Archive | March 2009

The Theory Of Abrogation

Question:

Muslims believe in the theory of abrogation, i.e. they believe that certain earlier verses of the Qur’an were abrogated by verses revealed later. Does this imply that God made a mistake and later on corrected it?

 

Answer:

 

1.    Two different interpretations

 

The Glorious Qur’an says in the following verse:

 

“None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?”

[Al-Qur’an 2:106]

 

A reference to this is also made in chapter 16 verse 101 of Surah Nahl. The Arabic word mentioned is ayat which means ‘signs’ or ‘verses’ and which can also mean ‘revelations’. This verse of the Qur’an can be interpreted in two different ways:

 

a.    The revelations that are abrogated are those revelations that were revealed before the Qur’an, for example the Torah, the Zaboor and the Injeel.

Here Allah (swt) says that He does not cause the previous revelations to be forgotten but He substitutes them with something better or similar, indicating that the Torah, the Zaboor and the Injeel were substituted by the Qur’an.

 

b.  If we consider that the Arabic word ayat in the above verse refers to the verses of the Qur’an, and not previous revelations, then it indicates that none of the verses of the Qur’an are abrogated by Allah but substituted with something better or similar. This means that certain verses of the Qur’an, that were revealed earlier were substituted by verses that were revealed later. I agree with both the interpretations.

 

Many Muslims and non-Muslims misunderstand the second interpretation to mean that some of the earlier verses of the Qur’an were abrogated and no longer hold true for us today, as they have been replaced by the later verses of the Qur’an or the abrogating verses. This group of people even wrongly believe that these verses contradict each other.

 

Let us analyze a few such examples.

 

2.    Produce a recital like the Qur’an / 10 Surahs / 1 Surah:

 

Some pagan Arabs alleged that the Qur’an was forged by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Allah (swt) challenges these Arabs in the following verse of Surah Al-Isra:

 

“Say: If the whole of Mankind and Jinns were together to produce the like of this Qur’an they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.”
[Al-Qur’an 17:88]

 

Later the challenge was made easy in the following verse of Surah Al-Hud:

 

“Or they may say, “He forged it.” Say, “Bring ye then ten Surahs forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsover ye can, other than Allah, if ye speak the truth!’.”
[Al-Qur’an 11:13]

 

It was made easier in the following verse of Surah Yunus:

 

“Or do they say, “He forged it”? Say: “Bring then a Surah like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!’.”

[Al-Qur’an 10:38]

 

Finally in Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (swt) further simplified the challenge:

 

And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah if your (doubts) are true.

 

But if ye cannot – and of a surety ye cannot – then fear the Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones – which is prepared for those who reject faith”.
[Al-Qur’an 2:23-24]

 

Thus Allah (swt) made the challenges progressively easier. The progressively revealed verses of the Qur’an first challenged the pagans to produce a book like the Qur’an, then challenged them to produce ten Surahs (chapters) like those in the Qur’an, then one Surah and finally it challenges them to produce one Surah somewhat similar (mim mislihi) to the Qur’anic Surahs. This does not mean that the later verses that were revealed i.e. of Surah Baqarah chapter 2 verses 23 and 24 contradict the earlier three verses. Contradiction implies mentioning two things that cannot be possible simultaneously, or cannot take place simultaneously.

 

The earlier verses of the Qur’an i.e. the abrogated verses are still the word of God and the information contained in it is true to this day. For instance the challenge to produce a recital like the Qur’an stands to this day. Similarly the challenge to produce ten Surahs and one Surah exactly like the Qur’an also holds true and the last challenge of producing one surah somewhat similar to the Qur’an also holds true. It does not contradict the earlier challenges, but this is the easiest of all the challenges posed by the Qur’an. If the last challenge cannot be fulfilled, the question of anyone fulfilling the other three more difficult challenges does not arise.

 

Suppose I speak about a person that he is so dumb, that he would not be able to pass the 10th standard in school. Later I say that he would not be able to pass the 5th standard, and further say that he would not be able to pass even the 1st standard. Finally I say that he is so dull that he would not even be able to pass K.G. i.e. kindergarten. One has to pass kindergarten before one can be admitted to school. What I am stating is that the person is so dull as to be unable to pass even kindergarten. My four statements do not contradict each other, but my last statement i.e. the person would not be able to pass the kindergarten is sufficient to indicate the intelligence of that person. If a person cannot even pass kindergarten, the question of him passing the first standard or 5th or 10th, does not arise.

