Can We Celebrate the 4th of July (United States Independence Day)?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Can you celebrate the 4th of July, as well as other national holidays like Canada Day?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

There is nothing intrinsic in the practice that would allow us to deem it impermissible. It is primarily a cultural celebration, not religious, and nor is it distinctively connected to non-Muslims.

Obviously, if an individual celebrates it in a manner that incorporates the impermissible, such as drinking, music, dance, and so forth, then that particular celebration would not be permitted. However, if it incorporates only that which is permissible, such as inviting family and friends over for food and watching firework displays then there is no legal basis to state that it is impermissible.

Rather, one could even be rewarded if he intends through such permissible cultural celebrations the maintaining of family ties, honoring people, and entering happiness into the hearts of those around him. As the principle states, “the permissible with a sound intention becomes worship.”

Salman

Pauline Christianity, the Prophet’s Access to the Bible, and Similarities in the Gospels

Answered by Ustadh Ali Ataie

Question: Asssalamu alaikum. My wife is a Christian and she is currently exploring both Islam and Christianity.  She asked how is it possible for Paul to write that well, obviously with some flaws in the Bible, after our prophet Isiah (Jesus {peace and blessing be upon him}) departure many hundred years later? I know he cooperated with King Constantine and gave in to his demand for one Bible. Are his eleven Apostles right and correctly written in the Bible. Are David’s psalms correct?

Second, Did RasulUllah [saws, peace and blessing be upon him] have access to a Bible in anyway?

Third, How come Matthew, Mark and others are so similar?

Fourth, was Paul really inspired by Jesus [peace and blessing be upon him] to jot down all his statements in the Bible. How did he come to know so much of what to say in the Bible?

Answer: As-salam alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I hope you are well insha’Allah. You have raised many important issues and questions that deserve a lot of research and reflection. Here are a few quick answers. I hope you follow-up and investigate further.

Paul and our Master Jesus (peace be upon him)

First of all, Paul did not live “many hundred years” after our Master Jesus (peace and blessing be upon him); he was his contemporary but the two men never actually met each other during their historical lives. Paul did not meet Constantine as the latter lived three centuries later; and Constantine did not have anything to do with codifying the biblical text; he was mainly concerned with Christology, that is, the nature and function of Jesus Christ – was he equal (homoousian in Greek) with the Father or not. This was why he convened the infamous Council of Nicea in 325 CE. You noted that “Isaiah” is another name for Jesus. This is incorrect.

The Hebrew prophet Isaiah (d. 7th century BCE) is not mentioned in any definitive Muslim proof-text as far as I know. Jesus (peace and blessing be upon him) is ‘Isa in the Qur’anic text or Yeshu’a in Syriac, meaning “saved by God” (see Psalm 20:6). According to the book of Acts as well as Paul’s own account in his various epistles canonized in the New Testament, Paul encountered a vision of the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus a short time after the ascension of Jesus (peace and blessing be upon him) in which Christ commissioned Paul to admonish the Gentiles and build believing Christian congregations (Acts 9, 22, 26; Gal. 1-2).

Paul does not represent ‘Isa (as)

However, according to renown biblical scholars/philosophers F.C. Bauer, Walter Bauer, and Soren Kierkegaard, and others (even Thomas Jefferson), Paul is the initial corrupter of the rigidly monotheistic Gospel of the holy prophet Jesus Christ (peace and blessing be upon him). Paul fails to accurately quote Jesus even one time in his fourteen letters and epistles (actually seven [Romans, Galatians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon]; the other seven are viewed by the vast majority of New Testament scholars to be pseudonymous – forgeries attributed to Paul by Pauline elements).

