Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Personal & Opinion

Praying for Non-Muslims: An Islamic Perspective

This is a topic I’ve written about before but I also wanted to add this article by Mohammad Omar Farooq to the discussion. The original text is posted below, all credit respectively goes to him.

As a Muslim, I feel in tune with the humanity (an-Nas), because the Quran unequivocally informs that the Muslims must recognize and appreciate their humanity orientation. We are “… created/evolved for the humanity …” [Quran – 3:110]. Therefore, being inclusive in my orientation toward the humanity has been natural to me as a Muslim. Indeed, I have been particular in drawing attention of others toward this humanity-orientation, which should be reflected in our prayers and supplications as well. However, a few things provoked or motivated me to take a closer look at this issue of praying for non-Muslims from an Islamic perspective.

Last year I was invited by a Midwestern community to make presentations to two of their local mosques. I was gratified that the presentation “Seeking common grounds and building bridges” was well received. During the question/answer session, apparently, one peripheral subtopic became the focus of the session.

In the presentation, I emphasized the point that the feelings and communications of Muslims often seem to be self-centered as a community. We are bothered only when the sufferings, atrocities or hardships visit upon us, but we show little care in being in tune with the pain and agony of the rest of the humanity. One of the things I have observed is the lack of any inclusion of the humanity in our prayers. I urged that our prayers (dua) should be inclusive.

One participant raised the issue whether such prayer would be Islamic and consistent with the Sunnah (the Prophetic practice). It revealed a fundamental gap in many Muslims’ understanding of this matter here.

Recently, the world watched the unfolding of the one of the worst human disasters before their eyes. Since the advent of cables, satellites, instant feeds, internet and so on, the disaster appeared unprecedentedly dramatic. Actually, there has been much worse natural disasters during the last half century, but due to technological and other factors, it could not play out like the way it is possible now in a “smaller world.”

Indonesia was the hardest hit by this tsunami. Most of those who died in Indonesia were Muslims. It was not surprising that some of the Muslim relief organizations, who already have charitable and development works in those area, were the first to respond. The same ethos was not observed in the response of the governments of the rich Arab Muslim-majority countries. However, even though severely constrained in the post-9-11 environment, parallel to the rest of the world, major Muslim organizations in the USA (and elsewhere) came forward to express their horror and sorrow at the disaster and made the call to all to make a difference in the tsunami devastated areas. Several of these Islamic organizations also organized funeral prayers for the deceased Muslims in absentia and also urged Muslims to be inclusive in their prayer (supplication) in regard to the non-Muslim victims.

In a widely circulated statement, Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) mentioned:

“(Washington, D.C., 12/27/04). … CAIR today asked members of the American Muslim community and all people of conscience worldwide to offer humanitarian assistance and pray for the victims in Sunday’s tsunamis in southern Asia.

The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group also expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of the tragedy in southern Asia,” said CAIR Chairman Omar Ahmad. “We extend our sincerest condolences to the families of those killed and pray for the speedy recovery of those injured as a result of the earthquake. CAIR is working on identifying relief organizations that will provide aid to the affected areas.”

In a separate statement, ISNA mentioned:

“ISNA joins the Muslim American community in mourning the loss of life in Southern Asia resulting from the earthquake of December 26, 2004. We urge the Muslim community to pray for those affected by the disaster ….”

Of course, some Muslim communities, especially in the affected areas, went much further. In one such community in Tamil Nadu, India, the local mosque opened up to accommodate, shelter and serve the victims, who were primarily non-Muslims.

Islam wants Muslims to have a humanity-orientation.  It is very unfortunate that Muslims have made the use of the word “Ummah” exclusive for themselves. Thus, one observes Muslims regularly talking about or referring to the Ummah, meaning only the Muslims. However, the Quran also uses “ummah” for the humanity. “Mankind (an-Nas) was one single nation (ummah) …” [Quran – 2:213] Due to such exclusive use of the word, many Muslims don’t seem to be in tune with the humanity.

Therefore, both the increasingly inclusive approach on the parts of Muslims and opening up to the humanity like it was done by one mosque in Tamil Nadu are very encouraging. However, these days it seems whatever the Muslims do, some people are dissatisfied or disgruntled. If some Muslims say that they are against democracy, then they are regarded as uncivilized and undemocratic. If some of them like democracy, or consider democracy to be compatible with Islam or even required by Islam, immediately some secularist critics would charge that to support democracy is to go against Islam. Similar is the case with the inclusivist approach among Muslims. If they are not inclusive, they are criticized that these people are self-centered, caring only about their fellow Muslims. If they do call for inclusion of non-Muslims in their prayers and humanitarian efforts, they are criticized by some so-called rationalists/secularists that such inclusiveness is against the teachings of the Quran.

For example, one such atheist cited the following verses from the Quran to make the point that praying for non-Muslims is prohibited by the Quran.

“Nor do thou ever pray for any of them that dies, nor stand at his grave; for they rejected Allah and His Messenger, and died in a state of perverse rebellion. [Quran – 9:84] 

“It is not fitting, for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for Pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire. [Quran – 9:113]

He posed the following question: “If it was NOT fitting for the Prophet himself to invoke (Allah) for forgiveness of pagans, by what ‘due diligence’ and reliance on nothing but ‘facts’ did Dr. Farooq conclude CAIR’s call for prayer included non-Muslims, while it was still an ‘Islamic’ prayer?”

