The Importance of Education in Life

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question: My sister has stopped going to school for the last three years. She is too scared to go to school. We tried to contact many scholars but no one could help us. I request you to please help us and tell us what to do.

Answer: Assalamu alaykum,

May Allah reward you for being concerned for your sister. This is a serious matter indeed. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Seek knowledge from your cradle until your grave.“ Getting an education is something that is necessary for a girl, no matter the age, in order for her to raise a generation of intelligent, devoted believers.

The first thing I would do is take a step back and look at your family’s life as a whole. You must do your best to eliminate the strictly prohibited (haram) and the offensive (makruh) from everything in your family’s life. Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Verily, this world is cursed and everything in it is cursed. Except for the remembrance of Allah and what is conducive to it, the scholar and the student.” [Tirmidhi] Here are a few examples to follow for your sister and the family:

1) Only eat of the permissible (halal); do not go near unslaughtered meat or any doubtful ingredients in the food you buy.

2) Remove any statues from the home, or pictures of animate beings from the walls and decor, such as birds, butterflies, etc)

3) Be sure that she and everyone else is praying five times a day. No men should be missing the Friday prayer. Everyone should learn or review their personally obligatory knowledge to make sure that their worship is valid. Check to see if you owe any zakat and pay it in full. Also, pay off any debts.

4) She and everyone in the home must read some Qur’an every day, preferably understanding the meaning of a translation.

5) She should be covering herself with hijab when she leaves the home or comes in the company of marriageable (non-mahram) men.

6) She and the rest of the family should reconcile with any enemies or with anyone against whom they are holding grudges.

7) Check for any contraventions of the shari`ah that might be going on.

Once you have begun to apply at least these guidelines above, you can hope that Allah will solve this issue for you. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Take care of Allah, and He will take care of you.“

Get up in the last third of the night to pray The Prayer Of Need. Ask Allah to forgive you all, ask Him to rectify this problem.

During this period, make sure that she is learning at home, and keeping up to date with her English, Maths, and Islamic Knowledge and Qur’an. https://www.khanacademy.org/ is an excellent website to use.

She should recite all of her sunna du’as when leaving the house, or returning to it when eating, entering or exiting the bathroom, when getting dressed, waking or sleeping, etc. Especially recite the Verse of the Throne (ayah al-kursi) before bed and the last three chapters (surahs) of the Qur’an.

A teacher once told me, “Nothing gets rid of a problem better than charity does“. Give in charity when you can, you can even slaughter an animal to feed the poor. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Verily, the most beloved of deeds to Allah are the consistent ones, even if only a little.“

I ask that Allah solves this situation for you all and that she return to sound mind and body, capable of helping herself and others.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

What Is Belief and What Is Disbelief?

Answered by Ustadh Mohammed Tayssir Safi

Question: Assalamu ‘Alaykum, My question is regarding a person who seems to affirm the theory of evolution concerning humans and some beliefs that contradict the Islamic creed. What is ruling on a person who makes such statements? Is he still considered a Muslim or is he an apostate?

Answer: Wa Aleykum Salam

Questions revolving around the belief or disbelief of a specific individual are serious and should be handled with the utmost care. These types of questions should be handled by specialists of law and theology and should not be a topic for open conversation and contemplation. They should also not be engaged from a distance, rather, these types of discussions should be had face to face using the wisdom, gentleness, and mercy that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) always employed.

Furthermore, even an expert’s determination does not actually mean that a person is a believer or a disbeliever before God, rather, it is merely an educated attempt at applying general principles derived from revelation to a given circumstance. Only God truly knows who is a believer and who is a disbeliever, since only God can see the reality of our hearts and only He knows the detailed circumstances in which we live. I preface with all of that to say: We should not be inquiring about the belief status of other people. In fact, we should generally avoid it at all costs.

However, given that the question has been posted, we can use it as a teachable moment. We will address your question specifically, but we can also use this question to address the question of belief and disbelief more broadly. The hope is that the reader can get an idea about how these questions are generally understood in the tradition and the great care we should take to avoid declaring anyone a disbeliever.

But before we move on to addressing the larger issue, let’s first address your question directly. Given the scenario that you have laid out, the person would still be considered a Muslim. One does not leave Islam unless they reject or deny certain matters that are delineated below

What is belief and what is disbelief?

