• Text 'START' to 8449912010 to Join Our SMS List
Follow Us:

Fatwa Bank

The Rules

MCC Fatwa Bank

Worship

Q: What is the ruling on celebrating secular Holidays such as Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Birthdays, etc…?

A: There are two realities among Muslims that must be corrected if we are to properly integrate into society and develop a thriving Muslim community both uncompromisingly principled in faith and culturally relevant. The first is an attitude I refer to as the “Haram police”. This is where anything new, we don’t understand or is different than what we are used to is immediately suspect as forbidden in Islam. The second is the clash of civilizations mentality that our enemies really want us to embrace, but conflicts with the fundamental teachings of Islam.

The claims of prohibition are a result of misunderstanding new realities which leads to them is application of certain texts to different situations and people. The scholars who are ruling against secular holidays use a few texts to prove their case. One is that of imitating the disbelievers. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whoever imitates a people is counted as one among them.” (Abu Dawood 4031)

This Hadith cannot mean generality because the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was clearly an Arab throughout the many years that Muslims were a very small minority and he felt no need to dress, eat, talk and generally act different than the pagan Arabs. This Hadith is warning us in matters of religious distinction. Things which distinguish one to be a follower of a specific religion. I have heard scholars in the East mistakenly referring to America or Europe as Christian lands when in fact they are secular. These scholars make judgements about Westerners and the Western way of life as though it is “Christian” and from here they look at the practices coming from them as specifically Christian. So they are mistakenly assuming that all holidays in the west are Christian.

The idea of something being a secular holiday or perhaps better stated occasion is new. Historically empires and lands were ruled by a king or emperor who followed a religion and that was the religion of the state which effected the way of life in that state. So of course back then Holidays were religious in nature. This is not the case with the modern secular state.

The other reference used to prohibit celebrating secular holidays is the famous Hadith where the prophet (PBUH) told some children, “In the days of ignorance before you embraced Islam (when they were pagans), you had two days that you used to have fun and play in. God has replaced those with two days with better days than those; the day of breaking the fast and the day of sacrifice.” (Nasaii 1555)

This Hadith has been debated as to its legal implications. The wording – in your days of ignorance –is seen as related to religious rites of pre-Islamic paganism so many scholars understand this to be what the Hadith means by saying “replaced” since Islam replaced Paganism as the religion of these people. Many great scholars such as his eminence Sh. Abdullah bin Bayyah say it’s specific to religious holidays and not customary occasions. Also there is a debate if it was for prohibition, dislike or preference as we will see with another example in Al-Ateerah later.

Along the same line of thought is the claim that these things are religious innovations which have been strongly prohibited by the Prophet (PBUH). It is true that there is an Islamic legal maxim “Methods of worship must be established in scripture” there is also another maxim agreed upon by our scholars “Customary or cultural matters are generally considered permissible”. So as we have established the celebration of secular holidays are not acts of worship so are thus part of culture. Here the only way we could prohibit these things is if there is some text which clearly prohibits the act. The correct opinion is that the texts brought forth are not related to these holidays, but are properly used to prohibit celebrating religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter or Halloween.

In looking at this issue, we must acquaint ourselves with a common practice among the Arabs during the times of Jahiliyyah. According to the major Arabic dictionaries and historical encyclopedias, al-Ateerah was an occasion in which Arabs would slaughter animals during the first 10 days of Rajab seeking to fulfill their vows (al-nathr) and to receive the favor of their gods.(Fath al-Bari v. 9 pg. 682)

According to the well-established biography of the Prophet ﷺ, the Prophet ﷺ was guided to Islamicize this tradition.(Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah v.29 pg. 278)

In Islamicizing these traditions, the Muslims were commanded to slaughter in the name of Allah alone and give the meat to the poor, family and friends, just as we do for Eid al-Adha. The proof for this is in the hadith (narration) that states, “The Prophet was asked about al-Ateerah and he said it was haqq (a truth or a right).”(Ahmad 4/11) The Prophet ﷺ also said, “Indeed every year, each household is responsible for the slaughter of al-Udhiyyah and al-Ateerah.”(Al-Tirmidhi 1518) In the following set of authentic ahadith, the practice was allowed or seen as sunnah (established tradition of the Prophet ﷺ). Abu Razeen al-Uqaylee asked the Prophet ﷺ, “We used to slaughter animals in Rajab. We would eat from its meat and give it to those who came to us.” The Prophet ﷺ responded, “no problem” or “that’s fine.”(Nasa’ii 4244)

On the other hand, there is another authentic hadith that says, “No far and no Ateerah.” (Bukhari) To a layman, this seems to be a contradiction, but it is far from that. Imam Shafi’i and his students hold that this hadith combined with the aforementioned ahadith only abrogates the obligation of al-Ateerah. So their position is that al-Ateerah remains a sunnah and thus the meaning of the vague hadith is “No far or Ateerah is an obligation.” This was the position of Ibn Seereen and Imam Ahmad as well as many of the Scholars of Hadith.)Al-Majmoo’ 8/444(

