Q46: Can We Have a Direct Contact With Our Imam?

A. Yes. If any Ithna-Asheri is really anxious to meet him (A.S.) personally, he should spend 40 Tuesday nights at Masjid-e-Sahla (near Kufa), or 40 Thursday nights (Shab-e-Juma) at the grave of Imam Husain (A.S.) in prayers and remembrance of Allah. At the end of that period he will surely see and meet the Imam (A.S.).

Q47: Can you, please; direct us with reference to Qur'an when, why and where our Imam was "Ghayab"?

A. 1. When and Where? Well, what is the use of seclusion if people are made aware of his "whereabouts"? So, the question "Where" cannot be answered if you mean "where is he?". But if you mean "where was he living at the time of Ghaibat?", then I may tell you that he became Ghayab from "Samarra" in the year 329 Hijrah.

  1. Why? Here is a Hadith from Imam Jafer Sadique (A.S.) explaining about Ghaibat some 200 years before that event :-

Abdullah bin Fadhl heard Imam Jafer Sadique (A.S.) talking about the "seclusion" and its long period in which every man of wrong belief would start doubting (even the existence of Sahib-ul-Amr). Abdullah asked the reason of ghaibat, to which Imam replied :

"The reason of his "Ghaibat" is the same as of the ghaibat of other representatives of Allah before him.Verily its reason will not be clear until after his re-appearance; as the reason of the actions of Khidhr (i.e. damaging the boat, killing the child and repairing the wall) was not explained to Musa (A.S.) until the time came for them to separate. O Son of Fadhl, this is an Amr from Amr of Allah, a secret from the secrets of Allah, and hidden thing from the hidden things of Allah; and when we know that Allah is Hakeem (Creator of wisdom) we confirm that all of his actions are based upon wisdom though its reason at the time might be unclear to us.(Ihtijaj, Volume II, p. 140). So, you see that the actual reasons cannot be known till our Imam (A.S.) ends his seclusion. Then, we will know the facts.

Still, the following reasons which have been mentioned in the Hadith of Imams right from Ameerul-Momeneen upto our present Imam (A.S.) will throw some light on this question of 'Ghaibat' :-

  1. He is in seclusion so that when he stands to put the world on right path, he is not bound by an oath of allegiance to anybody.

  2. Safety of his life.

  3. Testing the strength of the Iman of believers, as was done in the case of Hadhrat Nuh (A.S.) when the coming of the flood was repeatedly postponed and each postponement saw many so-called 'faithfuls' deserting Hadhrat Nuh (A.S.) and becoming kafir.

You have not put "How" in your question; but I think I should reply this question also, to make the picture clearer. Ghaibat does not mean that our Imam has got an invisible body. The meaning of Ghaibat is that people, even when he is among them, do not recognise him. Here is a Hadith from Imam Jaffer Sadique (A.S.) on this subject :-"And why do these people think it strange? Verily, the brothers of Yusuf were Asbat - the children of the prophets - they made business transaction with Yusuf, and bought things from him and talked with him and they were his brothers and he was their brother - and they did not recognize him until Yusuf told them, "I am Yusuf". So why does this cursed Ummat reject the idea that at a certain time Allah may want to hide his Representative.

Surely, Yusuf was the ruler of Egypt (and, thus, a famous man) and there was between him and his father a distance of only 18 days journey and had Allah wanted to reveal to Yakub where Yusuf was, He had power to do so (By God, when they got the good news of Yusuf, Yakub and his children covered that distance in 9 days only).So, why does this Ummat think it objectionable if Allah wanted to do with His Representative what He did in case of Yusuf, i.e. the 12th Imam may be visiting their markets, walking on their floors and yet they would not recognize him till Allah allows him to disclose his personality, as He did to Yusuf when he said, "And did you know what you did with Yusuf and his brother when you were ignorants?". They said, "Say, Art thou Yusuf?" He said, "I am Yusuf and this is my brother"(Biharul-Anwar Vol. 13)

So far as the question of long life on this earth is concerned the following Ayat about Hazrat Yunus is to the point: "And, verily, Yunus is from among the Apostles; when he fled to the boat. And had he not been from those who say the Tasbih, he would have stayed in its stomach till the day when they would be resurrected"

This ayat clearly shows that but for his Tasbih, Yunus would have stayed in the stomach of the fish till Qiyamat. Then what is strange if a man stays on the earth till Qiyamat? Then there is the long life of Hadhrat Nuh. According to Qur'an, he preached to his people, before cursing them, for 950 years. Then came the Flood and he lived long after the Flood. In all he lived 2500 years. Compare it with the age of our present Imam which at this time is 1132 years only and you will not see any cause for objection.