By his own admission, Paul has fundamental differences of opinion with the Jerusalem apostolic leadership, namely James the Just, the brother of Jesus (peace and blessing be upon him) and his successor (See the book of Galatians). Paul accuses Peter, James, and Barnabas of hypocrisy and condemns these eminent apostles as adhering to “another Gospel” (ετερον ευαγγελιον), Gal.1:6. Paul also admits that he does not possess a “letter of recommendation” (ijazah) from any authoritative apostle licensing him to teach the Gospel (2 Cor. 3:1)

Pauline Christianity is Today’s Christianity

Paul’s influence has led many scholars to conclude that he is the actual principal founder of the religion of Christianity; various dogmas such as vicarious atonement, incarnation, and divine sonship find clear origin in the Pauline corpus of the New Testament. The early believing community was split between Jamsonian Christianity, centered in Jerusalem and Semitic (Ebionite) in its theological orientation and Pauline Christianity, centered on Paul and his missions and proto-trinitarian in its theological (Christological) orientation.

The only two books of the New Testament that reflect the Jamsonian school are the books of James and Jude, both family members of Jesus (peace and blessing be upon him), the former labeled “a epistle of straw” by staunchly pro-Pauline theologian and spearhead of the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther (d. 1546 CE). There are several other writings that reflect the Jamsonian school of theology that did not make it into the New Testament due to their so-called heretical stances (the Clementine literature, the Didache, Liturgy of St. James, Gospel of the Ebionites, Gospel of the Hebrews, etc).

The Other Apostles and the Psalms

There are also other books in the New Testament that claim to have been written by apostles of Jesus (Matthew, John, and Peter), but almost all NT scholars believe that these books are pseudonymous as well. The practice of pseudonymity, or pious fraud/deception, was quite common in the Greco-Roman world at the time. With respect to the Psalms, the scholars of Islam say that indeed there are elements of truth in them, but even Old Testament biblical scholars of higher criticism do not maintain that the actual king David (peace and blessing be upon him) wrote the Pslams and have almost universally labeled the book “anonymous.”

Did our Master Muhammad (Peace and Blessing of Be Upon Him) have access to a Bible?

It is certainly conceivable that he did have access to a Bible, but we should remember that the Bible wasn’t actually translated into Arabic until the eighth century CE. That means, as some Orientalists have actually maintained, that he listened to stories about Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc., that were translated to him by learned Jews and Christians, and was then able to rehash those stories back into Arabic, in a style and beauty that remains unmatched to this day! The question then becomes, who were his human teachers that gave him these insights?

The hypocrisy of the Western Orientalist becomes apparent here due to the fact that when it comes to Jesus (who certainly had access to the OT in his own language) he employs a hermeneutic of acceptance; that is to say, that Jesus (peace and blessing be upon him) was prima facie honest and truthful; but when it comes to Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) he employs a hermeneutic of suspicion; that is to say, the Prophet must have had an ulterior motive.

There were no Christian nor Jewish tribes living in Mecca at that time, only certain individuals. Waraqah b. Nawfal died in the Prophet’s second ministerial year; it is inconceivable that an unlettered Arab would have such specialized religious information at that time and place unless he was divinely inspired or raised as a student and rigorously trained in some seminary of some sort (such as a monastery or Yeshiva). With this said, the Prophet was dubbed Al-Saadiq al-Ameen by his people even before his prophecy.

Similarities between Matthew, Mark, and Luke

These gospels are similar because Matthew and Luke simply used Mark’s “skeleton” in the writing of their respective gospels. This is why these three gospels are called “synoptic,” meaning “one-eyed.” Mark wrote around 70 CE, Matthew around 85 CE, and Luke around 85-90 CE. This theory, known as the Two Source Theory, is the most widely held opinion by biblical scholars. However, at times Matthew and Luke will revise a Markan story or pericope due to linguistic or theological reasons.

The work of the great German scholars of the 18th and 19th centuries such as Bultmann and Strauss gave rise to the study of higher biblical criticism and includes redaction, source, and textual criticisms. See Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman for some incredible insights and information. John’s Gospel is vastly different than the synoptic tradition and scholars have different theories as to why that is.