Some Malikis, as noted by Ibn Rushd in al-Bidayah, took this hadith as a full abrogation, thus making it makrooh (disliked) to take part in al-Ateerah. Modern Saudi scholars have deemed it a full-abrogation thus making it prohibited. Al-Allamah ash-Shawkani disagreed with the Malikiyyah based upon solid usool (method used to derive fiqh). He said, in agreement with the Shafi’ee school, “In combining the hadith it must be said that the meaning is ‘there is no obligation of Far or Ateerah’ thus making it a sunnah which the Prophet ﷺ allowed. This can be the only opinion because we don’t know the exact chronological order of these texts except that they are all within the last couple years of the Prophet’s life… There is no doubt that the hadith ‘No Far and No Ateerah’ by itself indicates prohibition. That can’t be the case after we combine this hadith with the other ahadith and the fact that full abrogation cannot be established except with knowledge of the order of the statements or by a clear claim that it is abrogated.”(Nayl al-Awtaar2152-2157)

The majority of scholars from the Hanafi and Hanbali schools of thought said that this hadith came as an abrogation of the legislation of these practices as a sunnah, and thus it was replaced by al-Udhiyyah. They hold that this abrogation was not that of prohibition but rather that of negating it as an Islamic practice like the Udhiyyah, yet it still remains an acceptable and permissible customary act. (Al-Fiqh al-islamywaAdillatuh al-zuhaily v. 4 pg. 2746)

Ibn al-Qayyim said, “If it we gather these ahadith then we see that this hadith of abrogation is that of it being a sunnah (Islamic practice) without there being a prohibition or dislike in it. So if a person wanted to slaughter an animal in Rajab for whatever reason and he wanted to give the meat to the poor, then that would not be disliked.” (Awn al-Ma’boodvol. 7 pg. 382)

In conclusion, I stand with the renowned Shaikh Abdullah ibn Bayyah, by saying that according to these texts, there is nothing wrong with celebrating occasions and holidays which are customary and are not representing a certain religion. This is as long as Muslims conduct themselves in an Islamic manner and do not participate in acts that can lead to sinful behavior. For example for Muslims to get together on New Year’s Eve and await midnight while doing things permissible is no problem. On the other hand, attending parties where alcohol and illicit sexual relationships happen would be prohibited.

See Sh. Bin Bayyah’s Fatwa http://binbayyah.net/english/holidays-free-of-religious-overtones/

Q: What do we do if Eid falls on a Friday?

A: Zaid bin Arqam was asked if two Eid’s ever fell on the same day. He meant if Eid fell on a Friday during the life of the prophet (PBUH). He responded, “Yes” Then he asked, “So what did he do?” Zaid said, “After the prayer he would tell those present that they have the permission to attend Jumuah prayer later or not without obligation.” (Ibn Majah 1089)

Abu Hurairah narrates the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Indeed two Eids have come on the same day today. So whoever would take the permission then the Eid prayer will suffice for Jumuah. We will do both.” (Abu Dawood 1073)

As the second narration mentions the prophet (PBUH) would do both. This is not because it’s better or more virtuous, rather some people may not have been able to attend the Eid prayer and they still have the obligation of Jumuah.

The scholars explain these and other Hadiths narrated by other companions with similar meanings that it would become difficult to celebrate two Eids in one day so the prophet relieved the obligation of Jumuah for those who attend Eid. The safer opinion is after that they would pray Thuhr Salat at home.

The evidence for just praying Thuhr at home in place of Jumuah after praying Eid is in the Hadith of Ata bin Abi Rabah as narrated by Abdullah bin Abbas who said of Abdullah bin Zubair who was Caliph at the time when he prayed Eid Salah before Thuhr and later people came for Jumuah and he didn’t come out at all. Ata asked Abdullah bin Abbas how is that? He replied he followed the Sunnah and mentioned that Omar once did the same during his Caliphate.” (Abu Dawood 1071)

It looks like Abdullah bin Al-Zubair and Omar were emphasizing in their practice the Hadith of the prophet (PBUH), “Indeed God loves that you take His permissions just as he loves you take his heavy obligations” (Ibn Hibban 354)

In gathering between these authentic Hadiths it becomes clear that Eid Salah suffices one for Jumuah and that the prophet (PBUH) would come out for Jumuah only as a concern for those who weren’t able to pray Eid or didn’t know that it was Eid because of the weak means of communication back then. The scholars differed about Abdullah bin Al-Zubair and Omar’s practice and concluded that while we know the Muslims would sometimes pray Jumuah before Thuhr and it would count as Thuhr anyway, it is still safer without clear evidence in the case of Eid to just pray Thuhr at its time.

For a more detailed look into the opinions of 4 schools of thought… https://muslimmatters.org/2009/11/26/the-fiqh-ruling-on-jumu%E2%80%99ah-salat-if-eid-falls-on-friday/

Q: I’ve heard many people saying that we should use masjid rather than the word mosque. Some people say that they’ve heard someone say that mosque is a derogatory term made by the Crusaders who used the word for mosquito to refer to the Muslim place of worship in order to squash them like a bug!

A: In the name of God to whom all praise is due and may peace and blessings be upon His messenger…

The spread of conspiracy theories in our community is getting out of hand. There are plenty of real well established threats we are facing and our energy should be focused toward these. There are a couple of issues here. Even if at one time there were some basis to this claim, the fact remains that this was hundreds of years ago and nobody knows about it. Everyone understands the word Mosque to mean a Muslim house of worship because that’s what it means.

