Islamic Question & Answers

Question & Answers

Question: If I am performing prayer with jama`ah and the jama`ah is for qasr prayer, and for me it is not qasr, what should I do? Also, can you tell me for the other way if I am to read qasr and jama`ah is not what should I do then. Also, if I have traveled to some place for dinner which is about 60 miles from home, this will be qasr but if I will reach home before the time for the prayer ends (like `Isha') then should I wait to get home so I can read full prayer or can I make qasr prayer on my own. I do not mean jama`ah-- this is for my sister.

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
As a follower, you should follow the imam, but when the imam finishes his qasr Salah, you get up and complete the rest of the Salah (2 rak`ahs) as you are not traveler.
If you travel over 60 miles, you are considered as traveler and therefore you can do the qasr, but if you return to your city you should pray the Salah completely. Allah Almighty knows best.


Question: Asalamu alaykum. I came to U.S. during a visit, and I pray duhur with asr & magrib with isha, but I was here 2 months, so how many months can I pray like that. jazakumu allahu khayra. asalamu alaykum

Answer: As long as you are a traveler you can shorter the salah and not combine.


Question: As-salamu `alaykum. I am a 40-year old who recently converted to Islam. I am an English male living in the UK. I work as a Heavy Goods Vehicle driver, traveling distances greater than 48 miles Monday to Friday from approximately 5am – 4pm on a daily basis.
I work during the day, Monday to Friday, I miss Jum`ah prayer on a regular basis. I understand there is dispensation for the traveler. But as of late, I have been feeling very uneasy about missing Jum`ah Prayer for such long periods of time. In the last year I attended Jum`ah Prayer less than 10 times only (from days off, holidays, etc.) Is it permissible to do this or am I in gross error by missing Jum`ah prayers so frequently?

Answer: Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
It depends whether you travel such long distance outside the city or inside IT. If you are working in the same city and such distance is regarded as normal driving, then you are not considered as traveler no matter how far the distance would be.
If you are driving outside the city, then you are considered a traveler and the traveler is not required to pray Jum`ah. But if you find a place where Jum`ah can be performed, then you should do so, so that you don't end up having the same situation of praying few times a year.


Question: Asalamualekum Shiekh. After how many miles does a Salat beome Kasar? Jazakallah

Answer: There is no clear cut for the distance through which a Muslim is considered a traveler. Some companions of the Prophet (SAAS) used to shorten their salah when they went farms in the outskirts of Medinah City. The distance could be a mile or a bit more than a mile. A Muslim can shorten a salah when he has the sense of being a traveler.


Question: Asalamu alaikum. My question is about combining prayers- I heard that the Prophet did this without the reason of travel or illness. So if we are out on a trip which is not far enough to be considered for travel (about 40 mi.), and its after maghrib when we head home, can we combine maghrib and isha upon arrival home, or do we have to pray on the way (which is kind of dangerous at night) Jazakumullahu khairen. A similar question: can I combine prayers if the imam is a traveler, and just make my prayer the normal length (i.e. not shorten it), e.g. maghrib and Isha? or do I have to consider my joining of the second prayer a sunnah for me if I am not traveling (which is what I normally do) Jazakumullahu khairen.

Answer: 1) Combining the salah is possible when you are in need of it, but you are not guided to combine the salah for no reason.
2) You need not miss the Jama’ah because of combining salah. If the imam combines the salah then you have the option to combine it with him. If he is the main Imam in the area, then it is preferred to follow him in salah.


