Opinion Editorials, July 2004, To see today's opinion articles, click here: www.aljazeerah.info
Financing the Pilgrimage of Relatives Is Permissible
Arab News, 7/16/04
Q. Is it permissible to finance the pilgrimage of one’s parents-in-law if they are poor?
A. Of course it is, and it gives the man or the woman doing it great reward from God. Needless to say, if the parents-in-law in this case are poor and cannot afford the expenses of their pilgrimage, then the duty of pilgrimage does not apply to them. But if their son-in-law bears the expenses, he is doing a great act of kindness which is certain to be rewarded by God.
In fact, the question should not be asked. If you are doing a kindness to a fellow Muslim, you do not say: “is it permissible.” All kind gestures are permissible, provided they do not include something forbidden. A kind action that enables a person to attend to a great act of worship is worthy of praise, as well as reward from God.
Having said that, I should explain that if a poor person is given an offer to cover his or her pilgrimage expenses, that person need not accept the offer, even though it means that he or she cannot do the pilgrimage at any time.
Can Woman Wear Gold in Her Feet?
Q.1. Is it permissible for a woman to have her teeth spaced? Or to use braces? Is it permissible for her to wear gold in her feet?
Q.2. Is it acceptable to perform the Umarh in the month of Dul-Qaadah?
Q.3. Are the prayers known as Tasbeeh, and Hajah Sunnah or innovation? Is it true that the time for evening dhikr begins after Asr prayer?
A.1. The Prophet (peace be upon him) condemned teeth spacing as forbidden, because it is an aspect of what people do to change their physical appearance. Women normally do this in order to appear more attractive. This is why Islam does not approve of it, grouping it with other practices that have the same aim, such as thinning one’s eyebrows. Braces, on the other hand, aim to correct something that has gone wrong, or some growth that gives some discomfort. It is permissible.
The Prophet made wearing gold permissible for Muslim women, forbidden for Muslim men. Whether gold jewelry is worn as necklace, pendant, bracelet or in other ways, it is permissible. However, if a woman wears a gold bracelet in her leg, to show that she has abundance of jewelry, in front of less fortunate women, then her behavior may be extremely questionable. This is determined by her intention as known to God.
A.2. The Prophet performed the Umrah four times, all of which were in the month of Dul-Qaadah, but in different years. So there is nothing wrong with performing it during that month. People are often confused on this point because they think that if the Umrah is done in that month, the pilgrimage becomes obligatory. This is incorrect.
A.3. Tasbeeh prayer does not have a strong basis in the Sunnah, while the prayer known as Al-Hajah has such a basis. It means prayer for the fulfillment of a specific need. There is no special form for this prayer, or a particular supplication.
The Prophet says: “Whoever performs the ablution, i.e. wudhu, well and then prays two rak’ahs, attending well to them, will have his request granted by God, either immediately or deferred.” (Related by Ahmad) This is an authentic Hadith which means that we can pray and request God whatever we want making sure that we will get it. However, God may decide to defer it in order to give us something better.
The time of evening dhikr, or glorification and supplication, starts after Asr prayer, but its range extends until well into the night.
When Prayer is Discouraged
Q. I understand that prayer is discouraged at sunrise and sunset. If the time of sunset is approaching and one has not prayed Asr, should he pray it anyway, or wait until after sunset? May I also ask about the prayer known as Ash-Shabina: is it the same as Tahajjud?
A. There are times when prayer is discouraged, or makrooh; but this relates to Sunnah or voluntary prayer, not to obligatory ones. The times when prayer is discouraged are as follows: 1) After a person has prayed Fajr until the sun has risen well into the sky; 2) After a person has prayed Asr until the sun has set; 3) At the points of sunrise, sunset and when the sun is at its top point at noon. The point is that because the sun was worshipped by some communities, Islam is keen that our prayers is not confused with the timing of the sun, its rise, height or setting. Hence, because no voluntary prayer is recommended after the obligatory prayers of Fajr and Asr, once these obligatory prayers have been offered, no voluntary prayer should be offered until the sun has completed its particular stage.
The point the reader raises about a person who has not yet done his Asr obligatory prayer when sunset is near at hand does not apply.
Although the time is one of discouragement of prayer, obligatory prayer takes precedence. That person should pray as soon as possible, before the sun has set.
I do not know any prayer by this name, Ash-Shabina. It may be a non-Arabic word referring to the prayers offered in some mosques deep into the night in Ramadan. If so, this is Tahajjud.
Food Prepared by Unbelievers
Q. Is it permissible to eat the food prepared by an unbeliever? Is it forbidden or discouraged?
A. God says in the Qur’an: “The food of the people of earlier revelations is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them.” (5: 5) This means that when food is prepared by a non-Muslim, it is lawful, unless it contains what is forbidden. This may be something of what God or His Messenger have specified to be unlawful for us, such as pork and carrion, or something that is forbidden for a reason, such as the way it is slaughtered. But as for the preparation of the food, this is not an issue.
Umrah on Behalf of Deceased Friend
Q. I did the Umrah for myself a few weeks ago, then I did it again, but this time I intended it on behalf of my relative who passed away three months earlier. A friend told me that this second Umrah is not valid. Please explain.
A. You have not told me what grounds did your friend mention for saying that your second Umrah is not valid. You did it after you had done your obligatory Umrah, so it should be perfectly valid. You can do the Umrah on behalf of a deceased relative, and God will, if He so pleases, credit your Umrah to your relative and reward you handsomely for your kindly act toward him. I cannot even try to guess your friend’s reasons, but on the basis of what you have told me I would say that he is wrong.
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