In using popular custom as a basis for a ruling our scholars of Usool al-Fiqh (jurstic methodology), our scholars have outlined conditions. One is for it to be well established among the people, another is that it must exist at the time of the establishment of the ruling and yet another is that the ruling doesn’t conflict with establish custom. So to prohibit the use of the word mosque at a time and place when it meant and was used as a derogatory term would apply, but not in our case since 3 of the 6 conditions aren’t present to use such a ruling. It’s like someone saying celebrating a birthday is prohibited because pagan history across the world originally instituted it as a religious practice whereas no one in America knows about this nor do they care since it has nothing to do with religion in our custom.

The second and perhaps more obvious issue is when looking up the etymology of the word mosque in any dictionary or encyclopedia we don’t find this claim. Rather we find that the word is the Latin evolution of the Arabic word masjid. So for example from the famous Merriam- Webster’s online encyclopedic dictionary we get the following under the heading “Origin and Etymology of mosque”

“Mosques were known to the English-speaking world long before we called them mosques. In the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, we used many different variations of the word – moseak, muskey, moschy, mos’keh, among others – until we finally hit on mosquee, emulating Middle French. The Middle French word had come by way of Italian and Old Spanish from the Arabic word for “temple,” which is masjid. In the early 1700s, we settled on the present spelling.

From Dictionary.com we get – Mosque: a Muslim temple or place of public worship.

Origin: 1600-10; earlier mosquee< Middle French < Italian moschea≪ Arabic masjid, derivative of sajada to worship, literally, prostrate oneself; the -ee seems to have been taken as diminutive suffix and dropped, ultimately from Arabic masjid temple, place of prostration.

When you go into google translate and put in the word mosquito in Spanish you get mosquito because that is originally a Spanish word. This is basically the word for a small fly. A fly has been called mosca since before Muslims lived in Spain. If you put mezquita it will translate to mosque because that is the word that evolved from the Arabic masjid.Mezquita is the word for mosque in Spanish and it has nothing to do with the word mosquito. The word Mosque is the English evolution of masjid derived long after the word mosca meant fly in Spanish.

The irony of our conspiracy theory is that we have confused many, including the dictionary! When you look up Masjid in any dictionary it says: A Mosque.

I leave you with a few advices…

  1. Let’s not buy into or spread conspiracy theories without solid evidence.
  2. Be principled when deriving a ruling.
  3. For those who got used to saying Masjid, let’s not reinvent the wheel guys it has been known as a mosque in English for many centuries and there is no reason to change it or confuse people about what to call our house of worship. It is a mosque.

Q: I have heard of mosques having two separate sermons in one mosque at different times. I understand the need for that with parking and overcrowding. The confusion is that the first one will be before the sun passes the zenith (before Thuhr).

A: In God’s name to whom all praise is due…

It is true that the majority of jurists have interpreted a direct link between the time for the Friday sermon and prayer and the Thuhr time since the former replaces the latter. Also supporting this opinion are many Hadith which indicate the prophet (PBUH) praying the Friday prayers after the sun passed the zenith. The Hanbali school of thought as well as Imam al-Awza’i and Al-Shawkani took the official position that it is acceptable to be done before Thuhr time while preferable to pray afterwards. They took site this opinion because of a couple authentic Hadiths which show that for whatever reason the prophet (PBUH) prayed before the time of Thuhr on occasion.

“We used to pray Jumuah with the Prophet and then return to our homes and the walls didn’t have a shadow.” (Bukhari 3935)

“We used to pray Jumuah with the Prophet (PBUH) then we would go home and let our camels drink and rest. Jaf’ar asked and what time was that? He responded when the sun passed the Zenith” (Muslim 858)

“Ammar bin Yasir led us in Jumuah and there were two opinions among the congregation; some said the sun had passed the zenith and others said it hadn’t.” (Albani Al-Ajwiba 25)

When the permanent council of fatwa in Saudi Arabia was asked, they said the majority of the scholars said it must be performed after the sun passes the zenith. Imam Ahmed and others mentioned some Hadith and opinions of the companions that show that sometimes they performed it beforehand. So the prayer before Thuhr is valid, but it is better to pray after (summarized).

The scholars have agreed that there should be no rebuking others in matters like this where apparent meanings of texts have been used by scholars to INTERPRET differing opinions.

Here is a reference from Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA)

http://www.amjaonline.org/fatwa-21553/info

Q: I noticed an Imam leading two congregations of Jumua prayer and have heard that the scholars teach that the follower must have the same intention of the Imam for the prayer to be valid.

A: In God’s name to whom all praise is due…

Some scholars have made the argument that the Imam and the congregation must have the same intention. The truth is that clear scripture is in favor of the permissibility of an Imam leading an obligatory prayer with the intention of praying an optional prayer. The authentic hadith states,

“Muath used to pray Isha behind the Prophet (PBUH) and then go to his people and lead them in Salah…” (Bukhari 711 and Muslim 465)

The prophet (PBUH) did say “The Imam was made to be followed by the congregation” (Bukhari 733). The jurists who hold that the congregation must have the same intention of the Imam rely on this Hadith. This is just the first part of the Hadith. The rest of it says so if he says takbir then they follow, if he bows then they follow, if he stands back up again then they follow …” So the Hadith in its own context is indicating movements and not intentions. It is prohibiting the followers moving to the next part of Salat before the Imam. This point is even emphasized more in the abovementioned Hadith about Muath (ra). In fact the famous Hadith we all memorize emphasizes that everyone has their own intention “All deeds are according to their intentions and each person will have what he or she intended”.