Question: I have a question concerning prayers while traveling. When being a traveler, I happen to be in a Mosque for combining prayer ( such as dhuhr and `asr) – How do I behave? Do I only pray 2 rak`ahs and let the other finish their 4 rak`ahs ?
If I pray all 4 rak`ahs with them, do I then loose my status as a traveler and do I then pray for all following prayers the normal number of rak`ahs?
Can I offer 2 rak`ahs Sunnah when entering a Mosque while traveling?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
"When you are a traveler and you pray your own prayer or you pray behind a traveling Imam, so you perform qasr Salah. However, if you are praying behind a resident Imam, you have to follow him and complete the prayer even if your status remains as it is and you are free to offer Sunnah prayers during journey time, which means if you do it, it is ok, and if you don't, it is still ok.". Allah Almighty knows best


Question: As-Salaamu Alaikum, I live more than 80 km from my working place. I travel this distance everyday. Am I allowed to pray salat assafar?

Answer: Wa Alaikum Salaam, You are allowed to practice your salat as a traveler. You can shorten the four into two. But, try your best not to miss Jama'a.


Question: I have read in different places that the traveler can shorten and join his prayer up until 14 days. However, recently I read in Islam Q&A site that this is valid only for travel of 3 days! Based on sound proof, which one is correct? Also if one has the opportunity to pray all the prayers on time and at appropriate length. How can he proceed? Is it mandatory to shorten, i.e. follow the Sunnah?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
There are different opinions among the jurists regarding shortening the prayers and combining them. According to the Hanafis, combining the prayer is only valid in Hajj; shortening prayer while traveling is allowed up to 15 days. According to the Maliki School, if you intend to stay more than 3 days in a city, then you should complete your Salah (after 3 days).
To shorten the Salah is a concession from Allah, it is not obligatory. If you pray completely, it should not be a problem, but as Ibn `Umar used to say, “it is a concession that we should not reject.”
The preferred view is that shortening Salah is allowed up to 3 days. If you were to stay for longer period, you pray completely. Also, if you pray with the congregation, then you should follow the imam (i.e. pray completely). Allah Almighty knows best.


Question: During journey, concerned with the "Qasr" Salah, three "witr" are excused or should we pray three " witr " also with two "fard" for "`Isha’" prayer.

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

During the qasr period, it is your choice to offer witr or not. We know from the Sunnah that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to pray witr in all cases, even when traveling. Allah Almighty knows best.


Question: How does an Islamic astronaut face Mecca in orbit?
Decisions by a conference of Muslim leaders and scientists will help a Malaysian doctor stay observant in outer space.
By Bettina Gartner | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 10, 2007 edition
E-mail Print Letter to the Editor Republish del.icio.us digg

Answer: Allah is watching – even in outer space. And that poses a problem for a devout Muslim astronaut who is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian rocket this week.

Imagine trying to pray five times a day in zero gravity while having to face an ever-shifting Mecca hundreds of miles below. How do you ritually wash yourself without water? And, now that it's Ramadan, how do you fast from sunrise to sunset when you see a sunrise and a sunset every 90 minutes? Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a Malaysian astronaut, must decide before the Oct. 10 launch.

"I am Islamic," Sheikh Shukor told a press conference in Moscow, according to the Associated Press, "but my main priority is more of conducting experiments."

The young orthopedic surgeon is not the first Muslim to fly into space. In 1985, Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a Saudi Arabian prince, flew aboard the shuttle Discovery. Last September, Iranian-American telecommunications entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari paid the Russians an undisclosed sum (reportedly $20 million) to visit the ISS as a "space tourist." But up to now, there have been no guidelines for Muslim religious practice in space.

And so the Malaysian National Space Agency (MNSA) and its Department of Islamic Development held a two-day conference in April last year. They invited 150 scholars, scientists, and astronauts to discuss "Islam and Life in Space." The result is a recently published booklet of guidelines for the faithful Muslim astronaut.

Five times a day (before sunrise, at midday, in late afternoon, after sunset, and at night), earth-bound muezzins call Muslims to prayer. A spaceship traveling 17,400 miles per hour orbits the earth 16 times in a day. Does that mean praying 80 times in 24 hours?

The guidelines are much more reasonable: Daily prayer in space is not linked to sunrises and sunsets, but to a 24-hour cycle based on the "home" time zone of Baikonur, the Russian-leased launch site in Kazakhstan. Five meditations every 24 hours will suffice.