Belief is to submit your heart to what you know to be certainly a part of the religion of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). And disbelief is to not submit, or to reject, or to deny what is certainly a part of the religion. In fact, it is more specific than that: It is to deny that which God has commanded us to believe in that is certainly part of the religion. Thus in order for a person who is Muslim to disbelieve (Allah protect us all from such an end), they essentially must reject what we were commanded to believe in and is certainly part of the religion. [See Ghazali’s Iqtisad as well as his Faysal al-Tafriqa and Taftazani’s Sharh al-Aqa’id]

However, the matter is actually more complicated and nuanced because some matters are known to be certainly part of the religion by the average person and other matters are only known to be certainly part of the religion by experts. The non-expert is not held to the standard of an expert. Rather, he/she only disbelieve if they reject what the average person would certainly know is a part of the religion. An example of this would be the five prayers. If someone were to reject the five prayers, they are rejecting what everyone knows is a part of Islam and as such have disbelieved. But a person might reject one of the laws of inheritance that are certainly part of the religion and are often taken directly from the Qur’an but for a non-expert to reject that would not render them a disbeliever because that is not common knowledge.

In the scenario you asked about, the individual in question does not seem to be denying that which God has commanded us to believe in that is certainly part of the religion. In some of the cases you mentioned, it isn’t even clear whether he is even denying outright or not. In other cases, the matter in question is not certainly known by common knowledge. Perhaps the only exception to what I have just mentioned would be your characterization of him bluntly pronouncing disbelief. It would really matter what he said, specifically, and even then his repeating the testimony of faith thereafter would enter him back into the fold regardless. His not believing that statements might cause one to disbelieve is not one of those commonly known certain parts of the religion and so his rejecting that would not render him a disbeliever.

Given the complexity of what was described above, what is the best step forward?

How should we respond in such cases?

As mentioned at the beginning of this answer, it is best not to inquire about the belief status of another person. However, if one is doing it out of the general concern and wanting to impact the person positively then that is acceptable. In that case one should abide by the following:

Generally, such cases should be left to scholars of the religion to respond to. If you have individuals in your life that can help advise you and advise the person in question, then great! However, one should not debate, call out, or get into an argument with someone over such matters. These are delicate issues that require knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Therefore, non-experts are much better off involving experts unless they believe that it is highly likely that they can advise someone in a good way and that said person will take it in a good way. Otherwise, we risk pushing the person further out which is not the intended outcome.

In addition to what is mentioned above, the scholar should engage the person privately and not publicly. People will generally respond negatively to public criticism or any type of public challenge. It is much more beneficial for the scholar to engage the person and counsel them in private, presenting all proofs in a wise, intelligent, and kind way. The only exception might be someone who is publicly calling to corrupt beliefs, then it is incumbent on someone who is an expert to address it in a wise manner, publicly, so that others will not be impacted by those false beliefs.

In conclusion, disbelief is a ruling of the Sacred Law

Disbelief is not something that we can wield against people we disagree with. Rather, disbelief is the most weighty charge anyone can be accused of and it is only delineated by God and not anyone else. The implications of disbelief are enormous and as such should never be rushed to and in fact should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. [See Ghazali’s Iqtisad and his Faysal al-Tafriqa] Therefore, we must take the utmost care not to rush to such judgments or push people in that direction. This religion is not ours to decide who is in and who is out. Rather, it is up to scholars to extract from revelation what God asks of us and implement it with the wisdom, mercy, and gentleness that the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) employed.

I strongly advise you, all readers, and myself to be very cautious when it comes to such matters.

Allah knows best,
I leave you in Allah’s care,

[Ustadh] Mohammed Tayssir Safi

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Mohammed Tayssir Safi was born in Dubai, and moved to the United States six months after he was born. He graduated from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor in 2006 as a double major in Political Science and Middle Eastern and North African Studies. He spent the next 3 years of his life traveling the Middle East, completing the Arabic program, CASA, in Egypt, and pursuing private studies in Arabic linguistics and introductory Islamic sciences. His brief introduction to Islamic studies continued for another year at the Dar al-Mustafa Institute in Tarim, Yemen. Mohammed also teaches Arabic at the University of Michigan. Apart from classes at the University of Michigan, Mohammed studies at the hands of Muslim scholars privately in multiple sciences including linguistics, law, and theology.