As far as the Imam giving both sermons there is nothing to prohibit this either because of the need. This was supported in the following fatwa by the.

http://www.amjaonline.org/fatwa-1867/info

Q: I have noticed a difference between the calculations for the time for Fajr. One calculation is almost 20 minutes more than the other. How can I be sure which one to use?

A: In the name of God, The Beneficent The Merciful to whom all praise is due…

The issue is an attempt by some astronomers and physicists to specify the time for Fajr. The majority of Muslimsworldwide like to use what scientists refer to as the astronomical dawn which is when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. This calculation is probably what the Prophet (PBUH) was referring to as the “false dawn” in the Hadiths. For this reason a group of scientists started using a 15 degree calculation for the “true dawn” alluded to in the Hadiths.

Obviously the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions used to decide upon the onset of Fajr based upon the naked eye. The scholars of Islamic Law agree that if one is told that the Fajr time is so and so and they see no trace of it at that time then they should eat until they see the actually break of dawn. Similarly, if someone said you can wait until such and such time and you go out and see dawn then you cannot eat regardless of what calculation they have given you.

Some people get confused with the concept of being safe in the matters of disagreement on this one. Being safe in the religion is when there is no empirical way to be sure about the ruling and you don’t feel confident in or don’t know the proof for permissibility. You see we have a principle taken from the Hadiths, “Certainty cannot be removed by doubt”. So in the case of discerning the time for Fajr, we hold that the certainty is that it is still night until the actual dawn is witnessed as mentioned in the meaning of sura al-Baqarah,

“So eat and drink until dawn becomes clearly distinct from the night.” (2:187)

The scholars in commenting on this point to many Hadiths that say that the false Fajr comes up vertically for a maybe 15 or 20 minutes before the true dawn which is known as the literal meaning of the abovementioned verse a light line looking like a string that extends across the horizon.

“Don’t be fooled by the athan of Bilal when the light shows vertically, rather wait for the athan of Abdullah bin Umm Maktoom when the light is horizontal across the horizon.” (Muslim 1094)

It is well known that for Fajr there were two athans Some scholars noted that the athan of Bilal is at the false Fajr in order to get people up for Suhoor and to warn those already up to complete their food. Some also pointed out that why would we accept the athan of Ibn Umm Maktoom who was a blind man. They noted that it he is making the athan when it is very clear to the people that dawn has emerged.

Surely, Fajr will be different for different places on the Earth due to the difference in position of the Earth to the sun. Others and I across the country have gone to an elevated place to watch the horizon in different places across the country. Some said they saw it minutes after the 18 degree calculation and some didn’t see it until up to many minutes after the 15 degree angle! I have yet to meet anyone who has seen it as early as the 18 degree angle as used by most much less the 19 degree angle use by Umm Al-Qura.

There are many scholarly councils and prominent scholars who by naked eye have cast serious doubt into the 18 degree angle. These include HizbulUlema UK, Nasir al-DeenAlbani, Muhammad bin Salih al-Uthaymeen, etc…

This is a very serious issue that must be properly understood. If you pray before true dawn, your prayer will be invalid. Similarly if you eat idly relying on a calculation then your fasting is not accepted. We are using the 15 degree angle here as a safe measure for those who can’t get outside and check for whatever reason or are concerned that they don’t see it because of the tall trees. This is because when we went to Lake Norman to view the horizon, we couldn’t see it until minutes after the North America calculation which uses a 15 degree angle which is the closest one available, but it can change a few degrees as the year goes round because of the changing of the Earths position to the sun. This is why it is probably safe here in Charlotte to use the North America calculation for fasting and never pray less than 15 minutes thereafter.

God knows best.

For further reference please read the following

https://www.facebook.com/notes/propheticguidance/distinguishing-the-true-dawn-from-the-false-dawn-by-shaykh-kehlan-al-jubury-ust-/378355995563244/

http://www.hizbululama.org.uk/highlights/why_18_degrees.html

Law

Q: Can Zakat donations be applied to Mosques or Islamic Centers? What about other organizations?

A: In the name of God, The Beneficent and Merciful to whom all praise is due. We ask He send his peace and blessings upon His messenger Muhammad.

  • The bulk of this fatwa is derived from Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s book Fiqh Al-Zakat Vol.2 pgs. 635-669

Zakat is a specific type of charity (Sadaqah). Zakat means to increase, grow or purify. It is a pillar of Islamic practice meant to protect and uplift society from the pitfalls of social hardships. The scholars agree that there is one verse of the Quran which delineates all categories of recipients for Zakat distribution.