If interrupting work to pray is not possible, the astronaut may practice a shorter version of the prayer or combine midday and afternoon prayer times, or the evening and night ones.

The next problem: Where is Mecca?

Muslims on Earth face Mecca, in central Saudi Arabia, when they pray. The MNSA suggests that the astronaut pray toward Mecca as much as possible, or at the Earth in general. But if it becomes necessary, the astronaut may simply face any direction.

The attitude while at prayer is also an issue. In zero gravity, the sequence of the praying postures – standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating oneself – is difficult at best. Malaysian Islamic authorities say the astronaut should stand, preferably. If he can't stand, he should sit. If he can't sit, he should lie down. And if he can't do any of those, he's allowed to symbolically indicate the postures "with his eyelids" or to simply imagine them, according to the MNSA booklet.

Before worship, a Muslim must perform ritual washing – cleaning face, hands, arms, feet, and hair. The problem: Water on the ISS is so precious that even sweat and urine are recycled. And so the Muslim astronaut is permitted "dry ablution." In desert areas on earth, Muslims use dirt and sand to clean the hands. The astronaut will strike his palms on a wall or mirror – though this is not likely to raise any dust.

Then there's diet. Pork and alcohol are forbidden. Animals to be consumed for food must be slaughtered in a particular way. All food must be halal (allowed by Islamic law). But how can the astronaut know if the food aboard the ISS is halal? If he has any doubts, says the MNSA booklet, he should eat just enough to ward off hunger.

Meals raise another complication. Ramadan – the holy month during which Muslims abstain from all earthly indulgences (including eating) during daylight hours – doesn't end until Oct. 13.

Shukor said he hopes to be able to fast in space. The decision will be his. If he does fast, the 16-times-every-24-hours problem will be solved in the same way as the prayer question. And if he chooses not to fast in space? That's OK. But he will be required to make up for Ramadan when – after 11 days in space – he's back on Earth.


The Meaning of the Term ''Islam''
Date: 27.02.2005
Topic: Miscellany

A common misconception about "Islam" is that it is the religion that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad only.

1:) Islam, the Qur'an tells us, is rather the name of the one religion that Allah, the One and only God, revealed to every Prophet that He sent to people since the time of the first man and Prophet, Adam. For instance, all the following Prophets were Muslims who taught Islam to people: Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Zachariah, John, and Jesus.
By Dr Louay Fatoohi
Source: Jihad in the Qur'an: The Truth from the Source (Second Edition)

A common misconception about "Islam" is that it is the religion that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad only.

2:) Islam, the Qur'an tells us, is rather the name of the one religion that Allah, the One and only God, revealed to every Prophet that He sent to people since the time of the first man and Prophet, Adam. For instance, all the following Prophets were Muslims who taught Islam to people: Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Zachariah, John, and Jesus. The following verse describes Israelite Prophets as "Muslims":
Surely We revealed the Torah in which there was guidance and light; with it, the Prophets who aslamu [became Muslims] guided the Jews (from 5.44).
The name "Muslim" was in fact coined by Allah who used it long before the time of Prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an, as revealed in the following verse:
And jahidu (do jihad) [O you who believe!] in the way of Allah jihadihi (the kind of jihad that is due to Him). He has chosen you and has not laid upon you a hardship in religion; it is the faith of your father Abraham. He [Allah] has named you al-Muslimin (the Muslims) earlier and in this [the Qur'an], so that the Messenger be a witness over you, and you be witnesses over the people. Therefore keep up prayer, pay the obligatory alms, and hold fast to Allah; He is your Master; so how excellent a Master and how excellent a Supporter! (22.78).

