Ask a Muslim Scholar December 2017

Q: Does my father know when I visit his grave; does his soul return to his grave when one goes to visit him?

A: The answer to this question is yes; for as we can rightly conclude from the authentic sources of Islam, your father can know when you visit him; he will also be able to hear and return your greeting, besides benefiting from your du’as and good deeds on his behalf.

To further clarify the issue: This question belongs to an area or realm which is beyond the confines of logic, reason or experimentation: It belongs exclusively to the area of revelation.

As far as we can know from the revelation, it is clear that those who are buried in the grave not only know their visitors, if they had known them prior to their death, but also return their greetings.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, has left us clear instructions to visit the graves of our relatives and friends, to greet them and to offer prayers for them. This is lest we forget them after their death; through frequent visits to their graves we renew our relationship with them, invoke Allah’s mercy upon them, besides reminding ourselves of our final destination in the next world.

Such instructions, it is clear upon pondering, have meaning only if they are able to know their visitors and are able to return their greetings.

Imam Ibn Abd al-Barr, in his famous work kitab al-Tamhid, has cited the following report on the authority of Ibn Abbas: The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “If a Muslim were to pass by the grave of his believing brother whom he used to know in this world and greet him, the latter would recognize him and would return the same.”

The Prophet, peace be upon him, further taught us to visit the graves of our relatives and friends and offer salutations/greetings thus:
Assalaamu alaikum diyaara qawmin mu’mineen wa inna inshaa Allaah bikum lahikun yaghfiru Allah lanaa wa lakum wa li saa’iri al-mulsimeen
(Greetings of peace to You O believers, dwelling in these residences; with Allah’s leave we will also be joining you in the near future; may Allah forgive us and you and all the Muslims).

Furthermore, referring to the disbelievers who were slain in the battle of Badr, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Surely you are not better able to hear me than them; but the only difference is that they cannot respond to me!”

To conclude: You should continue to visit the grave of your father and greet him and offer prayers and supplications on his behalf; insha Allah, he will be able to know you when you visit him. May Allah grant us sound understanding of our religion and sincerity in practicing it-aameen.

Q: Is there any distinction between hand slaughter and machine slaughter? I mean to ask whether as Muslims we are allowed to eat animals that are machine- slaughtered or not. Please explain the difference, if any.

A: All praises belong to Allah, the All-Compassionate, All-Merciful, and peace and blessings on His Final Messenger Muhammad and his family, and companions:

The rules of Islamic slaughter are fairly simple and precise: They can be summed up as follow: invoking the name of Allah, cutting the throat/the arteries with a sharp knife/instrument– thus administering a quick death and sparing the animal undue torture and suffering– in such a way that the blood is drained. These are the rules of slaughter as clearly established in the pristine sources of Islam, namely, the Qur’an, and the Sunnah; these are essentially the same rules that have been formulated by the great Imams and jurists in all of the authentic schools of jurisprudence. There is virtually no disagreement among them, irrespective of the divergence of their madhaahib (schools of jurisprudence), in regards to the lawfulness of consumption of such meat.

In light of the above, one may safely conclude that all animals slaughtered in this manner, as long as they are fit for Muslim consumption, are considered halal (awful) for Muslims to eat, irrespective of whether they are hand-slaughtered or machine slaughtered.

Therefore, to make a distinction between hand slaughter and machine-slaughter, rendering the latter as unlawful is clearly unwarranted as there is no evidence whatsoever in the sources of jurisprudence for such an artificial distinction.

Furthermore, since the Prophet, peace be upon him, has warned us against hair-splitting and rigidity in matters of religion, Muslims are advised against creating dissensions based on such trivial matters as this would only be at the expense of expending energies on far more important issues that are vital for the survival of Islam and Muslims. May Allah bless us all to recognize truth as truth and follow it, and recognize error as error and shun it-aameen. Our final supplication is: All praises be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.

Q: Is IVF allowed if the donor is from someone other than the couple involved?

A: IVF (In vitro fertilization) is permissible in Islam only on condition that both sperm and egg involved in the process originate from man and woman who are married to each other. To introduce an egg or sperm from a third person to the equation is akin to sharing the marriage bed with someone else; it is therefore considered no different from zina (adultery) in Islam. A child born through such a procedure is born of zina in Islam.

Since it is undoubtedly reprehensible and utterly sinful, no Muslim should ever entertain such a possibility for conceiving a child. A Muslim should accept what Allah has chosen for him/her: To accept Allah as a Sovereign Lord and Creator means to believe in His will and ultimate wisdom; Allah says:

“To Allah belongs the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He creates whatever He wills. He grants daughters to whom He wills, and sons to whom He wills; Or He gives both sons and daughters to whom He will and makes barren who He will. Indeed He is Knowing, Able.” (Qur’an: 42: 49-50).

So continue to pray to Allah to grant you offspring, while resorting to all available treatments you can possibly afford. If it is Allah’s will He will certainly grant your prayer; if on the other hand, should He not choose to do so, simply accept the will of the All-Wise, and All-Knowing.

May Allah make us all contented with His decree, and grant us all the true joy of submitting to His inscrutable will—aameen.

Q: My husband I both work and make similar incomes. We just got married and have no kids. He insists that I pitch in all my income into a joint account which will be used for all of our expenses and savings. I refuse to do so, so he wants his name on my account or he wants me to quit working. Does he have the right to do that?

A: You have raised a pertinent question. Before answering it, let me first state up front the points that have been agreed upon by all scholars.

  1. In Islam, it is the husband’s responsibility to provide support and maintenance for his wife and his children; the wife, however, has no obligation to provide financial support for her husband or her children from him;

    2. All agree that a woman’s assets or wealth are exclusively hers, and a husband has no right to it, unless she has willingly given it to him. This is the reason that some scholars are of the view that a wife can give charities to her husband if he is poor and unable to provide for the family. They base it on a tradition from the Prophet (peace be upon him), to that effect. Once the wife of Abd Allah b. Masud, one of the prominent companions of the Prophet, asked him if a wife can give charity to her husband, to which the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, yes.

    3. While the above principles are agreed upon by scholars, we are faced with a new situation now that women have started working outside their homes. In an ideal Islamic setting, a woman will not be forced to go out and work. However, now that she is working, she is compromising something of her household responsibilities. It is, therefore, only reasonable for her to contribute at least partially towards the expenses of the family. Nevertheless, this does not in any way mean that the husband has the right to claim all of her income or salaries. That is undoubtedly considered as simply unacceptable in Islam-as has been stated explicitly by all scholars.

    4. It is, therefore, unreasonable on the part of your husband to order you to put everything you earn in the joint bank account or quit working. He can ask you to quit your job if you are going out to work by sacrificing your priorities at home like taking care of your children.

    5. Coming to the exact ratio of a wife’s contribution to the family kit, some scholars have come up with the following formula: While the husband should contribute to two thirds of the family expenses, a working wife should contribute one third. If, however, she wishes to give more, she may do so on her own free will.

    5. If the husband demands anything beyond that, and wishes to dictate what you should do with your entire income or quit the job, that is being unfair. You have the right to stand up for your right. All scholars agree that any husband who takes even a penny from his wife’s income without her pleasure is guilty of consuming unlawful wealth. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A flesh that is nurtured on unlawful earnings is a worthy fuel of hell.”