Q. 40: Character of Rights

Is this Charter of Rights available in English and where? A: Yes, it was translated by me in 1968; and published in Karachi and Vancouver (Canada). Now it is going to be printed in Dar es Salaam. At present you may order it from: Syed Muhammad Rizvi 7 EL Dorado Street Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada L4C 0G9.


I wonder if the Shari'ah law of amputating a thiefs hands is acceptable in the eyes of Allah, if a person is forced by abject poverty to steal food items? A: No. His hand will not be amputated.

The Islamic shari'ah is not blind to the realities on the ground. I think I should give you a short description of the conditiona which should be kept in view before deciding such cases.

(1) The thief must be adult, sane, and a free man;

(2) he should not have taken it thinking that it is his own thing;

(3) the alleged thief is not a joint owner of that thing;

(4) the stolen thing was kept in a safe place (for example, under lock) and the thief did break into it either alone or with the help of others; If someone else broke the lock, and afterwards the thief entered into the place and took something from there, his hand will not be amputated;

(5) the thing stolen is not the property of his son (If a father has stolen from his son, he will not be given that punishment of cutting the hand);

(6) he takes it stealthily, not openly;

(7) the stolen thing is at least equal in value to 21 grm. of gold.

If one steals food during a general famine, his hand is not to be cutoff. If all conditions are fulfilled then according to the Qur'an, his hand must be cut off. In Shi'a Shari'ah, 'hand' here means 4 fingers of the right hand.


What is the meaning, conditions and punishment for ridda? A: Riddah or irtidad means apostasy. First, let me describe conditions and various ways of apostacy:- A) Conditions of Apostasy:

Five condtions must be fulfilled before a person could be declared a murtadd (apostate):

1) & 2) He must be adult and sane; 3) He must be knowing what he is speaking. If a word of kufr (disbelief) slips out of his tongue without his having any intention to do so, it would not be held against him.

4) He should be knowing that it is a word of kufr and then uses it in that same meaning. If he speaks a word of kufr, without knowing its meaning, or uses it in some other lawful meaning, then it would not be held against him. If he knew that it was a word of kufr and used it in the same meaning, he would become murtadd and najis, even if he was not aware of the consequences of his utterance.

5) He should utter a word of kufr by his own free will. If he was forced to say such words and he did so to save his life (i.e. in taqiyyah), then it would not be held against him.

B) Apostasy may occur through heart, tongue and/or action:- ? Apostasy through heart: If someone disbelieves after believing or harbours doubt after being sure.

? Apostasy through tongue: When he denies the existence or oneness of Allah, or refutes God's justice or knowledge etc., or tries to show that God's actions are aimless or against Wisdom, or rejects any of the Zaruriyat-e-deen like prayer, fast, zakah, hajj, or disparages religion, qiyamat, Qur'an or hadith.

? Apostasy through action: When someone, say, throws the Qur'an down (with intention of insulting it), or with that intention tears it down, or kicks at it or throws it into a dirty place. The same is the rule if he insults the books of du'a, or hadith, or the names of Allah

C) There are three things which, without any difference of opinion, make a person kafir:

  1. Denial of any one of the Zaruriyat-e-Deen. Some of its examples have been given above.

  2. Objecting to any command of Allah. It was this offence because of which Satan became kafir; otherwise he believed in one God, Qiyamat and almost all divine commands; but he objected to one order given by Allah and became kafir and accursed. The objection was: Why did you order me to do sajdah before Adam while I am superior to him?

  3. To treat any divine order with disdain even if it is a sunnah law. For example it is sunnah that moustache should be trimmed; now if someone disdainfully says: What nonsense is this? Or, what it has got to do with shari'ah? He will become kafir:

Now we come to the categories of apostates and their punishments :- Murtadd is of two kinds: Murtadd fitri and Murtadd Milli.

Murtadd Fitri: A person both (or at least one) of whose parents were Muslims at the time of his conception, and then he/she, on attaining majority, renounces Islam by his own free will.

The rules about Murtadd Fitri differ according to the sex of the offender, i.e. there are different rules for males and females.

A male murtadd fitri is to be killed. He is najis; his wife becomes haram for him, and she will observe 'iddah of death; even during his life; he loses all rights in his property-after repaying his debts the residue will be distributed among his Muslim heirs.