It also seems that such challenge has caused some Muslims to be at a loss, as a moderator of one of the online forums, where the above question was posed, mentioned: “I always, thought it is okay to pray for non-Muslims. M. raised a fair question. … As a believer and as a Muslim, whenever I pray, I pray for all. That is my teaching from my parents and from religious teachers. Even the Imam from local mosque once related that only God can decide about the ultimate fate of all human beings – irrespective of their religious affiliations.” He sought some clarification from me in response.

Both the questions posed by my atheist friend and the unsettled feelings of some of my fellow Muslims necessitate that we further probe into the relevant issues. I should mention here that Muslims should always continuously scrutinize their understanding and beliefs in a self-critical manner. Also, instead of just adhering to a faith, in the form of a tradition and culture, which is primarily received from our parents, elders and those to whom we turn to for religious knowledge, it is vitally important that we approach Islam and the life with an urge for acquiring the relevant critical knowledge and understanding.

Let us now examine the issue whether such inclusive approach to prayers (supplications) is unislamic and inconsistent with the Quranic teachings and prophetic legacy. A few pertinent observations, however, before we proceed. These observations may not be of importance to those who are atheists and thus deny any divine power or revelation. Also, in studying such matters, one should keep in mind the following. (a) No Quranic verse should be taken in isolation from the totality of the Quran. (b) The contexts of the revelation (shaan-e-nuzul) must be taken into account in interpreting any specific verse.

Verse 9: 80 and 9:113 from Surah at-Taubah:

Verse 9:80 relates to the Munafiqeen (hypocrites), who undermined Muslims by working and conspiring with the Mushrikeen (pagan/polytheists). The Munafiqeen were particularly dangerous, because they were insiders to the Muslim community. Verse 9:113 relates to the Mushrikeen. Both the cases and their contexts are presented below.

It is important to keep in mind the general background of Surah at-Taubah, which deals with the issue of the relationship between Muslims and those Mushrikeen from among the Makkan Quraish and the treacherous hypocrites from among the Madinians and the desired attitude of Muslims toward them. These Mushrikeen and Munafiqeen have not only conspired against the nascent community of Muslims, but they had a bloody campaign to militarily vanquish the community. They used all the cunnings, machinations, and power to resist and overcome the emergence of this nascent community.

These are the Mushrikeen, who broke a treaty that they themselves humiliatingly imposed on Muslims. In the very first verse of this Surah, Muslims are commanded to publicly proclaim their freedom from the treaty that the Mushrikeen imposed on them originally and now bent on breaking it unilaterally. [Quran – 9:1] Muslims were also reminded that such freedom from the treaty did not involve those Mushrikeen, who have not broken the treaty or aided the adversaries of the Muslim community. Muslims were commanded to strictly uphold treaty with everyone, including those Mushrikeen who do not cause any aggression or injustice. [Quran – 9:4] It is against these Mushrikeen, Muslims were commanded to fight against with might and decisiveness. [Quran – 9:5] Even then, if any among the combatant Mushrikeen seek asylum from the Muslims, it must be granted, and they are to be escorted to where they can be secure. [Quran – 9:6] These prejudiced Mushrikeen honored neither any kinship nor any covenant. [Quran – 9:8]

Muslims were also clearly reminded about the context of this confrontation. These people breached a treaty, plotted to expel (and even kill) the Prophet, and initiated the aggression against the Muslims. [Quran – 9:13] These are the rhetoric of war. There is no weakness, compassion or vacillation in this context. Those who seek to vanquish Islam and Muslims would be resisted vigorously and steadfastly – subject to the Islamic morals and restraints that are to be upheld, even during adversity. Even family members and kins, who join the combative Mushrikeen, are not to be taken as patrons, guardians and trustees (in regard to the collective interest of the community). [Quran – 9:23] Islam does not wish to vanquish these hateful Mushrikeen. It exhorted the Muslims to confront them until they are subdued or they make peace. [Quran – 9:29]

Then, in the same context, the Munafiqeen (hypocrites) – who identify themselves as members of the Muslim community, but actually work and conspire with the combative Mushrikeen – are dealt with. After that it returns to the issue of the Mushrikeen and exhorts the Muslims to fight against the Mushrikeen and the Munafiqeen, who threatened and assaulted to vanquish the nascent community. [Quran – 9:73] The Prophet, as a symbol of compassion, prayed for even these people, [Quran – 9:80] until God made it clear that he should not do so – i.e., either offer funeral prayer for them or stand at their grave. [Quran – 9:84]

Let’s revisit that verse. “Nor do thou ever pray for any of them that dies, nor stand at his grave; for they rejected Allah and His Messenger, and died in a state of perverse rebellion. [Quran – 9:84]

The next few verses continue to deal with the Munafiqeen, interspersed with verses exhorting the Muslims, never to feel weak and resigned.

