The painful truth of ‘Interest’.

C84C60CB-7679-4216-994C-D2D1E2D842F8Sometimes, because the truth is difficult to face, we create an ‘alternate truth’. An ‘alternate truth’ is basically a lie we tell ourselves so we can do what we desire without guilt, shame or accountability. This psychological process is subtle and we do not easily realise we are guilty of it.

 

One example of this is the issue of ‘interest’. There are those out there, albeit a minority, who are propagating that ‘interest’ is permitted when there is a dire need. For those of you unfamiliar with the topic, ‘interest’ (‘riba’ in Arabic) refers to ‘an increment in wealth as part of a borrowing/lending process’. Islam forbids Muslims from giving it, taking it and even being part of the transaction.

 

Allah says in Surah Al Baqarah, verse 275:

 

الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَواْ لاَ يَقُومُونَ إِلاَّ كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِى يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَـنُ مِنَ الْمَسِّ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَواْ وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَواْ فَمَن جَآءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِّنْ رَّبِّهِ فَانتَهَى فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ أَصْحَـبُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـلِدُونَ

 

275.Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaytan leading him to insanity. That is because they say: “Trading is only like Riba,” whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba. So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba, shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns (to Riba), such are the dwellers of the Fire ـ they will Abide therein.

 

And in the same Surah, verses 278 and 279:

 

يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ وَذَرُواْ مَا بَقِىَ مِنَ الرِّبَواْ إِن كُنتُمْ مُّؤْمِنِينَ

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ فَأْذَنُواْ بِحَرْبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَإِن تُبتُمْ فَلَكُمْ رُءُوسُ أَمْوَلِكُمْ لاَ تَظْلِمُونَ وَلاَ تُظْلَمُونَ

 

278. O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah and give up what remains from Riba, if you are (really) believers. 279. And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger but if you repent,you shall have your capital sums.

 

The Quran is very clear on ‘interest’. It is categorically forbidden and the punishment for it is Hell. Taking it/giving it is asking for Allah to wage war against you.

 

Yet, despite this clear evidence, we have those who misconstrue and misinterpret evidence to falsely claim that interest is permitted in cases where there is a necessity. They cite buying a house to live in as an example of necessity.

 

They use evidence such as, ‘…..He (Allah) has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion or necessity….’ and claim this is proof ‘interest’ is permitted if necessity exists. They are misconstruing a PART of a verse from Surah Al An’aam (119). Look at the complete verse down below and the one before it – It is specific to food and has nothing to do with ‘interest’.

 

فَكُلُواْ مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُم بِآيَـتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ

وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلاَّ تَأْكُلُواْ مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُم مَّا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلاَّ مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا لَّيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوَائِهِم بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ رَّبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُعْتَدِينَ

 

118. So eat of that on which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, if you are believers in His Ayat. 119. And why should you not eat of that on which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, while He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity And surely, many do lead astray by their own desires through lack of knowledge. Certainly your Lord knows best the transgressors.

 

Those who claim ‘interest’ is permissible in certain situations also use Allah’s words from Surah Al Ma’idah, verse 6: ‘….Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful.’ Again, taking parts of verses is extremely dangerous and leads to misguiding not only ourselves but others too. The verse actually reads:

 

يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلوةِ فاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُواْ بِرُؤُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَينِ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُباً فَاطَّهَّرُواْ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَآءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنْكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَـمَسْتُمُ النِّسَآءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُواْ مَآءً فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيداً طَيِّباً فَامْسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَـكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

 

6. O you who believe! When you stand (intend) to offer the Salah (the prayer), then wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba, purify yourselves (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from the Gha’it (toilet) or you have touched women and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favor to you that you may be thankful.

 

This verse tells us about ‘tayammum’ (purification when there is no access to water). It is very specific and is not connected to ‘interest’.

 

So, ‘Interest’ is clearly forbidden in Islam. When we look at the evidence with open hearts, the truth becomes apparent – We just have to find the strength to live by it.