Is a Restricted Friday Prayer Valid?

Question:  In the UK we have some parts of the country which have restriction on the number of people that can pray in a place of worship. So with this cap, mosques are having to decline people’s entry to the Jummah and these people are not able to attend jummah thus having to pray Zuhr as all other mosques have to do the same. Would this be a problem because of what is mentioned in some Hanafi books that where people are rejected to enter jummah prayers their congregation will be invalid unless, as Ibn Abidin says, they have a place they can pray elsewhere?

Is this issue under the issue of publicity, approval from the Hakim or is it related to the fact that the majority of people will not be able to make jummah due to these restrictions, and hence the true sense of Jamma does not take place?

Answer: Assalam alaykum,

The Friday prayer is a ritual act of worship that is to be established in a public manner. Many of the rulings attached to the Friday prayer reflect its public and communal nature, such as the sermon that precedes it, the original Hanafi ruling of not performing it except in the central mosque, the role given to the ruler in its establishment, and more.

Being accessible to the public (idhn al-amm) is also a condition that relates back to the public nature of the Friday prayer. However, there is some difference of opinion on what public access means and, consequently, a difference of opinion on the type of restrictions placed on Friday prayer attendance that would vitiate this condition. Is it a condition that is only relevant in areas where the Friday prayer is established in a single, central mosque, i.e. there are not multiple congregations? Is it a condition that only applies to those in the immediate area of a mosque? Does it bar restrictions to access put in place due to security reasons or public interest? These are some of the questions jurists have asked.

Without getting into the details, the establishment of restricted Friday prayers in mosques in the current situation would not go against the condition of public access. The prayer is still being established by the community in a public setting (as opposed to a private one), namely the mosque, with a congregation. The restrictions on numbers are in place due to a pressing need and for the benefit and safety of the wider community. It does not undermine the Friday prayer being established in a public manner. As such, this prayer is valid for those who have the fortune of attending it.

(Sources: Ibn Abidin, Hashiya; al-Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Mufti Taqi Usmani, Fiqhi Maqalat)

[Ustadh] Salman

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

Can I Pray Tarawih in Congregation Over the Internet?

Question: I hope you are well inshallah. With Ramadan fast approaching and mosques closed due to the current situation, would it be permissible to pray Taraweeh over video conferencing?

Answer: Assalamu alaykum

It is not valid to perform congregational prayer over the internet and through video conferencing.

Legal Reasoning

The reason for this is that the imam and follower being in the same physical locality (ittihad al-makan) is a condition for the validity of a congregation. The act of following entails being dependent upon and subordinate in prayer, i.e. to the prayer of the imam. When an imam performs a prayer, a physical location is a necessary concomitant of it. Thus, in order to be validly deemed a ‘follower’ of someone in prayer, one must ‘follow’ the imam in terms of the physical area in which he prays. It is only then that the meaning of the following is fully realized (al-Kasani, al-Bada’i al-Sana’i).

If it were valid to perform prayers in the way you describe, it should actually be irrelevant whether an excuse exists or not. Rather, it should be deemed valid even in contexts where no pressing excuse exists. This is something no one states though because everyone recognizes that a virtual congregation does not fulfill the basic meaning of being a ‘follower’ in a traditional congregational setting (jama’a), and nor does this type of prayer fulfill the function a congregation is meant to serve.

In light of this, one should either perform tarawih in the congregation with the members of one’s household or pray by oneself.

Rewards are by Intentions

Undoubtedly, the inability to perform tarawih in the congregation at the mosque will greatly affect many people. But it should be noted that Allah rewards people for their intentions. If one intended to perform tarawih in the mosque but is unable to do so now because of COVID-19, he or she will have the reward of the congregation written down for him/her, inshallah.

Testing our Resolve and Sincerity

This is also a test for us: is our prayer purely for Allah? Will we continue bowing our heads to Him in the absence of others and the good feeling of belonging that we gain when performing prayer in the congregation in Ramadan when spirituality is everywhere in the air? We should ask Allah to grant us sincerity and the ability to worship Him no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

May I Continue Praying Friday Prayer at Home even after Mosques Open?

Question: In light of the current pandemic, is it permissible to stay at home to pray salah including jummah salah (zuhr if not enough family members) and eid salah even if masjids are open again?