Then comes the Quranic verse 9:113. From the preceding elucidation, it should be clear why the Prophet or the believers might not pray for forgiveness of those combative Mushrikeen who have demonstrated through their public actions that they harbor hatred and animosity to the extent that they cannot tolerate Islam and Muslims and would do anything to see them vanquished. Even without any specific verse in this regard, the implications naturally follow as to why, Muslims might not pray for anyone who fights Islam and Muslims unjustly, and then dies in that condition without any repentance. However, the scope of 9:113 is a little broader, as some hadith indicate that it was in the context of the Prophet’s uncle, who on his death bed refused to embrace Islam. Thus, this verse applies to both the combative Mushrikeen and those who die consciously and insistently rejecting Islam and adhering to “shirk” (polytheism). This is in view of the Quranic verse that says that God is forewarning the humanity that he may or may not forgive any and all sin at his discretion. However, one sin he WOULD NOT forgive, if the sinner dies in that condition without repentance: that sin is “shirk” (associating others with God). [Quran – 4:48]

Thus, in the context of Surah at-Taubah, verse 9:113 pertains to those through whose actions (unjustly fighting Islam and Muslims or insistently rejecting the truth in favor of “shirk”, i.e.), “it is clear … that they are companions of the Fire.” [Quran – 9:113]

In the very next verse [Quran – 9:114], it further clarifies using the specific example of the Prophet Ibrahim, who initially prayed for forgiveness for his father, due to a promise. However, once his father’s enmity toward God and the truth became manifest, he desisted.

Now let me summarize some of the pertinent aspects.

  1. These verses about prayers are applicable to two groups of people: (a) those who confronted and combated Muslims as was during the time of the Prophet and the Makkan Quraish; (b) those who consciously and insistently embrace “shirk” or polytheism, which the Quran declares as one sin, which God has forewarned that he will not forgive (examples: Abu Talib, the Prophet’s uncle and the father of the Prophet Ibrahim).
  2. The two specific cases (the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad and the father of the Prophet Ibrahim) may have a further ramification. Prophets are sent as a divinely chosen and mandated deliverer of good news and warning. They themselves are also the bearer of HUJJAT (proof/evidence of their divine reference) for the humanity. When people are directly or individually presented with the truth and an invitation toward truth by a Prophet, if such invitees show defiance or insistence in upholding their polytheism, especially on the death bed, then God has already forewarned about the lack of forgiveness for this specific matter. However, this may not apply to just any ordinary person or persons, who are not Prophets, presenting the truth and the invitation. This is because no non-prophets are the bearers of such Hujjat.
  3. The specific verses from the Quran and some of the Hadith pertain to limitations on praying for “forgiveness” (another word, salvation) for those who have embraced, especially defiantly and insistently, polytheism (shirk).

It is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that Allah forbids you to befriend them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the wrong-doers.) [Quran – 60:8-9)]

Thus, the two categories of Mushrikeen for whom the Prophet and the believers have been asked not to pray are of the type who have caused injustice and aggression against Muslims. [Note: All such matters also assume that Muslims themselves are not aggressors against or unjust toward other people.]

It should be clear now based on this survey of the relevant Quranic verses that not only that there is no limitation on showing general goodwill toward all human beings, but also there are specific and elaborate guidance for being empathic toward the entire humanity.

First is the rule of Non-Hostility. Muslims cannot harbor any hostility or ill-feeling toward anyone who do not practice oppression (zulm) against anyone, Muslims or non-Muslims. “Let there be no hostility except against those who practice oppression.” [Quran – 2:193] [Note: Muslims are to take a decisive stand against fellow Muslims too, if the oppression or injustice is caused by such Muslims.] 

Secondly, there is no permanent enmity (or friendship, for that matter) from an Islamic perspective. God willing, enmity can turn into friendship, for which Muslims need to make a persistent effort. “It may be that God will grant love (and friendship/amity) between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies.” [Quran – 60:7]

Thirdly, beyond just harboring positive feeling toward the rest of the humanity, the Quran categorically removes any lingering confusions in the minds of any Muslim or non-Muslim that, for anyone thinking otherwise, Allah wants us to be kind and just toward the rest of the humanity.

Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity. [Quran – 60:8-9)]

Allah does not forbid me or my fellow Muslims to be just and kind to others, who have not fought or shown hostility toward the Muslims. Those who are familiar with the Quranic discourse and rhetoric – for example, where an infant girl buried alive being asked by Allah on the Day of Judgment as to for what crime was she buried alive [Quran – 81:8] – ought to understand that this is a special way of highlighting or accentuating the importance of being kind and just to the humanity in general. However, what kind of kindness are we talking about, if we can’t be inclusive about others in regard to our prayers!

As explained above, the specific limit about prayer is related to pleading for “forgiveness” or “salvation” of those who have been manifestly hostile toward Islam and Muslims and caused aggression and injustice, or those who have embraced “shirk” defiantly, in specific cases, even in presence of a Prophet. For all others, being “created for mankind” [Quran – 3:110] should inspire us to be inclusive, including in prayers. My neighbors include Christians, Jews and who knows what. So are my colleagues at work: among them are atheists, agnostics and everything else. Among these non-Muslim friends and colleagues, I have found some of the most kind, thoughtful and caring people. I would like them to be Muslims too. But if they are not, that is between them and our Benevolent Creator, to whom we all will return some time. As far as we are concerned on this planet earth, I do pray for them, for their welfare and success in this life and beyond.