 

3.    Gradual prohibition of intoxicants

 

Another example of such verses is that related to gradual prohibition of intoxicants. The first revelation of the Qur’an to deal with intoxicants was the following verse from Surah Baqarah:

 

“They ask thee concerning wine and gambling say: ‘In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit’.”
[Al-Qur’an 2:219]

 

The next verse to be revealed regarding intoxicants is the following verse from Surah Nisa:

 

“O ye who believe! approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say” [Al-Qur’an 4:43]

 

The last verse to be revealed regarding intoxicants was the following verse from Surah Al-Maidah:

 

“O ye who believe! intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork; eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.”
[Al-Qur’an 5:90]

 

The Qur’an was revealed over a period of 22½ years. Many reforms that were brought about in the society were gradual. This was to facilitate the adoption of new laws by the people. An abrupt change in society always leads to rebellion and anarchy.

 

The prohibition of intoxicants was revealed in three stages. The first revelation only mentioned that in the intoxicants there is great sin and some profit but the sin is greater than the profit. The next revelation prohibited praying in an intoxicated state, indicating that one should not consume intoxicants during the day, since a Muslim has to pray five times a day. This verse does state that when one is not praying at night one is allowed to consume intoxicants. It means one may have or one may not have. The Qur’an does not comment on it. If this verse had mentioned that one is allowed to have intoxicants while not praying then there would have been a contradiction. Allah (swt) chose words appropriately. Finally the total prohibition of intoxicants at all times was revealed in Surah Maidah chapter 5 verse 90.

 

This clearly indicates that the three verses do not contradict each other. Had they been contradicting, it would not have been possible to follow all the three verses simultaneously. Since a Muslim is expected to follow each and every verse of the Qur’an, only by following the last verse i.e. of Surah Maidah (5:90), he simultaneously agrees and follows the previous two verses.

 

Suppose I say that I do not live in Los Angeles. Later I say that I do not live in California. Finally I say, I do not live in the United States of America. This does not imply that these three statements contradict each other. Each statement gives more information than the previous statement. The third statement includes the information contained in the first two statements. Thus, only by saying that I do not live in the United States of America, it is obvious, that I also do not live in California nor New York. Similarly since consuming alcohol is totally prohibited, it is obvious that praying in an intoxicated state is also prohibited and the information that in intoxicants is “great sin and some profit for men; but the sin is greater than profit” also holds true.

 

4.     Qur’an does not contain any contradictions

 

The theory of abrogation does not imply that there is a contradiction in the Qur’an, since it is possible to follow all the verses of the Qur’an at the same time.

 

If there is a contradiction in the Qur’an, then it cannot be the word of Allah (swt).

 

“Do they not consider the Qur’an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy (contradictions).”

 

[Al-Qur’an 4:82]

Sometimes he feels too lazy to pray – what is the remedy?

Q) I am a young Muslim man who believes in Allaah and His Messengers and His Books, praise be to Allaah. But sometimes I feel too lazy to pray. I am looking for a solution and a way to make me not be so lazy. Please note that this is what I want but the tricks of the Shaytaan are too strong.

 

A)  Praise be to Allaah.  

 

If a person truly believes in Allaah, His Messengers and His Books, and believes that prayer is obligatory and is the greatest pillar of Islam after the Shahaadatayn, we cannot imagine that he would neglect to pray or be careless in performing the prayers. Rather he would never feel at ease unless he performs this important ritual regularly. 

 

The more a person’s faith increases, the more he will be concerned to do that which Allaah has enjoined upon him, and this is also because of his strong faith. Hence the way to make you pray more regularly may be summed up as follows: 

 

1 – You should believe firmly that prayer is obligatory and that it is the greatest pillar of Islam. You should realize that a stern warning is issued to the one who neglects prayer, and he is a kaafir who is beyond the pale of Islam according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions, based on a great deal of evidence, such as the hadeeth in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his giving up prayer.” Narrated by Muslim, 82. 

 

And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The covenant that stands between us and them is prayer; whoever gives it up is a kaafir.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2621; al-Nasaa’i, 463; Ibn Maajah, 1079; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. 

 

2 – You should understand that delaying prayer beyond the time when it is due is a major sin, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

 

“Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salaah (the prayers) [i.e. made their Salaah (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell”

 

[Maryam 19:59] 

 

Ibn Mas’ood said concerning al-Ghayy [translated in the verse quoted above as Hell): This is a valley in Hell which is very deep and foul. 

