Our Youth ...the Shariah ViewFun and Pastime in their True Extent
What may be said to youths who view the state of youth as a time when they must engage in fun, chatting into the late hours, horseplay, and the like?
We would like for youths to meditate deeply on the following questions:
What is pastime?
What is horseplay?
What is lust-be it sexual, related to food, drink, or other bodily instinct or craving of human beings?
We call on youths to stop at these lusts and to ask themselves: What is their true scope?
The scope of one of these transitory lusts is a mere moment. Sexual lust is that moment of sensation. The lust for food is for having it in the mouth, and so too lust for drink and the other items. For a person may have cherished visions about these lusts before experiencing them, but when he starts to do so, he feels himself at a road's end. For these are the needs of a person, and not everything; not his craving or desire. If, therefore, the person becomes obsessed with sex, then he will quickly become bored with it, and may even suffer from repulsion after repetition. And when he is obsessed with food and drink, he becomes vile-smelling or asphyxiated.
Without exception, all this reflects aspirations which do not enrich the stage of youth, but rather give this stage sensations of lust and happiness which, if he were to meditate on them, would in reality have to eschew them after becoming satiated with them.
Therefore, we say to youths, Your youth represents the strength of life, responsibility in life, a wonderful bounty from all the bounties of man. We do not say to them "Do not respond to your needs", but "Answer your needs at the level which your body requires without any negative effects. And when responding to these physical needs, you must understand that the issue of youth in life, and the issue of life in youth, are more far-reaching, widespread, and responsible than everything you are obsessed about. In your pursuit of empty activities, there will be boredom and monotony, meaninglessness, and the feeling that you are squandering your life."
For life is not simply body and flesh, nor is it without hope and life and aspirations. For there is God, the Independent, Who-when human beings stand in front of Him and live for Him-is felt as if there is no wall or barrier, but a reality which expands and keeps expanding infinitely. Thus, we say to youth, "Open your hearts to God who has created you and enriched your youth with every vitality and activity, and you will find that opening your hearts thus will give you more spiritual and physical pleasure, as well as the pleasure of life with all the good, beauty, freedom, and openness in it."
Sports: The Preferred Hobby of Youth
There are those who consider some types of sport as a waste of time, and restrict sports activity to javelin throwing, horse-riding, and swimming. How do we look at this area, which commands the attention of youth?
Some people freeze before the narrated hadiths which show the Prophet Muhammad ruling on a case of training in youth. One such example is the hadith "No competition except in camels, arrows, or horses" which speaks of training in archery, and horse and camel-racing, etc. There are also other hadiths which stress horse riding, swimming, and archery.
On studying these terms, and the normal needs of the situation prevailing then, we find that the hadith indicated an example of needs in time of war. By extrapolation, the hadith shows that training was a means for waging war. With progress and change, the arrow becomes a gun or a cannon; the four-legged animal (a horse or a camel) a car, a war tank, a plane and so on. When we speak of swimming and riding horses, it is possible to change them, or to add to them that which may strengthen the body, to develop the mind, and to obtain positive results in the major issues that fill the spare time of youths.
As such, sport is not merely a means to fill empty time. It is a means to develop the body. And if we add to a sporting spirit, which controls the sporting milieu, it may become a means to train the competitive spirit to the point where it can calmly accept defeat, without adding on top of that competition a mental struggle.
We must study these issues (sports and other forms of entertainment) in terms of the positive aspects which they bring; and which may be developed with the passing of time, either with respect to means, the event, or the environment created in this area.
The concern with sports:
In the field of sports, there are those who, encouraging it, pay special attention to matches and clubs. Some see this as a bad practice. What do you have to say about this?
I do not find a negative point in any of the above issues, if the general atmosphere does not become one of such personal veneration, alien to the results aimed at by organizers in the social field and the positive effects which they hope to see on youths.
Becoming totally immersed in the games per se may mean that the games that attract interest surround youths in a way by which the more important concerns are lost; or more important happenings relating to societal, political, functional and cultural aspects of reality are dismissed.
If the interest in sports does not reach the level outlined above, no negative issue is involved. However, when it changes into an obsession, we must object, since it becomes larger than human concerns and surpasses the positive results intended from it.
We notice that many organizations and international organs of corruption take advantage of this condition to distract youths for their own political agendas.
This is what we wish to caution against. We have noted that immersion in this atmosphere, especially in some advanced countries like America and Europe, people place such great value on these games that that games demand all their attention, to the point where political and social concerns are of lesser concern.
Many leaders of Third World countries try to prevent youth from facing great problems that may have severe repercussions on these rulers. Society does not pay attention to these problems, since they are so attentive to games that they are detached from current events.
It is known that horse-racing is used for gambling and betting. What is the ruling on strictly the entertainment side of the sport, namely, looking and attending?
One of the things that I would like for horse racing is that it be an activity that encourages nurturing. Observing its results at several levels, this sport by nature used to strengthen the faculties of people in the face of war or similar situations. However, this has changed to gambling and betting. Thus it touches haram and leads to the negative consequences that gambling usually causes.
There is no doubt that betting is wasteful in this type of sport or competition. If a person wagers with another that such-and-such a horse will beat another horse, the situation implies the presence of a childlike personality which does not reflect on what competition between one person and another humanly means.
Attending these events and looking at the race in one form or another, makes it possible for the person to experience this atmosphere. It encourages him after that to be a participant, seeing wagering and betting as a natural part of horse-racing. He then takes a very active part in it.
Therefore, we do not accept that our believing youth should attend these sports, even if they do not wager. There is a hadith which states, "The forbidden things are the protection of God, and whoever hovers around a forbidden thing is likely to fall into it."
Many see problems in modern dress and modes. What reliable criteria allows us to judge the permissibility of this or that style?
I feel that involving the Shariah in these matters is to do so in an area in which no negative view has been given. When the social life of people is reflected by their form of dress, in this or that shape, Islam has no problem with that.
Some people may perhaps speak of "kafir dress" or of a woman who dresses in the clothes of kafirs [non believers]. Upon careful consideration of this topic, we find that this idea stems from an historical period when a way to distinguishing Muslims, who were a tiny minority, from the non-believers, who were an overwhelming majority. In Nahj al-Balagha, there is a hadith where Imam Ali was asked about the words of the Prophet "Change your gray hairs with dye, and do not appear like the Jews." Ali had been asked: "Must we dye our gray hairs?" The Imam responded, "That was when Islam was in a minority." When the number of Muslims increased, there was no problem in distinguishing them from others.
Some jurists probably noted that the hadith narrated from the Prophet-"Clip your mustaches and spare the beards, and do not appear like the Jews"-did not appear in the context of an established legal ruling for all time, but came at a particular stage when some demarcation between Muslims and Jews was desired, for social reasons. Now, however, after the Muslims have become numerous in the world, the issue is no longer one of appearing like Jews or Magians, but one of choice, of letting people choose what they wish.
The Woman's Hijab
Regarding the woman's hijab (the Shariah covering), there are those who do not view that this widely-worn covering these days as adequate. They say the hijab is the chador or the abaya.
The hijab reflects Shariah issues, the essence of which consists of two points:
1. The body which God has forbidden to be revealed to the non-mahram (i.e. those with whom marriage is allowed).
2. Forbiddance of wanton display and drawing attention.
This means that it is obligatory that the woman's dress be of a type which, in mixed company, neither shows her body nor signals sexual license that might expose her to the ogling of a man. Therefore, any clothing which falls under these two headings is considered within the limits of the Shariah.
