Ask a Muslim Scholar November 2017

Q: When a person converts to Islam his bad deeds are forgiven by Allah. Does this mean that his debts to people are also forgiven?

A: It is not true to say that by becoming a Muslim a person’s debts that he owes to others are forgiven. It is only applicable to sins involving the violations of the rights of Allah.

Furthermore, the forgiveness of sins is only for those who became Muslims and have followed up bad deeds with good deeds in Islam. If a person simply converts to Islam, it does not automatically expiate his past sins–especially if does not remain true to the pledge he has made with Allah by embracing Islam.

As for sins involving the rights of humans, they cannot be simply wiped out by Islam. Debts we owe others belong to this category; so it is imperative that he pays those he owes unless they have forgiven him.

Q: Is visiting the graveyard on Eid-ul-Fitr considered Bid’ah or Sunnah?

A: Visiting graves is a great sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him; there is no fixed time limit for it, one is free to do so anytime as long as it is done in good spirit while observing the requisite manners and etiquettes.

There is nothing in the authentic sources to state that it is a reprehensible innovation to visit the graveyard on Eidul fitr. It is natural for people to think of their beloved ones who have passed away on the days of celebration.

However, some scholars consider it undesirable for the simple reason that it might interfere with the celebration of Eid, lest it brings back memories of their loved ones in such a way that it interferes with the celebrations of Eid. There is no doubt that renewal of grief and mourning in such a way as to interfere with the spirit of celebration is undoubtedly undesirable, and must be avoided. If, however, that is not the case, then there is no harm in paying a visit to the graves in order to renew one’s memory of them, and in order to offer prayers for them.

Q: I should be moving house within two weeks, I previously had very bad experiences with neighbors such as all-night parties, fighting, very loud music, a drunk man following me and wanted to assault me. I changed house 4 times with no improvements it is even worse now. I am very worried that this will happen again as I have now a 1-year-old baby girl. Are there any special prayers I should do? How can I bless the house?

A: It is important for us to try our best to look for good neighbors before choosing a place to live. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has told us to avoid bad neighbors; he used to consider good neighbors as a good omen, he used to seek refuge in Allah from bad neighbors.

So try your best to carefully consider the neighborhood you are moving into before choosing to buy or rent a residence. I am sure you will not be disappointed in your search; if you cannot find Muslim neighbors, you will still find non-Muslim neighbors who do not belong in the category you have mentioned. It is also important for us to remember that we must establish good neighborly relations regardless of whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims. The Prophet said, “No one can be a true believer if his/her neighbors can feel safe and secure from him/her.”

Once you have done your best to find a place and still you end up in a bad neighborhood, then you should develop an attitude of patience and surround yourself with things or work that are beneficial and rewarding in this world and hereafter which would consume your total attention. Sometimes, we may be dwelling on one thing too and thus it may become larger and larger in our minds; so focus on good things, and learn to take your mind away from negative thoughts. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “There are two blessings most people are deceived by them: leisure and health.” In other words, never allow yourself to be idle; rather become engaged in good works. Once you become totally preoccupied with them, you will find less and less time for complaints or bad feelings.

It is not clear from your question whether you are in the habit of praying regularly or not; if you are not, then that could be one major reason why you are suffering from insecurity and irrational fears. Allah says, ‘Verily, human beings are created fretful, when evil afflicts them they are complaining, and when good comes their way, they are withholding, except those who are diligent in their Prayers.”

So establish regular prayer and seek comfort and consolation from Allah. When we move into a house, the best thing we could do to bless it by reading Qur’an; it is especially recommended to read Surat al-Baqarah. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Satan will run away from a house where surat al-baqarah is recited.” So revive your house with Prayer and recitation of the Qur’an on a regular basis.

Q: Are we allowed to donate organs in Islam?

A: Organ donation is permitted in Islam if it is done within the permissible limits prescribed by the Shari’ah.

The following are the conditions scholars have stipulated for donation:

Conditions associated with a living donor:
1. He/she must be a person who is in full possession of his/her faculties so that he/she is able to make a sound decision by himself/herself;
2. He/she must be an adult and, preferably, at least twenty-one years old;
3. It should be done on his/her own free will without any external pressure exerted on him/ her;
4. The organ he/she is donating must not be a vital organ on which his/her survival or sound health is dependent upon;
5. No transplantation of sexual organs is allowed.

Conditions associated with donors who are deceased: 
1. It must be done after having ascertained the free consent of the donor prior to his /her death. It can be through a will to that effect or signing the donor card, etc.
2. In a case where organ donation consent was not given prior to a donor’s death, the consent may be granted by the deceased’s closest relatives who are in a position to make such decisions on his/her behalf.
3. It must be an organ or tissue that is medically determined to be able to save the life or maintain the quality of life of another human being.
4. The organ must be removed only from the deceased person after the death has been ascertained through reliable medical procedures.
5. Organs can also be harvested from the victims of traffic accidents if their identities are unknown, but it must be done only following the valid decree of a judge.

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