Q&A: More Than One God in Islam?

The Question

A reader asks – In Islam the name of God is The God or Al Ilah. Does this mean there are many Gods and He is The God?

The Answer

As Salaam Alaikum and thank you for your question.

This is a common question arising from a lack of knowledge of Arabic. The name of God in Islam is Allah – one word; and not Al Illah – two words. Allah is the Divine Being’s personal name and it is not a combination of the definite article Al (meaning The) and Illah (meaning God). Let me explain;

Arabic alphabet is divided into sun letters and moon letters. This refers to a rule of how to pronounce words that follow the definite article Al or the.

Moon is called qamar in Arabic. So all the letters, which follow the same rule of pronunciation as Al Qamar, are called moon letters. This rule says that if the word that follows Al starts with a ‘moon’ letter then the letter ‘l’ in Al is pronounced in full. So ‘the moon’ will be read out as Al qamar. Thus, Al Qamar is pronounced as it is written here.

The word for the sun is Shams. So all the letters, which follow the same rule of pronunciation as Al Shams, are called sun letters. In this case, the sun is written Al Shams but pronounced Ash shams i.e. the letter l of Al is not pronounced, A of Al joins the s (sheen) of shams but it is pronounced twice – so we have Ash shams.

Let us now apply this rule to the word Allah to decide whether it is Allah or Al illah. If separated into two words, we find illah starts with a moon letter. This means it should be pronounced as Al Illah with Al being pronounced in full and not Allah. This shows that Allah is a word in its own right and not a combination of two words.

Q&A: Praying for Non-Muslims

Does Islam allow Muslims to pray for non-Muslims who have died?

A reader recently emailed us the above question as he wants to perform funeral prayers for a close non-Muslim friend who has passed away.
There are three aspects to this;

  • Ritual funeral rites as performed for a Muslim.
  • General Supplication and
  • Condolences and sympathy being shown to the family of the deceased and respect for the deceased’s body.

The general view of Muslims who are not Lahore-Ahmadis is that a Muslim is not permitted to offer condolences to the family of the deceased and offer them sympathy let alone supplication or ritual prayer. Continue reading

Q&A: Wives must obey their husbands without question?

Is it true that in Islam wives must obey their husbands without question?

It is correct that this is the traditional interpretation put forward but in our view this is not what the Holy Quran says. This is a misinterpretation by our non-Ahmadi brothers of a part of verse 34 of chapter 4 of the Holy Quran.

Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali has translated this verse as:

“. . . So, the good women are obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded.”

Imam Ibn-I Kathir, a classical interpreter of the Holy Quran and a jurist, wrote a commentary of the Holy Quran. The translator of the commentary also added a translation of the verses of the Holy Quran to it. He too gives the same translation (Tafsir Ibn-I Kabir, volume 1, page 590) as Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali. However, the Imam gives a long footnote at this point in which he says wives must obey their husbands without question.

Maulana Maudoodi another, more recent commentator of the Holy Quran says at this point (vol 1, page 349):

“In hadith it is said that the Holy Prophet (s) said: ‘The best wife is the one who, when you see her, pleases you, when you command her she obeys you, and when you not at home, she guards your property and her chastity.’ ”

However, he goes on to say that the wife is only obliged to obey lawful commands.

I go further than this because the whole of this verse is addressed to men and not to women. In an earlier part Allah tells men that they are responsible for maintaining the household and bearing its expenses as well as supporting their wives with all the qualities Allah has given them.

It then says that good wives are obedient to Allah in that they obey Him and guard their chastity. So, the husband must not expect the wife to obey him unconditionally because obedience of Allah comes first. In fact, in my view this verse is actually telling the exact opposite of the classical interpretation.

The Holy Quran tells Muslims:

“And those who respond to their Lord and keep up prayer, and whose affairs are (decided) by counsel among themselves, and who spend out of what We have given them;” (42:38)

This is a general command to everyone in the Muslim community, whether it is the whole community or husband and wife. It has to be remembered that Islam treats the family as an organization unit, which has to have management and an allocation of duties. In an organization, each individual has a specified role and duties assigned in accordance with that role. And each organization has a person who makes the final decision if an agreement is not forthcoming. Without this the organization cannot and does not function. This does not mean that this person is superior human being to others in the organization. For example, is the headmaster a superior human to the teachers in his school? is a supervisor or foreman a superior human to workers? The answer, of course, is no.