We do not stress the chador, abaya, or any particular style, because these are things that the people have made through imitation as a result of a specific environment or of specific preferences. The issue, then, is that the woman should, on the one hand, go out in a decent manner within the limits of the Shariah; and, on the other, appear as a dignified woman, not a sexual object. But there is no stress on any special form or type of clothes.
Hijab that Matches the Current Modes
While the hijab may fulfill all the conditions of proper covering, some women mix hijab with modern women's fashions.
This may lead the sisters to turn the hijab into something intended for appearance instead of decent dress. Accepting these modern airs in clothing suggests that something is lacking mentally in this or that woman; and so for attraction she goes out in a manner that draws the eyes of youth upon her. This mental and intellectual backwardness, develops to a stage where the h jab is in essence changed rather than enhanced.
What is meant by "notorious clothes" and why are they not allowed?
By "notorious clothes" is dress which people are not accustomed to wearing-depending on the social situation. A man cannot wear the dress of a woman or vice versa, according to what is customary for either of them. Pants now no longer count as solely men's clothing; both men and women wear them. However, wherever a type of clothing is specific to women, or to men, then neither one of them should wear the dress of the opposite sex. This is based on the hadith that a man should not wear woman's clothing and that a woman should not wear man's clothing.
If we inquire into the wisdom of this, it would consist of maintaining the social balance by preventing the confusion of psychological states.
The Qualities of the Islamic Hijab
What are the Islamic qualities of the woman's hijab (or Shariah covering)?
There are two main purposes for the hijab. The first is "to cover"-that is, the woman must cover her body, save the face and the hands. Some scholars opine that as a precautionary measure the face and hands must also be covered. However, we concur with most `ulama that the permission to show them is based on the words of God: "And they should not display of their beauty except that which ordinarily appears" (al-Nur, 24:31). It is necessary that the woman cover her entire body by wearing clothes which fill this function, displaying nothing that is covered.
The second purpose is "negation of wanton display." God has said: "...and do not display your finery like the displaying of the age of ignorance" (al-Ahzab, 33:33). It is impermissible for the woman to go forth in hijab, covering whatever must be covered, and then to appear wanton through makeup adorning her face or hands, or through other items of beautification she might wear.
This includes the items of clothing which make the body appear attractive in a particular manner and so forth. All this is considered wanton display, which shows the femininity of the woman in a suggestive manner rather than her normal humanness in public.
We are unable to put any specific limit on beautification; general custom may determine what is ornamentation and what is wanton display. The latter is an unnatural appearance whereby the woman displays herself and her beauty to the stares of the men.
Islam wants the woman to go forth in her specific clothing in the same way that a man goes forth in his specific clothing. The mixed public should not be a showroom of fashions, beauty, or suggestiveness.
This is the Shariah hijab in its proper context. There is a third aspect which is related to hijab in meaning if not in appearance-"hijab of the voice", if one may use the expression. Islam does not forbid the woman from speaking to a man, to converse in front of a man, to address political or public gatherings which call for some opening up, to scream in situations which call for screaming. But Islam does not want the woman to intimate suggestiveness by lowering her voice, making it musical as to be suggestive and intended to rouse instincts. This is what the Quran says: "And do not lower your voices in speech, so that he in whose heart there is sickness may be filled with desire" (al Ahzab, 33:32).
Lowering the voice in speech adds to the quality which seductively attracts the male, suggesting corruption. As such, the jurists have said: "It is not permissible to beautify the voice, to make it sweeter, to soften it in a manner suggesting seduction." This is what we mean when we say "the hijab of the voice".
If we wish truly to understand the Islamic atmosphere surrounding the hijab, we must turn to the social hijab. Islam dislikes that a woman should be with a man in private situations which pose a danger to her morals and virtue. This is because it may suggest certain fantasies, notions, or feelings which are incompatible with the morals of man and woman together. We know that being in private, especially with romantic settings, may suggest things that are morally improper, even if virtue should not be absent. This is what Islam hates for both the man and woman. There may be a Shariah prohibition because such a situation may lead to haram.
The hadith about the two sexes being in private shows that Islam has not made the forbiddance of privacy a fundamental principle. Islam forbids the privacy which leads to corruption and moral decay, and hates the privacy which may suggest negative connotations at the level of morality. Thus, if we do not find the issue of being alone realistic for our times, believing and observing Muslim society is requested to place limits which help distinguish between the privacy which leads to corrupt practices and the privacy which has positive or, at least, not many negative aspects.
The summary of what we wish to suggest through this discourse is that it is incumbent on the woman that hijab be reflected in her inner personality, so that she puts in her mind and emotions, her thoughts the specific guidelines which make her aware of the realities of life or the reality of man in a manner that disallow any corrupt ideas, or which might influence her mentality. She must not permit her way of life with the other group to stray from ethical guidelines.
The Mentality of the Fornicator
This is what we have observed with expressions like "fornication lies in the ogling eye," "fornication lies in the receptive ear," or "fornication is in the roving hand"-all of which suggest that a person may have a fornicating mentality without actually indulging in the sexual act. This holds true for many who exercise abstinence from the sexual act but contradict their abstinence in their ethical conduct. There are those who live the spirit of the fornicator even if they do not actually indulge in the sexual act; and there are those who live the spirit of the deceitful even if they do not actually cheat. For in dreams and hopes, they function on impulse-a problem they need not endure-except in conditions of temptation tending towards the impropriety created by the inner workings of the mind.
Hence the man, much like the woman, may require a condition of "mental hijab" to protect him from perverse thoughts. In this sense we may feel that the functional method of achieving this result is to distance both of them from every place and every element of possible seduction, every erotic reading or viewing material. Here, Islam protects against erotic films, stories, or sights, as they create a mental state in person who may normally be in control of himself whereby he can destroy his inner inhibitions. When exposed to an external incitement around him, his behavior quickly gives way to perverse acts.
When Hijab Loses its Meaning
The Muslim woman must not perceive the hijab in its purely concrete and imitative sense, restricting it to a matter of form. What we have observed is that many of those who observe the hijab began in a manner that changed their physical hijab to a condition which seems far from its true meaning. This is because they select flashy, gaudy, eye-catching colours which beautify the body in a particular way, which make the woman experience her sexuality even while in hijab-in much the same manner as one who does not wear it.
Islam then, does not cast aside her sense of femininity, since it is a normal condition for her. It desires her femininity to be expressed within a special sphere. This sphere neither, on the one hand, influences the humanness of the woman at a moral level; nor, on the other hand, adversely affect the moral values of her society.
The Western Perspective on Hijab
Western societies accuse Islam of going too far in the matter of the hijab, that the woman who neither observes hijab nor make a wanton display of her charms has no seductive influence on men.
This sort of logic is not realistic perception because of one reason-the femininity of a woman clearly attracts the man, even in a form that does not remotely resemble fornication or seduction. By the same token, the man attracts the woman. This is because the naturalness of the consuming impulses causes the man to be instinctively attracted to the woman-and many of these elements which he finds attractive may be focused in instincts that culminate in a blind rush to express themselves.
We assume, too, that the natural femininity of the woman gives her an intrinsic beauty, and the same for the manliness of the male. Therefore, the claim that the matter does not pertain to the hijab, but rather to wantonness is not entirely correct. We feel that wanton display gives the woman a beauty that is different from the beauty given to her by the hijab. The hair has its own beauty which adds to the beauty of the body, in the same way that bodily parts like the legs do with their beauty. They produce a special bodily effect, and this is what we know from the advertising media, which constantly draw attention to the hair and the legs.