Q48:What is the main difference George Chiteri, Mombasa, Kenya.

A. In this connection, first let me explain that, according to Islamic belief, Jesus Christ was a prophet sent by God to guide the children of Israel unto the right path. His Prophethood continued till the arrival of Muhammad, (S.A.W.W.) the Last Prophet sent by God. Thus Islam and Christianity both have come from the same source; but the difference is that Christianity was for a specific tribe and for a specific period, while Islam has come for all mankind for upto the last day of the world.

By the passage of time many such things had crept into Christianity which had made it necessary to send anotner Prophet to remove those wrong ideas and beliefs. For Example :-

  1. The Muslims believe that there is only one God. The Christians, while claiming to have the same belief, actually believe in 3 gods : God, Christ and Holy Ghost. They want to reconcile both their claims by saying that these 3 are 'one' and at the same time '3'. How this strange arithmetic is believed is beyond comprehension. They say that first you believe it then you can understand it.

  2. The Muslims believe as they have been taught in Qur'an :-

"Say, He is God, The One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He be-getteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him".

The Christians believe that God begot a son who was Jesus Christ. Thus God became a father. And as Christ also is a god and he is called "the son of god", so god became a son also. How God became father of Jesus is not explained. The only argument is that Jesus was born without father, so Allah was his father. To this claim, the Qur'an replies :- "The example" of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be" and he was"

If Jesus can be claimed to be "son of God" because he had no father, Adam has far stronger claim to be the son of God because he had neither father nor mother.

  1. The Muslims believe that every man is responsible for his own actions. No man will be punished for other's sin. Qur'an says, "that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another"

The Christians on the other hand believe that as Nabi Adam ate from the tree in Jannat, he committed a sin; and that sin has been inherited by every human-being; thus every person is born with that sin and will be punished for it. It is also diametrically opposed to the Muslims belief that all children are born free from every sin and disbelief.

  1. Resulting from No. 3, the Christians believe that it was to remove that sin from mankind that Jesus Christ died on the cross. Now anyone, believing that Jesus Christ died on the cross for atonement of the sins of mankind, will automatically become free from every sin and thus will be saved from punishment.

Muslims emphatically refute this belief, because it is based on the wrong and illogical assumption of the "original sin" of Nabi Adam.

  1. Christians believe that one of their gods (i.e. Jesus Christ) died and again became alive after 3 days. The Muslims' God is the Creator of death and life. Death cannot reach him. Resulting from these differences, many, other differences have arisen. But I think this much is enough for this letter.

Q 49: Is Islam related in anyway with the Chritianity?

A. You have asked about the relationship between Islam and Christianity. Being a Muslim, you must be aware that Allah sent 124,000 prophets beginning with Hadhrat Adam (A.S.) and ending with our Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W.). All these prophets came from Allah and brought His message. As they all came from one Allah, their basic faith (e.g. Unity of God, His Mercy and Justice, the Day of Judgement, etc.,) was always the same. But the rules of prayers, of family system, etc., etc., changed according to the needs of the time.

Consequently, five new sheriats were sent one after another through Hadhrat Nuh, Ebrahim, Musa, Isa and Muhammad Mustafa (peace of Allah be on them). Every later sheriat abrogated and cancelled the previous one. Thus, the sheriat of Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa (S.A.W.W.) cancelled the sheriat of Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) and all the previous sheriats.

In this background you may easily understand the relationship between these two religions; Islam and Christianity both came from the same source, but Islam was sent to cancel all the previous religions including Christianity.

Q50: What is the message of Islam to the non-Muslims?

A. The message of Islam to the non-Muslims is found in the following ayat of the Holy Qur'an:- "Say, O People of the Book, come on the word agreed between us and you; that we shall worship none but Allah and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him and that none of us shall take others for lords besides Allah". (Ale-lmran : 64).

Q51: Why is Islam and Ahmadiyyas not same in their beliefs?

A. Here also there are many differences; but the basic differences are as follows :-

  1. Muslims (without exception) believe that Hadhrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W.) is the Last Prophet. No prophet is ever to come after him.

The Ahmadiyyas (commonly known as Qadianis) believe that Mirza Ghu-lam Ahmad of Qadian (died in 1908 A. D.) was prophet.

  1. The Muslims believe that Imam Mahdi will re-appear before Qiyamat and that Hadhrat Isa(A.S.)willcomeasoneofhisfollowerstohelphim.

