Opinion, July 2003, www.aljazeerah.info
Prayer, Pilgrimage, Female Circumcision
Q.1. Some people anticipate the imam when they are in congregational prayer and make their movements either with him or even preceding him. Please comment.
Q.2. When I did my first pilgrimage a few years ago, I did not do the tawaf of farewell, leaning toward the view that it was a Sunnah. Now I am in doubt and feel that it is obligatory. What is the status of my pilgrimage, and should I repeat it?
Q.3. Is female circumcision a Sunnah?
Q.4. When a part of the Muslim land is occupied by enemies, jihad becomes obligatory. May I ask whether it is an individual or collective duty?
M. Sayd • Makkah
A.1. It is a very serious flaw in prayer if a person precipitates the imam’s action. The Prophet says: “The imam is there to be followed.” This is a clear instruction that everyone in the congregation should wait for the imam to make his move before they move. The Prophet also says: “Does not a person who lifts his head before the imam fear that God may change his head or his image into that of an ass?” Imams should advise their congregation of the serious nature of this breach so that they may abide by the Prophet’s instructions.
A.2. I understand that you leaned to that view on the basis of convenience. You did not make an informed choice, looking at the evidence supporting each of the two views. Convenience is certainly a factor to be considered. Thus, if the choice of the easier view was made because you feared that you would be late for your coach, and that your people might have gone and left you behind, this is certainly a factor to be considered. On the other hand, if it was all laziness, it would certainly have been infinitely better to offer the tawaf of farewell. If you can afford to slaughter a sheep in compensation, then do so. If you cannot, may God accept your action as valid and reward you for it.
A.3. Female circumcision is not a Sunnah. There is no basis to consider it as such. Shaikh Muhammad Al-Sabbagh, a reputable Hadith scholar, has verified all the Hadiths that mention this practice and shown that they are all very poor in authenticity. As such, they are unsuitable to be taken as a basis for any action. From another point of view, it has been medically established that this social tradition, which is common in some African countries, is harmful to the girl in childhood and adulthood. As such, it should be avoided by all means. Parents who arrange this to be done to their daughters must not do so, because it exposes their daughters to lasting harm. This is something a parent is forbidden to do to a child.
A.4. When a part of the land of Muslims falls under enemy occupation, fighting becomes obligatory to all the people of that area and those who are in neighboring areas. It is an individual duty, i.e. fardh ayn, applicable to men and women. The Hadith mentions that a woman, a youth or slave may go out to fight without waiting for permission by their husband, father or master, respectively.
Marriage in Mosques
Q.1. Could you please clarify whether conducting the marriage ceremony in a mosque is a Sunnah or a voluntary practice.
Q.2. Is raising one’s hands during prayer recommended or not?
A.1. The important thing in marriage is publicity. One of the best forms of increasing publicity is to make the ceremony in a mosque, where not only friends and relatives are invited, but also people frequenting the mosque are in attendance. The Prophet says: “Publicize marriage, and hold it in mosques and mark it with playing the tambourine.” (Related by Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi). Needless to say, playing the tambourine is one way of showing pleasure. Similar methods, such as singing, are also encouraged. When the Prophet was told that the women in his household were attending a wedding, he said: “Why have they not taken with them a maid to sing?” He also suggested the wording of the song.
Q.2. Some schools of Fiqh say that raising one’s hands to be parallel with one’s face is recommended in prayer, before and after bowing, or rukoo’. Other schools do not consider this as a Sunnah. Thus, when you find an imam suggesting this as preferable, or saying that it is preferable to omit it, you know that he belongs to this or that school. This is a matter of detail which does not affect the validity of prayer one way or the other.
Selling for a Term
Q. Some of us sell SAWA cards but increase the price a little if the customer wants it on credit. For example, a card which sells for SR100 for cash is sold for 105 if payment is to be made after one month. Is this permissible?
A. Increasing the price of an article in lieu of waiting for payment is acceptable from the Islamic point of view. It is practiced all over the Muslim world. This is different from receiving extra when you lend money to another person. The case here is that you are saying to your customer that the article you are selling costs more when the terms of the sale change, allowing him payment after an agreed period of time. The seller, however, should not mention the two prices at the same time so as to say: “This is for 100 riyals in cash, and 105 for deferred payment.” He takes one case at a time.
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