Ask a Muslim Scholar June 2019

Q: Assalamualaikum sheik I have a question… My father has some amount of money deposited in an Islamic bank and they provide some amount of money which the bank people call it as profit …every month some amount of money is provided by the bank on my fathers fixed deposit sometimes more and sometimes less but no fixed profit … the amount varies every month … it’s an Islamic bank … is it halal to take the profit that is given by the Islamic bank … please, can you advise me on this.

A: The dividends your father received from the Islamic bank is the profit accrued on the amount he has deposited.

Islamic banks make money by investing the amount in ethical shares or companies. They are giving you from the profit they make on such investments. So, it is a lawful income; your father can use it as he wishes. The bank is not giving it as gratis or a charity. They divide the profit according to the terms of the contract with the depositors – your father included.

Therefore, your father should have no qualms or inhibitions about using the halal profit accruing on the amount he has deposited.

If he has some lingering doubts, he should cleanse the profit thus made by giving out some amount of it in charity. Allah says, “Verily, good deeds wipe out the bad.” (Qur’an: 11: 114)

Q: Am I allowed to give Zakah to my poor uncle to perform Umrah?

A: You are not allowed to give Zakah for this purpose as it is not obligatory on him. Zakah should be given only to one of the eligible categories as stated in the following verse:

“Compulsory arms are (meant) only for the poor and the needy, and those who are charged with collecting them, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and (for) those who are overburdened with debts, and (for those who strive ) in Allah’s cause (fi sabil Allah), and (for) the wayfarer: (this is) an ordinance from Allah–and Allah is all-knowing and, all-wise.” (Q. 9: 60).

Q: Assala mu Alaikum, sir. I had a question about football. Sir, it is my dream to be a professional footballer/soccer player. So will it be okay for me to take it as a profession?

A: According to the preferred view of scholars, one may pursue such a profession as long as one does not do so at the expense of more important religious, family or social obligations. If, however, it may inadvertently lead you to neglect your prayers, spousal or other social duties, then one should not embark on it.

If, however, such conditions are strictly observed, there is no harm in pursuing football as a profession. According to the rules of jurisprudence, there is no objection in engaging in any permissible work. We are only forbidden to engage in actions prohibited or harmful to our health or society. Such is not the case with playing football. Since playing football is permissible, one may take it as a profession.

There is another group of scholars who hold it is wrong for a Muslim to pursue such a profession. They say there is no benefit in such sports. Therefore, it falls under the category of Laghw or frivolities. A Muslim should spend his time and energy on far more essential professions beneficial for individuals and society.

I endorse the former view if you are confident you will not compromise your religious, spousal and social duties while pursuing this profession.

However, if you find it hard to do so or you are not sure of your ability to reconcile it with your duties then you should even consider it. Instead, you ought to look for another profession free of such dubious issues. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Halal is clear, and Haram is clear; there are however certain cases doubtful in between.

So, whoever shuns them he is better enabled to safeguard his religion and honor; if one hastens to do the doubtful he may fall into the Haram; like a shepherd letting his herd grace around the protected territory (sanctuary); the herd may encroach upon it. Remember the sanctuaries of Allah are the things He forbids.” (Reported by Nasa’i and others)

Q: Is it true that practicing yoga is totally haram for Muslims? What if I am just doing it as a form of exercise and calming and meditation without calling names or following specific postures. What if we separate the religious aspect and just keep the spirituality and we take it as an exercise form, then … is it still considered that yoga is Haram or it’s impermissible?

A: You may practice Yoga for enhanced physical, mental and spiritual health – as long as you are firm in your faith in the Oneness of God and shun all rituals associated with polytheism.

To explain this, I would like to state a few points up front.

1) Yoga is a deep-rooted discipline which has been practiced in India, as we are told, for almost 5000 years. Over the years, it has assumed various forms and shapes. If we can consider one thing as central to all of them, it is perhaps a discipline to control the mind and body, which helps its practitioner to lead a life that is at once in harmony with his inner self and the environment. If this is the core outcome of yoga, there is nothing un-Islamic about it– as long as one stays clear of questionable methods.

2) Not everything in Hinduism is contrary to Islam. Hinduism is a great religious tradition with a profound spiritual and intellectual legacy. Muslims ought to look at it through the discriminating lens of the Qur’an. The Qur’an teaches us that God has guided all nations on the face of the earth through revelations communicated to prophets speaking different languages. We are only fair to consider the Hindu Vedas as containing these revelations, albeit in a modified form.

3) The Prophetic Wisdom teaches us that wisdom is the lost article of the believer; so he must adopt it as his own, wherever he finds it.

4) Muslims are to shun at all costs the polytheistic practices, wherever he finds them. However, having said this, it is a travesty of truth to consider all of Hinduism as being polytheistic or pagan. We may do well to recognize the verdict of the Muslim scholar of Hinduism, al-Biruni, often referred to as the pioneer of comparative religion. He writes, “The Hindus believe with regard to God that he is one, eternal, without beginning and end, acting by free-will, almighty, all-wise, living, giving life, ruling, preserving; one who in his sovereignty is unique, beyond all likeness and unlikeness, and that he does not resemble anything nor does anything resemble him.”

5) Furthermore, the Qur’an does not sanction racism, xenophobia, or discrimination; instead, it orders us to be just and fair in judging others, including all peoples and their cultures. Allah says, “O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be fair in judging (others): this is closest to being God-conscious. ir in And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.” (Qur’an: 5:8).

6) Therefore, historically, Muslims flourished when they successfully incorporated the best in other cultures and traditions, while rejecting that which were destructive and antithetical to the Qur’anic world view.

7) Millions of people all over the world practice Yoga. Scientific studies demonstrate its benefits for the health of body and mind.

8) At the same time, there are many forms of yoga. We ought to skip those that contain a lot of chanting and mantras –especially in a language you don’t understand; we should substitute Islamic forms of dhikr. Focus on those that incorporate physical movements, relaxation exercises, flexibility, stretching, and so on.

In light of the above, there is no reason for Muslims not to make use of Yoga as long as we are firm in belief in the unity and oneness of God. Islamic institutions should not shy away from incorporating exercise regimens such as yoga into their programs–especially beneficial with our aging populations.

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