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The essentiality of mosques

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By A. Faizur Rahman

The importance of mosques in Islam has come into focus again. During the hearing of the Babri Masjid case, advocate Rajeev Dhavan asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its judgment in Ismail Faruqui v. Union Of India (1994). The Bench in that case had ruled by a majority that a mosque is not essential to Islam, and allowed the Central government to include the 2.77 acres (on which the Babri Masjid once stood) in the 67.7 acres of land to be acquired under the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya (ACAA) Act, 1993.
Among the court’s arguments to justify the acquisition of Babri Masjid land was that “a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of… Islam and Namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open.” This conclusion was reached on the belief that “under the Mahomedan Law applicable in India, title to a mosque can be lost by adverse possession”. As proof, the judges cited Section 217 from Mulla’s Principles of Mahomedan Law.
But no such provision exists in Muslim law. Mulla was only citing the view of the Privy Council in Masjid ShahidGanj Mosque v. Shiromani GurdwaraParbandhak (1940), a reading of which shows that it was not ‘Mahomedan law’ but the Indian Limitation Act of 1908 that was invoked to rule that property made waqf for the purposes of a mosque cannot be exempted from the law of adverse possession.
In other words, the Faruqui judgment did not give any evidence from Islamic scriptures to justify its declaration that mosques are not essential to Islam. It thus ignored the “essential practices doctrine” laid down in the landmark The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras v. Sri LakshmindraThirthaSwamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt (1954), according to which “what constitutes the essential part of a religion is primarily to be ascertained with reference to the doctrines of that religion itself.” This view was elaborated further by the Supreme Court in SrimadPerarulalaEthirajaRamanujaJeeyar Swami v. The State of Tamil Nadu (1972) to accommodate “practices which are regarded by the community as a part of its religion.”
A reading of the Koran and authentic traditions of the Prophet make clear the significance of the mosque in Islam. In fact, the first act of the Prophet after migrating to Medina was to establish a mosque. The Prophet had demonstrated by example that mosques went beyond the ritualism of ‘worship’. They were spiritual, humanitarian and educational centres open to all people irrespective of their social, financial or racial status, or gender, thus emphasising the importance of equality for social progress. The Koran protects this higher purpose from being compromised by listing the qualities of people who are allowed to maintain mosques.
The mosque is so indispensable to Islam that the two most authentic books of hadees, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, quote the Prophet as stating: “Prayer in congregation [inside a mosque] is 27 times more meritorious than prayer performed individually.” The significance of this pronouncement can be gauged from another hadees in Sahih Muslim wherein it is recorded that even a blind man was refused Prophetic permission to pray at home and was asked to join the congregation. This, in essence, is the doctrine of Islam on the essentiality of mosques which, by virtue of being a time-honoured belief, is protected as a fundamental right under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. A judicial negation of this doctrine would actually amount to a negation of the right of Muslims to pray in a mosque guaranteed in these Articles. It could also have a profound bearing on the sanctity of all mosques in India.
One fails to understand why the court ventured into theological territory when it could have justified the acquisition of the Babri Masjid land on the strength of the law of limitation alone. The irony is that the apex court thinks Muslims can offer namaz in the open, but when they do, they are prevented by right-wing outfits, as was reported in Gurugram in Haryana in May. Another negative impact of the ruling that namaz can be offered anywhere, which was one of the arguments used to uphold the ACAA Act, is that it denied Muslims, through Section 7 of the Act, the right to pray in the disputed area while placing no such restriction on Hindus.
In the minority judgment, which struck down the entire ACAA Act as unconstitutional, Justices S.P. Bharucha and A.M. Ahmadi flagged Section 7(2) and noted that it “perpetuates the performance of puja on the disputed site. No account is taken of the fact that the structure thereon had been destroyed in a most reprehensible act. The perpetrators of this deed struck not only against a place of worship but at the principles of secularism, democracy and the rule of law…” The judges also said that Article 15 of the Constitution debars the state from discriminating against any citizen on the ground of religion, among other things.
These facts, coupled with the lack of scriptural evidence to prove that the mosque is not an essential part of Islam, lay the groundwork for the Supreme Court to reconsider the Ismail Faruqui verdict at the earliest.