I don’t know any of those Tsunami victims personally. But as human beings they are my brothers and sisters in humanity, just like I have also many brothers and sisters in Islam.

So, in what way the call for prayer (supplication) of CAIR, ISNA or other Muslim organizations or individuals are unIslamic or contrary to the teachings of the Quran? Well, conscientious readers and minds can determine for themselves.

The tsunami victims, representing people from all walks of lives from so many faiths and countries, were victims of a natural disaster, one of the worst in the memorable history. The non-Muslim victims in general had nothing to do with the conflicts or hostility of the type indicated in those verses and hadith. Also, it was not like that a Prophet presented to them the divine message and they “rejected” the message. The whole context is so different that only someone thoroughly unfamiliar with the Quran can reach the conclusion that such prayers are unislamic. Even if some Muslims think so, had they understood the pertinent issues in the holistic perspective of the Quran and the Prophetic legacy, they would not have fallen into such confusion. Just as I pray for my beloved brothers and sisters in Islam, so do I for my fellow brothers and sisters in humanity. I can’t expect from others, but I hope my fellow Muslims would join me in the following prayer.

O our Rabb – Creator, Sustainer and Nourisher of the entire universe – it is you whom we worship and to you we turn for help and guidance. O our Benevolent Rabb, you have identified the entire mankind as one, single ummah. Pour in our heart love and empathy toward the humanity. O Allah, remove mutual hatred and bigotry from all of us and increase amity and empathy among the people around the world. O Allah, bless and guide me in this world and grant me your mercy in the hereafter. O Allah, bestow the same upon my dear ones among my family, relatives, friends and neighbors and upon the entire humanity. Of course, anyone who does not care about your mercy, blessing and guidance (or even deny or defy you), you are the most just and compassionate.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Social Issues & Politics

The Major Scholars of Today Clarify the Ruling on the Muslim Who Commits Suicide

While researching the topic of suicide (unfortunately a person I know has lost someone to suicide) I came across this article online. Although I already believed that those who die by suicide as Muslims aren’t condemned to the fire forever I was honestly surprised to enjoy that article so much because I generally do not agree with the brand of Islam propagated by that website or their teachings on several matters, but that’s just my two cents. Now let’s get to the real issue here…

The major scholars of our time were asked regarding the janāzah of those who have commited suicide, and whether or not they should be buried with the muslims. In three seperate answers, they explain how the one who commited suicide is still a Muslim.

This is in opposition to the Khawārij and Muʿtazilah sects, two stray groups, who say: Sinful people who enter the Fire remain there forever, and this is a huge mistake. –Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Bāz

In the Name of Allāh, the Most Merciful…

Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz:

Shaykh Ibn Bāz (may Allāh have Mercy on him) was asked, “If someone commits suicide because of certain situations in his life and other factors that make it difficult for him to live and provide for his family, does this mean that he will abide eternally in Jahannam (the Fire)?

He responded:

Suicide is a great evil, and one of the major sins.  A Muslim is not allowed to commit suicide.  Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, says, (what means),

وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ  إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا

And do not kill yourselves!  Verily, Allāh is ever-merciful to you!
[Sūrah al-Nisāʾ, 4:29]

And the Prophet (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace) said in the authentic ḥadīth (what means), “Whoever kills himself with something will be punished by it on the Day of Standing.

So it is obligatory on Muslims to have patience and perseverance if they face some calamities or difficulties in their lives, [and] not to rush and kill themselves. Rather, they must be warned of that, fear Allāh, be patient, and work through it by taking the necessary steps, and whoever fears Allāh, then Allāh will make a way out for him.

If someone kills himself, he subjects himself to the Anger of Allāh and His Punishment, however, it will be up to Allāh (to punish him or not), since suicide is less than shirk, and Allāh, the Most High, has said (what means),

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاء

Verily Allāh does not forgive that partners be set up for Him, and He forgives what is less than that for whomever He wills.
[Sūrah al-Nisāʾ, 4:48]

Everything less than shirk is up to Allāh to forgive, and suicide is less than shirk.  Similarly is the case with fornication, stealing, and drinking alcohol – they are all forms of disobedience less than shirk, and the one who does them is under Allāh’s Will, (meaning) if he dies upon that disobedience Allāh may forgive him if He wants, due to his good deeds and his Islām.  And if Allāh wishes He may punish him in the Fire based on the severity of his sin.  Then, after he is purified he will be taken out of the Fire.  According to Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah he will not remain in the Fire eternally. A sinful person does not remain forever in the Fire, not a murderer or anyone else stays in the Fire forever.  He shall be punished if Allāh wants to punish him, for however long Allāh wishes to punish him based on the severity of his disobedience, and then Allāh will have him removed and taken to a river called “the River of Life.”  People will grow there (from whatever remains after burning in the Fire) as a seedling grows after being washed up by floodwaters.

Once their restoration is completed, Allāh will allow them to enter Paradise because of their Islām and their Īmān that they died upon.  The only ones that shall remain in the Fire eternally are the disbelievers.  The only ones who shall remain in the Fire eternally are the polytheist disbelievers who disbelieved in Allāh and His Messengers, rejected His (other) Messengers, denied something that the Messengers came with, or did other things of this nature that expel one from Islām. Sins do not cause someone to remain in the Fire eternally according to Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah.