“Zakat is for the poor and needy, those who work to collect them, bringing the hearts together, the ransoming of slaves, the debtors, in God’s way, and the travelers. This God ordains and God is All-knowing, All-wise.” (9:60)

If you are not a scholar you would easily infer that there is nothing literally mentioned here on Mosques or any other organizations. That being said it, it could be inferred from literal meaning here that if the mosque or Islamic organization in question was in serious debt and immediate charitable donations other than Zakat cannot pay it off, then it could fall under the clear category of debtors and Zakat eligible until the debt is paid off. Some jurists argue that the category of debtors is strictly limited to people drowning in or completely overcome by debt or in a state of bankruptcy as is mentioned in classical commentaries.

Let’s analyze what the category “in God’s way” meant to the early Muslims.

Linguistically the phrase في سبيل الله means in the path/way of God. In English we often use the apostrophe s to indicate possession and thus translated as “in God’s way”. The meaning here theologically is related to someone working for the practice or promotion of Islam.

Classic Quranic commentaries relying on the companions and their followers as well as the four juristic schools of thought historically understood the meaning of “in God’s way” to be “Military spending that would support the religion of God, its path and legislation for God’s servants to follow against those enemies who seek to prevent the existence or practice of Islam or the oppression of Muslims.” This was interpreted either for the soldiers themselves as well as the broader needs of military spending.

The reason for this was that, during the prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) and for centuries thereafter, Muslims were always under the threat of more powerful religious groups such as the Polytheists of Makkah and their allies, the Jews surrounding Madinah, the Christian Byzantines, and the zoroastrians of Persia who wanted dominance for their own and resented the new prophet and his growing followers. This resentment entailed a disdain for Islam and regular incursions against Muslims. So once Muslims founded their own city in Madinah, God called for them to establish a military to protect themselves in order to guarantee their freedom and safety to practice and promote Islam in the world.

Some classical commentators such as Imam Al-Razi and others up until this day differed about the extent of the application of this category as a result of the difference between the general meaning vs. the commonly understood meaning that was very much related to the circumstances faced by the early Muslims. For example many early Hanafi and Hanbali jurists allowed Zakat to be distributed for “in God’s way” for Hajj expenses for the poor. Other Hanafi jurists such as Imam Al-Kasani said “in God’s way” can be used for the students of sacred knowledge or anyone else working in a specialized capacity for promoting goodness. He did put a condition of poverty on these analogies, but that conflicts with the authentic hadith in which the prophet (PBUH) said,
“Charity should not be distributed to the wealthy except in 5 cases… Among them is the soldier in God’s path” (Ibn Majah 1503)

They mention the apparent contradiction justifying the restriction to only poor people in God’s way by saying that the prophet (PBUH) was simply saying that someone may be wealthy while at home in the city where they live, but when they travel on the path of God they require more support and are out of their normal wealthy home environment and thus somehow fit the description of poverty! The problem is that if you make each category about the poor then why make 8 separate categories? This is the wisdom of why the prophet said that some of these categories can be distributed to wealthy (meaning not poor). That being said, some of the controversy over the issue is that many early jurists postulated that Zakat is only for people and not for building mosques or other organizations. In their context, perhaps that makes sense considering how a mosque was built in their time and the unfortunate limitation of the role or place of the mosque in the Muslim community.

Let’s not forget that among the other 3 juristic schools, “in God’s way” as applied to the military was seen as an exception to the rule of only being distributed to actual needy people. They held that Zakat could be used for making weapons, armor, buying camels and horses, building fortresses and city walls, boats and many other institutional resources for military spending.

More recently in the early 1900’s the great Azhari Shaikh Ibrahim Qattan of Jordan agreed with this analogy of spending “in God’s way” on all work that specifically benefits the Muslims. He did not put the condition of poverty in his commentary. Shaikh Jamal al-Deen al-Qasmy, Shaikh Muhammad Rasheed Rida and his eminence Sh. Muhammad Shaltoot also agreed with this application of the generality of the Quranic injunction of “in God’s way” with the condition of it being for the sake of endowment related to non-profit work in which no person owns or gains profit from it.

Grand Mufti of Egypt Shaikh Husain Makhloof issued a fatwa in 1948 stating that non-profit organizations that promote social well-being are Zakat eligible. In 1958, the grand Imam of al-Azhar Shaikh Al-Shaltoot made the specific fatwa permitting the usage of Zakat under this category for building a mosque with the condition that it is the only mosque in that area or if the other local mosque is packed an cannot accommodate the Muslims. After researching the fatwas of our tradition, I think it’s important to add a couple of points to this discussion before giving my personal conviction. The phrase سبيل الله God’s path/way appears 65 times in the Quran. Sometimes it comes following the prepositions in or against. Mostly “in God’s way” is for promoting the goodness of Islam whereas “against God’s way” is about the enemies of Islam trying to prevent Muslims from practicing Islam.

If God wanted us all to understand that this category should only be used to support a standing military for a Muslim nation, then he would have said “the military” or “soldiers”. But he didn’t and so he means something else, something broader. That being said, it would be a stretch for to interpret that God intends for this to mean ALL work that promotes goodness because that is what the concept of charity is for while Zakat is for 8 specific categories.