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Opinion

Hajj and the Neglected Legacy of a Great Woman

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By MOHAMMAD OMAR FAROOQ

Islam teaches us to submit completely and whole-heartedly. “O you who believe! Enter into Islam completely, whole-heartedly…” (Quran 2:208)
It also calls for a submission that is spontaneous and conscientious, without any hesitation or resistance against the will and guidance of God. “But no, by your Rabb, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.” (Quran 4:65)
There is great – truly great – news from God. “Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures, their reward is with God: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein forever; God is well pleased with them, and they with Him: All this for such as fear their Rabb (the cherisher and sustainer).” (Quran 98:7-8)
Eid al-Adha is a great and unique occasion of joy and celebration. Ironically, this joy and celebration revolve around sacrifice. It would probably make sense to only those who understand that the joy of giving that touches others’ lives is far greater and deeper than the joy of receiving.
This great occasion of Eid al-Ad’ha is tied to a unique event, the Hajj; a unique city, Makkah; and a unique family, the family of Ibrahim. Indeed, what the Quran refers to the Milla of Ibrahim is essentially rooted in the legacy of a model family. Say: “God speaks the Truth: follow the Milla of Ibrahim, the True in Faith; he was not of the Pagans.” (Quran 3:95)
We cannot discuss Eid al-Ad’ha without remembering Ibrahim, who represents in the Quran an ideal submission. He never hesitated to respond to the call and command of his Rabb (the Creator, the Sustainer and the Evolver). He never considered anything too precious to be withheld when it came to fulfilling the wish of his Rabb. Everything he did was commanded by God, and was fulfilled by him conscientiously with honor and nobility. We are all too familiar with the story of his unwavering faith and conviction, and his supreme sacrifice as embodied in the event when he was ready to sacrifice his dear and only son to fulfill the wish of his Rabb. “Behold! hisRabb (Lord) said to him: “Bow (submit your will to Me): He said: “I bow (submit my will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe.” (Quran 2:131) We know, of course, God didn’t really want him to slaughter his son, he just wanted to see if Ibrahim was ready to submit entirely and unconditionally. No loving God would have exacted such a sacrifice of one’s own child in reality.
Another member of this ideal family was the first son of Ibrahim, Ismail. The Quran presents him as like father like son. “… (Abraham) he said: ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!’ (The son) said: ‘O my father! Do as you are commanded: You will find me, if God so wills, one practicing patience and constancy!” (Quran 19:102)
In his submission to the will of his Rabb, Ismail was no less ideal. He submitted to the will of God whole-heartedly and with a heart full of peace and tranquility. Once again, there are very few among us who are not already familiar with the role and position of Ismail in the heritage of Tawheed and the eternal truth.
Going beyond the customary commemoration of the stories of Ibrahim and Ismail, I want to focus here on the not-so-mentioned legacy of a great woman, Mother Hajar (Radhiallahu ‘anha, May Allah be pleased with her) the wife of Ibrahim and the mother of Ismail. Indeed, she is an integral and as important part of the legacy of Tawheed and the Milla (community) of Ibrahim. Her submission to the will of her Rabb and her sacrifice were as ideal as that of Ibrahim and Ismail. God has ennobled her in the Quran by making Safaa and Marwah integral to the performance of Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. These are the two hills between which she ran back and forth in search of water for her beloved infant son, while she was all alone according to the plan of God Himself. “Behold! Safaa and Marwah are among the symbols of God. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeys his own impulse to Good, be sure that God is He Who recognizes and knows.” (Quran 2:158)
If the readers have not read already, I invite them to read the Hadith containing details of her story in Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4, #583, Book of Ambiya or Prophets).
Mother Hajar was not just a wife of Ibrahim, but she was deeply loved by him. But, once again, to fulfil the wish of God, he brought Mother Hajar and their beloved infant son, Ismail, to this abandoned, desolate, barren valley of Makkah. There was no such inhabited place called Makkah at that time.
As Ibrahim brought Mother Hajar and Ismail to that barren, rugged valley, she asks (as in the Hadith): ‘O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is neither any person nor anything else (to survive)?’ She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, ‘Has God instructed you to do so?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’…
That was enough for Mother Hajar. Now she knew that it was according to the Divine Will. With the same nobility and dignity of faith as it ran in that family, “She said, ‘Then God will not neglect us.’ (In another version): ‘I am pleased to be (left) with God.’
Then Ibrahim left and she was alone with her infant. Makkah was not an inhabited place yet. Food and water that Ibrahim provided them with were consumed by the mother and baby. Desperately, she started searching for water running back and forth through the valley between the hills of Safaa and Marwah. Surly Allah would not abandon the family of Ibrahim and so, she was visited by the arch-angel Jibril. This is an significant point to ponder: What kind of person is visited individually by Jibril?