My concern is, is that there is still a chance of getting the virus as it hasn’t been confirmed to be eradicated completely yet and so there is still a risk to one’s health to go to the masjid despite them following protocols – compared to praying at home where this isn’t an issue.

Answer:

Assalamu Alaykum

The answer to this question would depend on the potential risk posed by the coronavirus in the area one is living in. This also takes into account a number of factors, such as the reproduction rate and growth rate of the coronavirus, the advice of experts, the safety measures that mosques and other public places are implementing or are able to implement, the background of the individual (such as age, health, etc.), and more.

If your mosque is in an area where health experts have permitted controlled gatherings and the mosque is able to effectively implement all required safety measures, which includes that their guidance is being followed by fellow congregants, and you are someone who is otherwise healthy and pose minimal risk to others (such as an elderly family member living with you), then you should go to the mosque for Friday prayers.

If, however, you are in an area where the coronavirus is still spreading significantly, or your mosque is not able to implement the required safety measures, or they advise the necessary precautions to be taken but members of the congregation attending are not following them, or if you have health problems that put you at greater risk than others, or if you pose a real risk to vulnerable people around you, then you may (and in some of these cases should) pray Zuhr at home.

These are simply general pointers. Individuals are responsible for exercising their best judgment in these cases.

[Ustadh] Salman

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

What Obligations Does a Person Have Towards His Illegitimate Child?

Question: An individual I know has asked for advice regarding the following situation he is in and has accepted gaining advice from the knowledgable scholars at SeekersGuidance.

Two years ago he made the mistake of having a child outside of wedlock. Please could you outline, if any, obligations that he has to the child outside of wedlock?

Answer:

Assalamu Alaykum

If he had this child with a woman who was not married, he may assert his paternity according to the view of some scholars. The child would then be seen as legitimately the child of the individual in question and would be entitled to all the rights a child is due by his father.

Even if the child is not considered legitimate and has no established lineage to the man in question because he/she was born out of wedlock, if the man knows that this child came into this world as a result of his actions, he should take responsibility for the well-being and proper care of the child as he would a child born in wedlock. This is the moral imperative. The sin of the man does not absolve him of this, and the child in question deserves to have the support of this individual.

[Ustadh] Salman

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

Can I Marry a Woman as a Gay Man?

Question: I was wondering is it possible for me a gay man to marry a woman to fulfill my duties as a Muslim, especially if I am confident I will treat her well. Or is this deception and unfair to her. In this case, what is expected, am I to remain single? Are there any alternatives? Is the opinion the same for bisexual men?

Answer:

Assalamu Alaykum

It is permitted for you to marry a woman as long as you are able to fulfill all her rights – religious, physical, emotional, and material.

It will not be considered deception for you to do so even if you say you are a gay man. Rather, it is like any other person who may suffer from certain inclinations and challenges that potentially impact a relationship. You may be upfront about these challenges with your potential spouse so that you can address them together. This is for you to decide in light of your circumstances.

In the end, you also need to be honest with yourself about the difficulties you might face and your ability to address them, especially when it will impact the rights of another person. I am unable to give much advice on how you can practically address your inclinations in the context of marriage. I would advise seeking out Muslim professionals and counselors in this regard.

[Ustadh] Salman

Given the considerations in such cases, please consult reliable local scholars about the specifics of the situation. Jazakum Allah khayr.

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

Is it Permissible to Download Books of Great Scholars from the Internet?

Question: Is the page internet archive, where you can download books from great scholars permissible? Can one download the books, even though they are for sale on other pages?
 Answer:
 Assalamu Alaykum
It is important to note that copyright rules are binding in the shariah. Thus, it is not permissible to publish, copy, or reproduce the work of another protected by copyright without their consent and permission.
 There are some works, such as very old texts, that lack copyright, or whose copyright is no longer binding. These books are permissible to download and use. Other works that are no longer in print or on-sale, can be obtained through copying. There is an allowance for this, as well. There is also the concept of “fair use”, which allows limited use of copyright material without permission for purposes such as news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. However, such material must have been obtained lawfully and cannot be used for commercial use.Another thing to consider is the implicit permission of the copyright holder. Sometimes, particular material is subject to copyright but it is customarily accepted that the work will be shared on specific platforms and the copyright holder does not seek legal remedies to prevent this. In this case, there may be some allowance for the personal use of the item, though, again, one cannot use it commercially to profit, nor should one actively proliferate such material.It is optimal in cases of doubt to exercise caution and simply purchase the book because this is a matter that concerns the rights of another person. For more, please see:
Are Copyrights Valid As It Relates to Islamic Content That Benefits Muslims, or Can We Freely Download and Share It?
[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

What Are the Blasphemy Laws in Islam?