On the one hand, sentiments go against this. On the other hand, the matter imposing itself in the West is that belief is expressed as one value, while another value is practiced. In the Western mind, liberty is absolute, and may find expression in sexual license between the man and the woman, in which case the hijab is meaningless. This is because the hijab is a means of creating the atmosphere of control and balance, of circumventing the factors that lead to perversity.
If, however, we operate on the basis of the idea that the man has freedom over his body and the woman has freedom over her body; and that the hijab in this sense is incidental to the life of both sexes, because nakedness is the natural state-then, according to the philosophical notion on freedom, there is no prohibition.
The Principle of Virtue and its Effects
The issue for Muslims stems from the principle of virtue enjoined upon both men and women. This principle is intended to function within the guidelines of actuality. In this way, it prevents the man, no less than the woman, from falling under the influence of the "abundant fuel" that fans the flames of instincts.
Another issue which we must address is the ethical principles of the East and the West. Does ethical principle give man and woman complete freedom as to what they could do with their bodies, or does it lay down certain guidelines for them-and this decides the path of wantonness or hijab.
The problem for many Easterners is probably that they continue to rely on the value of virtue and honor in their moral relations between man and woman, at the same time following Western customs with respect to suggestive display, beautification, and so forth. This causes them to endure a dichotomous situation that ruins their lives when they face a perverse man or woman in some such atmosphere. To save honor, they wash the naked person and perform other similar practices. In this situation, the words of the poet are appropriate:
They went to sea, and shackled and fettered he was thrown: Don't, don't let water bother you...
The Hijab and Repression
The gist of another misconception indiscriminately included in this matter is that the hfjab creates a state of repression for the man which subjects him to intense influence by the slightest thing.
When we wish to speak of repression, we must realize that it is not a result of the hijab, but rather of denying the instinctive needs of a man. It is caused by a situation that runs contrary to his inner mental and instinctive state, which seeks expression in one form or another. Reality clashes with it and prevents it from expression. Repression may result when the woman refuses to observe the hijab in the presence of a man.
The matter then boils down to the fact that there is a difference between the repression that result from problems and the repression that stems from the realities of regulated society. We believe that every social, political, and moral rule may cause problems in the mind of the human being who is prevented from obeying his inner urges. If we were to understand the workings of repression negatively for actual society, with its imposition of limits, then we may as well call for anarchy, so that no human being may face the problem in any way.
Certainly every society must follow a specific moral model, and this model may not be related to sexual ethics, but rather to economics or society. Sexual ethics may not relate to what man or woman wear, but to what the man wants from the woman and what the woman needs from the man. If we claim that the hijab in its Islamic form causes repression, what must we say about uncovering in its general social appearance; does it not cause repression? Does the youth not like to look upon a woman's chest and different parts of her body? Would a man not feel the pleasure of beauty of every part of this body, its suggestions, in the same way that a woman would the male body?
When the issue transcends that of nudity, the discourse-in the West-will center on the amount of clothes a woman must wear. In this sense, the proponents of hijab simply add another item to the apparel of the Western woman, who does not wear the hijab. And repression is repression, whether in part or in whole.
That Which Naturally Appears of Beauty
What is meant by the words of God, "What appears thereof" (al-Nur, 24:31)-i.e., the permissible display of beauty?
"What appears thereof' refers to the face and the two hands, the latter being essential to social function. Perhaps the clearest proof that God does not wish for the woman to cover her face and her hands is that it is forbidden for her to do so in a state of ihram during pilgrimage. However, the state of pilgrimage is one of worship which may necessitate the hijab on the woman to spare the other pilgrims exposure to suggestive stimuli.
We may add that in some narratives the expression refers also to some visible ornamentation like rings worn on the hand, light substance over the eyelids, normally a cosmetic for women.
Based on the above, is beauty that which the woman beautifies herself with or is it a natural distraction?
It covers both.
What is Forbidden Glance Regarding the Woman
When we study the Quranic text which deals with the issue of looking, we find that the idea we derive from the Book is that God (Exalted) wishes that the senses and feelings which the believing man has towards the believing woman, and vice versa, be pure. This means that they do not have any evil blemish which may distance them from morality. Senses and feelings must not cause the believing man or woman to be in a situation which beckons to future corruption. This is because God wants humankind to live a life without sin in the mind, in thoughts and concepts; and that this sinlessness should be a way to attain functional freedom from sin, since deeds spring from ideologies, feelings, and perceptions.
We read, then, the wonderful verse, "Say to the believing men that they cast down their glance, and guard their private parts; that is purer for them. Indeed God is well aware of all that they do" (al-Nur, 24:30). We understand from the term "purer for them" that God wants the human being to have a purity of mind which transforms to purity of action.
Again, the words of God: "Say to the believing women that they must lower their gaze and guard their private parts" (al-Nur, 24:31). And the text on how a woman should speak to a man: "Do not lower your voice in speech; perchance he in whose heart is sickness may cherish a longing" (al-Ahzab, 33:32). Here we see that God wants woman to speak to the man in a natural manner. If she were to address him with gentle and melodious tones, that may suggest to others that they can pursue their own corrupt purposes towards this woman.
The Deceitful Look
From all of the above, we see that a man must look at a woman in a natural manner, so that there is no untoward thought associated with his look-that is, glancing at the woman in a way that expresses a desire to do that which is haram, etc. This is known as "the deceitful look" and is mentioned in the Quranic verse: "He knows the stealthy looks and what the hearts hide" (Mumin, 40:19); and the supplication of the one who says, "O my Lord, purify my heart from hypocrisy, and my deeds from showing off, my tongue from lies, my eyes from deceit; for you know the deceitful look, and what the hearts hide."
The deceitful look is the glance which stems from a feeling which has deceit at its core. This is another expression for the desire of what is forbidden, and which starts the person, even afterwards, towards corruption.
No Passion and No Lust
The look, therefore, must not be one of lust, where the man ogles the woman to enjoy her beauty. It leads to negative results even if it occurs only ten percent of the time. This is because there is a difference between looking lustfully at a beautiful woman and looking at ordinary sights with appreciation. This is because appreciating the beauty of a woman sets into motion urges which lead to sexual feelings; these, in turn, spur the man to pursue the woman. In view of this, it leads to negative results; whereas appreciating ordinary sights does not cause any of these effects.
For this reason, the jurists have ruled that looking at what is permissible should not be in lust or passion. The poetic verse of the prince of poets, Ahmad Shawky, is perhaps one of the most exquisite attestations on this matter:
A glance, a smile, and then talk;
a greeting, an appointment, a date.
By those words, he meant the glance which sets into motion what is to come: the passionate or lecherous look. We may understand from the expression "the first look is for you, and the second is against you" that generally, the first glance is something natural and spontaneous. When it leads to a second and third look, then something in the mind pushes the person to keep looking again and again, but with different feelings.
Lowering the Glance is a Preventive Condition
Often the passionate glance may be involuntary, and the person may be in a situation which forces him to look at his female companion at work or study. Through personal contact and meetings, feelings are generated.
The familiarity between a man and a woman may create a condition of close friendship, causing the man to look at her differently from the way he did at first. There is a difference between looking normally at a woman in the course of working (which requires that you look at her or that she should look at you) and the look which stems from your feelings or desire for her. A glance in that instance is not considered natural, but a condition which creates a mental state which may change into a situation leading to something not natural.