Is It Obligatory to Participate in the Tabligh Movement?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: Is it obligatory to participate in the Tabligh Jamat Effort? Should I feel bad for not participating? How do I deal with the criticisms I face for not joining the Tabligh Effort?

Answer: Wa Alaikum al-Salam

May Allah continue to bring you closer to His good pleasure and make you a conduit of guidance.

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Tabligh Jamat is indeed a praiseworthy effort and was founded with great intentions of rectifying the state of the Muslims. They are indeed fulfilling a communal obligation of calling to Allah and forbid the evil.

It is, however, not an individual obligation. To consider this effort individually obligatory, such that one is sinful or shameful for not participating, is innovation and strictly prohibited.

Allah, Most High says, “Let there be amongst you a people who summon toward good, command what is right, and forbidding the prohibited. They are the successful.” [Qur’an; 07:104]

Calling to Good and Forbidding from Evil

The Believer is responsible to call to good and forbid evil on a general level within their one capacity. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever amongst you sees a wrong, then let him change it with his hand, and if (that is) not (possible), then with his tongue, if not, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim] However, to do so, in the form or way of the Tabligh Jamat is not an obligation.

What do I do?

If you experience hardship when you go to such a masjid then if you have another option it may be best to go there instead. That is, if the alternative masjid, is proper and teaches the correct Islamic Understanding. If you are not able to go to another masjid, just explain to the people that you don’t wish to participate anymore.

You should not blame yourself and you should not feel that you are any less of a Muslim for not participating in that effort. There are many ways to gain the pleasure of Allah and you should search what works best for you.

Allah, Most High says, “Verily those who strive for Us, We will certainly guide them to our ways.” [Quran: 29;69]

Allah, Most High in this verse, mention ways, in the plural.

May Allah continue to bless you
Allahu A’alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Nearness To Allah

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: What should one do if they desire to excel in their Deen but find distractions holding them back?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

May Allah bless you for your sincerity in seeking guidance.

The feeling or desire to gain nearness to Allah, Most High is one of the greatest blessings anyone can attain. These impulses toward good and to fulfill life’s purpose are from Allah, Most High. Once they come, Imam Abdullah bin Alawi al-Haddad mentions, in his book, The Etiquettes of the Seeker, that one (1st) should protect that impulse, (2nd) strengthen that impulse, and (3rd) respond to that impulse.

Protecting the Urge to Gain Nearness to Allah

One should seek to protect the urge to come closer to Allah, Most High by trying to keep in a constant state of remembrance of Allah. This should be with both tongue and heart. Included in this is a recitation of the Qur’an, seeking Sacred Islamic Knowledge, learning more about the Beloved Messenger of Allah (may Allah be pleased with him), etc…

Strengthening the Urge to Gain Nearness to Allah

One should make an effort to strengthen this drive by keeping the company of righteous believers. Good companionship is a great way to keep one’s focus and determination to become better servants of Allah. Allah, Most High says, “O’ you who believe, be mindful of Allah, and be with the truthful ones.” [Qur’an; 9:119] At the same time one should try to distance themselves from sinful and/or heedless people, for this will certainly endanger one’s relationship with Allah, Most High.

Responding to the Urge to Gain Nearness to Allah

Allah, Most High says, “O’ you who believe. Respond to the call of Allah and His Messenger, when He calls you to that which will give you life.” [َQur’an; 8:24]

Responding to this urge can be done by taking any opportunity to do good deeds and to abandon procrastination. Our lives are short and we must take advantage of the time that we have been allotted.

Practical Steps

The ways to Allah, Most High are many. So much that one may become bewildered trying to figure out how to gain the good pleasure of Allah. I would advise seeking Islamic Knowledge from a qualified scholar, who is a person of mindfulness of Allah (taqwa) and Prophetic Character.

The above-mentioned author, Imam Abdullah bin Alawi al-Haddad (may Allah shower him is mercy) has a book called, The Book of Assistance. This is a good book to strive to implement. One should take one chapter at a time and strive to implement its teachings before moving on to the next chapter.

May Allah bless you and assist you in attaining His good pleasure

Allahu A’alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Repentance

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: How do I repent from having boyfriends in the past, and how can I ask Allah to make my current suitor my husband?

Answer: Dear questioner,

Thank you for your valued question. May Allah give you light, knowledge, and practice.