 

And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“So woe unto those performers of Salaah (prayers) (hypocrites),

5. Those who delay their Salaah (prayer from their stated fixed times)”

 

[al-Maa’oon :4,5] 

 

3 – You should strive to offer the prayers in congregation in the mosque, and not neglect any of them, knowing that praying in congregation in the mosque is obligatory according to the more sound of the two scholarly opinions, based on a great deal of evidence, such as the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Whoever hears the call to prayer and does not respond, his prayer is not valid unless he has an excuse.” Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 793; also by al-Daaraqutni and al-Haakim, who classed it as saheeh; also classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah. 

 

Muslim (653) narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: A blind man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, I do not have anyone to guide me to the mosque,” and he asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to give him a dispensation allowing him to pray in his home and he allowed him that, then when he turned away he called him back and said: “Can you hear the call to prayer?’ He said, “Yes.” He said: “Then answer it.” 

 

And there is other evidence too. See question no. 40113

 

4 – There is the hope that if you adhere to that, you will be included among the seven whom Allaah will shade with His shade (on the Day of Resurrection), among whom is “a young man who grew up worshipping his Lord” and “a man whose heart was attached to the mosque”. Al-Bukhaari, 660; Muslim, 1031. 

 

5 – You will earn the great reward for prayer, especially prayer in congregation. In al-Saheehayn it is narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “A man’s prayer in congregation is twenty-five times better than his praying in his house or marketplace, because when he does wudoo’ and does it well, then goes out to the mosque, only going there to pray, he does not take a single step but he is raised in status and a sin is erased thereby. When he prays, the angels continue to send blessings upon him so long as he is still in the place where he prayed, (saying), ‘O Allaah, send blessings on him, O Allaah have mercy on him.’ And one of you is still in a state of prayer so long as he is waiting for the prayer.” 

 

Al-Bukhaari, 647; Muslim, 649. 

 

Muslim (232) narrated that ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Whoever does wudoo’ for prayer and does wudoo’ well, then walks to (perform) the prescribed prayer, and offers the prayer with the people or with the congregation or in the mosque, Allaah will forgive him his sins.” 

 

6 – You should read about the virtue of prayer, and the sin of those who are careless or too lazy to pray. We advise you in particular to read the book Al-Salaah, limadha (Prayer – why?) by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ismaa’eel al-Muqaddim; and listen to the lecture, “Limadha la tusalli (Why don’t you pray?) by Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Ya’qoob, as these will be very beneficial for you in sha Allaah. 

 

7 – You should choose good friends who are keen to pray and pay attention to that, and keep away from those who are the opposite, because a person is influenced by his friends. 

 

8 – Keep away from sin in all aspects of your life, and adhere to the rulings of sharee’ah in your dealings with others, especially with women, because sin is one of the things that most distract a person from doing acts of worship and increase the Shaytaan’s influence on him. 

 

We ask Allaah to make us and you among His righteous slaves and those who are close to Him.  

 

And Allaah knows best.

 

 

Islam Q&A

Ruling on using a shoe as a sutrah

Q)  What is the ruling on using a shoe as a sutrah?

 

A)  Praise be to Allaah.

 

There is nothing wrong with that, unless there is any najaasah (impurity) or dirt on it, in which case it should not be used as a sutrah because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade spitting in front of oneself. But if there is no visible dirt or najaasah on it, then there is nothing wrong with using it as a sutrah. End quote. 

 

Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him). 

 

 

Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftooh (3/522)

Should he stop praying in the mosque because he fears for himself?

Q)  Can a person be excused if he does not pray Jumu’ah or pray in congregation in the mosque, if there is turmoil in his country and he fears for himself if he goes to the mosque, and is afraid that he may be killed, imprisoned or beaten? As these reasons valid excuses for him not praying Jumu’ah or offering prayers in congregation?

 

A)  Praise be to Allaah.

 

We ask Allaah to set the affairs of the Muslims straight, and keep us and you away from places of turmoil and trials, and to unite them on the truth, and grant them victory against their enemies, for He is able to do that. 

 

Praying in congregation in the mosque is obligatory for men who are able to do that, and there is a great deal of evidence for that which has been explained in the answers to questions no. 120 and 8918

 

The obligation of performing prayers in congregation and Jumu’ah prayers is dependent upon there being no danger to a person’s life or wealth or family, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

 

“and [Allaah] has not laid upon you in religion any hardship”

 

[al-Hajj 22:78]

 

“Allaah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you”

 

[al-Baqarah 2:185] 

 

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni (1/366): The one who is afraid is excused for not praying in congregation or praying Jumu’ah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Valid excuses are fear and sickness.” 

