Category Archives: Q&A

Questions and answers, i.e. fatwas, from shuyookh and people of knowledge.

Is Alcohol Najas?

The word “khamr” in Arabic refers to intoxicants (in general), but also specifically to alcohol. We all know drinking alcohol is haraam–but is alcohol itself najas? People use alcohol in medicine, in lens-cleaners, even in foods. What have scholars said about this?

Summary: Allahu ‘alim, both sides–those that say alcohol is najas, and those that don’t–have strong proofs. Having said that, all four madhahib say alcohol is najas. The main proof–and there are a few proofs–is the ayah:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالأَنصَابُ وَالأَزْلاَمُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

Translation: O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are rijs of Shaytan’s handwork; eschew such (filth), that ye may prosper. [Surah Ma’idah, verse 90]

The word Allah uses–rijs–means filth, which is najas by default. Gambling and divination are spirituall najas, and alcohol is physically najas! (Those who say alcohol is not najas use this ayah too–gambling and divination are spiritually najas. If you walk into a gambling machine, you don’t go wash it off! And alcohol is mentioned here too. But the refutal is that it’s common sense that gambling and divination aren’t physically najas.)

Another proof: Abu Tha’labah Al-Khushani asked the Prophet: “We are in a land inhabited by people of the book. Can we eat from their inaa’?” The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “Don’t eat from them, unless you can’t find an alternative; in that case, wash them and eat from them.” The word used, inaa’, refers to dishes (plates, bowls), utensils (knives, forks, spoons), AND cups! If alcohol wasn’t najas, the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) wouldn’t have mentioned inaa’, only plates/bowls/etc. and utensils! So the majority of scholars use this proof, too, to say alcohol is najas.

And follow Imam Malik–who says that even though alcohol is najas, if it’s mixed into something–as long as it doesn’t change the colour, smell, or taste of the thing–then that thing is pure.

But don’t cook with it–because there’s a hadith, that “whatever intoxicates in large amounts is haraam even in small amounts.”

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alim.

References

Abdul-Bary Yahya. Lecture. AlMaghrib. The Purification Act. University of Toronto, Toronto. November 2006.

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Utensils and Vessels

What utensils and vessels (called inaa’ in Arabic, which includes cups, plates, utensils, and the like–though we’ll call it “utensils” for simplicity) are halal to eat from? This is important–your du’a is at stake! If you eat from haraam, Allah will not accept your du’a.

Scholars agree that all utensils made from pure and clean things–other then silver and gold, because we’re prohibited from eating from those–are pure and clean. So throw out your silverware, even if it’s only partially silver; gold plating is not allowed, either.)

Is it halal to eat from the cutlery (vessels–plates, cups, etc.) and utensils of non-Muslims? This issue most impacts Muslims living in non-Muslim localities, such as North America. What’s the answer? Scholars disagree on this. Let’s look at the opinions.

Opinion 1: We can eat from their utensils, because Allah made the food of non-Muslims lawful–the only things that make their utensils najas is najas stuff.

Opinion 2: We can eat from their utensils–when necessary. Abu Tha’labah Al-Khushani asked the Prophet, “we’re in a land inhabited by People of the Book. Can we eat from their utensils?” The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “Don’t eat from them, unless you can’t find an alternative, in which case, wash them and eat from them.”

Opinion 3: We can use them if we don’t see non-Muslims eating pork or driking wine on them. Because in one hadith–a long hadith–the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) ran out of wudoo water. He used water from a water-skin of a mushrik and made wudoo with that (as did all his companions–because of barakah).

So what’s the conclusion? Allahu ‘alim, scholars put forward opinion three–you can use their utensils–so long as they’re not used for wine or eating najas stuff–because of the hadith of the water-skin.

What about eating at non-Muslim restaurants? If you go, and they serve alcohol, pork, or najas things, and they cook it on the same skillet/pan/grill/pot/container as your food, then it’s haraam. But if it’s, for example, a seafood restaurant, and the majority of their food is ok, then it’s ok. (But, it’s preferable to avoid this situation if you can.)

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alim.

References

Abdul-Bary Yahya. Lecture. AlMaghrib. The Purification Act. University of Toronto, Toronto. November 2006.

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Fard vs. Wajib

A lot of people–especially new Muslims–break their heads on this conundrum. What is the difference between fard and wajib? Are they the same? Are they different? What’s the scoop? Why do some people say fard, while others say wajib for the same things?

The answer is simple. According to the majority of scholars, fard and wajib mean the EXACT same thing. There is no difference. They are interchangable. (Recall that fard means: an action that, if performed, entails reward, and if neglected, entails punishment.)

However–there is one exception. The Hanafi madhab differentiates between the two. They say that denying a fard makes you kafir, while denying a wajib does not. Note that here, we’re talking about denying an action, not neglecting it–so if someone says, “no, I don’t have to pray, prayer is not obligatory,” that’s denying a fard, while someone else who says “yes, prayer is obligatory but I don’t feel like praying,” is sinning (major sin).

In the end, it’s like saying “forest” or “trees”–some say fard, and some say wajib, but they’re the same thing.

And Allah, Al-Aleem, knows best. We ask Allah to increase us in knowledge that will benefit us and protect us from knowledge that has no benefit, ameen ya rabbi!

References

Muhammad Alshareef. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Breach of Covenant. University of Toronto, Toronto. May 2005.

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The Grand Name

Question: I heard that there’s one name of Allah, that if you use it to invoke Allah, your du’a is accepted. Is this true?

Answerer: Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “To Allah belongs a Grand Name, that, if you make du’a with it, it will be responded to. And if you plead or request with it, it shall be answered.” [Recorded in Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and others; Saheeh]

This hadith mentions this concept of the Grand Name of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى). This Grand Name, the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) didn’t tell us what it is, because that defeats the purpose (calling Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) by ALL His names, not just one or two)!