This is in opposition to the Khawārij and Muʿtazilah sects, two stray groups, who say: Sinful people who enter the Fire remain there forever, and this is a huge mistake.

Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah, the Companions of the Prophet (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace), and those who followed in righteousness say: Sinful people do not have to remain in the Fire forever so long as they do not declare the act of disobedience to be permissible, while knowing it is disobedience.  If the Shayṭān tricked him into doing it then he is not to remain in the Fire forever, rather it is up to Allāh – He may choose to excuse him and allow him entrance to Paradise because of his Islām and Īmān, or He may choose to punish him based on the severity of his disobedience.  Then, once purified Allāh will make him exit the Fire and enter Paradise.

The ḥadīths from the Messenger (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace) about this have come by way of tawātur (convincingly large numbers of chains), that some people who enter the Fire because of their sins will then be taken out of the Fire through (various) intercessions, or only by His Mercy without any other intercession, Glorified and Exalted.  All of this is authentically established from the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace).1

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ Ibn al-ʿUthaymīn:

Shaykh Ibn al-ʿUthaymīn (may Allāh have Mercy on him) was asked, “Should someone who committed suicide be washed and prayed over?

He responded by saying:

Someone who commits suicide – and Allāh’s Refuge is sought – has killed himself intentionally without right.  His act of suicide was a manifestation of his foolishness since he thought that by killing himself he could escape the trials and difficulties he was facing.  However, he has only moved on to more difficult, more severe trials.  He is like someone who wanted to get out of the heat, so he went into a Fire!

It has been authentically established that the Prophet (may Allāh raise his rank, and that of his family, and grant them peace) said that “Whoever kills himself with something will be punished by that thing in the Hellfire khālidan mukhalladan abadan 2.”

Refuge with Allāh is sought!  Whoever kills himself with a knife (or other metal object) will be in the Hellfire cutting himself with it. Similarly, whoever dies by poisoning himself will poison himself in the Fire of Hell!  Whoever jumps off a mountain or a building will repeat that in the Fire of Hell khālidan mukhalladan abadan! 2.

So suicide is not a solution, nor does it provide any relief from sadness and distress!  It only makes the person’s bad situation even worse.

However, if a Muslim commits suicide, he is to be washed, shrouded, and prayed over.  But if the tribal leader, local judge, or elder – whoever makes important decisions – in the area decides not to pray over him, that is a good thing, since the Prophet (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace) refused to pray over a man who killed himself with a knife (or the metal head of a spear or arrow).  However, the other people pray over him and supplicate for him to receive Mercy.  This is because he was not an apostate due to his act of suicide, rather he commmitted a horrible major sin (less than apostacy).  We ask Allāh for good situations (free of strife)!

In summary, people who commit suicide are to be washed, shrouded, prayed over, and buried in the Muslims’ graveyards, so long as they were Muslims.  And if the local leader decides not to pray over someone (who committed suicide) so that others would be take an admonition (about the severity of the crime), this is a good thing, following the example of the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh raise his rank and that of his family and grant them peace).

Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān:

Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān (may Allāh preserve him) was asked, “Is it allowed for the Muslims to pray over someone who committed suicide?

He responded by:

It is obligatory to establish the janāzah (prayer) for every Muslim, even for someone who has committed suicide.  That is because his act of suicide was a major sin, yet it does not expel him from the religion.  Someone who has committed suicide is a sinner who has all the rights of the other Muslims, like being prayed over, forgiveness being sought for him, and being washed, shrouded, and buried in the Muslims’ graveyards.

Posted in Books & Stories

Lost Thoughts — Volume One: The Heshin Immigrant

April 17th, 2017

Dear Tamar,

You may not remember me since we haven’t seen each other in many years but I’m you’re cousin Jasmine. I am your mother’s youngest sister’s daughter, we used to play together a lot before your family moved to Tehran almost a decade ago now. As I’m sure you’ve heard, we live in America now and we have been since the end of October last year. I’m sorry that we haven’t written earlier, I know dad said we would keep in touch so it wouldn’t feel like we left at all but things have been hard these last few months.

New York isn’t really how I imagined it would be. It’s not bad, not at all, but it’s been very difficult for all of us to adapt. When I imagined America I imagined all of these big mansions with private pools and endless prosperity but reality hit me hard when my childish and superficial fantasies crumbled one by one. I imagined having everything I’ve ever wanted but so far there’s been nothing but poverty. All of our savings are already gone. Neither one of us could’ve imagined how expensive this city would be. Both mom and dad work two jobs and I had to quit school to take on a part-time job and do only a few correspondence classes through an alternative school so Amir, Erwin and Fatima can go to school.

I want so much to make my dreams come true Tamar. There was nothing left for me in Heshin but at least it was familiar. Here everything is so new and strange and I don’t know anybody, I literally have no friends and I still don’t speak English all that well. I have so many big dreams that I want to pursue and make happen for me and I know that it will take a lot of hard work and perseverance and I hope to get your support because I don’t really have any here at home. My parents are always at work and when they come back they are completely exhausted it’s almost like they are strangers now and Fatima and the twins are much too young to understand or process the full weight of this situation.