What the Holy Prophet (s) is saying in the hadith quoted above is that if a man and wife cannot agree on a certain matter, then as the husband is the final decision maker she should accept his decision. It does not say that wives should obey their husbands without question.

Q&A: husbands are superior to wives?

Is it true that in Islam husbands are superior to wives?

An email from a reader

We were recently sent an email by ‘Lee’ who asked the above question of us and wanted a detailed response to help him educate people who argue that Islam treats women as second class citizens.

Well Lee this misunderstanding has arisen because of mistranslation and misinterpretation by our non-Ahmadi brothers of verse 34 of the chapter 4 of the Holy Quran. The word in 4:34 whose translation has given rise to misunder-standing is qaw-wa-mina in the original text. Here are two examples of the non-Ahmadi translation of this verse:

Men are the managers (qaw-wa-min) of the affairs of women because Allah made the one superior to the other . . .” (The meaning of the Holy Quran by Syed Abul A La Maududi, vol. 1, page 117)

And

Men are protectors and maintainers (qaw-wa-min) of women because Allah has given one more (strength) than the other . . .” (The Holy Quran English translation of the meanings and Commentary distributed by IFTA, Saudi Arabia, page 219)

Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali has translated this verse as:

Men are the maintainers of women, with what Allah has made some of them to excel others and with what they spend out of their wealth. (4:34)

Arabic language is based on roots and adding extra letters to the 3 or, in rare cases, 4-letter root, makes new words. So to determine what a word means in a particular context we have to look at all the derivatives of the root and consider which is more suitable. In the same chapter at verse 5 a slightly different word, qiyam, from the same root as qaw-wa-min is used.

Maulana Maududi translates qiyam as:

“ . . . property which Allah has made the means of your maintenance (qiyam) . . .” (ibid, page 91)

The English translation distributed by the Saudi Government, referred to above, does not translate the word qiyam at all.

Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali has translated this verse is translated as “…your property…a support (qiyam) for you…”

The conclusion therefore is that here men are being put under an extra obligation – that they are to support the household whereas wives are under no obligation financially to maintain the household. And the word “excel” should be taken to mean an extra duty men have to bear. I would suggest that the word support has a broader meaning, which includes emotional support, helping with children etc. I base this on the interpretation that property protects us from cold winters, hot summers as well as rain and snow. It allows us to rest and be safe. In the same way the husband should protect his wife and create a home where she feels at peace and secure from problems of life.

Q&A: Islam spread by force?

Recently on one of our Youtube channel videos a person posted a comment claiming that early Islam was spread through violence and was not a peaceful religion. This led to us receiving a few emails asking us to answer this allegation.

Therefore today, in our special Q&A section, we shall be answering the following question;

Did the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) take over Arabia by force?

To read the answer Continue reading

[Q&A] If Jihad always meant struggle

If jihad has always meant to struggle and Muslim scholars have always said this in what way did Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad carry out a reform?

The point to remember is that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad carried out a great number of reforms and the clarification of the concept of jihad was only one of them. For example, when Hazrat Mirza sahib appeared Muslims had lost all hope and blamed Islam for their backwardness. It was Hazrat Mirza sahib great achievement that he infused in their hearts the confidence the Islam shall prevail though it will be by force its arguments and not by force of arms. So much so that Hazrat Khwaja Kamal ud Din came to the UK just after the First World War and set up a mission to propagate Islam in London. Our Sunni friends laughed at him and called him mad for dreaming that he could get the British who ruled most of the earth at the time to embrace Islam. Continue reading

[Q&A] Is Smoking forbidden in Islam

A reader emailed in asking us:

I see lots of Muslims on a daily basis who smoke, and smoke a lot! They tell me that smoking is merely disapproved of but not forbidden in Islam. This makes no sense to me at all. So is smoking forbidden or does the Allah turn a blind eye to it?

Click on read more for the answer. Continue reading