Question: What are the blasphemy laws in Islam?

Answer: Assalamu Alaykum

This is a topic with many details and differences. I cannot do it full justice here and so all I will say is that, yes, there is a concept of ‘blasphemy’ in our legal tradition.

Though often associated today with the sanctity of the person of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), blasphemy is any sacrilegious talk relating to God, His prophets, angels, books, etc. When applied to Muslims, it is often connected with the practice of takfir (anathema), which has strict conditions and is an extremely very sensitive matter. You may find details here:

What Takes a Person Out of the Fold of Islam?

The case of non-Muslims living in a Muslim state is much more complex. This is because the state has both an interest to protect religion and its symbols, while also acknowledging that non-Muslims clearly do not see Islam or its symbols in the sacred light that Muslims do. For this reason, many jurists gave non-Muslim leeway in expressing their beliefs, even if it was otherwise seen as ‘blasphemous’. Again, there are many details and debates surrounding this, which I will not get into.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

With Regards to Seclusion, Is It Right to Ride With the Opposite Gender in a Car?

Question: With regards to khalwa, is it okay to ride with the opposite gender in a car? Not as in chauffeuring but riding with them in the front seat because you know them and you are going to a common destination?

Answer:

Assalamu alaykum

The definition of seclusion (khalwa) that jurists provided was for a man being alone with one woman who is not of unmarriageable kin (mahram) within an enclosed area in such a way that a third party is unable to see or enter upon them.

Such seclusion with the opposite gender has been prohibited in sound prophetic traditions. Ibn `Abbas stated, “I heard the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace) give a sermon. He said, ‘A man should not seclude himself with a woman except that there be with her someone who is of unmarriageable kin (mahram).'” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Situations not deemed as impermissible seclusion

The following scenarios would not be considered impermissible seclusion:

(a) a man and a woman being outside in public, such as a street or sidewalk.

(b) a man and a woman being in an enclosed area that people can and do routinely enter and exit without requiring permission, such as a mosque.

(c) a man and a woman being in an enclosed area that people cannot easily and routinely enter without permission but where they are visible to outsiders, such as a glass office whose door is closed.

(d) a man and a woman being in an enclosed area that people cannot easily and routinely enter without permission but where there is a barrier separating the two.

(e) a man and a woman being in an enclosed area that people cannot easily and routinely enter without permission but with another person present who is either (i) a mahram or spouse, (ii) an upright non-mahram man, (iii) an upright non-mahram woman, or (iv) a group of non-mahram woman.

(Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar (6:368) but interpreting category (e(iii)) as relating to a very elderly woman; Nawawi, al-Majmu` (4:173-74); Mawsu`a al-Fiqhiya (19:267-68))

Sharing a car ride with the opposite gender

In regards to sharing a ride with a member of the opposite gender who is not a mahram with no other party inside the car and no clear barrier between the occupants, this would not constitute seclusion when it is in a place (such as a town, city) where there are people around who would able to see them. Otherwise, it would constitute seclusion, such as during the night in an isolated place.

Even in cases where it would not technically constitute seclusion, it may be disliked and superior to avoid unless there is some need.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

Is Spending Money on Financially Stable Family Considered Charity?

Question: If someone is spending money on his married sister who is financially stable, is it considered sadaqah? If it is not sadaqa but ihsan, what are the virtues of Ihsan? And is it better to spend his money as sadaqah to needy people or helping a community?

Answer:

Assalamu alaykum

The word sadaqa is often used as a broad term incorporating all good deeds. The Prophet (blessings upon him) said, “Every act of good is sadaqa.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Therefore, what you give to your family members of monetary wealth to assist them is a form of sadaqa, even if they are financially stable. As to whether it is superior to give to the poor or family members, then the best approach is to strike a balance between the two. There may be some contexts where spending money on your family is required and appropriate, while other times it would be better to assist the poor and the community.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics.