My advice would be to first repent wholeheartedly for your past and completely avoid the people and places that let you to the haram. This is really, really hard, but it is the only way you can really repent.

With regard to your current suitor, you should just come to a decision and get married. If you don’t socialize with your former suitor, or go to places where he or his friends are, he shouldn’t be able to meddle with you.

Repentance

To repent from sin means that you genuinely regret doing it, actually stop doing it, resolve never to do it again, and repay anyone whose rights you have squandered in the process. (Riyadh al-Salihin, Nawawi)

Part and parcel of resolving to never do it again are to completely change your environment and friends. We simply do not have the moral muscle power to withstand the pressure of bad peers and bad places, so we have to vote with our feet, and go somewhere else.

One of the Early Muslims was so shocked by his sins that when he repented he actually walked out of his house (in which he was sinning) barefoot. Thenceforth he was called Bishr the Barefooted-One.

The point is not what is on your feet, but rather the depth and totality with which one turns around.

Emotional pain is also part of the process. Please see: Pain Is an Expiation

The New You and Men

Repentance also means that there is a new way that you interact with men—new shyness, distance, professionalism, what have you.

This will really help you with your current suitor. Just think about how Sayyidna Musa got married; he had just helped two young ladies to water their flocks, and the Qur’an explains the rest:

‘Then one of the two women came to him walking on shyness. She said, “Indeed, my father invites you that he may reward you for having watered for us.” So when he came to him and related to him the story, he said, “Fear not. You have escaped from the wrongdoing people.”

‘He said, “Indeed, I wish to wed you one of these, my two daughters, on [the condition] that you serve me for eight years; but if you complete ten, it will be [as a favor] from you. And I do not wish to put you in difficulty. You will find me, if Allah wills, from among the righteous.” ‘ (Qur’an, 28:25, 28:27)

Because she was shy and meek, Allah put baraka in their meeting, and they got married. This is how all Muslim marriages should begin.

This meekness also applies to your husband-to-be, and if you need to meet to discuss your marriage, it should be with a mahram or in a formal setting where you are not alone. It shouldn’t be a social thing, like having a coffee together or anything like that.

And as the scholars say, ‘He whose beginning is bright and shiny, his end will be bright and shiny.’ (al-Hikam al-Ataiyyah)

For more details, please see:

How Should I Interact With Non-Mahram (Marriageable) Males?
Why Does Islam not Allow Boyfriends and Girlfriends?
Can We Deny Having Committed Sins After We’ve Repented From Them?

Conclusion

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Allah is more joyful at the repentance of one of His slaves when he repents to Him than one of you would be over his riding mount were it to have escaped from him with all his food and drink [on its back] in the middle of the desert such that he had despaired of ever finding it and had gone to a tree to lie down in its shade, and then it suddenly appeared before him, at which he took it by its reins and then said out of joy, ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Lord!’ getting confused because of his sheer joy.’

InshaAllah, by the baraka of your genuine repentance, your new way of dealing with men in general, and your husband-to-be in particular, Allah will open everything up for you. You and your husband-to-be should just ignore the other man.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Is Sin Disbelief?

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: Does deeming a sin “understandable” under certain circumstances constitute disbelief [ridda]?

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important and valued question.

Deeming something clearly haram to be halal is only disbelief if it is tantamount to denying the message of Islam. That is to say, someone knows that Allah has forbidden pork, for example, and then that person decides that pork is actually permissible to eat, and the message of Islam is wrong.

Whenever there is some ambiguity about the circumstance or the intent of the words or deeds, it cannot be looked at as apostasy.

Please see: Is removing Hijab and Make-Up a Form of Apostasy?

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh Farid Dingle]

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Chaos in My Life

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question: How to know if Allah is unhappy with me or if it is a trial? Life has been challenging throughout but right now I am in utter chaos. What should I do?

Answer: First, I thank you for reaching out to us in your time of need and I pray that things turn around for you, in all respects. That being said, there are important things to bear in mind.

It is not the job of the servant to figure out whether Allah is pleased or displeased with him. Nor is it his job to figure out why Allah has sent what he has sent upon him. Rather reflect on the hadith of the Prophet, Allah bless him and send him peace, “I am what my servant thinks of me, and I am with him whenever he mentions me….” Think of your Lord has merciful, kind, and compassionate and He will be that for you!