From here, God wants the believers to lower their gaze, as a precaution against negative consequences. By the same token, it is better for a believing woman to lower her gaze. One may construe from this that it is necessary for believing man and woman to be in a state of caution when having to deal under these situations. Of course, the discourse here has to do with permissible looking. What is not permissible to look at, Islam has put limits-particularly, looking at the private parts of a woman-in the same way it has put limits on woman looking at the private parts of the male. The purpose of this is to avoid any basis for suggestiveness which, because of mental conditioning regarding sexual relations, may be in the mind of one of them. Thus, some sociologists state that platonic friendship between a man and a woman is unlikely.
The Shariah Limits in the Permitted Look
What, then, is the philosophy behind the permissibility of looking at certain non-mahram female?
The fatwa which the question raises entails two others. The first fatwa is that the glance is towards those who remain uncovered after being asked to cover, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, although some ulama enjoin that, based on caution, one ought not to look at such Muslim women.
This is because there is a legal understanding where a hadith suggest that the matter of looking at a woman implies the issue of respect for the woman. She may cover part of her body, but then the man's glance seems to undress her and to assault her honor, on the premise that this is the area she wants to cover. She does not wish anyone to look at that part, and were she to find a person sneaking a glance at her, she would rebuke and harshly scold him.
Respecting the Veil Leads to the Respectful Look
A person covers those parts of the body which he/she wishes not to expose. Therefore, the issue of looking at that which should be covered is fundamentally alien to any consideration of attraction or lack of attraction. According to this, if the woman does not place any restriction on her body, and displays all her charms, then there is no restricted area on her body which the man should not look at. As such, it is allowable for him to look at her without any lust or passion.
This is one angle. From another angle, the difficulty is allayed when the person faces a social situation where the woman goes out without covering, making it impossible for the man to lower his gaze from her. The hadith, it states, "It is not forbidden to look at the hair of the women of the protected minorities (dhimmis)." In this case, the stipulation is removed because, in the West, for example, it represents a hardship for the man. This is because the woman is the one who abandoned respect for herself in this matter. However, on the condition that the possibility of passion and lust is absent.
The Glance at the Photo of a Woman
The second fatwa is related to the matter of photographs. There are fatwas which state that it is not forbidden to look at the photograph of a woman. Some `ulama deny such permission in the case of a veiled woman who does not wish that anyone should look at her body, even if it be through a photograph, since her photogaph was taken by a mahram, for example. The scholars place a cautionary prohibition on looking at the photograph of a covered woman, if the person looking knows the identity of the subject. That would violate her covering, because if she wants to cover herself, and goes to this length, such a look is tantamount to an infringement of her freedom and honor.
Beyond the scope of this scenario, however, if the woman were unknown to us, or is one of those who do not observe the hijab and is uncovered, `ulama hold that the prohibitions about looking applies to looking at the woman in person, and not through a photograph.
They focus the issue on the fact that there was no passion or lust in the look. From this we can see that the foregoing fatwa does not apply to looking at pornographic films, since that would enter the realm of passion and lust, and does not detach itself from a mental state that could cause a morbid condition in the person who is in the habit of looking at these films.
The Look in Specific in Medical Situations
From the medical point of view, is it possible for the man to look at the body of a woman?
There is no objection for a man, in such a scenario, to look at the sex organs of a woman whom he does not know, there being no objection from a scientific viewpoint. A doctor is allowed to look at the patient, and the female doctor is allowed to look at any organ of a male patient if treatment and cure must be decided on such observation.
It has been stated that if a woman can derive more benefit by being treated by a man than by a woman, she is allowed to expose herself to him, and he is allowed to look at something otherwise forbidden in normal situations. In a hadith related from Imam al-Baqir-in response to a question-the narrator said, "I asked him about a Muslim woman whose body has been injured, either by a fracture or a wound in a place where it is not allowable to look at. If a man is more qualified than women to treat it, is he allowed to look at it? He said, 'If she is compelled to do so, then he may treat her if she wishes.'"
There is a hadith from Imam Musa al-Kazim, reported by his brother Ali b. Mar, which states thus, "I asked him about a man, the back of whose thigh has an injury. Is it allowable for a woman to look at it and to treat him?" He responded, "If it is not a private part, there is nothing wrong with that."
Guardianship Over the Female Youths
What are the limits of the guardian over his female ward?
There is no guardianship over the girl who is mature, sane, and able to conduct her affairs; just as there is no guardianship over the youth who is mature, sane, and able to conduct his affairs. This is because when a person has attained puberty, and is of sound judgment, then he has the right to conduct his own affairs: "Test the orphans until they reach the age of puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect turn over to them their property" (al-Nisa, 4:6). The matter here is not restricted only to the orphans, but to anyone under such conditions.
According to some jurists, based on some hadith, there are restrictions, which dictate that a virgin must seek the counsel and permission of her father or grandfather. This is not because guardianship is implied in the general meaning of the word, since neither the father nor grandfather has the right to marry her off without her consent. Nor do they have the right to marry the minor boy or girl who has not yet attained puberty without her consent. Rather, the young woman must consent if they are to be allowed to marry her.
Precaution in the Case of the Virgin Young Lady
There are some precautions for the virgin in view of her lack of experience, or the possibility that she may be duped or cheated. From this perspective, her seeking the permission of her father counts as a way to protect the young lady in her marriage relation with any man. Moreover, because of this there is no requirement that permission be sought from the father or the grandfather, if she is no longer a virgin.
It is likely that some people may not see the issue as being restricted to this aspect, but as including respect for her father or grandfather, according to the traditions of Mediterranean Islamic societies. Since the girl is not married except by the permission of her father or grandfather, it would seem that the issue includes social respect for the father or grandfather, who must have a say in the affairs of his daughter. The premise is that a bad position for her reflects badly on her father, and a good position for her reflects well on him.
From here, the jurists do not feel that if the father and grandfather is dead, anyone's permission should be sought, indicating that the matter is not one of her inability to exercise judgment, but is related to a precautionary measure for the future of the girl, or to showing respect to the father and grandfather.
There is another view which says that it is not obligatory for the girl to seek the permission of her father or grandfather regarding her spouse, that she is free to make this decision.
The Independent Young Woman
As for my own view, the girl is independent regarding her personal affairs and property, if she normally exercises good judgment.
Why, then, is the matter restricted to a woman and not a man?
This is because the man in society may have more experience in matters of marriage and a general understanding of marriage. He has more opportunity to do so than the young woman.
This is one angle. From another angle, the matter may be explained on the basis that the man, if he is deceived in marriage, has the right to issue a divorce; whereas Islam has not given the woman the right of divorce. This means that the woman must be cautious not to fall into a situation from which she cannot escape except with great difficulty.
The Young Lady Who May Look After Her Affairs (Raashida)
How may we determine the age of maturity and guidance-meaning when can the young woman look after her own affairs?
There is no specific age, for we may find a responsible young lady who may be only eleven or twelve years old, and we may find a girl who is in her twenties and unable to conduct her own affairs.
What is the communal understanding of responsible for conducting her own affairs?
The communal understanding stems from the mental level of the young man and young lady have which enables them to look after their financial affairs in a way that is not considered as sign of foolish behavior.
Exhorting to Good (Al-Amr Bi-l-Maruf) is Different From Guardianship
In a situation where the young lady is married, does her father's guardianship over her terminate?