Ali Ataie


Ali Ataie has been involved in interfaith activities for over fifteen years. He has been both a guest lecturer and guest instructor at several colleges and universities such as Cal Poly State , UC Davis , UC Berkeley, UCLA, Cal State East Bay, and others . He studied various Islamic sciences under local Bay Area scholars and has dialogued and debated with several Christian scholars on a variety of topics ranging from the historicity of the resurrection of Christ (upon whom be peace) and the Prophethood of Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings).

He is a graduate of the Badr Arabic Language Institute in Hadramawt, Yemen and studied at the prestigious Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most eminent scholars in the world. He holds a Masters’ Degree in Biblical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, with emphasis upon the New Testament (the first Muslim seminarian in the 147 year history of the school to do so). He is certified in Arabic, Hebrew, and biblical Greek, and is fluent in Farsi. Currently he is working on a PhD in Islamic Biblical Hermeneutics at the GTU and is an adjunct professor of Islamic Studies and World Religions at the GTU and Zaytuna College in Berkeley, Ca.

How Can I Be a Dutiful Son While Maintaining Independence from Controlling Parents?

Answered by Ustadha Jameela Jafri

Question: I wish to be a good son and fulfill my responsibilities. However I feel overwhelmed by my parents approach towards me. I feel I cannot be independent and live my own life and that my parents expect too much from me. How can I be a good son yet also be independent while respecting my parents wishes?

If I set boundaries and do things I want to won’t that be disobeying them because they want me to do things their way and they want to be informed about everything? How can I do what I want to knowing that if i try to set boundaries and do my own thing it will result in arguments. Can I accept the arguments and still just carry on as I want to?

I am young and in my twenties but this is causing me to feel very stressed, with low self esteem and weak. I just wish to make my own choices and live my own life while being a good son.

My parents being staunch promoters of the Asian full extended family system where there is lots of involvement by parents and siblings in everything and you have to simply follow this without question I expect these issues to worsen. Please advise me.

Answer: Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Thank you for your question. May Allah Most High facilitate ease and success in your life.

With regards to one’s parents, the general situation is that they are to be obeyed and followed in all permissible matters. One should be mindful of ensuring the highest respect and honor towards one’s parents. Allah Most High says, “We have enjoined upon man to be good and dutiful to his parents” (29:8).

It is important for you to maintain this high respect and dutifulness to your parents, while also making space for yourself to grow and make your own choices. There are some matters where it is important and natural for a person – especially a man who will have his own family one day, inshAllah – to exercise control and independence. These includes finances, personal time, private space, etc. As you mention, it is important to have some boundaries in these matters.

As you develop these boundaries, it is important to but to do so in a way that maintains kindness and respect to your parents. This will require you to be emotionally intelligent about their need to be involved in your life. You may need to overcompensate in some areas to balance these needs. Your parents may feel, for example, that you are pulling away from them as you try to assert your independence. Ease their fears by spending more time with them, calling them regularly, or buying them gifts, to the extent possible.

In today’s time, it is a great blessing to have caring parents and a family network – particularly for someone who is still in his early twenties. Your parents will be a source of continued blessings for you in this life and the next, inshAllah. Keep this in mind as you develop your boundaries with them and always maintain positive relationships. There are many people who have complete independence over their personal and financial affairs, but wish that they had an extended family system to provide guidance and advice. In times of difficulty, it is your parents and siblings that will support you.

Jameela Jafri

Related Answers:

Dealing With Parents

Explanation of Hadith Regarding How the Prophet Restrained His Anger

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: I read this in the book ‘My Master Muhammad’ (Sal Allahu alaih) in Volume 2 under the section concerning his great fear of Allah.

I think because the way it has been translated and due to the lack of context, this hadith comes across has very harsh and I cannot imagine the Prophet salAllahu alaihi wa salam getting annoyed or saying something like this.

If you can help me understand that it will be so helpful as I’m torn when reading this:

Hadith:

The Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu alaihi wa salam) was in my house once, and he had a toothstick in his hand. He called a servant girl several times, until the annoyance showed on his face. I went to the chambers, and found the girl playing with a lamb. I said to her: ‘Do I see you playing with this lamb, whilst the Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu alaihi wa salam) is calling you?”