The scholars say there are two very strong opinions on what the Grand Name is:

  1. The name is Al-Hayyu and Al-Qayyum (from Ayatul Kursi)
  2. The name is Allah (Allah is mentioned by name over 3000 times in the Qur’an)

And the stronger opinion (according to me), is that the Grand Name is Allah. And these are the two strongest opinions.

So there’s no problem combining all three when you invoke Allah (i.e. saying “Ya Allah, ya Hayyu, ya Qayyum, …”). And remember, when Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says he WILL respond, it won’t necessarily be what you want–He might give you something better, though you might not see it that way. You can look up this topic in more detail in my book “Du’a: The Weapon of the Believer.”

References

Yasir Qadhi. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Light Upon Light: Fundamentals of Faith 102. Metro Toronto Convention Center, July 2007.

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Knowledge, Practice, Da’wah

Answerer: Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

Q: Allah grants knowledge to those He loves. What do you do to be among these people?

A: Strive. Show interest in the deen. Come closer to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), and He will come closer to you. There is a hadith on how to gain knowledge: ‘ilm is only gained by studying. It’s not gained by hiding in a cave and worshipping Allah (سبحانه وتعالى). Studious study is the only way to gain knowledge. Don’t sleep with your head on a book and expect knowledge to osmosize into your brain!

Q: Allah loves the knowledgable. Does that mean those who practice their knowledge? A lot of knowledgable people don’t practice Islam properly.

A: The knowledgable is the one who believes and practices what he knows. Even Iblees has knowledge that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is one, and that the Day of Judgement is coming. It is knowledge that enters the heart and manifests itself through practice.

Q: How should we share knowledge with non-Muslims?

A: Prioritize. Focus on tawhid first: laa ila ha illallah. Da’wah is only Tawhid. Never talk about other things–things like pork, women’s issues, etc. are not the primary issue. Tawhid is the #1 issue to focus on. This is the command from Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and his messenger (صلي الله عليه وسلم).

(Editor’s note: this is also the approach taken by the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) in his da’wah–he focused primarily on tawhid.)

Yasir Qadhi. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Light of Guidance. University of Toronto, Toronto. March 2006.

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Best Way to Increase Eman?

Question: What is the best way for a person increase his or her eman?

Answerer: Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

The single greatest way to increase your eman is to gain knowledge.

Study what eman is, study tawhid, the pillars of eman, etc. It automatically increases your eman.

Good deeds also increase eman–each and every single good deed and act of worship you perform increases your eman. Fast a day. Read Qur’an. Pray Tahajjud.

And don’t forget to make du’a, for the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) made du’a that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) make his heart firm in Islam (i.e. increase his eman). It is narrated that he said: “o Controller of the Hearts, make my heart firm in Your faith.” [Ahmad]1

Also study the biographies and lives of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم), companions and of famous scholars. When you see all the things they did and the great trials they went through, it increases your eman.

And finally, beware of sin, for each and every sin and act you commit against Islam decreases your eman. Wasting time also decreases eman.

People of eman don’t enjoy life quite the same way as other people–they’re always busy doing something.

Contemplate the creation and it’s perfection.

May Allah increase us all in our eman, and make firm our hearts on Islam. Ameen!

References

(1) “The Merit of Making Du’a (Supplication).” Mission Islam Youth with a Mission. 17 Apr. 2006 <http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/dua.htm>.

(2) Yasir Qadhi. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Light of Guidance. University of Toronto, Toronto. March 2006.

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Forgiveness for Shirk?

Allah blessed me with the opportunity to listen to Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, who specializes in Aqeeda, speak about shirk. Here’s what he said.

Question: What happens if you’re Muslim and you’ve committed shirk?

Answerer: Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

In the Qur’an, in many places, Allah says shirk is unforgivable.

إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا

Translation: Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases; and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin. (Surah Nisaa, verse 48)1, 2

Notice Allah says he “forgives what is besides that”–that means any sin is potentially forgivable. Subhanallah.

So what happens if you’re Muslim, and you commit an act of shirk? Does it destroy all your good deeds? Are you doomed to enter Jahannam, may Allah protect us all from that?

“Allah does not forgive [shirk]” means Allah will not forgive the person if he doesn’t repent. Repentance wipes out every sin, without exception. Many sahaba (may Allah be pleased with all of them) were mushrikoon when they accepted Islam.

The point is, if you commit shirk and die without repenting, Allah will not forgive you. If you fornicate, drink alcohol, consume interest, steal, and you repent afterward, Allah will forgive you inshaAllah. If you don’t repent from those sins and you die, Allah may forgive you. With shirk, if you die with it unrepented, Allah will not forgive you.

The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) saught refuge from shirk and taught us a wonderful du’a to protect ourselves:

Dua for Protection from Shirk

Allaahumma innee ‘aoothu bika an ushrika bika shaiann wa anaa a’lamu, wa astaghfiruka limaa laa a’lamu.

Translation: O Allah, I seek refuge in You lest I associate anything with You knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for what I know not.

Source: The collection of Ahmad. You can find the du’a in Fortress of a Muslim. You can find more details more in the comments inshaAllah.

May Allah protect us all from the evil of shirk, and allow us to live and die as true Muslims.

References

(1) Shakir, trans. “An-Nisaa (Women).” USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts. USC-MSA. 16 Mar. 2006 <http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/004.qmt.html>.

(2) Pickthall, Muhammad M., trans. Al-Qur’an Al-Kareem: Parallel Arabic text with English Translation. One Ummah Network. 28 Dec. 2005 <http://www.oneummah.net/quran/quran.html>.

(3) Yasir Qadhi. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Light of Guidance. University of Toronto, Toronto. March 2006.

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