On That Mid Ramadan Slump – Ustadh Salman Younas

Originally Published: 22/06/2016

With half of Ramadan gone, does your worship feel routine and stale? Is feeling this way making you lazier and less excited about performing more acts of worship? Ustadh Salman Younas says this is not uncommon.

This is a challenge that every one of us faces when it comes to our acts of worship. As humans, we have been created weak and part of this weakness are the fluctuations we experience in our states. Sometimes we feel good, excited, and spiritually high; other times we feel stale, lazy, and lacking in presence. Ramadan is no exception when it comes to this.
Before giving you specific advice, the first thing you need to recognize is that feelings are ultimately inconsequential. We worship because we believe God is worthy of worship. Whether it makes us feel good or excited is not the main focus. However, since these feelings become impediments to worship itself for most people, it is important to take some concrete steps in overcoming them when possible.
In this noble month, I would advise you to do the following to reignite the spark:

1. Renew Intentions & Seek God’s Aid

This may sound obvious but it is not so for many people. When we begin to wane in our worship and do not feel the same presence we used to, it is a good time to pause, analyze one’s intention, and turn to God in assistance. Often times, these states are sent precisely as a test to see whether we try to lift ourselves up, turn to Him, and continue striving to do our best. So, perform ablution, pray two cycles, and renew your intention to be in the worship of God to the best of your ability.

2. Don’t Miss Suhur

This is one of the first actions that people stop doing as Ramadan progresses. But suhur is not simply done to keep us somewhat satiated for the long day ahead. Rather, it is a spiritual act which when done the right way with the right intention fills one’s day with blessing (baraka). As the Prophet (God bless him) said, “Partake in suhur for indeed there is blessing in it.” [Bukhari, Muslim] Force yourself to wake up with some time to spare, eat a healthy breakfast, and engage in some worship – no matter how little – before Fajr. When you start your day in a blessed manner, chances are that it will continue in that manner.

3. Freshen Up & Dress Well

If you’re at home, don’t lounge around in your nighties. This is almost asking to be lazy and unproductive. Stay fresh by taking a shower (ghusl) or at the least remaining on ablution (wudu’), keep yourself well-groomed, and dress well. Studies show that clothing can systematically influence an individual’s psychological processes and effect productivity. Additionally, taking care of one’s appearance is part of the sunna.

4. Change Up Your Worship

Often times, breaking out of a stale state requires modifications to one’s daily habits. If you are not finding presence in your supererogatory prayer (nawafil), try to replace some of it with Qur’an or dhikr. Perhaps introduce some reading of tafsir or listening to a lecture by a scholar you enjoy. If you worship mostly at home, visit the masjid for spiritual upliftment; if you do dhikr in your room, go out for a quiet walk with your misbaha (prayer beads); if you usually pray by yourself at home, start praying with other family members.

5. Be Diplomatic & Balanced

The self (nafs) is not an easy thing to tame. Sometimes, we need to approach it diplomatically. Demand worship from it but let it breath a little a bit too. If it wants to check Facebook or Twitter or relax for a bit, then do so in moderation but make sure you tell it to read some Qur’an or perform a few cycles of prayer after. As one of my teachers said, “Give your nafs what it wants from the halal and then take from it what you want from good actions and worship.” This will hopefully ensure that you don’t burn out. As the Prophet (God bless him) said, “This religion is ease and none makes it difficult except that it will overwhelm him. So, perform your deeds properly and in moderation…” [Bukhari]

6. Good Company & Collective Worship

There is a reason why the larger community is so stressed upon in our tradition. Believers feed off each others’ states and push each other towards something higher than themselves. They uplift each other and provide motivation to engage in the good. The mosque is an obvious place to meet others and engage in collective worship, but so is your home. Keep the Ramadan excitement going in your household by making the family have iftar together, praying together, watching your favorite lectures, going to talks/events, and visiting/inviting people over for iftar. The same can be done with your friends.
While there are a number of other points that can be mentioned, the most important thing is to keep at it. Do not give up on your worship simply because you are not feeling it anymore. Rather, try your best and recognize that worship transcends the temporal feelings that we may experience. These ups and downs are part of the test that God has laid out for us to see who among us “will excel in good deeds.” (11;7) Hopefully, by following some of the above points, the excitement of worship will be reignited. That is what we require at this point: a little spark that we can capitalize on so as to fully benefit from this month.
And God alone gives success.