The girl said, “By the One who sent you with the truth, I did not hear you.”

The Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu alaihi wasalam) replied, “Were it not that I feared reprisal on the Day of Resserrectuion, I would smack you with this toothstick!”

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

Such instances are to be understood in the correct context and in the general way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)–as Messenger and Beloved of Allah–had this innate awe (khashya) of Allah that governed his humanness, and kept any “merely human” inclinations others would have–to respond with harshness or personal anger–at bay. This particular instance taught us numerous lessons: having patience for the sake of Allah, remaining firm on what is right, putting up with others’ annoyances, remembering the Last Day, and many more.

Mercy was at the root of his teaching (Allah bless him and give him peace). That doesn’t mean that he never got upset or raised his voice. There were occasions when the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) would be visibly upset on the pulpit in front of the Companions. Not for himself, but for Allah. But the fact that we could probably count these occasions is a miracle in of itself.

Thus we come to realize that he was mercy personified. He manifested only beautiful, gentle conduct which is the sunna because it is mercy expressed in attitude and action. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness, and He gives for gentleness what He doesn’t give for harshness or for anything else.” He also said, “Allah loves gentleness in all things,” and “Whoever is bereft of gentleness is bereft of all good.” [Muslim]

Sayyiduna Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) described his experience with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) by saying, “I served the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) for years. He never insulted me at all. He never hit me at all. And he never scolded me. And he never frowned at me in my face.” And this was of the closest of people to him (Allah bless him and give him peace).

See also: A Reader on Anger Management and Good Character

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam

Tabraze Azam

Should Muslim Parents Let Their Children Freely Choose Their Religion?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: My Mother converted to Islam when she married my father but that union did not last and she no longer practices the religion. While I still respect her for that, I am now a mother myself and am trying to raise my son as a practicing Muslim. However, she keeps on telling me to let my son choose for himself whether he wants to remain Muslim. How do I respond to this in a respectable manner as I was always taught that Muslim parents have a responsibility to ensure their children grow up to be good Muslims?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question.

You have three responsibilities in this situation:

1. Raise your child to be a practicing Muslim, recognizing that he is a trust from God. Children need boundaries and limits, and imparting a clear sense of religious belonging and affiliation is a huge part of this. We are required to inculcate in our children love for God and His Messenger, God bless him and give him peace. There’s no way we can do that if we abdicate our responsibility and let them go it alone.

2. Respectfully agree to disagree with your mother. I’m pretty sure that even if you sought counseling from someone outside the Islamic tradition, that person, if a professional, would aver that the religious upbringing of your child is the sole preserve of you and your husband. This is an area where your mother must respect your authority and defer to your wishes.

3. Once you have provided a sound upbringing and given your child the tools to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and error, then it is up to him what he does as an adult. But as long as he’s a minor in your household, you have the right to raise him as you see fit and your mother–and any other family–should respect that.

Continue to raise your child with the values you cherish!

May Allah make things easy,

Zaynab Ansari

Dealing With Non-Muslim In-laws Who Dislike Muslims

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Assalamu alaykum,

My question is about marriage and how to deal with future in-laws who are not Muslim. If a woman wishes to marry a convert whose mother is not willing to meet her because she is Muslim and wears the hijab then should this affect her decision to go ahead with the marriage?

My parents are supportive of whatever decision I make but fear that if the guy’s mother is not willing to meet me before the wedding then there will be incredible tension and pain for me in my future relationship. 

Answer: Assalamu alaikum,

Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question.

Sadly, one of the most difficult (and hurtful) consequences of a cross-cultural marriage can be the rejection the young couple face from either one or both sides of their respective families.

My own mother dealt with this; my father’s parents refused to meet her and refused to meet their own grandchildren (my sister and me), and this situation lasted for decades.

It really hurt. Alhamdulillah, however, the human spirit is resilient and other family members saw the price of intolerance and did their best to make amends.

If you think you have the strength to weather the storms, don’t let your fiance’s mother stand in your way. It’s funny how people accuse Muslims of being intolerant but then turn around and manifest the exact same sins.