And his repentance is not acceptable in this life, according to the well-known ruling of the scholars. But Ayatullah al-Khoui says that obviously his repentance is acceptable in the hereafter and to a certain extent in this life too.

Accordingly, if he repents he will become tahir, and if his former wife agrees he may remarry her in a fresh marriage. In short, he will be treated as a Muslim-but even then he shall not regain possession of his property unless the heirs willingly return it to him. Likewise the sentence of death shall not be waived even after repentance.

If a woman becomes Murtadd (Fitri), she becomes najis; and haram on her husband, but she does not lose her property, nor is she sentenced to death; and her repentance is accepted. If she refuses to repent, she will be imprisoned for life.

Murtadd Milli: A person who was not born of a Muslim parent; and accepted Islam after attaining majority and later renounced it.

He should be told to repent. If he repents within three days, his repentance will be accepted. Otherwise he would be killed on the fourth clay. His Muslim wife will become haram for him, i.e. the marriage will become invalid automatically, and she will have to observe the 'iddah of divorse if the marriage was cosummated, but if he repents during her 'iddah period, the marriage will continue without there being any need for a new nikah.

Murtadd Milli is debarred from managing his property (althought he remains its owner). If he repents, he will regain its management; otherwise he will be given his essential requirements from it until he dies; after his death, the property will be divided among his Muslim heirs.


What is the fatwa of Late Ayatullah Al-Khoui or Ayatullah As-Sistani about eating crabs, squids, sturgeons, lobsters, ducks and rabbits? A: Duck is lawful without doubt. Crabs, squids and rabbits are haram. Sturgeon reportedly has a few scales; therefore this fish and its eggs (caviar) are halal. Lobster like squid and crab is not counted as fish; and is haram.


(a) Can we vote for a leader or a person in any position to represent the community if we are certain of his shortfall in religious behaviour? Can this community have leaders who are not religious or who have no warmth for religious beliefs?

A: "Leadership of Jamaat" is not a position laid down by shari'ah; it is an 'urfi institution, i.e. based on conventional or customary system and practice. As such a Jamaat or community, in most of the cases, gets the leaders it deserves; and the leaders' moral excellence or decadence serves as a mirror of the moral standard of the electors. It is they who elect the leaders and it is for them to think beforehand what type of representatives or leaders they want to choose.

However, if that position of leadership entails mutawalliship of waqf properties, then the relevant rules of shari'ah will apply, which I append below:

If the waqif (who has made the waqf) has stipulated that the mutawalli should be 'adil, then a non-'adil cannot become mutawalli; and if he was 'adil when he was chosen as mutawalli, but lost his 'adalat afterwards, he will at once lose his mutawalliship, ipso facto. But if there is no such laid down condition (as is usually the case in the waqfs of the Jamaats in Africa and other countries), then it is not necessary that he should be 'adil.

What is essential is that he should be honest and trustworthy. If such a mutawalli mismanages or usurps waqf property, the electors should remove him from that position, and if that is not possible, then the mujtahid after some intermediary steps has the ultimate authority to dismiss him.

b) If a person is holding any position already and he/she openly violates the religious duty, eg. usurping the rights of the orphans, is it wrong to point out his defects in person with guidance from the Holy Qur'an with the aim that he may opt to reform? A: Nahy 'anil munkar should be done in private, if there is hope that he would reform himself. If there is no such hope, then Nahy 'anil munkar is not wajib on you. Other necessary actions then should be taken.


Can Jamaat accept any donations in cash or kind from any non-Muslims to be used in Jamaat's affairs?

A: Accepting donations from non-Shi'a or non-Muslim individuals or groups (which are not openly hostile to Shi'a faith), in itself, is allowed. But the following points should be kept in mind:

  1. Such acceptance should not be against the dignity and honour of the Jamaat.

  2. Such donation may be used for general social services, but not for masjid and the matters related to namaz and 'Ibadat.'


Is shaving beard haram? Some people argue that it is not mentioned in the Qur'an or hadith Please clarify.