I agree with the esteemed scholar and mujtahid Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi on this issue. The meaning of “In God’s way” is about supporting specific institutionalized Jihad. Jihad is a noble concept of protecting oneself, family and community from evil forces. As we know from scripture, Jihad is mostly a personal struggle against evil intentions and committing sin which obviously is not helped through monetary support. But Jihad can also be by the tongue or the pen so in this case Zakat could be used to support non-profit institutions focused on defending Islam and Muslims from vilification and persecution or to promote the truth of Islam to the world. I don’t believe building or supporting a mosque in the Muslim world fits under this category of Zakat. I say this because unfortunately, for the most part, mosques in the Muslim world are not playing some considerable role of protecting and uplifting Islam in society. On the other hand, establishing mosques in the west is very much so engaged in Jihad. It is the center of Muslim identity in a non-Muslim land. The mosque is where focused religious learning and spiritual development occurs. It is the place where the diversity of Muslims can come together to build spiritual bonds and be exposed to many opportunities to promote Islamic values as well as defend Islam from Islamophobia. It is the central focus of the Islamic presence in a western society.

I would make a condition on the usage of this category that it becomes invalid if there is no money available for the other categories specifically that of the poor and needy. Therefore if a mosque maintains a sufficient amount of Zakat for the other categories then it may use excess Zakat money for other mosque needs such as paying off debt, materials for education, salaries of Imams and teachers, programs and events that are aimed at promoting or defending Islam, etc… It would not be used for janitorial needs, secretarial or administrative costs, or other non-Jihad related needs.

If someone disagrees with this well-established position among prominent scholars they are free to follow what they feel is best. It is a principle of Islamic jurisprudence that there can be no rebuking in matters of legitimate disagreement. It is unbecoming and perhaps sinful to publically shame people for following an established legal ruling among the prominent scholars of Islam.

Here are some other similar fatwas on this subject –

https://www.amjaonline.org/fatwa/en/87740/using-zakat-money-to-pay-the-centers-salaries-and-general-expenses-due-to-the-economic-circumstances-associated-with-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic
https://muslimmatters.org/2007/10/24/the-permissibility-of-zakat-for-islamic-dawah-organizations-a-detailed-analysis/
https://www.masjidmanhattan.com/index.php/q-a-zakah/222-question-13-25-can-we-use-the-money-of-az-zakat-for-repairs-or-maintenance-of-a-masjid
And God knows best…

Imam John Ederer
Muslim Community Center of Charlotte

Culture

Q: What is the ruling on celebrating secular Holidays such as Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Birthdays, etc…?

A: There are two realities among Muslims that must be corrected if we are to properly integrate into society and develop a thriving Muslim community both uncompromisingly principled in faith and culturally relevant. The first is an attitude I refer to as the “Haram police”. This is where anything new, we don’t understand or is different than what we are used to is immediately suspect as forbidden in Islam. The second is the clash of civilizations mentality that our enemies really want us to embrace, but conflicts with the fundamental teachings of Islam.

The claims of prohibition are a result of misunderstanding new realities which leads to them is application of certain texts to different situations and people. The scholars who are ruling against secular holidays use a few texts to prove their case. One is that of imitating the disbelievers. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whoever imitates a people is counted as one among them.” (Abu Dawood 4031)

This Hadith cannot mean generality because the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was clearly an Arab throughout the many years that Muslims were a very small minority and he felt no need to dress, eat, talk and generally act different than the pagan Arabs. This Hadith is warning us in matters of religious distinction. Things which distinguish one to be a follower of a specific religion. I have heard scholars in the East mistakenly referring to America or Europe as Christian lands when in fact they are secular. These scholars make judgements about Westerners and the Western way of life as though it is “Christian” and from here they look at the practices coming from them as specifically Christian. So they are mistakenly assuming that all holidays in the west are Christian.

The idea of something being a secular holiday or perhaps better stated occasion is new. Historically empires and lands were ruled by a king or emperor who followed a religion and that was the religion of the state which effected the way of life in that state. So of course back then Holidays were religious in nature. This is not the case with the modern secular state.

The other reference used to prohibit celebrating secular holidays is the famous Hadith where the prophet (PBUH) told some children, “In the days of ignorance before you embraced Islam (when they were pagans), you had two days that you used to have fun and play in. God has replaced those with two days with better days than those; the day of breaking the fast and the day of sacrifice.” (Nasaii 1555)

This Hadith has been debated as to its legal implications. The wording – in your days of ignorance –is seen as related to religious rites of pre-Islamic paganism so many scholars understand this to be what the Hadith means by saying “replaced” since Islam replaced Paganism as the religion of these people. Many great scholars such as his eminence Sh. Abdullah bin Bayyah say it’s specific to religious holidays and not customary occasions. Also there is a debate if it was for prohibition, dislike or preference as we will see with another example in Al-Ateerah later.

Along the same line of thought is the claim that these things are religious innovations which have been strongly prohibited by the Prophet (PBUH). It is true that there is an Islamic legal maxim “Methods of worship must be established in scripture” there is also another maxim agreed upon by our scholars “Customary or cultural matters are generally considered permissible”. So as we have established the celebration of secular holidays are not acts of worship so are thus part of culture. Here the only way we could prohibit these things is if there is some text which clearly prohibits the act. The correct opinion is that the texts brought forth are not related to these holidays, but are properly used to prohibit celebrating religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter or Halloween.