Water, in the form of an ever flowing spring, the Zamzam, was made available to them by direct intervention of God. Right during that time, the tribe of Jurhum, passing by the valley saw birds flying. Realizing that water must be available, they searched and discovered Mother Hajar and Ismail. They sought permission to settle there. Thus, the desolate valley of Makkah became an inhabited area. Ibrahim returned there much later and laid the foundation of Ka’ba. Makkah ultimately was to emerge as a city and as the perennial heartland of Tawheed, the belief in oneness of God.
Subhanallah, God is glorified. He took such a significant and noble service from a woman. But consider another aspect. What kind of situation Mother Hajar was placed into? In that desolate, uninhabited valley, what might have been going on in her mind?
While unconditionally committed to her Lord, she was constantly searching, moving and struggling not thinking about herself any longer, but to find some water and save her child. What could she think about herself? Dr. Ali Shariati, in his well known book Hajj, attempts to provide a glimpse. Once she was slave only to be given away by her Master, a king representing the owning class; now a victim and a stranger, exiled and abandoned by her family all alone with her child in her arms! She hardly ever had a dignified identity. Had she not been the mother of Ismail, who would have given her any recognition and worth? There, in that barren place, her identity did not matter any further. Yet, she reposed her complete trust in her true Lord (Rabb) and was determined to pursue whatever she could in the Way of God.
Now ask yourself. If any human being needs to be identified, whom would you consider the foremost as far as founding of Makkah as a city?* Is there any other civilization, or even a city of this stature, that has been brought about by such primary contribution and sacrifice of a woman? How ironical, unfortunate, insulting and utterly unacceptable that the city that came into existence through the sacrifice and struggle of a lone woman now does not allow a woman to drive a car by herself. Nor does it allow a woman to travel to hajj by herself, even though the Prophet Muhammad himself had the vision that woman would travel someday alone to perform hajj and indeed, the vision did materialize. (Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibnHanbal, Vol. 4, #19397, 19400; Also Sahih al-Bukhari: Vol. 4, #793)
It is so unfortunate that so little about her is talked about even on such pertinent occasion of which she is an integral part. I don’t recall myself listening to any Khutbah that highlighted her faith, sacrifice, and contribution that were second to none; yes, second to none. Indeed, I have read Sahih al-Bukhari before too, until the work of a Muslim intellectual of our time, whose mind is keen about women’s contribution in the heritage of Tawheed, drew my attention to this.*
What men and women can learn from a woman, whose service and contribution ennobled the Hills of Safaa and Marwah to the status of “among the Sign of God,” which must be visited, and whose quest for saving the object of her love must be re-enacted?
From far away as the pilgrims perform this re-enactment, we also want to be like Ismail and have a share of this noble woman’s affection. But there is a greater symbolic implication!
This community of believers follow the Way of Prophet Muhammad, a way that primarily was designed after the Way of Ibrahim and his family. The role that was played primarily by the family of Ibrahim, was broadly assumed by the Prophet Muhammad but now involving not just his family, but the larger community of believers. This community (Ummah) is created for mankind! (Quran 3:110)
As it was true then, it is also true now, the humanity is in pursuit of doom and destruction. Should we not, think of the humanity as Ismail destined for death, to save which love, affection, and restless passion of Mother Hajar are needed again and again? Did not the Prophet Muhammad carry on that mission of mercy and affection, and thus he was the RahmatullilAlamin (mercy for the universe), according to the Quran? Did not his loyal companions fulfil the same mission? Then, does not this community (Ummah) need to be conscious of the trust God has given to them, for which the community will be accountable? What could be a better occasion for us to remind ourselves of that trust and invite ourselves to reflect on this and respond accordingly?
In conclusion, what is there, then, to celebrate?
“Our Lord! Grant us what you did promise to us through your Prophets, and save us from the shame on the Day of Judgment: for you never break Your promise.” And their Rabb (Lord) has accepted of them, and answered them: “Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: you are members, one of another; those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain; Verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath; A reward from the Presence of God, and from His Presence is the best of rewards. (Quran 3:194-195)
For all the toil and struggle, the hardship and sacrifice, the efforts and pursuits, is it not truly deserving of celebration that our works will not be in vain, will not suffer any loss? This is a guarantee from none other than God.
For me, that is more than good enough. With all the worldly promises, guarantees, and warranties that give us a sense of security, one tends to forget that there is also a vast world of deceptions. If we cannot have peace of mind with the promise from God, we have nowhere to turn to. Thus, what could be more worthy of our celebration than the invitation of God to an eternal life of peace, happiness, and prosperity, an invitation that comes with the unfailing promise of God. This, of course, requires that we commit ourselves to the positive and constructive pursuit of bringing peace, happiness and prosperity to the humanity.