The Qadianis believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani was Imam Mahdi and Nabi Isa - all in one, like the "3-in-1" god of the Christians.

  1. The Qadiani's belief about angels and Satan appears to be quite different from the belief of the Muslims.

There are other differences which it is not possible to explain in a short letter. Q52: I am really confused about my attitude towards the Ahmadiyya Sect. What should my standpoint be? Is it merely a dissident group which differs in its opinions as to the interpretation of certain Islamic beliefs or do its contentions differ fundamentally with the basic Islamic tenets? And if so how should we (Muslims) regard them?

A. Ahmadias (commonly known as Qadianis) differ with the Muslims in many of the basic tenets, the most important one being the finality of Prophethood.

Also they do not believe in 'Malaika,' and resurrection of the dead. There are many items in religion which are called "Dharuriyaat-e-Deen", i.e., such Basic Tenets which are known to every Muslim as part of religion. Take for example, the 5 times prayers, Fast of Ramadhan, Hajj of Kaaba, etc.

If any person rejects even one of Dharuriyaat-e-Deen, he according to the unanimous belief of the Muslims, becomes Kafir, though he may be reciting "La llaha Illallah Muhammadun Rasulullah".

The belief that our Holy Prophet was the last Prophet and no other prophet is to come after him, is one of the Dharuriyaat-e-Deen. Anybody or any sect rejecting this belief is Kafir. (For details, see "Muhammad Is The Last Prophet" published by this Mission.)

No. 53: ("Note: This letter was sent to Mr. Jamifur Rahman Rafiq, Chief Missionary of Ahmadiya Mission of Kenya, Nairobi. No reply was ever received).

"During the Agricultural Society Show of Mombasa you told some Shia youths that Abdul Hamid bin Abil-Hadid (who wrote one of the commentaries of Nahjul-Balagha) was Shia. When I asked you whether you had seen that commentary, you told me that you had not seen it but that you depended upon a book prepared by your headquarters in which he is mentioned as Shia.

I gave you an old issue of the "Light" (March-June, 1967) in which your claim that Ibn Abil- Hadid was Shia had been shown to be completely against his own declarations. For your information, we have in our Mission's Library the Mash-hadi edition of Nahjul- Balagha; and I have in my personal library all 20 volumes of the Sharh of Nahjul-Balagha by Ibn Abil-Hadid; and our Mombasa library has the Egyptian edition of Nahjul-Balagha (with foot notes by Mufti Mohammad Abduh).

You are welcome to see all or any of the above editions at any time.

Then you showed me an Arabic writing in the same book of yours purporting to be a letter of Ameerul-Mumineen Ali bin Abi Talib, some of whose sentences praised the First and Second Caliphs as 'Siddique' and 'Farooque'. The writer of your book has given the reference of Nahjul-Balagha. When you showed me that writing I knew that it was not in Nahjul-Balagha. Still I wanted to check your reference once more and I copied the said "quotation".

Now, I have checked the whole book and no such or similar paragraph is in Nahjul-Balagha. Now you have two tangible items to check the reliability of your writers :

(a)They wrote that Abdul-Hameed Ibn Abil-Hadid was Shia - while he himself writes in the same book that he was a Mutazilite and propounds the beliefs of Baghdadi Mutazilites from the beginning of his book to the end.

(b)They claim a "quotation" to be from "Nahjul-Balagha" while there is no such wording in Nahjul-Balagha.

If your writers can mislead you so blatantly in matters which can easily be checked what trust can you put in them in other matters?

Q54: I write this letter in reply to your advertisement in the Uganda Argus of 13th November, 1969. I am a student of Islam at Makerere University College and at present I am faced with many unanswered questions, theological, historical and others about Islam. For example, "Western critics claim that Sufism was borrowed from Christianity or other religions outside Islam"' and not within Islam itself.

I am not satisfied by answers given by my lecturer in Islamics, partly due to the fact that he is a Christian and also his knowledge is western orientated. I am also interested, and have been thinking for some time on the following topic :-

"ISLAM AND NOT MOHAMEDANISM".

Therefore, I shall be most grateful if you send me literature (free or otherwise) so that I could get answers to my questions and also defend my religion Islam from some pamphleteers and critics.

A. So far as Sufism is concerned, it is almost certain that it was borrowed from the sources outside of Islam. Muhaddith Dehlavi was of the opinion that first Sufis were from Kharijites. Others trace its origin to Hasan Basri who, undoubtedly, was against Ali bin Abi Talib, a fact which must be remembered in view of the later generations' assertion that he got his training from Ali.