In looking at this issue, we must acquaint ourselves with a common practice among the Arabs during the times of Jahiliyyah. According to the major Arabic dictionaries and historical encyclopedias, al-Ateerah was an occasion in which Arabs would slaughter animals during the first 10 days of Rajab seeking to fulfill their vows (al-nathr) and to receive the favor of their gods.(Fath al-Bari v. 9 pg. 682)

According to the well-established biography of the Prophet ﷺ, the Prophet ﷺ was guided to Islamicize this tradition.(Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah v.29 pg. 278)

In Islamicizing these traditions, the Muslims were commanded to slaughter in the name of Allah alone and give the meat to the poor, family and friends, just as we do for Eid al-Adha. The proof for this is in the hadith (narration) that states, “The Prophet was asked about al-Ateerah and he said it was haqq (a truth or a right).”(Ahmad 4/11) The Prophet ﷺ also said, “Indeed every year, each household is responsible for the slaughter of al-Udhiyyah and al-Ateerah.”(Al-Tirmidhi 1518) In the following set of authentic ahadith, the practice was allowed or seen as sunnah (established tradition of the Prophet ﷺ). Abu Razeen al-Uqaylee asked the Prophet ﷺ, “We used to slaughter animals in Rajab. We would eat from its meat and give it to those who came to us.” The Prophet ﷺ responded, “no problem” or “that’s fine.”(Nasa’ii 4244)

On the other hand, there is another authentic hadith that says, “No far and no Ateerah.” (Bukhari) To a layman, this seems to be a contradiction, but it is far from that. Imam Shafi’i and his students hold that this hadith combined with the aforementioned ahadith only abrogates the obligation of al-Ateerah. So their position is that al-Ateerah remains a sunnah and thus the meaning of the vague hadith is “No far or Ateerah is an obligation.” This was the position of Ibn Seereen and Imam Ahmad as well as many of the Scholars of Hadith.)Al-Majmoo’ 8/444(

Some Malikis, as noted by Ibn Rushd in al-Bidayah, took this hadith as a full abrogation, thus making it makrooh (disliked) to take part in al-Ateerah. Modern Saudi scholars have deemed it a full-abrogation thus making it prohibited. Al-Allamah ash-Shawkani disagreed with the Malikiyyah based upon solid usool (method used to derive fiqh). He said, in agreement with the Shafi’ee school, “In combining the hadith it must be said that the meaning is ‘there is no obligation of Far or Ateerah’ thus making it a sunnah which the Prophet ﷺ allowed. This can be the only opinion because we don’t know the exact chronological order of these texts except that they are all within the last couple years of the Prophet’s life… There is no doubt that the hadith ‘No Far and No Ateerah’ by itself indicates prohibition. That can’t be the case after we combine this hadith with the other ahadith and the fact that full abrogation cannot be established except with knowledge of the order of the statements or by a clear claim that it is abrogated.”(Nayl al-Awtaar2152-2157)

The majority of scholars from the Hanafi and Hanbali schools of thought said that this hadith came as an abrogation of the legislation of these practices as a sunnah, and thus it was replaced by al-Udhiyyah. They hold that this abrogation was not that of prohibition but rather that of negating it as an Islamic practice like the Udhiyyah, yet it still remains an acceptable and permissible customary act. (Al-Fiqh al-islamywaAdillatuh al-zuhaily v. 4 pg. 2746)

Ibn al-Qayyim said, “If it we gather these ahadith then we see that this hadith of abrogation is that of it being a sunnah (Islamic practice) without there being a prohibition or dislike in it. So if a person wanted to slaughter an animal in Rajab for whatever reason and he wanted to give the meat to the poor, then that would not be disliked.” (Awn al-Ma’boodvol. 7 pg. 382)

In conclusion, I stand with the renowned Shaikh Abdullah ibn Bayyah, by saying that according to these texts, there is nothing wrong with celebrating occasions and holidays which are customary and are not representing a certain religion. This is as long as Muslims conduct themselves in an Islamic manner and do not participate in acts that can lead to sinful behavior. For example for Muslims to get together on New Year’s Eve and await midnight while doing things permissible is no problem. On the other hand, attending parties where alcohol and illicit sexual relationships happen would be prohibited.

See Sh. Bin Bayyah’s Fatwa http://binbayyah.net/english/holidays-free-of-religious-overtones/

Q: I’ve heard many people saying that we should use masjid rather than the word mosque. Some people say that they’ve heard someone say that mosque is a derogatory term made by the Crusaders who used the word for mosquito to refer to the Muslim place of worship in order to squash them like a bug!

A: In the name of God to whom all praise is due and may peace and blessings be upon His messenger…

The spread of conspiracy theories in our community is getting out of hand. There are plenty of real well established threats we are facing and our energy should be focused toward these. There are a couple of issues here. Even if at one time there were some basis to this claim, the fact remains that this was hundreds of years ago and nobody knows about it. Everyone understands the word Mosque to mean a Muslim house of worship because that’s what it means.