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Opinion

The Observance of Eid ulAdha

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By Rida Ghaffar

Eid ulAdha is the second largest religious festival for Muslims worldwide. This occasion is also referred to as the “Festival of Sacrifice”. It is fervently celebrated and marks the remembrance of Hazrat Ibrahim’s (AS) willingness to sacrifice Hazrat Ismail (AS) as an act of obedience to the command that had been made by Allah (SWT). As Eid ulAdha falls on the 10th of DhulHijjah, this year the tentative dates are accounted as the 21st or the 22nd of August 2018, depending on the region.
That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor. (22:28)
Eid is just around the corner and the shopping sprees for its preparations have begun by fellow Muslims across the globe. From the purchase of sacrificial animals such as goats, cows, lambs and camels to new outfits for this happy occasion. Apart from the embarkment of several Eid preparations, the extensive Ibadaah by Muslims is not behind at all. Muslims all over the world drape this cape of protection around themselves by immersing themselves into constant dhikr around this time.
And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is grave disobedience. And indeed do the devils inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be associators [of others with Him]. (6:121)
The day of Eid begins with the Eid prayer, offered on the morning of 10th DhulHijjah after the sun rises completely; before the time for the Zuhr prayer starts. This prayer consists of two rakats and is performed with complete devotion worldwide.
After offering the Eid prayer, Muslims are meant to sacrifice the animals and divide out the meat amongst people. As far as the meat distribution of the slaughtered animals is concerned; the meat division is split into three parts; poor, relatives and friends, and family respectively.
In regards to the sacrifices offered, the term Dhabiha is used to reflect the act of slaughtering the animals in the Halal way; pronouncing Tasmiyah (The name of Allah (SWT)) and Takbir; “BismillahAllahu Akbar”. The knife to be used in the slaughter must be razor sharp; straight and smooth. Moreover, the blood should be drained completely before the removal of the animal’s head. In Islam, flowing blood is considered to be impure and highly prohibited for food consumption. The reason behind this is that blood is a good medium for germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. Therefore, Dhabiha is to be done such that the meat is purified and suitable for consumption. Furthermore, the blood should ideally be drained in the corner area of the garden, so that the blood is absorbed by the land rather than being drained directly in gutters. For instance, a devastating sight of blood flooded across the streets of Dhaka was witnessed back in 2016.
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said: “Whoever slaughtered the sacrifice before the prayer, he just slaughtered it for himself, and whoever slaughtered it after the prayer, he slaughtered it at the right time and followed the tradition of the Muslims.”
We hope that this Eid will bring immense joy for each Muslim individual and confer ease as they carry out their respective sacrifices. We wholeheartedly wish our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters a very happy Eid!

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Opinion

The Hajj ending in Eid-ul-Adha

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By Ashfaq Hussain

Eid-ul-Adha (‘Celebration of Sacrifice’), also known as the Greater Eid, is the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar. It marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca). It takes place on the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Although only pilgrims to Makkah can celebrate it fully, Muslims elsewhere also mark the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha.
The Hajj is the Fifth Pillar of Islam and therefore a very important part of the Islamic faith. All physically fit Muslims who can afford it should make the visit to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in their lives. Every year around 2 million Muslims converge on Makkah. They visit a shrine in the city known as the Ka’bah, built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and Isma’il (Ishmael) at the command of Allah (God). It is a place for all who want to reaffirm their faith.
Eid-ul-Adha celebrates the occasion when Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son Isma’il as an act of obedience to God. The devil tempted Ibrahim by saying he should disobey Allah and spare his son. As Ibrahim was about to kill his son, Allah intervened: instead Allah provided a lamb as the sacrifice. This is why today all over the world Muslims who have the means to, sacrifice a sheep (alternatively a goat or cow can be used), as a reminder of Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah. They usually share out the meat with family and friends, as well as the poorer members of the community. In Britain, the animal has to be killed at a slaughterhouse.
Eid-ul-Adha is a 1-3 day celebration and in Muslim countries is a public holiday. It starts with Muslims going to the Mosque for prayers, dressed in their best clothes, and thanking Allah for all the blessings they have received. It is also a time when they visit family and friends as well as offering presents. At Eid it is obligatory to give a set amount of money to charity to be used to help poor people buy new clothes and food so they too can celebrate.

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