I think the point of contention is not that whether Sufism sprung from within Islam or it was imported from outside. The only point of argument is whether it was borrowed from Christianity or Hinduism.

I think that both groups are partially right, because Sufism has taken something from both. Your idea of "Islam and NOT Muhammadanism" is quite right. Islam is the religion which was brought by all the prophets beginning from Hadhrat Adam (A.S.) and ending with Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa (S.A.W.W.). All the prophets and apostles brought the same faith (e.g., Unity of God, His Mercy and Justice, Day of Judgement, etc. Etc.). Of course, their Sheriats concerning mode of prayer, family system, penal code, etc., etc., were changing in response to the maturity of humanity; but the basic faith was never changed.

Therefore, to give Islam the name of "Muhammadanism" is very misleading and absolutely wrong. Islam was and is the Religion of Allah, not of Muhammad (S.A.W.W.). I hope this will be sufficient to your needs. Q55: Can a Sunni Muslim pray with Ismailis or Bohras in the same Mosque? Bukere Suleman, Entebbe (Uganda)

A. I am not aware whether the Ismailis or Bohras will allow you to enter Jamat Khanas or mosques during prayer time.

Moreover, Ismailis do not pray like other Muslim Sects. They have an entirely different way of "Bandagi" which has no resemblance with Muslims' prayers. Q56:ExplainwhyIsmailism Miss Minaz S. Hassan, Kampala, (Uganda).

is a complete way of life?

A. It would have been better if you had put this question to the Ismaili hierarchy. This question presupposes that Ismailism is a complete way of life and you just want to know how is that so. Now, as it happens, we cannot, in good conscience, concur with you in that supposition. We know that Islam established the dignity of mankind by rejecting all the ideas of human worship, nature worship or idol worship. (You better read 'Islam' pp. 3-5). So if any group, calling itself a sect of Islam, cultivates the idea that God was incarnated in a certain person, and thus demands the prerogatives of God for that human being, that group brings the human dignity down to the stage of sub-humanity. Such a faith cannot be termed as a complete way of life.

I am afraid I may have offended your feelings. In fact, the main cause of delay in replying to your question was that I did not like to give you a shock, but on the other hand, I felt obliged to give the reply as you have sought our help in this matter of religion. I would not go into the details of my reply at this stage, but if you want some details and quotations, please write to me again and I will supply the required information. Q57: What is the difference between Shia and Sunni sects of Islam?

A. You may refer to a cyclostyled article 'Sects of Islam' published by this Mission which will give you a fairly comprehensive idea of all the differences. If there is anything more which you want to be explained fully, please write to me without hesitation. (now that article is published as an Appendix of 'Your Questions Answered', Vol. 2, available from this Mission). Q58: What is the difference between Shia and Ithna-Asheri?

A. The word 'Shia' is from Arabic word. 'At -Tashayyo which means to follow. This word has been used for the followers of the Prophets of Allah in the Holy Qur'an. "And verily among his (Noah's) Shias (followers) is Ibrahim" (Qur'an 37 : 83).

We are called Shia because we follow the Holy Prophet according to the way shown by Hazrat Ali (A.S.) and other sinless members of the family of the Holy Prophet. In fact, it was the Holy Prophet himself who named followers of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) as Shia. The famous Sunni Scholars, Allamah Ibn Hajar (in his book "As-Sawaiqul-Muhriqua") and Allamah Ibn Athir (in his book 'Nihaya') recorded that the Prophet said : "O Ali, verily thou wilt come in the presence of Allah,thou and thy Shias happily and Allah will be pleased with you". 'Ithna-Asher' is the Arabic for 'twelve'. As we believe in 12 Imams after the Holy Prophet, hence this name.

No. 59:

The following letter was written in reply to some questions sent by Sheikh Omar Schubert Al-Muhtadi, Vice-President of Islamic Community in Hamburg, (West) Germany.

RULES OF SHIA SHERIAT CONCERNING PERSONAL HYGIENE

(a) AFTER URINATING :

  1. It is wajib to wash the organ TWO times, with pure and Tahir Water. The organ cannot be Tahir except by water.

  2. ISTIBRA: It is a device to make sure that no drops of urine have remained in the male organ. It is not wajib; but still is very much necessary. The standard method is to : (a) Press a finger near the beginning of the urine-passage at the bottom and rub it upward three times upto the testicles.