 

Fear is of three types: fear for oneself, fear for one’s wealth or property, and fear for one’s family. End quote. 

 

If a person fears that he may be killed or arrested and imprisoned unlawfully, then this is regarded as a valid excuse for his not praying in congregation or praying Jumu’ah, and he may offer these prayers in his house in order to protect himself. 

 

But if he prays Jumu’ah in his house, then he should pray it as Zuhr with four rak’ahs, not like Jumu’ah prayer. 

 

And Allaah knows best.

 

 

Islam Q&A

The best way to call those who do not pray and to deal with innovators

َQ)  What is the best way to call those who do not pray? What about innovators?

 

A)  Praise be to Allaah.  

 

Firstly: 

 

We should consider the person being called to pray or to do other acts of worship, and pay attention to the most effective means of encouraging him or warning him. The general principle in Islam is to combine both approaches (encouraging and warning). It is also important to pay attention to how receptive or otherwise the person being called is, and whether he will be influences or put off by preaching. 

 

Secondly:  

 

The best way to call those who do not pray can be summed up as follows:  

 

1 – Reminding them of the obligation of prayer and that it is the greatest of the pillars of Islam after the Shahaadatayn (twin declaration of faith). 

 

2 – Telling them some of the virtues of prayer, for it is the best of the duties that Allaah has enjoined on His slaves, and the best way by means of which a person may draw closer to his Lord. It is the first of his religious affairs for which a person will be brought to account. The five daily prayers are an expiation for whatever sins come in between them, so long as he avoids major sins. A single prostration raises a person in status by one degree, and erases one sin… and there are other virtues of prayer that have been narrated. This may open his heart and perhaps prayer may become a source of delight, as it was for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).  

 

3 – Telling them of the stern warnings that have been narrated concerning not praying, and the different opinions of the scholars as to whether this constitutes kufr (disbelief) and riddah (apostasy). Islam does not give the one who does not pray the opportunity to live freely among people, because in his case he must he invited to pray, and if he persists in not praying, he is to be executed as an apostate according to the view of Ahmad and those who agreed with him among the salaf (early generations of Islam); or he is to be executed as a hadd punishment, according to the view of Maalik and al-Shaafa’i; or he is to be detained and imprisoned, according to the view of Abu Haneefah.  But no scholar says that he is to be left free. So it should be said to the one who does not pray: are you happy that the scholars disagreed as to whether you are a kaafir and whether you should be killed or imprisoned? 

 

4 – Reminding them of the meeting with Allaah, death and the grave, and what will happen to the one who does not pray, namely a bad end and the torment of the grave. 

 

5 – Explaining that delaying prayer until the time for it is over is a major sin: 

 

“Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salaah (the prayers) [i.e. made their Salaah (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell”

 

[Maryam 19:59 – interpretation of the meaning]. 

 

Ibn Mas’ood said concerning al-Ghayy (translated here as “Hell”): it is a valley in Hell that is very deep and has a foul taste. 

 

And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“So woe unto those performers of Salaah (prayers) (hypocrites),

5. Those who delay their Salaah (prayer from their stated fixed times)”

[al-Ma’oon 107:4-5] 

 

6 – Explaining the serious implications of the view that they are kaafirs, such as their marriages being rendered invalid, it being forbidden for them to remain with and be intimate with their wives, and the fact that they will not be washed and prayed for after they die. Among the texts that indicate that the one who does not pray is a kaafir is the hadeeth in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his giving up prayer.” Narrated by Muslim, 82. and he said: “The covenant that stands between us and them is prayer; whoever gives it up is a kaafir.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2621; al-Nasaa’i, 463; Ibn Maajah, 1079. 

 

7 – Giving them some booklets and tapes that deal with the subject of prayer and the punishment of the one who does not pray or is careless concerning the prayer. 

 

8 – Forsaking and shunning them if they persist in not praying. 

 

With regard to innovators, the way in which we deal with them varies according to the type of innovation involved. We should advise them and call them to Allaah, and establish proof against them, and refute their specious arguments. If the innovator persists in his innovation he should be forsaken and shunned, if it is thought that this will most likely benefit him. We have first to be sure that a person is an innovator before resorting to these measures, and reference should be made to the scholars. We should differentiate between the innovation and the one who practices it, because he may have the excuse of ignorance or misunderstanding. For more details please see Haqeeqat al-Bid’ah wa Ahkaamuhu by Sa’eed ibn Naasir al-Ghaamidi. 