The verse clearly states that Allah has named the followers of His religion "Muslims" not only in the Qur'an but also in Books that He had revealed to previous Prophets, such as the Torah of Moses and the Injil of Jesus. Note also the following verse which states that Prophet Noah, who lived long before Prophet Abraham, told his people that Allah ordered him to be "one of the Muslims":
But if you [O people!] turn away [from my call], I have not asked you for any reward; my reward is only with Allah, and I have been commanded to be one of al-Muslimin (the Muslims) (10.72).
In other words, previous divine Books and Prophets would have used terms equivalent to "Islam" and "Muslim" in their respective languages. The Arabic verb "yuslim" means "surrenders" or "submits." It is used in a special way in the Qur'an as in "surrenders one's self to Allah," "surrenders to Allah," or such variations. The derived Qur'anic noun "Islam," therefore, means "submission to Allah." To be a Muslim is to believe in Allah as the One Lord, submit to His will, and carry out His commandments. So, Islam is in fact a universal term that describes the one religion that Allah instructed, through His various Messengers, all people to embrace. Let's read some of the relevant Qur'anic verses, starting with these about Prophets Abraham and his sons and grandsons:
And who has a better religion than he who aslama [has become a Muslim] (has surrendered himself) to Allah, is a doer of good, and has followed the faith of Abraham, worshipping one God. And Allah took Abraham as a close friend (4.125).

And who turns away from the religion of Abraham but he who makes himself a fool; and surely We chose him [Abraham] in this world, and in the hereafter he is surely among the righteous (2.130). When his Lord said to him; "Aslim (Be a Muslim; submit)," he said: "Aslamtu (I have become a Muslim; I have submitted) to the Lord of the people" (2.131). And Abraham enjoined the same on his sons, and so did Jacob [Abraham's grandson]: "O my sons! Surely Allah has chosen for you the [true] religion, therefore die not except as Muslimun (Muslims)" (2.132). Or were you [O People of the Book!] witnesses when death visited Jacob, when he said to his sons: "What will you worship after me?" They said: "We shall worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, one God, and to Him we are Muslimun (Muslims)" (2.133).
The following verses which refer to the Jews and Christians, or the "People of the Book," emphasize and instruct the Prophet to stress that "Islam" or "submission to Allah" is the true religion of the Lord:
And they [the Jews and Christians] say: "None shall enter paradise except he who is a Jew or a Christian." These are [nothing more than] their desires. Say [O Muhammad!]: "Bring your proof if you are truthful" (2.111). Verily, whoever aslama (becomes a Muslim; surrenders himself) to Allah and is a doer of good, his reward is with his Lord, and there is no fear for them nor shall they grieve (2.112).

Surely the [true] religion in the sight of Allah is al-Islam (Islam), and those to whom the Book had been given differed only after knowledge had come to them, out of transgression among themselves. And whoever denies the verses of Allah, then surely Allah is quick in reckoning (3.19). But if they argue with you [O Muhammad!], say: "Aslamtu (I have become a Muslim; I have surrendered myself) to Allah and so everyone who follows me." And say to those who have been given the Book and to the unlearned people: "A'aslamtum (Would you become Muslims; would you submit)?" So if Aslamu (they become Muslims; they submit) then they have found the right way, but if they turn away, then your responsibility is only the deliverance of the Message; and Allah sees the servants (3.20).

This verse is about Prophet Solomon and the Queen of Sheba who came to visit him in his palace:
It was said to her [Queen of Sheba]: "Enter the hall." But when she saw it she deemed it to be a lake of water and bared her legs. He [Solomon] said: "It is a hall made smooth with glass." She said [praying to Allah]: "My Lord! Surely I have wronged myself, and aslamtu (I have become a Muslim; I submit) with Solomon to Allah, the Lord of the people" (27.44).
Prophet Muhammad is the last Prophet of Islam, and the Qur'an is the last Book from Allah:
[O people!] Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets; and Allah is aware of everything (33.40).
The Qur'an stresses that, contrary to the claims of the disbelieving Arabs, making a human being a Messenger, as happened to Prophet Muhammad, was not an unprecedented event. In fact, this is exactly how Allah communicated with people: through Messengers that carried His Message to people:
Say [O Muhammad!]: "I am not the first of the Messengers, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am but a manifest warner" (46.9).
In addition to the belief in the oneness of Allah, the hereafter, and the angels, the Qur'an requires the Muslim to believe in all previous Messengers and the Books and Messages that Allah revealed to them. This is consistent with the Qur'an's affirmation that all Messengers delivered the same religion and were sent by the same God. The Muslim is commanded to hold all Prophets in equally high esteem and reverence. The failure to believe in any Prophet is a failure to believe in all Prophets, and a failure to be a Muslim:
Say [O you who believe!]: "We believe in Allah, in that which has been revealed to us; in that which was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Descendents (Jacob's sons); in that which was given to Moses and Jesus; and in that which was given to the Prophets from their Lord; we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him we are Muslimun (Muslims)" (2.136).