The neighbor in our crowded duplex is also tough to deal with. Although our house in Heshin was crowded too at least there was harmony inside. We’re really blessed to all get along so well when some people don’t even speak to their families but right now I need more than that. Derek, the guy next door is noisy and disrespectful and has absolutely no consideration for anyone other than himself. At first he ignored us, then he started calling us towel heads, and now he has no problem harassing us. In just five months I’ve already had to call the police on him twice but they do nothing and the situation hasn’t changed.

I had such high hopes for this new life when I arrived but now I’m discouraged. I’m not giving up though, and I’m not going back. I’ve never wanted anything more than I’ve wanted this and I’m going to pursue it no matter what but of course that is much easier said than done. Although I’m literally surrounded by millions of people I’ve never felt more alone. It’s only really now that I’m discovering the frailty of humanity and all the confusion and contradictions within me when it comes to just who I want to become.

I need a hope for the future. I have so many dreams but for now that’s all they are, dreams. In the face of much adversity I must hold on to the hope that one day they will all come true because otherwise I have nothing good to live for and I might as well just kill myself right here, but at the same time I don’t wanna die here. I don’t wanna die in this dirty and dark place in which I am writing this letter right now. When I close my eyes for the last time I want to do it with a smile on my face knowing that I’ve lived a good life and accomplished everything I set out to do. The thought of it is so beautiful, but I must open my eyes and turn this into a reality.

How are you and your family doing? It doesn’t seem like we’ll be able to come and visit you for a while unfortunately. You are all however welcomed to come by and see us at any time as it would be wonderful to see some familiar faces. Have you completed college yet? The last I heard you wanted to be a nurse, if that’s what you ended up pursuing after all. I know how sometimes there’s so much we want to do that it’s hard to choose just one thing to chase after at a time. As for me it doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to study law in the near future but I want to take the opportunities America is giving me to become a writer.

I hear that it’s very easy to get published here as long as you take the right approach. I know I’m getting ahead of myself because I don’t even have a single word written yet but at least that door has opened here in New York. I don’t seek fame and fortune (although I’ll admit it would certainly be very nice to get out of poverty and be able to afford a proper education for myself and my siblings), I only really want to accomplish a lifelong dream. Remember when we used to write little screenplays as kids at your paternal grandma’s house?

For now I don’t really know what else to say, I feel like I’m only repeating myself and I don’t want this to be all about me, so I’m going to end this short letter now and put it in the mail tomorrow. I hope to hear back from you soon and I hope that you have some good news to share with me.

Much love and blessings,

Posted in Books & Stories, The World Wars

Lost Thoughts — Volume One: The Vessel

“Did you hear what Churchill said on the radio Leopold?” Eleonora asked for what seemed like the millionth time. “He said that we can have a brief period of rejoicing now that Germany has surrendered!”

As much as I would have liked to rejoice, I was still far too tired to feel anything other than precisely being tired. Eleonora had also neglected to mention the fact that Churchill also said that there was still a long and hard road ahead. The Japanese continued to fight and the journey across the Pacific would be a long one.

“Honestly I don’t know how we can rejoice when there’s nothing left of the entire continent.” I grumbled. Eleonora had learned to breathe again, but I had not. I still smelled the smoke, I still tasted the grime and I even still wore my stripes.
“Life in America will be so amazing,” Eleonora continued on. She too was still wearing her stripes but the smile on her face seemed to distort them. I didn’t really see them anymore. I knew they were there, but I couldn’t see them. “Although the vessel will be arriving in New York I really want to go to Boston. Some of the Americans in the port were talking about what life is like there and I really want to go.”

I had no choice but to admire her for her big dreams. They hadn’t taken them from her, despite everything, she still had a good heart. But the big question was, how would she make a life for herself all alone in a foreign country at just fifteen? We had nothing except the clothes on our backs and our souls, if we had any left.

“And what if the boat sinks on its way to New York like the Titanic?” I mused as both Eleonora and I sat on the deck in the open air waiting for the vessel to depart.
“Leopold,” Eleonora grumbled herself, “the Nazis couldn’t kill us, do you think the ocean will?” It wasn’t like her to be annoyed, and especially not with me, but I could not bring myself to share her hope for the future. “I know it’s hard,” she put her hand on mine, “but we’re free now. You can close your eyes and rest easy at night now knowing that our British and Russian friends and allies will stand up for justice for us.”

The boat kept on filling up with other passengers, many also wearing stripes just like us. I said nothing for a while as I looked up at the fluffy white clouds in the sky. My entire family had gone up in smoke, literally. My home had been completely destroyed. Rubble was the only thing left of my house that had been taken over by some Germans after we were forced out. The entire street had been leveled too. There was nothing left.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go to Palestine?” I asked Eleonora after an extended moment of silence.
“You’re not a Jew.” She replied emotionlessly. Eleonora was an Italian Jew but I was only a Pole. Palestine didn’t have much to offer me. There was nothing left of my own country either, or much of any country in Europe for that matter. “But you are.” I added dryly.
“I can’t leave you behind Leopold! You risked your life for me. You gave me your extra rations, you even took a beating from the SS for me in the factory. And you expect me to run off you and never think about you again? I have nobody else. You have nobody else. Who are we if we don’t have each other?”