It’s possible God will soften her heart and she will come around, or she may never accept you. I hate to paint it in such stark terms, but it’s best to prepare yourself for chilly or non-existent family relations.

May Allah grant ease,

Zaynab Ansari

Backbiting (ghiba) and Seeking Counsel

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Is speaking about a situation without mentioning the persons name, even though the other person knows who it is, is that Ghiba? Not being able to express my feelings is at time unbearable. How does one vent, seek counsel or explain a situation about her marriage without committing Ghiba?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

Yes, talking about a known person would be considered slander (ghiba).

Slander: Its Basis and Ruling

Slander (ghiba) means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike. [Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha] (i.e. if he is known to the one addressed)

Birgivi said it is “to mention the negative points of a specific person who is known to those being addressed, to indicate these points, or to make them known by hand or any other limbs.” [Birgivi, al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]

The basis is that all slander (ghiba) is absolutely unlawful (haram). Allah Most High says, “Do not slander one another.” [Qur’an, 49:12]

See also:  Slander, Backbiting, and Talebearing

Permissible Slander

Backbiting or slander is permitted in certain situations. One of these is to complain about any wrongdoing to someone who can do something about it. Another would be to seek assistance in correcting the ways of a sinner.

However, this is an exception and thus only permitted to the extent of the need. As a consequence, you could express yourself with restraint to someone who is able to do something to assist in correcting the matter; though not simply to express your frustration.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak good words or be silent.” [Agreed upon]

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam

Tabraze Azam

A Hadith on the Rights of Non-Muslims in a Muslim State

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: What is the source and authenticity of this narration: Whosoever harms a non Muslim citizen of a Muslim state, I shall be the complainant against him on the Day of Judgement.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Beware, if anyone oppresses (or wrongs) the one with whom one has an agreement (mu`ahid), or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall plead for him on the Day of Judgment.” [Abu Dawud]

Abu Dawud remained silent on this report. However, Sakhawi comments that its chain of transmission is reasonable (la ba’s bihi); `Iraqi mentions that its chain is good (jayyid), and `Ajlouni too says that its chain is good (hasan).

The meaning is nevertheless sound as understood from other primary texts. Allah Most High says, “And if thou fearest treachery any way at the hands of a people, dissolve it with them equally; surely God loves not the treacherous.” [Qur’an, 8:58]

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he is given a trust he breaches it.’” [Bukhari]

In general, the social rights of non-Muslims are the same as those of Muslims; and it is a personal and public duty for Muslims to safeguard the rights of others. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was sent as a mercy to humanity, not just the Muslims.

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam

Tabraze Azam

Not Declaring Income for Tax Purposes

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Is it permissible to pay minimum tax by not declaring actual income from business while I pay zakat?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

It is not permitted to lie, deceive, or do anything against the law.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever deceives us is not one of us.” [Sahih Muslim]

However, it is permitted to take any legal means to minimize the taxes you pay.

See also: Paying Taxes to a Government that Harms Muslims

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam

Tabraze Azam

The Legal Ruling on Smoking and Its Punishment

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: My question is that does smoking cigarettes and in particular certain drugs such as weed and marijuana that intoxicate more than tobacco, carry the same punishment as drinking alcohol i.e. being impure for forty days?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

According to many contemporary scholars, smoking is unlawful (haram) or prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) and sinful due to its major individual and societal harms as established by modern medical research.

Others hold that it is minimally disliked, and can become impermissible and sinful if done such that grave harm is feared in one’s particular case.

See also: The Legal Rulings on Chewing Tobacco and Smoking Cigarettes

Marijuana and Drugs

Marijuana is unlawful (haram) as it is a drug which intoxicates. Thus it would take the same ruling as alcohol. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Every intoxicant is prohibited.” [Bukhari]

As for the being impure for forty days, please see the following article:  Drinking Alcohol: Are My Prayers Not Valid for 40 Days?

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam

Tabraze Azam