The Messenger [Muhammad] believes in that which has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the believers; they all believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, and His Messengers; [they say] we make no distinction between any of His Messengers; and they say: "We hear and obey [Allah's commandments]; grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord. And to You is the eventual course" (2.285).


Question: Could you please tell me more about the four imams, means on the Four Schools of Jurisprudence ?

Name of Counselor: Ahmad Sa'd

Answer:

Thanks a lot for this question that requires really lengthy answer, as in fact telling the story of the four main Imams needs volumes indeed.

However, let's make the best use of this opportunity in reminding you and our honorable readers on some important facts that explain our juristic heritage and above all, our religion.

The Prophet and Divine Guidance

Let's start from the beginning from the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when guidance regarding daily situations and solutions for any problems was simply derived directly from the Quran and the actual example of the Prophet himself.

From that time till today, the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet which includes his sayings, actions and agreements constitute the main sources for practice for every Muslim.

Scholars normally go directly to the Quran and the Sunnah to get solutions for people's problems and answers for their queries. With this understanding, we can say that whatever shows up in the life of a Muslim should be addressed in light of the Quran and the Sunnah and that should be the main madhhab (school of thought) everyone bears in his mind.

The Companions and Practicing Ijtihad

After the Prophet's death, some of the Companions took the responsibility of finding answers to the juristic questions of people by looking into the Quran, the Prophet's Sunnah and, in case the issue is totally new and has not been addressed before, they may try to draw an analogy between it and a similar issue that happened during the Prophet's life.

Sometimes there would be no similar incident in the Prophet's life that could be used as a reference and in that situation, the Companions used to find a new verdict based on the general guidelines of the Quran and the Sunnah and this simply paved the way to the term 'ijtihad' to come into formulation.

Yet, not all the Companions were taking care of this important task, it was only some of them who were known of their deep knowledge of Islamic law and Prophet's judgments. Amongst these were the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs as well as Abdullah ibn Masud, Abu Musa Al-Ashari, Ubay ibn Kab, Zayd ibn Thabit and Muadh ibn Jabal.

In their process of ijtihad, the Companions were always in the habit of deducting the ruling from the apparent literal meaning of a text or from the reason or the wisdom behind a ruling stated in the text, and this latter one paved the way to the establishment of what was later called 'analogical deduction' or 'qiyas'.

The Era of the Successors

During the time of the Successors, the same methodology, with a bit of expansion and focus on ijtihad, continued and new names appeared including Salim ibn Abdillah ibn Umar, Nafi the freed-slave of Abdullah ibn Umar, Ibn Shihab Az-Zuhri, Alqamah ibn Qays from Iraq, Ata ibn Abi Rabah of Makkah, and Umar ibn Abd Al-Aziz in the Levant.

The same way of dealing with religious issues continued later on but it started to take the form of established discipline of knowledge as the Islamic state expanded immensely and the whole age was called the age of recording or writing down various branches of knowledge.

The Evolution of Madhhabs (Schools of Jurisprudence)

With the collections of Hadith being introduced and the new challenges facing a civilized society, there appeared a need for established discipline bearing in mind that not everyone can find a solution for his problem and someone who can find such a solution has himself to be qualified.

