Questions Regarding Certain Rulings of Islam.
(I) Does fasting hinder production?
1- Fasting was not introduced by Islam and the Quran states that the religious ruling of fasting was observed by the nation that preceded Islam. “O you who believe ! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you” (2/183).
Other religions still follow this religious observance until today, but there is a difference between fasting in Islam and fasting in other religions since fasting in Islam is prescribed during a certain month in the lunar year, namely the month of Ramadan. Fasting beings at dawn and ends at sunset, and between dawn and sunset one must refrain from eating, drinking and the desires of the body. This means that the Muslim works during the hours that he is fasting and that is why some people imagine that fasting restricts the Muslim's ability to perform his work well.
2- Fasting is not to be blamed on this account for fasting has the undeniable effect of charging people with spiritual energy thus enabling them to work more energetically than when they were not fasting. The Battle of Badr was fought and won by the Muslims while they were fasting in the month of Ramadan. Egyptian troops fought while they were fasting in the 6th of October 1973's war and were victorious. This is proof that fasting does not restrict one's activity or ability to perform one’s duty. On the contrary it increases it with a charge of spiritual energy.
3- The lack of activity and decrease in productivity in some Muslim countries during the month of fasting, is not due to fasting but to other factors. People are in the habit of staying up all night and they are naturally exhausted on the following day and are unable to make the effort needed to work and they put the blame on fasting. Had fasting been the cause, they would have felt exhausted at the end of the day and not at the beginning of the day.
4- It has been proved that fasting has many medical, spiritual, social and educational benefits. It is considered an annual opportunity for one to contemplate on one’s actions and conducts and to meditate upon one’s previous behaviour and to judge one’s self objectively in order to avoid the recurrence of any errors one might have made and also to do one’s best to rid one’s community of any social problems that might exist.
(II) Is it true that alms giving grants wealthy people an advantage over poor people in winning the Grace of God?
1- Alms in Islam are considered the first organized system of taxation in the history of the economy of the world. Prior to Islam, heads of states imposed taxes as they willed, according to the wealth they needed for their own personal requirements. The burden of taxes was laid chiefly on the poor whereas the rich were often exempted. With the advent of Islam and its legislation of alms, Islam organized the collection of alms and specified the amount to be paid. Furthermore Islam imposed alms only on wealthy people and people of medium means and exempted poor people. 1 Alms giving is not only a system of finance but it is also a religious duty like praying, fasting and making the pilgrimage to Mecca and is therefore obligatory for all those who are qualified to pay it, who do so, not through any fear of the governing regime but out of their desire to obey the laws of Islam and to seek the Grace of God.
2- During the life time of the prophet, poor people felt that were at a disadvantage for not being able to donate alms as did the rich. They believed that by giving alms, rich people gained the Grace of God for performing this religious duty while they were unable to do so, through no fault of theirs, as they were not to be blamed for their poverty.
They expressed their fears to the prophet who advised them to glorify, praise and declare the greatness of God thirty three times after each prayer, assuring them that this would elevate them to the same status of rich people who gave alms. 2
3- The criterion recognized by the Quran by which people are judged is that of piety and righteousness as is stated in the following Quranic verse: “Verily the most honoured of you in the Sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you” (49/13).
By righteousness is meant any good deed that a person performs whether it be in the cause of God by obeying His commands or for the welfare of mankind in this world or by repelling evil. Thus to come within God’s Grace dose not only depend upon giving alms and upon other religious observances but it also depends upon one’s attitude, disposition, conduct, and what one utters. Islam attaches the greatest importance and value to one’s intention, as stated by the prophet: “Deeds are valued according to one’s intention’’. Consequently a poor man who sincerely wishes that he were able to give alms shall be rewarded by God for his sincere intention, whereas rich people who give alms ostentatiously to attain a high status among the people who witness their display of charity, will not attain the divine reward.
(III) Why did Islam prohibit eating the flesh of pigs?