Basically, there is no guardianship of the father over his daughter once she attains puberty and can conduct her own affairs. But as we have said, it is simply to protect her in the issue of marriage. Except for this, the father has no guardianship in any other area. If we imagine that he has a daughter, then he has no guardianship over her education, her jihad, and her financial conduct-except when she becomes corrupt. In that case, it is not an issue of the father in relation to his daughter, but one of a believer with respect to a believing woman in that area where the good must be commanded and evil forbidden (al-amr bi-l-maruf wa-n-nahi ani-l-munkar). Therefore, the father has no guardianship over his daughter, either before or after marriage.
Is it not the father's right, for example, to force his daughter to observe hijab?
Not in the context of being a father or a husband, but in the context of his being a Muslim-ordering that which is right and forbidding that which is wrong. When a young lady obeys her father by observing the hijab, she does not obey him because he is her father or that fatherhood dictates this, but rather because he exhorts and guides. It must be realized that the process of coercion may create negative repercussions which may create a greater problem than the one being solved. The Shariah guidelines then must be followed when commanding the good and forbidding the evil.
Confusion Between Custom and Shariah Law
Custom is sometimes given precedence over Shariah law. However, it cannot be given precedence over Shariah in any situation. The role of custom is based on the understanding drawn from the religious texts of the Quran and Sunna in this area. The matter may be one of natural difference in object per se as opposed to difference in a perceived custom. For example, there is a fatwa which states that: "It is not permitted for a man to wear women's dress, nor is it permitted for a woman to wear men's clothing." If we assume that a certain dress was initially male garb, and its usage has become so widespread that it is an item for both sexes (such as trousers), then the precedence of customary practice with respect to the changed status of this garb has changed the issue. When a woman today wears trousers, she is not seen as imitating a man, since the trousers are worn by both sexes.
Custom may be applied to the change in particular aspects of the scope of a Shariah ruling, but may not change the Shariah ruling itself as long as the general scope of the subject holds.
The General Customary Perception of Temporary
While we are discussing customary practice, let us go to the subject of muta or temporary marriage-for customary practice in several societies regards this as putting down the woman, since she is treated sometimes as a fornicator.
We cannot, as a basic principle, respect the view of customary perception on this subject. This is because Islam came to change perceptions. When custom rejects and considers something wrong which Islam perceives as natural, we cannot yield to custom. However, the negative view of custom may lead, in cases such as these, to dislike the act. A hostile view towards the practice may cause it to be seen as dishonoring the man and the woman, and a person may not wish to put himself in this dubious position.
Therefore, the position we take is strong dislike of temporary marriage for virgins, even if the father and grandfather are not present, since this may lead the woman to be dishonored in social circles.
We may note that custom is quite prevalent in the area of dishonor. Some tribal societies may consider that a woman who is married outside of her family, or to someone other than her cousin to be dishonorable. This negative view may also apply to the marriage of a divorced woman or a widow.
Islam came to correct the perception of custom. But if custom plays a role where it is seen as a second criterion of judgment, then the Shariah ruling follows this new criterion, which may regard something as disliked [makruh] or even forbidden [haram], etc.
Muta is a Protection Against Corruption
Has Islam legislated temporary marriage (muta) as a natural right of a person to whenever he wishes, or is it legislated for a specific situation or as a solution to a specific problem?
The Quranic text which the proponents of muta refer to is: "And those of whom you seek content (istamtatum) [by marrying them], give to them their due" (al-Nisa, 4:24). We find this text unconditional. When we analyze the subject of muta, however, we find that it may be an answer to an emergency; it may deal with a particular need; or it may deal with a desire. Permanent marriage, throughout history and in every religion and civilization, did not solve this problem for humankind, nor restrained people, as in the case of the people of Lot. For fornication in illicit relations went side by side with permanent marriage. This was because permanent marriage may not be the solution for a man who has a stronger libido that his wife; as such, Islam allowed him to marry four and allowed him muta, as he wishes in order to protect himself from corruption. The matter then is not restricted to a particular time.
Is the plurality of wives natural? Was it intended to solve a problem? Is it possible for a man to marry, from the outset, four wives, or is it an opening for him to solve certain marital problems?
It appears the issue is unconditional with respect to pressing problem or lack thereof, since the requirement for the man who wishes to engage in polygyny, is that he possess the means of support.
There are those-as in Europe-who problematize the issue of polygyny as one which causes tension and confusion within the family.
We believe that abundant confusion in married life has become normal in America and Europe, and in places around the globe; although illicit relationships are far more frequent than polygyny, with all its tensions.
Naturally polygyny has negative aspects, just as monogamy has negative aspects. There is no legislation which does not have a negative side. The issue, however, is that when the positive aspects outweigh the negative, it becomes permissible. When the negative aspects outweigh the positive aspects, it becomes forbidden.
We believe that polygyny, with all its negative aspects, still has several positive, mitigating factors.
Desirability of Early Marriage
There are several views on early or delayed marriage. There are those who prefer early marriage and those who prefer later.
In Islam, early marriage is desirable, since a person is required to protect himself and to avoid falling into haram. There is no doubt that early marriage allows the person to satiate his sexual instincts, the cravings of which, may otherwise lead to deviant behavior.
We also note that Islam has not presented a clear text on this, but rather sees marriage as a personal relationship which allows a person to pursue his desires or to satisfy his instincts, among other things. If early marriage presents problems for the two spouses, these problems may be solved by those around them-in the same way that delayed marriage presents a problem to the community.
Smoking is Forbidden
The fundamental rule is that things are permissible if there is no mention of their prohibition in scriptural text. I, however, lean towards the view that there is an excellent argument for the prohibition of smoking, according to what can be derived from the noble verse: "They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say: In them both is great evil and good for people, and their evil overcomes their good" (al-Baqarah, 2:219). If we interpret the term "evil" as "harm", or that which causes harmful effects-since it is on the principle of prohibition of that which has more harm than good-then the rule is that everything which causes more harm than good is forbidden.
As all doctors testify, the harm caused by smoking outweighs its benefits. Therefore, one may incline towards its prohibition. Even if the issue is not one of prohibition, it certainly calls for caution.
There is the point that if the person knows that smoking will most probably cause a terminal illness, even if after twenty years-doctors show that smoking may cause death-then it becomes haram.
We say to any person who wishes to take up any habit that he must study its nature and particulars, its benefits compared against its harmful effects. If he sees evil instead of benefits, the logical conclusion is that he ought not to take up this habit. If he has already taken it up, he should leave it, since the thinking person does not put himself in harm's way, nor does he permit himself to continue in that which is harmful.
When we study the problem of smoking, we see that it is a practice, and therefore a habit which necessitates that one stay away from it. A person must resume control of himself if he has already taken up smoking.
If a person stands in front of a chimney and opens his mouth to inhale the smoke, don't you see that people will think him crazy? Taking smoke through the mouth is not normal. There is no difference between this and inhaling smoke into the body through the use of a cigarette!
What is the Islamic ruling on drugs?
Drugs are forbidden since their influence on the mind and health is worse than ordinary intoxicants. The reason for the prohibition of intoxicating beverages is drunkenness, which causes a person to lose his mental capacity. This is what happens with drugs, added to which is the physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual harm caused in the person's life.
What about certain types of drugs like opium and the like?
I do not have precise information on the drug qualities of these two items, but if they possess similar effects as the better known drugs, they are forbidden.
What do the jurists mean by the term "non-liquid intoxicant"?
That the product is from the hashish which the jurists see as an intoxicant.
What about the issue of cultivating it?
If it is forbidden, it is impermissible for selling, trading, and growing for the purpose of selling.