In using popular custom as a basis for a ruling our scholars of Usool al-Fiqh (jurstic methodology), our scholars have outlined conditions. One is for it to be well established among the people, another is that it must exist at the time of the establishment of the ruling and yet another is that the ruling doesn’t conflict with establish custom. So to prohibit the use of the word mosque at a time and place when it meant and was used as a derogatory term would apply, but not in our case since 3 of the 6 conditions aren’t present to use such a ruling. It’s like someone saying celebrating a birthday is prohibited because pagan history across the world originally instituted it as a religious practice whereas no one in America knows about this nor do they care since it has nothing to do with religion in our custom.

The second and perhaps more obvious issue is when looking up the etymology of the word mosque in any dictionary or encyclopedia we don’t find this claim. Rather we find that the word is the Latin evolution of the Arabic word masjid. So for example from the famous Merriam- Webster’s online encyclopedic dictionary we get the following under the heading “Origin and Etymology of mosque”

“Mosques were known to the English-speaking world long before we called them mosques. In the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, we used many different variations of the word – moseak, muskey, moschy, mos’keh, among others – until we finally hit on mosquee, emulating Middle French. The Middle French word had come by way of Italian and Old Spanish from the Arabic word for “temple,” which is masjid. In the early 1700s, we settled on the present spelling.

From Dictionary.com we get – Mosque: a Muslim temple or place of public worship.

Origin: 1600-10; earlier mosquee< Middle French < Italian moschea≪ Arabic masjid, derivative of sajada to worship, literally, prostrate oneself; the -ee seems to have been taken as diminutive suffix and dropped, ultimately from Arabic masjid temple, place of prostration.

When you go into google translate and put in the word mosquito in Spanish you get mosquito because that is originally a Spanish word. This is basically the word for a small fly. A fly has been called mosca since before Muslims lived in Spain. If you put mezquita it will translate to mosque because that is the word that evolved from the Arabic masjid.Mezquita is the word for mosque in Spanish and it has nothing to do with the word mosquito. The word Mosque is the English evolution of masjid derived long after the word mosca meant fly in Spanish.

The irony of our conspiracy theory is that we have confused many, including the dictionary! When you look up Masjid in any dictionary it says: A Mosque.

I leave you with a few advices…

  1. Let’s not buy into or spread conspiracy theories without solid evidence.
  2. Be principled when deriving a ruling.
  3. For those who got used to saying Masjid, let’s not reinvent the wheel guys it has been known as a mosque in English for many centuries and there is no reason to change it or confuse people about what to call our house of worship. It is a mosque.

Q: Is it permissible for a Muslim to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

A: This issue falls under the category of new matters and local custom. There is a disagreement on this issue among jurists. There is a broad group of modern scholars who deem celebrating Valentine’s Day as impermissible and they cite the following justifications for their fatwa.

1. It has a filthy history and until this day is widely celebrated by encouraging sinful relationships outside of marriage.
2. It is a holiday for disbelievers and that we are prohibited from celebrating non-Muslim holidays. Due to the prophet (PBUH) telling Abu Bakr on Eid when some girls were singing “Each nation has their holiday and this is our holiday” (Bukhari 952). Anas narrates that when the prophet first migrated to Madinah he noticed them celebrating a couple days and they said we used to celebrate these in Jahiliyah. The Prophet (PBUH) responded, God has replaced those days with better one, “Eid al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha”. (Abu Dawood 1134). They also remind us of the prophet’s warning, “Whoever imitates a people is counted as one of them.” (Abu Dawood 4031)
3. It is an innovation in religion. “Whoever introduces something into Islam which was not from the practices of the prophet and his companions will have it rejected.” (Bukhari 2697)
This is the common opinion in Saudia Arabia and those who follow their school of thought, Pakistan and India. It is also the opinion of the council for Fatwa in Jerusalem.
Other scholars deem it permissible with conditions such as the fatwa councils of Jordan and Egypt and scholars such as Sh. Ahmad Al-Kurdi from the council of fatwa in Kuwait and Sh. Ahmad Al-Ghamidi who is the director of the committee for promoting good and forbidding evil in Makkah.

They refute the previous points with the following arguments –

1. It goes without saying that Muslims would never promote or celebrate fornication or any other sin for that matter.
They don’t use the history of Lupercalia as a justification since the broad culture doesn’t carry those practices. Some support taking part in it by citing the fact that St. Valentine rejected the emperor’s decree against marriage in order to get soldiers without families to be more courageous in the battlefield by holding secret marriages and was thus killed for promoted marriage against the decree. They cite how the prophet saw overlap with the Jews of Madinah when they were fasting on Ashura in celebration of Moses and the Jews being saved from Pharaoh. So obviously using the example of St. Valentine so Muslims as an opportunity to promote the sanctity and importance of marriage in a world that deems fornication as normal.
2&3. They affirm that we only have two holidays and the prohibition of believing or promoting any other day as an act of worship in Islam, but they distinguish between the modern secular culture of occasions and celebrations that are not specific to one religion but are more customary. They deem this as a customary occasion which is not celebrated as a religious holiday.
They put the condition that the celebration can only be among spouses and family members and that Muslims avoid any part of normalizing pre-marital relationships and that they use this occasion as an opportunity to promote the sacred institution of marriage.

Conclusion: I personally agree with the points of those who permit Valentine’s Day.

Charlotte MCC 2022 - All Rights Reserved