(b)Likewise, put finger at the root of penis and rub the urine-passage from the root upto the tip three times;

(c)Then, shake the penis three times to make sure that all urine has gone out,

(d)Also at the time of shaking it, put pressure on it by coughing gently. After the Istibra, the penis should be washed as mentioned have no need of Istibra.

in No. 1. Women

  1. The benefit of Istibra is that if after Istibra and washing, you suspect that some wet material has come out of penis and you are in doubt whether it is urine or not, you have no need of washing again. You will say to yourself that I have done Istibra and taken out all urine, so it is not urine. But, if you are sure that it is urine, or if you have not done Istibra and you are doubting whether it is urine or not, in both these conditions, you will have to wash again.

(b) AFTER THE ACTION OF BOWELS (LAVATORY)

  1. If the stool (excreta) is somewhat dry so that it has not dirtied more than the normal exit of the stool, it can be cleaned by :

(a) stone; (b) or clay; (c) or cloth; (d) or paper: (e) or other such things

which may rub out the stool (excrata). All such things must be Tahir before starting the rubbing. Also, it is necessary that the rubbing should be done at least 3 times. If you feel that there is still some stool, you should go on rubbing (even after 3 times) until the paper (or other material which is used for cleaning) comes clean. The third necessity is that for every rubbing a fresh paper (or cloth etc.) should be used. One paper cannot be used twice. It is necessary to mention here that use of the water for cleaning is preferable in every case.

  1. If the stool is not dry and has dirtied more than normal portion of the body, it can be cleaned by Water only. Nothing else can clean it.

5(a) In cleaning by water, you must clean so much that you are sure that the stool has been washed completely.

  1. It is necessary to wash hand, after cleaning stool or urine, two times. (C) OTHER RULES REGARDING URINATING OR BOWELING :

  2. It is Wajib to sit in a place where nobody can see your genital parts. This rule does not apply in case of husband and wife. It is not necessary to hide from either of them.

  3. It is Haram (Unlawful) to sit facing Quibla, or with back towards Quibla.

  4. It is haram to rub the stool (as mentioned in No. 4) with sacred things like a paper of Qur'an or clay of the graves of Imams (A.S.). Also it is Haram to rub it with any bone or any other stool of animal like cow-dung, etc.

(D)OTHER THINGS:

  1. It is highly stressed that the superfluous hair on the genital parts should be removed regularly. Women are encouraged to remove it at least twice a month, while men should remove it once a month at least. Muslims, generally, do not wait so long. Many people shave it twice weekly. Hair removing lotion or soap may be used by women. Indeed, it is preferred in the Shariat. They are not encouraged to use razor. But I have seen in many books that man should not use these lotions etc., because they harm his masculinity. He should shave it with razor. The superfluous hair in the arm-pits also should be removed.

  2. Nails should be cut at least once a week. If there is more than normal dirt in the nails, Wuzu or Ghusl may become difficult. Therefore attention is drawn to it.

  3. Nail polish is a nuisance, because Wuzu cannot be done with nail polish on. It is necessary that water should reach the nails without any cover.

(E)CONCESSIONS FOR A NURSING MOTHER:

  1. A woman (not man) who is rearing a boy infant (not girl), who has got no other cloth to wear, and her only cloth becomes Najis by the urine of the boy (not by any other Najasat) is permitted to pray in the same cloth. There is only one condition. She must wash and clean that cloth once in 24 hours. After that she may pray without any anxiety though the child may urinate on her. This rule is for the cloth only, not for parts of body.

Q60: Can a woman recite Qur'an or Dua during her monthly period?

A. Qur'an :

  1. It is Haram to recite from those 4 Suras which have ayats of Wajib Sajda. These are Alif Lam Meem Sajda; Ha Meem Sajda; Najm and Iqra. Even reciting Bismillahir- Rahmanir-Rahim with intention of any of these Suras is Haram.

  2. It is Haram to touch writing of the Qur'an in that condition.

  3. It is allowed (but strongly disliked) to carry Qur'an or touch it (even without touching the writing) in that condition.

  4. It is allowed to recite Qur'an (other than the 4 above mentioned Suras) by memory but it is strongly disliked to recite more than 7 ayats.

Dua:

  1. It is not allowed to touch the writing of those parts of Dua (in any script) which contain the ayats of Qur'an or names of Allah, Prophets, Imams or Masumeen. As almost all Duas contain these things, one MUST avoid touching any part of the writings of Dua.

  2. Reciting Dua by looking into it (without touching the writing) or by memory is allowed during the monthly period.