Cinema and Television
What are the limits of permissibility regarding cinema and television?
Cinema and television are two information media, and judgment as to their halal or haram is contingent on the nature of the information provided. If the material relates to lust, moral corruption, and incitement to crime, then it is forbidden; if it does not, it is permissible.
There is No Prohibition on Shaving The Beard
I have concluded that there is no prohibition, since the basis of prohibition is the hadith which states: "Clip the mustache and spare the beard, and do not appear as the Jews." If then, the ruling is predicted on a consideration of appearance for the purpose of differentiating between Muslims and Jews, then this is specific to the situation where the Muslims are a minority and others a majority which calls for some demarcation. When Imam Ali was asked about the words of the Messenger of God: "Change your gray hairs by dyeing them; do not appear as the Jews do," he responded, "He said that when Islam was a minority, but now it has become known and widespread, so let the person do what he chooses."
It is understood from the hadith that the prohibition of shaving the beard was contingent on a time-related issue at the beginning of the Islamic message. Afterwards, however, the shaving of the beard became a matter of appearance. If people wanted to make an example of a person and ostracize him, it was said: "Shave his beard"-the same way that the head is now shaved as a form of punishment.
There are some jurists who seek proof in the biographical accounts of the Prophet and the Imams. But biography is not a proof for prohibition, since their conduct may have been the result of opinion, or a natural state of affairs where shaving of the beard was unknown amongst the Muslims.
Are there jurists who allow its shaving?
Al-Sayyid al-Khui disallowed shaving on the basis of obligatory precaution and not as a prohibition.
Shaking Hands With The Opposite Sex
The basic rule is that a man is not allowed to shake hands with a woman who is not his mahram. It was narrated regarding the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that when the women came to him, he said "I do not take the hands of women," and he placed a bowl of water, wherein the woman would put her hand at one end, and he would place his hand at the other end, and took the pledge in this manner.
It was narrated from the Ahl al-Bayt that "a man does not shake hands with a woman who is not his mahram, except from behind a piece of cloth."
If, however, such a situation threatens to cause great harm or to lead to a crisis that do not normally correspond to the circumstances, then it is permissible.
The other person may feel that you wish to humiliate him if you do not return his handshake.
It is possible in this case for a person to clearly understand the issue. The important thing is that a person must first be in an extremely difficult situation, whose circumstances he cannot bear; for God has said, " [God] has not caused you difficulty in your religion" (al-Hajj, 22:78). How one determines what is difficulty differs according to the persons and the place. One person may be so insecure that, if he does not shake hands he may be imprisoned; or be accused of belonging to some particular party, as in the countries which seek to impugn and to test Islamic activists and followers through this method.
Purity (Taharah) of The People of The Book
I rule on the purity (taharah) of every human being, regardless of whether he is a non-believer or a Muslim, for there is no impure (najis) person in his essence. He may be impure in his beliefs, in his feelings or perceptions, but there is no proof, in my analysis of the Shariah, for the impurity of any person qua person. The believer and the non-believer both become impure by known impurities.
The martyr Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr saw purity in every human being, but he was cautious about the nonscriptural non-believer because of the consensus (ijma) on this issue.
What about the ritual impurity (najasah) indicated by the Quran?
The "impurity" meant here is the impurity of polytheism, the (mental) defilement of polytheism, and the proof for this is: "Verily the polytheists are impure, and they may not come near the Sacred Mosque"(al-Tawba, 9:28). If intrinsic uncleanness were intended, the impurity is achieved by fresh moisture; without this there is no impurity. Even those who propound the uncleanness of the non-believer, state that we do not use this verse as proof of uncleanness, since the meaning here is abstract.
Good enough-but what about eating their meat?
No, the premise being that it is stipulated the name of God must be invoked. The prevalent opinion is that the slaughterer must be a Muslim. However, we find that the ruling on the legality of meat from a person of the People of the Book is similar to the view of the Shahid II. We thus feel that the ruling of prohibition in the assumed scenario is based more on precaution, as is the position of the martyr Sayyid al-Sadr.
Music...The Lawful and The Unlawful
Views clash concerning music, and it is the same regarding singing. Is there a juridical view that puts this controversy to rest?
When we study legal texts which count as the basis for the prohibition of music, we find that they rely on the verse, "There are those people who pay for mere pastime of discourse, and detract from the path of God without knowledge" (Luqman, 31:6); or, "And shun false talk" (al-Hajj, 22:30)-which are said to corroborate the prohibition on singing. There are also hadiths which classify singing as having no foundation; and another hadith about a man who was listening to some maidservants who were singing at a corner of his house; he was ordered to seek forgiveness.
We understand from the foregoing that the Shariah ruling on singing and music is based on two issues: First, that the singing should be distracting, interrupting the remembrance of God, and having some influence. We do not intend here to present the basic jurisprudential proof, because that requires long research. Our view is that music which does not fan the impulses; does not lead to entertainment which alters the normal state of the person; and has nothing which may lead to lust must be seen as permissible, by virtue of all this.
If what is called classical music falls within these parameters, it is permissible; likewise for symbolic or inspirational music, the kinds that raise spirits, calm the nerves, soothe the mentality, etc.
Perhaps the jurists who had ruled on singing by prohibiting it were referring to the illicitness, wantonness, and evil of the people of corruption.
Its Tune or Its Ancillaries?
There are those who explain that singing is prohibited because it is accompanied by music.
The prohibition of singing-in the prevalent view of the jurists-stems from the natural melody of song; and if singing covers some illicit aspects, then those things are another haram.
Another jurist (Mulla Muhsin al-Kashani) who ruled that the prohibition on singing pertains to what singing entails and its ancillaries, not its melody per se. The overwhelming majority of jurists, however, do not agree with this. When we study the issue of singing, we see that its influence is due to the melody that underlies it, even though its ancillaries do enter the picture.
I do rule in favor of abstinence in this area, which perhaps agrees with what the above mentioned jurist has opined, namely, that when music deals with prophetic praises, or poetry, or what is close to a melodic Quranic recitation which grabs the attention, then we do not see this as a waste of time or a wrong. This is because the melody and its ancillaries in this respect do not convey a meaning in the mind that is deeper than if it were delivered in a normal way.
Using Musical Instruments in a Halal Manner
What about the prohibitions on musical instruments?
There are hadiths which speak about the prohibition on the use of musical equipment, but they refer to the entertainment and amusement that are haram. There are scholars who view the prohibition of instruments used predominantly for haram purposes, even when they can be used for halal purposes. However, we see no problem in using these same instruments for halal purposes, whether they are predominantly or equally used for haram.
Instruments of Plaintive Melodies
What about instruments which produce plaintive notes, such as the flute?
The issue lies not in the joy or the sadness, for a person may be moved to experience delight in sadness- which causes a type of prohibition in this field in the prevalent view of some jurists.
The qasidas of knowledge are often love verses-what about their recitation?
If the qasida provides deeper knowledge, but its delivery is that of a ghazal and its general ancillaries, so that people understand only the ghazal content, then it does not fall within the parameters of halal, its intent being to influence the mind.
I do not have such a music background that I can differentiate between the types of music. But it is well-known that classical music suggests intellectual thought more than simple amusement or delight. If this, indeed, is the case, then one may rule on its permissibility.
In case of doubt concerning a melody-is it halal or haram-what is the solution?
Where there is doubt, the ruling is for permissibility-on the premise that everything is permissible until you know for certain that it is forbidden.
Can we define what is meant by "tunes of the people of immorality?"
