Opinion Editorials, February 2004, www.aljazeerah.info
A Practice Contrary to Islamic Teachings
Arab News, 3/1/04
Q.1. Back home, my husband’s relatives always try to persuade him to visit the tombs of saints so that his affairs could be set right. I try hard to prevent him from doing so, repeating what you have repeatedly said that the dead cannot affect our lives. Yet, we see that his relatives are doing well in all aspects of life while we are doing very poorly, and we are beset by many problems. Hence, his relatives insist that our family would benefit by such visits. Please comment.
Q.2. In Ramadan, the imam in our mosque said that women should not attend Taraweeh prayer in the mosque. Rather, they should pray at home. But we see here special areas are allocated for women in mosques. Please explain.
Q.3. It is said that any health problem or pain suffered by a Muslim will ensure his forgiveness. Does this apply to non-Muslims as well?
Q.4. In surah 56, people are divided into three groups, with the best being those who were the direct followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Since we did not live at the same time, we only follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Does this mean that we are at a disadvantage?
(Name and address withheld)
A.1. Your attitude is certainly right. Visiting the dead is good only as a reminder to us of death and that we will have to account for our deeds. But this is achieved through visiting graveyards, or the graves of our own relatives. As for making certain graves shrines and visiting them for blessing or for asking the dead people buried in them for favors, this is contrary to Islamic teachings. It is an act of associating partners with God. No Muslim who understands his faith can do anything of the sort.
It is only ignorant people that associate any results with such visits. From the Islamic point of view, there is no such a person as a saint. If this is a special status, the question is “who can give a dead person such a status?” if it entails that this dead person has a special position with God, and that he can request God for favors on our behalf, it is God that should give him that status. If so, how do we know of it?
The fact is that only what the Prophet has told us about life after death is correct. This is stated either in the Qur’an or in the Hadith. In neither do we have anything said about people who act as intermediaries with God, or who can plead on our behalf. On the contrary, we have clear statements that no dead person can do anything for himself or others.
The Prophet says: “When a human being dies, all his actions are ended, except in one of three ways: a continuous act of charity, a useful contribution to knowledge or a dutiful child praying for him.” The last of the three means that the living can benefit the dead by praying for them, but the dead cannot benefit the living. This is why it is important to pray for your deceased parents, requesting God’s forgiveness for them.
What your relatives say about the benefit of visiting those saints, or dargha, is all wrong. If your relatives are in good means and have their wishes fulfilled, it is not through such visits, because the dead people whose graves they visit are of no help to them. You have to look at this through the Prophet’s words: “God may give the material benefits of this world to believers and non-believers; but He will grant His favours in the hereafter only to believers.” “Had this worldly life been worth as little as one wing of a mosquito, God would not have given a small drink of water to an unbeliever.” What God gives us in this life is a means of test. He may test us through riches and affluence, or He may test us through hardship and poverty. By whichever means He tests us, we must prove that we recognize Him, believe in Him and accept whatever He gives us, realizing that regardless of what affliction we may suffer, we still have enormous blessings for which we should be thankful.
Continue with your attitude and encourage your husband not to visit these places, because this is the right attitude. You need to show patience in adversity and God may, if He wills, replace your hardship with ease.
As for your question about oral sex, I have repeatedly explained that between man and wife the only things that are forbidden are anal intercourse and intercourse during a woman’s period.
A.2. The local imam is wrong in what he said. The Prophet says: “Do not prevent women servants of God to frequent God’s mosques.” There is perfectly no restriction on women praying in mosques. You only have to look at how they are always present in the two sacred mosques in Makkah and Madinah to realize that there is no special restriction on their visiting mosques. However, because of women’s role at home and in society, and the fact that they are often taking care of young children or elderly people, God has not made obligatory for them to attend congregational prayers. If they do attend, they are welcome and earn the increased reward in the same way as men.
A.3. The Prophet tells us that whenever a believer suffers any complaint, God rewards him or her with forgiveness of some of their sins. This applies even to a prick of a thorn. It is part of the favors God grants to His faithful servants.
It is due to the fact that a believer accepts any adversity, trusting that it is from God and he or she has no complaint, because they realize that God’s blessings far outweigh the adversity we suffer, whatever it may happen to be.
Other people who do not believe in God will not have such an attitude. Hence, they are treated differently. This is a matter God determines in His absolute justice.
A.4. The three groups are “the ones who are foremost in faith”, the ‘people of the right’ and the ‘people of the left’. These descriptions do not refer to any chronological status, but to their commitment to faith and dedication in doing what God requires and the Prophet recommends. Thus, those who are foremost in faith are not only the Prophet’s companions.
They include anyone who shows the same sort of commitment to faith and the same dedication to do good deeds. There is no special favor to any group on account of their time of life. The Prophet’s companions provided an exceptional model, but they did so through their deeds, not their time of life.
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