In terms of your difficulties in life, I recall one of my teachers saying that you should always compare yourself to one who is better than you in matters of religion (din), but always compare yourself to one who is worse off than you in this-worldly matters.

I believe you should do three things. First and foremost, be sure that you are applying your personally obligatory knowledge? Are you purifying and praying correctly? Fasting and paying zakat correctly? Do you guard your tongue against the enormities? Take a moment to assess this and feel free to take a free course at Seekersguidance to be sure that Allah is #1 for you and not #2 or #3 or further down the list.

Second, I would figure out some methods to de-stress. Some thoughts that come to mind are: exercise regularly, eat healthily, take your supplements, get enough sleep, and recite a daily invocation or devotional act (wird).

The last thing that comes to mind is time management. Building up a business takes time and effort. Have you done all the consulting necessary? Are you rushing into things or taking it a step at a time? Are you checking your work and details with excellence (Ihsan) or doing things haphazardly and expecting great results? Are you taking out enough time to study for the exam while working on the business? Which takes priority of your time?

Last of all, intend the pleasure and remembrance of Allah in your studies, your work, and in your worship and you will have success from whence you never expected it.

Wassalam,

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

Sincere Memorization of Quran

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: Is it considered shirk [polytheism] or even being insincere to tell someone that you are going to memorize some of the Quran?

Answer: It is not shirk [polytheism] but could be considered showing off [riya]. You shouldn’t get too tied up in it.

Developing innate sincerity takes time and effort. You should work on that as a universal goal, and not get bogged down with the specifics of what you just said or meant.

Shirk-like Things

There are no such things as Shirk-like things: one either worships something besides Allah or does not. It is very clear.

In your case, you are clearly not worshiping your father or teacher, so there is no question as to whether or not your actions or words constituted shirk.

The hadith that says that ‘Shirk [polytheism] is more hidden among my nation than the crawling of ants over a smooth boulder on a dark night.’ (Hakim) does not mean that every Muslim is accidentally committing shirk every now and then. Rather it is referring to the propensity of people to show off in good deeds. (Sharh Umdat al Ahkam, Ibn Taymiyya)

The Graveness of Showing Off

Showing off in good deeds is a very natural thing. After all, we grow up “showing off” to our parents and teachers trying to please them by doing good things. That said, upon the onset of puberty we are obliged to re-tune our psyches such that the driving force behind all good deeds — indeed deeds as a whole — is Allah Most High alone.

Allah Most High says, ‘And all they were ordered to do was to worship Allah, keeping religion purely for Him, as men by nature upright, and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due. That is true religion.’ (Qur’an, 98:5)

And the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) explained in a lengthy Hadith Qudsi that the very first people for whom judgment will be made on the Day of Rising with be the martyr, the scholar, and the philanthropist who only did their good deeds out ostentation and showing off. All of whom will find their fate in the Hell-Fire. (Muslim)

So ostentation is no small matter.

Being Realistic

That said, completely purity of heart does not come overnight, and it takes work and perseverance. As the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said when they complained to him of their late of sincerity, ‘I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, were you to be forever as you are will me in remembrance [of Allah and the Next Life], why, the very angels would be shaking your hands as you lay in bed or walk down the street! But, O Handhala [the questioner], sometimes [you are one way], and sometimes [you are another]! (Muslim)

This means we cannot expect to be perfect all the time. Rather we should resolve to try to be perfect: ‘But rather aim right, try your best, and “travel” in the morning, in the afternoon, and a little bit at night. Stick to moderation … Stick to moderation, and you will get where you need to be.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)

So we must strive to remove the cancerous diseases that we have in our hearts while bearing in mind that it is not flick-of-a-switch operation. As described by Imam Junayd, ‘Spiritual change [tasawwuf] is a war of attrition with no cease-fire.’ (al Risala al Qushayriyya, Qushayri)

Baby Steps

There are two simple things to ward off ostentation.

The first is to decide on a certain regular system of worship etc., and not change it no matter where you are or whom you are with.

The second is to watch the motives that come to your heart, and whenever you see that you are about to show off, stop yourself and make a new sincere intention to do the action purely for Allah’s sake.

This takes a lot of work, and it helps a lot to keep the company of people who have done this to themselves or are at least working on it too.