1- Islam was not the first religion to prohibit the eating of the flesh of pigs. The Jewish religion prohibited it at an earlier date. In Europe and America Jews do not eat the flesh of pigs, except in very rare cases, and nobody criticizes them. On the contrary they respect their adherence to their faith On most flights in the U.S.A. Jews demand Jewish or Kosher food and they are served without any remarks of criticism, because the Western World respects the religious observances of the Jewish faith. With the advent of Christ, he declared that he had not come to change the religious laws of the Jews, so it is only logical to assume that the flesh of pigs was also prohibited in Christianity. 3
2- Islam also prohibited eating the flesh of pigs and this prohibition is in keeping with the same prohibition of the previous divine faiths. The Quran refers to this prohibition in four Quranic verses namely: (2/173,5/9,6/145 and 16/115). In addition to this religious prohibition, there are many other reason which corroborate this prohibition. Muslim scientists have proved that eating the flesh of pigs is extremely harmful, especially in hot climates The Quranic verses which prohibit eating the flesh of pigs add to it the prohibition of eating carrion and blood, and the danger of eating carrion and blood is an undeniable fact as a result of the microorganisms and toxins they contain. Although recent scientific methods have succeeded in treating the flesh of pigs in such a way as to render it free of micro organisms yet no one can predict what the future holds. Scientist took centuries to discover one disease and God Almighty who created man Knows what is Good for him and what harms him. The Following Quranic verse emphasizes this fact:
“But over all endued with knowledge is One, The All-Knowing” (12/ 76).
3- Islam takes into consideration the necessities which may arise in certain circumstances and it permits what had been prohibited such as eating the flesh of pigs. This is declared in the following Quranic verse:
“But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience. Nor transgressing due limits, then he is guiltless. For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (2/173).
(IV) Why does Islam Prohibit men from wearing gold ornaments and silk clothes?
1- This prohibition is based upon a number of the sayings of the prophet and has been approved by the majority of Muslim scholars. Their opinion is that strength and resolution are essential qualities in a man and Islam advocates that a man should not be surrounded by any signs of weakness or for that matter signs of luxury since luxury usually goes hand in hand with social injustice. A man should be resolute, determined and courageous in everyday life and when he participates in battles to defend his faith and homeland. Wearing gold ornaments and clothes made of silk are indications of luxury which is not approved of by Islam. Moreover, Islam does not forbid women to wear gold ornaments, any form of jewelry, or silk material since woman’s love of gold, jewelry and adornment is an inherent trait in their nature.
2- In spite of this prohibition should the necessity arise for a man to wear clothes made of silk material, Islam permits its use. The prophet Muhammad permitted Abdel Rahman ben ‘Awf and Al Zubeir ben Al ‘Awam to wear clothes made of silk when they suffered from a form of allergy of their skin. 4
3-The Imam, Al shawkani, who died about 1840, made an intensive study of all the facts and data concerning this matter and he reached the conclusion that the use of gold and silk material are not prohibited but are looked upon with distaste, which signifies that it is a degree less than that of actual prohibition. He established his opinion on the fact that no less than twenty of the Companions of the prophet, among whom were Anas and Al Baraa’ ben’ Azab, wore clothes made of silk material. Had such a matter been prohibited they would never have worn these clothes and the rest o their Companions would never have allowed the matter to pass undisputed.
4- As regards the wearing of gold rings, most Muslim scholars declared its prohibition and they based their opinion on several sayings of the Prophet. Another group of Muslim scholars maintained that It was not Prohibited but was looked upon with distaste. They came to this conclusion when they learnt that a number of the Prophet’s Companions, among whom were sad ben Abu Waqas, Talha ben ’Obied Allah, Soheib, Hutheyfa, Jaber ben Samra and Al Baraa’ ben ’Azeb wore gold rings. Therefore wearing gold ring is looked upon with distaste but not prohibited. 5
1- Qutb , Muhammad : False Allegations asccribed to Islam .p.91. Wahaba Bookshop 1960.
2- Fath Al Bari : Commentary on the Authentic Al Bukhari. Vol. 2. p. 325. Verified by Abdel Baqi ,M. Foud. Salafia. Publishing House.
3- Qardawi ,Yussuf, Ph .D.The Permitted and the Prohibited ,p.42,Qatar 1978.
4- Al Qaradawi Yusuf, Ph. D. The Prohibited and the Prohibited p.80-82. Qatar 1978.
5- Sabeq, Sheikh Sayed. Jurisprudence of the Sunna. vol . 3.p.482- 489, Beirout.