The disagreement over the areas that can be covered by qiyas, the apparent and the non-apparent meanings of texts, what constitutes 'consensus of the Companions', we could find ourselves in an age of the appearance of great Imams who laid the foundation for Islamic schools of thought.

Imam Abu Hanifah An-Numan

Imam Abu Hanifah happened to be the first as he was born in 80 AH and died 150 AH. Born in Kufa, a big city in Iraq which was in close touch with the former Persian Empire, the Imam found that many issues have not been witnessed before in Arabia because of the simple life the Arabs had compared to the more advanced one he had at his time.

It was because of this that Abu Hanfih's approach was more to look into the objectives, the wisdom more than the literal understanding of the texts. That is why we read in books speaking about this era that Abu Hanfiah belonged to the school of opinion.

This means that he was searching for the wisdom behind texts in order to be able to provide solutions to the brand new issued in the light of the objective rather than the letter of text that sometimes leads to restrictions which do not suit the main objective of Shariah, that is, to remove hardship and difficulty.

Imam Malik ibn Anas

The second Imam was Malik ibn Anas who was born in Madinah in 93 AH and due to his upbringing and the nature of environment and his close contact with the Companions of the Prophet, he was able to access many hadiths.

Imam Malik gets the credit of classifying hadiths in a juristic way as he wrote the well-known volume Al-Muwatta where he implemented that way. The simple life in Madinah did not require much ijtihad as the challenges were of another kind.

Imam Ash-Shafi

The third Imam Ash-Shafi was born in 150 AH in Gaza although his lineage ends to the tribe of Quraish. Ash-Shafi traveled to Madinah and heard from Imam Malik and traveled to Iraq where he established his school of thought taking into consideration the environment and the challenges.

By the lapse of time, Imam Ash-Shafi himself moved to Egypt and there he revisited some of his own views and amended them according to the new environment. This is an indication to everyone at all times that although the views of scholars are respectful and based on their understanding of the text, still they are not holy or untouchable.

They are also subject to scrutiny within the realm of Shariah by qualified scholars who have got the knowledge and the ability to do so. Such a scrutiny and redressing should happen when new situation occurs.

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

The fourth Imam was Ahmad ibn Hanbal who was born in 164 AH and studied under great scholars of Hadith including Sufyan ibn Uyaynah and became a leading scholar of hadith at his time.

Due to Ahmad ibn Hanbal's nature of learning, his school of thought recourse to ijtihad in very limited cases and was giving priority to the Quranic text, Hadith. In case of no clear indication in the Quran and Hadith, they would try the practice of the Companions of the Prophet.

If there are two versions of a text or two texts apparently giving two different opinions, they would accept both and will not try to do much towards giving one of them priority if both are authentic.

In fact, there were many more scholars who had their schools of thought but these four were the ones that gained prominence and spreading. Through this, we can understand that only qualified scholars can evaluate the views of scholars and study their evidence.

Therefore, it is not for a layman to claim that he himself follows a certain madhhab, nor is it necessary for him to do so; rather, he can simply follow the fatwa (opinion) of his Imam or local scholars without having to interfere in what is beyond this because he does not have the specialization to do so.

Co-existence

Although these great scholars held different view regarding certain things, this did not prevent them from respecting each other and appreciating the scholarship of each other.

When Imam Ash-Shafi prayed Fajr near the grave of Abu Hanifah, he did not perform qunut in Fajr which is against his own (i.e. Shafi) opinion and when asked about that, he said that he wanted to show respect to Abu Hanifah who held the view of not performing qunut at that time. (Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, As-Sahwa Al-Islamiya bayan Al-Ikhtilaf Al-Mashru` wat-Tafarruq Al-Madhmum, Dar Al-Wafa Egypt, p. 87)

This shows how dedicated and respectful these people were and that is why Allah gave them prominence. May Allah bless all of them.