For more detail, please see: Imam Nawawi On Fighting The Ego (Nafs)

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Accidental Mistake

Answered by Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: As-salam Alaykum, If someone accidentally consumed alcohol through ignorance such as eating Dijon mustard without knowing it was made with alcohol, do the 40 days apply to them as well? Would it be impermissible for someone to pray behind them?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

No, it wouldn’t apply to them; the wording of the hadith about their prayer not being accepted seems to imply that it is referring to a deliberate act.
It would also be permissible for someone to pray behind them; the books of fiqh do not mention not having consumed wine for forty days as a condition of being an imam. (Shurunbulali, Maraqi al Falah).

Mistakes Are Overlooked

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Allah has overlooked for my umma mistakes, forgetfulness, and what they are coerced to do.” (Ibn Majah)

In any case, the hadith about the prayer not being accepted for only applies to someone who does not repent from that deed. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Whoever drinks wine none of his prayers will be accepted for forty days. If he repents Allah will accept his repentance…” (Tirmidhi).

Also, it’s worth noting that not all types of Dijon mustard have wine in it. Some have vinegar as an ingredient, which is permissible.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish, and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Clarifying Innovations in Islam

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: What is blameworthy innovation? Did the Messenger of Allah distinguish between a praiseworthy and blameworthy innovation? What is the proof for reciting specific surahs at the grave, a specific amount of times?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

May Allah bless you for your inquiry and your desire to know the sunnah of our beloved Prophet [Allah bless him and give him peace]

Blameworthy innovation is that which is newly introduced to the religion and goes against the Qur’an, Sunnah of the Prophet [may Allah bless him and give him peace], and the consensus of the scholars. This is the innovation of misguidance mentioned by the Prophet. It is considered strictly prohibited (Haram) and one of the grave sins.

This understanding is explained below.

What is Innovation?

The word for innovation in the Arabic language is (بدعة – Bid’ah). Bid’ah, lexically means something newly introduced not based on any previous example. This meaning can be seen in the verse:

(Allah is the) the originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is. [al-Baqarah – 117]
But when we discuss the word Bid’ah in the context of the Sacred Law, the Scholars have defined it in the following ways:

Imam al-Shafi’ [may Allah be pleased with him] said, “Bid’ah is two. The praiseworthy bid’ah and the blameworthy bid’ah. Thus that which coincides with the Sunnah is praiseworthy and that which goes against the Sunnah is blameworthy.

Imam al-Bayhaqi relates that Imam al-Shafi’ [may Allah be pleased with them both] also said, “Newly introduced matters are two types: that which was introduced and goes against the Book (i.e. the Qur’an), or the Sunnah, or the consensus of the scholars, then it is an innovation of misguidance; and that which was newly introduced of good which does not go against any of that, then it is not blameworthy

Types of Innovation

This distinguishment between blameworthy and praiseworthy innovations can be clearly understood from the statement of the Prophet [may Allah bless him and give him peace],

The Messenger of Allah [may Allah bless him and give him peace] said, “Whoever initiates, in Islam, a good sunnah (practice), then for him is its reward and the reward of all who practice upon it, after him, without decreasing from their rewards, anything. And whoever initiates, in Islam, an evil sunnah, then for him is its sin and the sin of all who practice, after him, without decreasing from their sins, anything.” [Muslim]

In this context we now can understand what the Prophet [may Allah bless him and give him peace] meant when he said:

Every newly introduce matter is an innovation (bid’ah) and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the fire. [Ahmad; Tirmidhi]

If we take this narration to its fullest apparent meaning then many aspects of our worldly and religious lives would also be considered innovation (bid’ah). We would have to discard our telephones and computers, remove the lights and carpets from the masjid, no longer drive cars, etc… And if one were to claim that it only refers to innovation in the religion, then they have not taken the apparent meaning of ‘every’.

How to understand primary texts:

Regarding verses of the Qur’an and the body of Prophetic Narrations, we must examine them as a whole. We cannot use one narration and disregard others. All of the aforementioned narrations, when observed together, indicate a distinction between the two types of innovation. That which is blameworthy is, therefore ‘in the fire’. And that which is not blameworthy which would be considered (sunnah hasanah) a good practice, for which one will be rewarded, as mentioned by the Prophet [may Allah bless him].

