Questions and Answers

Do you have questions/queries on Islamic matters? Do you need advice on issues relating to your faith? This platform allows you to submit questions, which will be answered by MAULANA SAYED ZAFAR ABBAS NAQUVI AN-NAJAFI.You can view a selection of questions answered by the sheikh here as well.Some of your questions and answers by the Maulana Syed Zafer Abbas will be posted below (but without name and other details).

Answers to questions below

If you are travelling daily or more than 3 days a week then you will fast as normal and pray as normal according to Agha Sistani

The concept of holding majalis for the master of Martyrs, Imam Al-Hussain (as), is one that has emphasised throughout Islamic sources. It is probably fair to say that the question presented could be generalised to include sessions of remembrance of the holy Prophet Mohammed (sawws) and his infallible progeny (as), namely during anniversaries of their martyrdom or birth. The following arguments can be used:

Everything has a purpose in this World. It is part of Allah (swt)’s immaculate creation that nothing was created without any function. Once Al-Mansur was annoyed by a flying insect, he complained to Imam As-Sadiq (as) as to why Allah created this creature? Imam (as) replied that it was to remind those who are arrogant and the oppressors of their weakness (they could be annoyed by the smallest of creatures).

With regards to men and women, Allah (swt) has clearly mentioned in several verses in the holy book that they are equal in terms of their obligations towards Him and the path they need to undertake in this life, with the reward not reserved for one gender more than the other. Nevertheless just like how everything has a purpose in this beautiful creation, so do the roles of men and women differ. Women have been bestowed by the Almighty with gentle features coupled with powerful caring and emotional characteristics, very much needed for the female to display compassion and love towards their children as well as the husband.

The problem is, some people in the West emphasise that women should act like a man in performing certain tasks and have to be encouraged to take their full position in society, competing with men in all fronts. Islam encourages the education and the development of women as well as men, since a strong society is based on high standards of moral conduct and knowledge. Hence we find the hadith of the Holy Prophet (sawws): “Jannah lies beneath the feet of the mother”, because it is she who builds the character of the men and women of the future, leading to righteous individuals in a healthy society.

When asked about the Jihad of Women, the holy prophet of Islam (sawws) replied: ‘Husn al-taba’ul’ meaning to be a righteous devout wife. What we understand from this hadith and many others, is that although our sisters should be encouraged to seek education in all fronts and develop skills and expertise through engaging in certain jobs (not all according to Sharia), their main area of responsibility lies in the home, whereby Islam encourages them to nurture the strong foundations of faith, akhlaq and righteousness within their children though the correct upbringing. The issue is sometimes misunderstood by some, claiming that Islam is against women working in society and wants to confined them in their homes.

What the ulema emphasise is that if the two options were placed alongside each other, whereby the mother would either work 5 days a week for e.g. and take her young children to nursery or allocate more time to educate and raise them, then the latter is preferred.

We do need our sisters to be engineers, doctors, scientists etc, and achieve high standards of education, as seeking knowledge is an obligation upon each Muslim (hadith), but at the same time the main responsibilities and roles of the mother must not be neglected. Sometimes striking a balance is practically difficult; therefore an important choice needs to be made. The reward reserved for those who stand to protect the future of the society by strengthening the upbringing of their children is abundant.

The discussion surrounding chess (in arabic it’s referred to as Shetranj) is a long jurisprudential matter discussed in detail amongst jurist for centuries. As an example, Sheikh Al-Ansari in his famous book ‘Al-Makasib Al-Muharrama’ places a complete chapter (15) on this and lists many narrations that seemingly forbid the participation in such games. The main link from the hadiths seem to be the association of chess with gambling (al-rihan or rahn), which is forbidden in Islam. Sheikh Al-Ansari argues that many narrations indicate the forbidden nature of such games even if no money is involved.

Some hadiths from Al-Kafi on this issue:

  1. Futhail asked Imam Al-Sadiq (as) about shatranj (chess). Imam replied: Do you see, when the truth (al-haqq) is distinguished from the false (al-batil), with which of them is it? He said: I said: With the false. He said: So there is no good in it.”
  2. Imam Al-Askari (as): “Backgammon (an-nard) and chess (ash-shatranj) and fourteen (al-arba`a `ashar) are the same status, and everything that is bet upon (qumir `alayhi), then it is gambling (maysir).
  3. A group of Muslims asked Imam Al-Sadiq regarding the holy verse

فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ ﴿الحج: ٣٠﴾

“.. avoid the uncleanness of the idols and avoid false words”. He replied: The filth of idols is chess and the false speech is singing (al-ghina’).

More than 30 narrations are found in other books like Wasail Al-Shia prohibiting chess and linking it to gambling.

From analysing the viewpoint of several scholars, both in the past and contemporary, it seems the difference of opinion on this issue stems from the understanding of these and other narrations, and the application of the words ‘Qimar’ and ‘Maysir’ as used in the sources of legislation. Sheikh Al-Ansari argues that some scholars have understood ‘Qimar’ to mean the tools sued for chess etc,

Today, the majority of the ulema are of the opinion of the impermissibility of chess. Others, like Imam Khomeini (ra) hold the opinion of permissibility. He considered the main purpose of playing chess these days was to strengthen the mind and not gambling.

The reality of dreams is commonly sought amongst human beings since it’s an experience most people go through sometime during their lives. What we understand is that in terms of interpretations, two types are commonly presented: the materialistic and spiritual.

The materialistic interpretation are commonly associated with the daily actions of human beings, i.e. whatever we may have experienced over the past few days becomes somehow embedded in our dreams. This is especially the case if before sleeping the mind is in reflection about activities that the body had undertaken during the day. Sometimes it’s also unfulfilled desires or even fears that influence dreams and their nature. Therefore many of such dreams are related to the past.

Those subscribing to the spiritual interpretation of dreams view them a result of possible delusions, inclinations, desires and imaginations.  Such dreams relate to the future and people often seek interpretations. Not all such dreams have meaningful interpretations, as some are called (athgath ahlam or distressing dreams).

We know from the holy Quran that one way in which Prophets of Allah received revelation is through dreams (e.g. Prophet Ibrahim as). Indeed Prophet Yusuf (as) was given the ability by Allah (swt) to interpret the dreams.  Therefore we don’t reject all dreams and dismiss them. From history books and narrations, we find that some dreams do have meaningful interpretations whilst others don’t.  Another Quranic fact is that the soul departs from the body during sleep, thus some dreams are associated with the idea that the soul is not limited to time and space, as well as it belonging to the realm of malakoot (i.e. unseen realm).

The difficulty in interpreting dreams is that people often do so themselves, without seeking help of experienced and knowledgeable scholars. We know that some dreams refer to aspects in this world, for e.g. I was told by an alim that if a believer witnesses a dream of being given water to drink, it eludes to the idea that Allah ta’la is bestowing them with knowledge.

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