Tears rolled down my cheeks for the first time since liberation. When the Russians opened those gates I was right there and collapsed into the arms of the first Red Army soldier I saw. I didn’t understand a single word of what the disheveled man told me but no words were necessary in a moment like that. I then grabbed Eleonora by the hand and we walked out. Just like that we were free. Just like that we’d also been deported almost two years earlier too.

“Are you alright my son?” An older man asked me as he passed me by on the vessel. “Here, have some chocolate,” he went on as he handed me a bar, “it makes anybody happier!”
“Thank you,” I said as I took the chocolate bar and split it with Eleonora.
“It’s true that chocolate makes anybody happier,” she sad joyfully, “I mean, as long as it’s not milk chocolate when you’re lactose intolerant.”

We both began laughing. How long had it been since I laughed? Since the war began? Six years? More than that? Eleonora and I both ate the delicious chocolate and licked our fingers afterwards. I also hadn’t seen any in years, and out on the streets it was a luxury very few people could have with the food shortages and the destruction left in the wake of all the bombings. A fortunate few had gotten rich off the black market but I’d already given up all of my remaining golden teeth that the Nazis had missed to buy Eleonora and I tickets to New York.

“You still have thirty seconds to change your mind about Palestine.” I said blankly as the last few passengers boarded the vessel.
“Look, Leopold, if you hate me that much we can part ways when we get to America.” Eleonora replied, equally blankly.
“What makes you think that I hate you?” I chuckled with chocolate still in my mouth, “I just want you to have a good life. You don’t owe me anything. I did what I did because I wanted to.”
“Me too.”

She scooted over to me and laid her head on my shoulder as the boat horn sounded announcing the departure. People waved at those still on land and everyone except me had a smile on their faces that stretched from ear to ear.

“I could’ve missed out on the camp but that also means that I would’ve had to miss out on you,” Eleonora spoke softly through the cheers echoing all over the vessel, “and I wouldn’t wanna miss you for the world.”

Posted in Everything Else

One More New Look

How do you like the new look of the blog? I’m really not good when it comes to web design but I think that this looks really great! 😀 I managed to delete all the widgets on the side when I switched themes (I have no idea how that happened) but thankfully I knew to always back up my stuff online because the internet is static and I’ve already lost much in the past.

In school I took graphic design (Photoshop, etc.) but web design was not part of that program. Thankfully WordPress has pre-made themes that are easy to customize even for someone like me who has to go by trial and error until it looks about right. I don’t know how my previous posts will look with this new theme now but I feel even more comfortable with this blog now with its new look and new name. I’m gonna have to update my Tumblr and Twitter pages in the near future and see how those turn out.


I’m not overly happy with my LiveJournal page though. I knew that the server had been moved to Russia (and we know what that government does) but I was really disappointed with how the community deteriorated since then compared to what it was like back when I was still in school. Now LGBT and political content violates the terms of use, and just the picture I posted above which I found on Tumblr would probably get me banned. If I lived in Russia it might even get me in legal trouble!

It’s crazy because here in Canada I’m so accustomed to being able to say, do and post almost whatever I want without fear of repercussion (aside from offending small-minded people) and now with LiveJournal’s new policies posting curse words is a violation. What the hell is the deal with internet censorship and freedom of speech?! That page was really just for me to dump my mental garbage that I didn’t want here but now I might seek to go elsewhere honestly. No, I’m not gonna delete the page but it may not be as great as I’d imagined it would be.

And I’m sure happy to live in the country that I do because I probably wouldn’t be able to survive in a place other than this. Now let’s go back to posting my regular stuff on here and seeing what else I can do with this new theme.


Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Personal & Opinion

Disclaimer On Religious Posts

If you ended up on this blog looking for religious advice or general information about Islam, please note that the content on here reflects only my personal opinion. I am not a sheikh or scholar or other Muslim intellectual of any kind who represents a specific school of thought and the ideas and interpretations here are solely my own, based on my own ijtihad and understanding.

One important thing to consider here is the social and cultural makeup of a person that will influence their beliefs & values, including their interpretation of Islam and their views on other important issues that we face throughout our lives. I was born in 1996 and raised here in Canada where I still reside to this day and this blog also reflects social customs and way of life that I am used to.

My faith is very much a work in progress and I’m fully aware that different aspects of it will evolve as I continue to walk with God. Faith isn’t just memorizing a book, it’s a daily effort, constant enlightenment and constantly figuring out how ancient scriptures are still relevant to modern society. I don’t want you to take my word for things, I want you to explore Islam (or your own faith) for yourself. My hope is that this blog will motivate you to think and discover what you truly stand for but also inspire you to make a positive difference in the world.

At times I will also link articles, webpages, books and more from external sources to support my point of view but that in no way means that I completely agree with all other material or viewpoints propagated by that individual or organization. I am not affiliated with any individual, group of organization of any kind nor do I endorse any.

Posted in Everything Else, News & Relevant Topics, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics

My LiveJournal Account

You know you’re old school if you remember the glory days of LiveJournal back when it ruled the internet, yep that was before Facebook and Twitter and all the new ones that come out periodically these days. I remember that site from school almost a decade ago, it was the only one that wasn’t blocked back then. When Google+ really took off that wasn’t blocked either and we ended up all migrating there but I decided to go back to basics and I joined LiveJournal today.