Examples of praiseworthy innovations

The Companions [may Allah be pleased with them all] introduced matters, both in and after the time of the Prophet. For example:

It is narrated that ‘Umar [may Allah be pleased with him] said, “A man came while the people were in prayer. Once he reached the rows (of prayer) he said, “Allah is most certainly the greatest, much abundant praise is due to Allah, and glory be to Allah morning and evening.’ When the Prophet [may Allah bless him and give him peace] finished the prayer, He said, ‘Who is the one who said those words?’ The man replied, ‘I am, O’ Messenger of Allah, I swear by Allah, I only intended good by them.’ He said, ‘I surely have seen the doors of the heavens open for them.’” Ibn ‘Umar [may Allah be pleased with them] said, “Since the day I heard them, I haven’t left them.” [Sahih Muslim]

It is narrated the Rifa’ah bin Raaf’i [may Allah be pleased with him] said, “We were once praying behind the Prophet [may Allah bless him and give him peace] and when he raised his head from the bowing position (ruk’u), he said, ‘Allah hears the one who praises Him.’ A man from behind us said, ‘O’ our Lord for You is all praise, abundant, blessed, and pure praise.’ When finishing the prayer He (i.e. the Prophet) said, ‘Who is the one who spoke?’ He (the man) said, ‘I did.’ He said, ‘I have seen some thirty angels racing to see which of them can write it down.’” [al-Bukhari]

In these two of many, many examples, it is clear how the Companions [may Allah be pleased with them] understood innovation. Other examples are:

Gathering the Qur’an into one book
Taraweeh Prayer behind an Imam
Islamic Seminaries
Recordings of Qur’anic Recitation
Books of Islamic Law
The Science of Hadith

And this list goes on…

Allah, Most High, says in the Qur’an:

…and whatever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatever he prohibits you from, then desist. And fear Allah. Verily Allah is severe in punishment. [Qur’an: 59.7]

Allah, Most High, never said, ‘whatever the Messenger did not do, then refrain.’ Our Mother ‘Aisha [may Allah be pleased with her] relates that the Messenger of Allah [may Allah bless him and give him peace] said, “Whoever introduces into this affair of ours (i.e. Islam) that which is not of it, then it is rejected.’

This narration clearly indicates that there will be matters introduced that are of the religion and thus not rejected.

Qur’anic Recitation at the Cemetery

Reciting Qur’an at the grave of the deceased is a practice rooted in the Prophetic Sunnah and practiced by the righteous since the time of the Companions [may Allah be pleased with them] till present-day.

Specifying amounts of recitation

As for stipulating a specific amount of any particular surah or verse other than what is narrated in the Prophetic Hadith, then there is nothing wrong with this. As long as one doesn’t deem such an amount to be obligatory or force others to do that amount, no more, no less, it is permissible and not an innovation.

It is narrated by M’aqil bin Yasaar [may Allah be pleased with him] that the Prophet said, “YaSeen is the heart of the Qur’an, no one recites it, seeking Allah and the final abode, except that Allah forgives him. Recite it over your deceased.” [Abu Dawud]

Note: The word deceased here is literal. The metaphorical meaning of ‘those on the verge of death’ is not taken. This is because to leave the literal meaning for a metaphorical interpretation would necessitate a legal reason to do so, which is not found.

Al-Hafiz al-Suyuti [may Allah be pleased with them] mentioned, “Whoever enters the cemetery, then recites al-Fatihah, al-Takaathur, and al-Ikhlaas, then says, ‘I give the reward of what I recited of Your speech to the people of the graves, from the believing men and women, they will be intercessors for him on the Day of Rising.” [al-Qawaa’id]

Al-Nasaai narrates, as well as al-Raaf’i in his (Tarikh) and Abu Muhammad al-Samaqandi in his (Fada’il of Surah al-Ikhlas), the narration of ‘Ali [may Allah be pleased with him], that he said, “Whoever passes by a graveyard and recites ‘Say! He Allah is one.’ 11 times then gifts the reward of it to the deceased, he is rewarded according to the number of the deceased.”

Lastly, it must be noted, that even though some of the narrations related to this topic are of weaker transmission than others, that does not mean they cannot be acted upon. Many scholars have considered it permissible to act upon weak transmissions. Some have said that the permissibility is absolute and others have stipulated conditions. Either way, it falls under a matter of difference of opinion amongst authentic scholarship, and differences of opinion when they come from the authorized scholarship are respected.

May Allah bless you and Allah Knows Best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.