A: It is haram to shave beard or to trim it so closely that it looks like shaving. This rule is based on hadith. There are about ten ahadith on this subject, one of which is given here as example:

'Ali (a.s.) said that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: Shaving beard is mutilation, and on him who mutilates is the la'nat (curse) of Allah.

(Jami' Ahadith ash-Shi'a; Qum; 1410; vol.16, pp.607-609) As for the Qur'an, everyone knows that the Holy Book does not give detailed rules. Can those people show us from the Qur'an, how to pray a 2-rak'ah prayer? Detail are found in the ahadith. For example, there is the aya 2:124, which says:

"And when his Lord tried Ibrahim with certain words, he fulfilled them." The hadith which explains the "certain words", says inter alia: . ..Then Allah revealed to him the hanifiyah, and that is parity; it consists of ten things, 5 in the head and 5 in the (rest of) body. The items concerning the head are: Trimming the moustache, growing the beard, keeping the (head's) hair clean, brushing the teeth and using tooth-pick; and the five concerning the (rest of) body are: removing hair from body, circumcision, trimming the nails, the bath of janabat and cleansing (the body) with water; these five are in the body.

And this is the hanifiyah (purification) which was brought by Ibrahim; and it will not be abrogated upto the day pf resurrection, and this is the meaning of the word of Allah; "And follow the religion of Ibrahim, the pure." (Qurfan, 3:95).

(The same book, pp. 608-609) Please mark that some of the ten items are wajib and some highly emphasized sunnat. Ayatullah Sistani, like other mujtahidin, says that shaving the beard is haram and it is wajib ihtiyat not to shave.

Late Ayatullah Khoui was asked: "What is the punishment of the man who shaves his beard?" He replied: "There is no punishment in this world; as for the punishment in the akherat he is liable to enter the hell." In reply to other questions, he wrote that the evidence given by the one who shaves beard is not acceptable.

(Masa'el wa Rudud, Part 1, Qum 1412, pp. 75-77).


Is playing card lawful?

A: Card is one of the main "instruments" of gambling; and playing with any such thing (even without wager) is definitely haram and a major sin. Allah says about gambling: "O you who believe! Intoxicants and games of chance (i.e. gamblings) and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (dividing by) arrows are only an uncleanliness, the Shaitan's work; shun it therefore that you may be successful.

The Shaitan only desires to cause enmity and hatred to spring in your midst by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and to keep you off from remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you then desist?" (Qur'an, 5:90- 91).

There are dozens of ahadith which very strictly prohibit all instruments of gambling. As for the games with cards, someone had asked late Ayatullah Khoui about it attaching 10 cards with the question. He fully explained that a pack contains 52 cards; they are used in various games with different names and various numbers of cards.

Some people play it with wagers, others play with it just as a recreation. Ayatullah Khoui replied: "It is not lawful to play with it at all, whether with wagers or for recreation, as it is known that these cards are among the apparatus of gambling."

(Munyatu 's-sa'il, Qum, 1412, pp. 174-175).

Another man asked him:

"Is it allowed to play with instruments made for gambling, for example, card, chess, donnah and carram, just for recreation, without wagers?"

He replied: "It is unlawful to play with instruments of gambling which are made for that purpose, even if the players are playing for recreation, without any wager." (Masa'el wa Rudud, Part 1, Qum, 1412, pp. 119-120).


Is smoking haram?

A: I believe your question is about cigarettes. Tobacco products are not mantioned in the Qur'an or hadith. Therefore, no fatwa can be given which would be applicable to all human beings. Of course, there are certain general rules which cover such cases. For example, a person is not allowed to use a thing which would be injurious to his/her health; but for others the same thing would be lawful.

Sugar will be haram for a diabetic man or woman, but not for others. Likewise, if a person believes that smoking cigarettes will be harmful to his/her health, smoking will be haram for him/her; but not for others.

Some of our mujtahids have advised the youths not to start smoking; and try to discard the habit in case they have started it.


Now that I am following the true Islam as taught by our beloved Prophet and his pure progeny (Allah's blessings be upon them all), am I required to take my shahadah over again?

A: No. The shahadah is recited when one discards a non-Islamic religion and enters into the fold of Islam. But within the circle of Islam, change of affiliation from one school to another does not require a new shahadah.