 

And Allaah knows best.

 

 

Islam Q&A

Ruling on reading Qur’aan over graves, and saying du’aa’ for oneself at the graveside

Q)  What is the ruling on reading Qur’aan over graves? Saying du’aa’ for the deceased at the graveside? Saying du’aa’ for oneself at the graveside?

 

A)  Praise be to Allaah.

 

Reading the Holy Qur’aan at the graveside is bid’ah. It was not narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or from his companions. As it is not narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or from his companions, then we should not introduce it by ourselves, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, according to a saheeh report: “Every introduced matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a going astray, and every going astray will be in the Fire.” What the Muslims must do is to follow the example of the earlier generations, the Sahaabah and those who followed them in truth, so that they will be following goodness and true guidance, because it is proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of speech is the Book of Allaah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).” 

 

As for saying du’aa’ for the deceased at the graveside, there is nothing wrong with that. A person may stand at the graveside and say whatever du’aa’s he can, such as saying, “O Allaah, forgive him; O Allaah, have mercy on him; O Allaah, admit him to Paradise; O Allaah, make his grave spacious” and so on. 

 

With regard to a person saying du’aa’ for himself at the graveside, if he does it deliberately then it is also an innovation (bid’ah), because no place is specified as a place for du’aa’ unless there is a text concerning it. If there is no text concerning it and no Sunnah has been narrated concerning it, then that – i.e., singling out a place for du’aa’, no matter what the place is – is a bid’ah. End quote. 

 

Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (17/228) 

 

For more information please see the answer to question no. 36513

 

And Allaah knows best.

 

 

Islam Q&A

Times when it is forbidden to offer voluntary prayers

Q)  I read in one of the questions on your site about the times when prayer is forbidden. Could you please explain what these times are by the clock, so as to put my mind at rest?

 

A)  Praise be to Allaah.

 

The definition of times when voluntary prayer is forbidden varies from one country to another, and from one season to another. Hence we cannot explain what these times are by the clock for all lands and in all seasons. But we will explain the general principles which will make it easy for every Muslim to work out when these times are. Hence we say that the times when prayer is forbidden are three: 

 

-1-

 

From when dawn breaks until approximately a quarter of an hour after the sun has risen. You can find out the time of sunrise from the timetables that are available in all countries. 

 

-2-

 

Approximately a quarter of an hour before the time for Zuhr prayer begins, until the time for Zuhr begins. 

 

-3-

 

After you have prayed ‘Asr – even if it is an hour after the time for it began – until the disk of the sun has set completely. So the beginning of the time when prayer is forbidden is when one has prayed ‘Asr, not the beginning of the time for ‘Asr prayer, because the Muslim may offer ‘Asr prayer some time after the time for it begins. In that case the Muslim may offer voluntary prayers so long as he has not yet prayed ‘Asr, even if the time for ‘Asr has begun. Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni (1/429): We do not know of any difference of opinion concerning that among those who say that prayer is not allowed after ‘Asr. End quote. 

 

The evidence for these times is mentioned in several ahaadeeth, among the clearest and most comprehensive of which is the lengthy hadeeth which was narrated by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh (832) from ‘Amr ibn ‘Abasah (may Allaah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to him: “Pray Fajr, then refrain from praying until the sun has risen and become high, for when it rises, it rises between the horns of the Shaytaan and at that time the kuffaar prostrate to it. Then pray, for the prayer is witnessed and attended until the shadow of a spear falls directly north (i.e., noon). Then refrain from praying, for at that time Hell is stoked up. Then when the shadow moves forward, pray, for the prayer is witnessed and attended, until you have prayed ‘Asr. Then refrain from praying until the sun has set, for it sets between the horns of the Shaytaan and at that time the kuffaar prostrate to it.” 

 

We should point out that what is forbidden is prayer that is purely voluntary at these times. As for prayers for which there is a reason, such as “greeting the mosque” (tahiyyat al-masjid) or the two rak’ahs after wudoo’ or the two rak’ahs after tawaaf and so on, they may be offered at any time according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions. 

 

See also the answer to question no. 20013 and 82709 

 

And Allaah knows best.

 

 

Islam Q&A