Why do I need a second blog? After all, I have this one and I also have Tumblr for blogging, but I’m seeking a more diary-type platform for certain things. This here was originally started as a social issues blog but it has turned into a jumbled up mix of just about everything and I have no intentions of changing that whatsoever, but there’s some stuff I just want separate. It’s not private, it’s out there for the world to read, even for the Russian government to spy on, but I want that mundane and depressing stuff away from this here. This here is passionate and political Meela, my LiveJournal will be deep dark inner thoughts Meela.

Real humanity presents a mixture of all that is most sublime and beautiful with all that is vilest and most monstrous in the world. ~Mikhail Bakunin

The two Meelas are perfectly complimentary, but I would feel more comfortable keeping them separate on the web. It’s more convenient and comfortable for me too. For now let’s see where it goes… I also need to get my ass to writing my About page for this blog… I’ve been on here almost a year now so I might as well get to it.

Posted in Everything Else, Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Islam & Cats (Part 3 of 3)

If the Prophet, his companions and Muslims since the beginning of Islam loved cats, it should come as no surprise that another group loves them too: yup, ISIS fighters. I absolutely detest what these people do to the entire human race, they are not the face of Islam and a true Muslim would never engage in acts of terrorism, this post isn’t about the condemnation of violence, it’s about the love of cats. So what the hell, terrorists love cats too. They even have a Twitter account about their love of cats too!


Contrary to terrorists and their epic failure when it comes to human rights, Islam both emphasizes human rights and animal rights. Even unclean animals like pigs are to be treated with kindness and in a humane way. Whether it’s a beloved cat or an unclean creature, Islam is irrefutably against animal cruelty in all forms and circumstances.


The Ancient Egyptians, Muslims and terrorists aren’t the only ones who are crazy about cats though. Japanese people have had a long relationship with cats. More than 1000 years ago, people in the upper class were already living with cats. Common people also started having pet cats at home several hundred years ago and Japanese people have been involved with cats in a variety of ways since then. There are shrines that worship cats as gods (sounds familiar?) across Japan and cats have also played a part in folk beliefs through the ages.

The extent to which Japanese people have been involved with cats is evident from the volume of artworks that depict cats as the main subject. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Ukiyoe virtuosos Hiroshige Utagawa and Kuniyoshi Utagawa painted cats, and in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the great novelist Soseki Natsume wrote the novel “I Am a Cat”, which became a famous masterpiece of Japanese literature. Even nowadays you can find examples, such as the famous character “Hello Kitty” the cute anthropomorphic cat, and “Krocchi” a stray cat character that has recently started to become popular. Cats have been loved by Japanese people through the ages.

Aoshima Island in Shikoku area is also known as a cat island. The catch-phrase of this island is “15 residents and 100 cats, the cat paradise”. They say that 10 years ago when the population of the island went below 50, the number of cats started to increase. The biggest appeal of Aoshima Island is that you can have an extremely close contact with cats. The island has recently become increasingly popular as a tourist spot, especially among cat lovers. Of course, you can also see cats in the city. In Yanaka, a cat town in Tokyo reasonably close to Ueno Park, you can see cats living freely in the city. If you get some spare time during your trip, why not experience a “Cat Café”? Cat Cafés are cafés where you can spend time playing with a variety of cats.


Look at a slideshow of Japan’s obsession with cats. In Islam it’s also believed that animals can hear the voices of those in the grave. Others go as far as saying that animals can also see spirits such as angels or jinn but this account is disputed. Considering they can hear the voices of the departed, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were in tune with other spiritual beings too considering that animals are often said to have that “sixth sense” that lets them in on things that we humans cannot see or perceive.


We can also agree that the entire internet is in love with cats. According to Wikipedia, the cultural love of cats has been around for more than 9500 years and has transcended all cultures and eras. In Catholicism, Saint Gertrude is said to be quite the cat lady. In light of the fact that Catholics believe that saints can intercede for them, this is a cute and funny little prayer to Saint Gertrude about cats:

St. Gertrude of Nivelles, ask you I pray
Safeguard my kitties this and each day.
Defend them from those who might wish them harm.
Keep them at home safe from danger and storm.
Instill in me wisdom to care for them well.
Pray, fill me with strength never to yell.
And Gertrude, a last thing I beseech from thee,
Protect my sofa from claws and my carpets from pee.


Some modern day famous internet cats include, among many others, Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat, but also the beloved animated Pusheen. I have four Pusheen plush toys with me in my bed, a classic grey one, a white one, a black one and a pink one. AliExpress will show you in a rainbow of other colors too. It’s obvious that no matter who you are or which religion or culture you’re a part of, cats are sweet and adorable little creatures that unite us in love (heck, even the terrorists have a soft spot for them) and joy for God’s beautiful creation and a faithful companion. I know from personal experience that sharing your house with a cat is a great blessing.

I hope that you have all enjoyed my mini series on cats not only in Islam, but in cultures around the globe and through the ages. Please do share your love of cats and your stories of sharing your life with them! 🙂