The "tunes of the people of immorality" refers to those tunes which suggest dancing, delight, or lust.
A Woman Singing For Her Husband
Is it permitted for a woman to sing for her husband?
It is not allowed for her to sing forbidden songs, meaning that if the song is not permitted, or if it falls within the category of illicit songs (consisting of lies or deceit) then she is not allowed to sing, even to herself.
Singing At Weddings
It appears that there are hadith which make an exception for weddings, but there is no mention of the use of musical instruments. The hadith which points to the permissibility of singing at weddings is not restricted to the conditions we have so far mentioned. It is to be expected that the lyrics should not be haram, although they may be amusing and the tunes delightful.
A Woman's Reciting At Men's Gatherings
Is it allowed for a woman to recite Islamic qasidas to non-mahram?
There is a verse which says: "Do not lower your voice, for he in whose heart there is sickness may be moved with desire" (al-Ahzab, 33:32)- which means that trilling and lilting the voice by the woman in front of non-mahram men is forbidden according to the Shariah, on the premise that it might lead to the negative consequences indicated by the verse.
The Problem Lies in Influence
Is this view always unconditional?
The issue is connected to influence-for were the woman to recite poetry or verses, but non-suggestively, it would not constitute haram. The problem arises then in respect of the effect of the woman's speech. But she may recite verses without any suggestiveness. Some women have a naturally melodious voice, where any rise or drop in tone is suggestive, and this is what we construe from the verse "Do not lower your voice."
There Is a View That States "The Voice of a Woman Is Private"
We do not say this because women used to speak with the Prophet and the Imams. Moreover, the biographies show that women sought out and questioned `ulama without this eliciting a prohibition from any religious authority regarding the voice of the woman.
The proponents of the above view claim that a woman may speak to a man only in emergencies. We believe that the biographies referred to issues which bear little relation to emergencies. On the contrary, they arise under normal circumstances, for why else would it be transmitted from the time of the Prophet that the women behaved in straightforward manner; that they came to him to pledge allegiance and emigrated to Medina, and God ordered the Muslims to test the women "of their right hand"? We find no basis for stipulating the condition of emergency in this area.
The Prophet used to go forth with the women to treat the wounded, to give water to the thirsty, and so forth. This required mixing and speaking to them.
The Ruling on Chess
The Hadith that Speak about Chess
When we study the hadiths that have surfaced among Shia and Sunnis on the subject of chess, we find that there are narratives which suggest of prohibition ("it is sinful"; "do not approach it!"). There is the hadith on this subject where a person asked about chess and was told: "If God classified it between truth and falsehood, where would it be?" He replied, "With falsehood." He said: "What is it with you and falsehood!" Another person asked about chess and he said: "There is no good in it."
Another hadith states: "The one who indulges in chess is like one who indulges in pork." He asked "What should he do?" The answer was, "He must wash his hands to cleanse himself of it."
These hadiths suggest dislike more than they do prohibition. But we also find hadiths which explain the words of God, "Eschew the abominable from the idols" (al-Hay, 22:30). In some exegetical works [tafsirs] the reference is to chess. What is clear, however, is that there is no clear proof for the prohibition, only a scenario where play is wagered in some form. Considering chess as gambling points to this, and gambling is understood to encompass wagering.
Chess In a Halal Setting
Should we refrain from accepting the view on the permissibility of chess?
Imam Khomeini ruled on the permissibility of chess on the grounds that the view of its prohibition depended on chess being regarded as a tool of gambling. He felt that it has come out of this classification and entered the realm of the permissible. This is confirmed by some hadiths which insist that "certainly chess is gambling" but they do not attach the meaning of gambling to chess in the absence of specific features of gambling. There must be a bet and winnings in gambling. If we are able to understand from the hadith that chess was forbidden, on the view that it was used as a gambling apparatus, then we must concur with the Imam's view on permissibility. If we cannot do this, we must reserve judgment on the position that it is halal or haram, since the issue calls for more research. But permissibility does not seem far from the truth.
And dominoes . . .?
In our scholarly research (ijtihad), playing with gambling equipment or whatever resembles it is not forbidden where there is no gambling involved. We do not agree with scholars who state that playing with gambling equipment is haram, even in the absence of betting, on the judgment that mere play is forbidden. My view is in favor of the permissibility of playing with gambling equipment and their similar modern inventions; and on this basis, play money and the like is not forbidden. In this view, I side with the ruling of a great Iranian scholar, the dear departed Ayatullah Sayyid Ahmad Khwansari.
What is the view on visiting places where there is gambling and the like?
Visiting these places may be considered under certain aspect-the person may be attracted to gambling while there; there may be other illicit activities, the honor of a believer may be sacrificed there or his reputation tarnished. In all these cases, the ruling is that it is forbidden.
Yes, if there is some need for him to visiting these places-such as to speak to a person, without this leading to any accusation or loss of honor and reputation-then there is no objection.
Fortune Telling and Reading The Future
Magazines circulate abundantly among the youth. Some focus on predicting the future-through the signs of the zodiac, palmistry, and teacup reading. There are two questions on this subject: What is the view of Islam on this; and what is the connection between predicting the future and the unseen through magic?
There is no basis whatsoever that these are a means to know the unseen future, since there is no relation between them and the actions of people or cosmic occurrences. It is possible that the issue of the zodiac and the planets stemmed from some ancient non-Islamic beliefs. In older times, some people felt that the stars had an erect on human affairs and the universe. This caused them to associate signs with certain planets in order to gain some idea of the future-whether in terms of personality traits, under this or that sign, or some such thing.
Horoscopes In Newspapers and Magazines
This custom has become so dominant in our society that many magazines and newspapers dedicate special pages for this pastime, where it is assumed that such-and-such a person under such-and-such a sign has specific traits and that a particular event may occur at some point in time. However, we do not find any Islamic basis for this. Rather we see traditions which forbid learning astrology to predict the fixture. Indeed, one of the Imams of the AN al-Bayt asked some people who dealt with this kind of information, "Do you predict?" They said: "Certainly." He said: "Burn your books."
As for teacup reading or summoning the spirits, those who indulge in these practices have no basis for associating them with any reality. We have no wish to deny categorically, nor do we possess any extensive study for their refutation. However, the experiences which the people speak about do not suggest any truth in this area. If we have doubts, we should deem them fantasies and hallucinations. If some of these predictions have some truth, the truth does not result from the means, but is coincidental-in exactly the same manner as the people predict several things at the beginning of every year: some things come to pass, others prove to be false. The people do not pay attention to those things that fail to happen but to those that take place.
In this respect, the hadith "The stargazers lied even if they told the truth" perhaps indicates this point-which is that the truth one finds is not a truth which stems from the rules attached to truth itself; they are coincidental.
There are things which these practices discover and they are true, ascertained then and there.
I assume that some people do not think that some of these things are general and evident for the persons concerned. There are people who have intuitive perception, realizing things from the personality of a person. Someone who indulges in this practice may also be experienced in reading indications and clues relating to this or that type of people, or whatever can be ascertained from single or married individuals. As such, the words may be delivered in a way that suggests to the listener some basis of truth in them.
We do not deny these things-as we have said since denial requires proof, but in what is before us on this matter we find nothing that could confirm what the practitioners claim.
Magic Is a State of Delusion
Do you believe that there is a relation between these practices and magic?
We do not believe that magic represents reality, for God (Exalted) in the Quran spoke negatively of magic: "What magic you have brought is deception, certainly God will negate it" (Yunus, 10:81). God tells us here that magic is a delusion and not reality. There is also the story of the two angels, Harut and Marut: "And they learnt from them magic by which they might separate a man from his wife" (al-Baqara, 2:102). But it is not necessary that this be magic. Even if it is, who said that Harut and Marut stayed until those who are known for ignorance and backwardness in many situations had learnt from them?
Entertainment And The Needed Alternatives
The enemies of Islam employ means for which the human soul craves-singing, music, intoxicants, mixing between the sexes and the corruption that goes with that. When, calling towards God, we take a decisive, negative view of these things, without suggesting any of a number of alternatives, social consciousness will not accept this. The question then is: Do you not believe that if this state of affairs continues, the self-destruction of character and the licentiousness will move apace?
We believe that Islam does not see any problem with harmlessly filling the spare time of our youth, creating a relaxed, happy mental state; or with opening their hearts toward the innocent Western amusements. We acknowledge that this area is wide in scope, and includes sports, swimming, symbolism, inspirational music, and whatever the jurists have ruled on as not being within the purview of immorality and sin. This means that we have not totally discarded music.
Regarding intoxicants, it is impossible to find in the youth environment an alternative to this, except certain types of fruit juices prepared in a way that attracts youths. Intoxicants do not possess special, intrinsic qualities that lure youths; youths are probably more attracted to the atmosphere that surrounds these products. Therefore, it is possible to recreate some of that atmosphere as an alternative to intoxicating drinks.
Seeking The Positive Aspects of Amusement
Are there alternatives to these types of pastime?
We need to seek out the positive aspects of what may serve as alternatives, to prevent youth from indulging in their spare time in activities which will lead to wanton pursuits.
When we speak of music, for example, we say to our youth that it is haram-but we must seek a fatwa on allowing soft music which has a soothing effect on the person, which is a balm for the emotions, a repose for the nerves; or symbolic, inspirational music and the like.
Therefore, we must find something within Shariah parameters for judging the permissibility of some types of music. Then, when we issue a fatawa about the prohibition of wanton, sexually explicit material, or what is termed "the tunes of the people of immorality", we must direct youths to soft music which deals with living issues, with human values, culture, and so forth.
When we wish our youth to stay away from things which are liable to change for the worse, we must seek equivalent forms from a different direction. We must not create a rift between the youth and his time in regards to the things that affect his feelings and perceptions. One needs to appreciate the apt words of Imam Ali, "Do not mold your children's ethics according to yours, for they are of a different time than yours." These words do not address morals which may develop negatively, and which are contrary to the positive teachings of Islam, but those which speak of customs relating to a person's pastime, urges, joys, social activities, manner of eating, drink, public relations, etc.
The Problem of Inducement
Another problem which may present itself on these proposed alternatives is that they may induce youth to indulge in haram.
When you place lines of demarcation between the lawful and the forbidden, in order to train this person that the lawful is good for him in this life and that a free life does not mean committing unlawful deeds, you could set him on the straight path.
There may be people who exploit the issue of rendering things lawful to give license to some haram things. This is a deviation which we must cure. That does not mean, however, that we must prohibit the lawful out of fear that some people may use it to move towards haram. For we know there are those who would use religion for commercial exploitation, and who would sacrifice something of great value to gain a paltry profit.
This, however, is normal in the life of a person; when discussing our subject, we speak of the positive aspects which replace the negative ones, so that the person does not live in a void. We do not state that we must find just any alternative, issuing fatwas which are contrary to what God has revealed. We state that we must seek always to think of ways which agree with guidelines of the Shariah, because the problem of the Islamic community is that it is not active enough, but rather thinks of a problem only when it is confronted by it. The problem may be misunderstood and the solution lost, since there was no plan for it, and it was not anticipated.
In this manner, it is possible to invent many permissible methods of amusement for youth to indulge in. If there is a jurist or a celebrated scholar who has forbidden play with gambling tools or chess, there are more recent juridical opinions which allow them. This means that the way is not closed to innocent forms of amusement which fill the spare time of our youth and, at the same time, provides them with certain benefits through play.
Certainly Islam does not wish the human being to be immobile in life. Several hadiths relate: "Let the heart relax hour after hour"; and, "A Muslim must have three moments: one to plead with his Lord, one to look after his livelihood, and one to delight in a matter that is not haram, for it is an aid to the other two times." An innocent form of amusement, then, which provides relaxation for the self-in a manner that revitalizes his activities and eases the tensions he may at times experience in worship or in his daily duties-is something required.
We must seek to bypass social customs to make way for new norms. This must be done by taking things deemed normal and replacing them with other things. We feel that Islamic activists-whether in the social, educational, cultural, or propagation fields-must study in the field all available options in harmony with the Islamic Shariah and is educational, and must invent new methods in this area. I do not feel that these new methods can be few in number. But the Islamic workers have not gone this route, for they have not paid attention to the negative influences that linger among the younger generation from both men and women-in this closed field.
Many workers who were brought up under a repressive conditions have resorted to a life of repression, with narrower social norms than is generally the case; they may be afraid to indulge in any form of amusement.
There are those who are religiously very observant and do not see this as proper or as befitting the dignity of a believer.
We find later scholars from our great religious authorities (maraji) are more open and analytical than these observers of religion, for we see that al-Sayyid al-Khui permitted men and women to dance with the same gender provided there is no danger of inciting lust or immoral acts. In his opinion and scholarly assessment, there was no proof for the prohibition of amusement, and thus no objection to a person taking up some form of entertainment-but only as long as there was no specific proof that it is haram.
That which is forbidden is the singing that accompanies immorality; but the amusement which occurs in society should be considered lawful. It is the same in the case of hand-clapping. We do not know why many are troubled when Muslims and those who are religiously observant clap their hands in praise of a qasida, speech, or something of this kind-as if those who indulge in applause commit some haram! It is possible for us to express our joy and appreciation by clapping, to which lately has been the blessings on the holy Prophet and so on.
What is important is that no problem arises regarding a matter that is legal and is seen as good by the community. While it may have several positive aspects to it, why should we reject it? We may combine the two facets in this area.
We believe that when we seek to create the opportunities that can satisfy youths' spirits, feelings, interests, and love for relaxation and amusement, youths will not depart from the Islamic atmosphere. They will instead perceive in it a richness for the intellect and the spirit; they will derive benefit from the amusement, if we may so state it.
Jealousy And The Evil Eye
What does common custom deem jealousy or "the evil eye", concerning which some supplications and prayers of refuge have been narrated?
I have perceived no detailed proof or actual instances of jealousy in this sense. Rather, we find that the situation of people of whom others are jealous do not have any effect on their person. The issue of jealousy to be analyzed is the evil which the jealous person may cause for the person of whom he is jealous. In other words, the ill will he bears towards another may incite him to murder, assault, or confine him, as did the brothers of Yusuf It is possible that the supplications that have surfaced on this subject represent suggestions, whereby a person turns to his Lord while in fear regarding the issue of knowledge, or regarding the nightmares he experienced as a result of the social conditions from which he seeks protection. The assumption is that these are paranormal events which the human being cannot get rid of through normal meditation, and so resorts to his Lord to rid him of his fear. Then, he will feel convinced of God's help and protected in the entire matter.
Nor can I categorically deny that these things occur; I do not possess knowledge of every detail of the refutation. Let me state, though, that I do not find any convincing proof-for example, for the folk view on the subject. I find only reasons to reject them.
Addendum of Narrations (5)
On the Hijab: