Connect with us


From Mr. Darcy to Edward Cullen: The Dilemma of Literature in our Times

Parental Discretion advised. Explicit content in article, not suitable for all ages.

Recall Jane Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice: the picture-perfect scenery of Longbourn, and the inculpable longings of young girls wanting to be spotted by a suitable betroth, not to start premarital relations, but to be proposed to for marriage. Whether one was born in the ’70s or the ’90s, almost everyone remembers Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in a love story set in 1800s, but still popular even today. And even if one has any “religious” objections to the book, one can’t deny that the novel remains a morally refined piece of writing.

I must confess that I was one of those young girls who fantasized about the intelligent and confident Elizabeth, and the gentleman Mr. Darcy, whose confidence was often misunderstood for haughtiness. I had my fair share of “Awww moments”, especially whenever Mr. Darcy made an effort to engage in a conversation with Elizabeth. However, throughout the book, the author never mentions any sensual immorality, nor does she make even a remote effort to insert physical contact between the characters who fall in love with each other. In fact, in many instances, even the details of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s communications are not mentioned, ostensibly so as not to corrupt a young reader’s mind.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Now let’s fast forward to the present time and take a look at one of the most popular love stories of our era, the Twilight Saga. Not long ago, I remember not giving my daughter permission to read the book. But as we all know, when you stop a kid from doing something, it only makes them want to do it more! So, she started reading it secretly, but soon felt the urge to confess after reading a few pages.  Alhamdulillah, for the fact that she cannot keep secrets from me. As a reward for her owning up to it, I rewarded her by giving her permission to read the book online, based on my awareness of the book as just a vampire story. Normally, I would read the book myself first or ask trustworthy sources about it, however, due to some other pressing matters, I didn’t do my homework in this case.

When the next book in the Twilight Saga called Full Moon hit the bookstores, I skimmed through it first. And I didn’t have to go beyond the second chapter, before I realized my mistake of allowing my daughter to read the first book. And alhamdulillah that she stopped at that.

Allow me to explain what I mean in the words of a young Muslim girl (college freshman), who described the series in the following sentence,

Twilight series is nothing more than sex and sexual interaction between a human and a vampire!

Before I proceed, let me bring the readers’ attention to the fact that once most girls reach around 10 years of age, their feelings towards the opposite gender start changing noticeably. Boys start becoming less gross, and so does their “ickiness” factor. Suddenly boys appear cuter and nicer. Similar feelings emerge in boys as well about girls, but at a later age than girls.

These emotions are inevitable and quite natural. It would be almost abnormal to not develop any liking for the opposite gender; if not in preteen years, then definitely in teenage years. I’ve been through it, my friends have been through it, many young teens that confide in me have been through it (or are going through it now). Parents who think that their children don’t go through such a phase need to pull their heads out of the sand.

So, as a tangent, some points of benefit:

  1. Know that your child will go through this stage.
  2. Build a very friendly and trusting relationship with your child BEFORE they get to this stage (I discussed this in more details in parenting articles that will be published soon insha’Allah).
  3. Minimize and control the factors that will lead innocent crushes to the next step
  4. Let them breathe: allow room for mistakes. After all, remember, your kids are still humans.

Let’s get acquainted with the fact that occasional adoring of the opposite gender, also known as a “crush/puppy love”, is not wrong in itself, but to let the liking loose and to dwell in those thoughts may lead to questionable feelings or even actions. It is given that forbidding our youngsters from having crushes will only lead them to hide their true feelings from their parents; it is far wiser that parents focus on minimizing a simple innocent crush from progressing to the next step, rather than trying to suppress a natural feeling.

There are a number of factors that contribute toward developing, encouraging, and even accommodating a crush to the next step. Let’s not overlook that other than the weakness of our own nafs and giving into the waswas (whispers) from shaytan, our environment and society equally, if not more, contribute towards our culpable actions.

Within this environment, are the books and the literature that revolve around gender interaction, those that explicitly describe the development of a crush, provocation to take it to the next step, seed in ideas of how it can be done, and finally instigate the young minds to indulge more physically with the opposite gender, describing the details of physical relations between couples!

It is quite distressing to know that many parents do not filter the books that their children read, and undermine the potentially dangerous impact of literature on young growing minds. We are no longer living in the times of literature like Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility. Unfortunately, in our times, teenage-targeted books are becoming an outlet for “soft-porn” literature. A prime example is the following passage from the New Moon:

Edward seemed perfectly content to hold me in his arms, his fingers tracing my face again and again. I touched his face, too. I couldn’t stop myself; though I was afraid it would hurt me later, when I was alone again. He continued to kiss my hair, my forehead, my wrists…but never my lips, and that was good.

He caught my hand securely between his iron hands, ignoring my struggles when I tried to turn my head away. “Please don’t,” I whispered. He stopped, his lips just half an inch from mine. “Why not?” He demanded. His breath blew into my face, making my head whirl. [After a confession of loving her forever and ever]…

His mouth was on mine then, and I couldn’t fight him. Not because he was so many thousand times stronger than me, but because my will crumbled into dust the second our lips met. This kiss was not quite as careful as others I remembered, which suited me just fine. If I was going to rip myself up further, I might as well get as much in trade as possible. So I kissed him back, my heart pounding out a jagged, disjointed rhythm while my breathing turned to panting and my fingers moved greedily to his face. I could feel his marble body against every line of mine, and I was so glad he hadn’t listened to me—there was no pain in this world that would have justified missing this. His hands memorized my face, the same way mine were tracing his, and, in the brief seconds when his lips were free, he whispered my name.

When I was starting to get dizzy, he pulled away, only to lay his ear against my heart. I lay there, dazed, waiting for my gasping to slow and quiet. (New Moon, p. 511-12)

I cannot quote all the similar passages from the twilight book series, because there are many. Suffice to say, this series is full of erotic interaction between Bella and Edward with the side theme of the war of vampires. What will happen when a young girl is exposed to such sensual text? Will it not entice her sexual emotions, arouse her carnal desires challenging her with the fitan of the opposite gender? If a married woman reads such content, at least she has an outlet to satisfy her desires; but what will happen to a young girl who is already challenged with hormonal changes, who has no husband but unfortunately, has many outlets in the lewd society of our times to give in and experience what she reads?

I had once discouraged one of the mothers from allowing her daughter, 13, to read this series. Although, the mother had provided a strong Islamic upbringing for her daughter, unfortunately, she didn’t see eye to eye with me on this issue. Later, her daughter developed an internet relationship with a non-Muslim boy (who I believe was really a much older pedophile). She communicated in a way that no Muslim parent would want for their daughter or son. To make the long story short, when I spoke to the girl, she especially emphasized the dangers of reading books like the Twilight series and how it is different from watching a movie with indecent scenes. In her own words,

When you see such things, you only see what is playing on the screen, but when you read about such sensual engaging, you are free to imagine however you want to imagine it. When you watch a kissing scene or something like that, you don’t know the feelings, but the books go into describing the change of emotions and the feelings of the girl when a boy looks at her, tries to touch her, or holds her hand, or when he grabs her to kiss her; you can read how she feels and what goes through her mind, and then you want to experience those feelings!

Yet another college student wasn’t very pleased when her mother allowed her younger sister, 11, to read the series. She read her sister’s diary, and was telling me the changes it caused in her sister’s way of perceiving the boys. She said,

Once she started reading Twilight, all of a sudden her baby crushes changed from, “I think he is cute” to “I wonder how his lips would feel!”

I cannot describe the sadness I feel when I find our young tweens and preteens facing such situations while their parents are totally negligent of the dangers of such literature. My article maybe too late for many parents, but I’m sure there are many who may still benefit from this warning, insha’Allah.

At the same time, I do realize that it is not so easy to stop teenagers from doing what they want to, especially when there is a lot of peer pressure. This book is perhaps one of the most popular reads in our time, and anyone who hasn’t read it, remains “so out of it”. So how can parents convince their daughters not to read such novels? How can parents highlight to their kids the dangers of such literature that they can foresee? Many parents may forbid their children from reading the series, but how can they ensure that their children will not read it secretly?

My advice to the parents is to:

  1. Know and embrace your role as a parent.
  2. Develop a VERY friendly relationship with your children from an early age.
  3. Monitor their activities.
  4. Communicate. I am very liberal when it comes to the topics of communication between a mother and her children. And I firmly believe that a mother’s relationship with her child should be of the nature that even if a child has a crush, he/she should be able to share it with his/her mother.
  5. Be wise. The mother’s role is to know her child inside out and to provide guidance and help to steer their thoughts in a positive direction without getting on their nerves or sounding like a dictator (which is the harder part and I am still learning!).
  6. Be firm. As much as I encourage giving space to the children, I equally advise holding firmly to the reigns.
  7. Be a step ahead of your child.
  8. Be patient and make du’a.

Lastly, when banning certain books or movies, make sure:

  1. Talk to your children and layout the reasons why you want to ban the book.
  2. Give them space to refute, listen to them and re-emphasize your points of objection.
  3. Acknowledging to them that staying away from books/movies that are popular amongst their friends is not an easy task and requires a lot of courage, and you believe in their courage and strength.
  4. Appreciate them for obeying you.
  5. Be proud of them and show it both in words and actions.
  6. Reward them.
  7. Replace it with other books or activities. Consider the “classics” section of the library.
  8. Make du’a for them in front of them and especially behind them.
  9. Be prepared for slips. Even after taking all your precautions and adopting the best parenting techniques, know that you are not raising angels and they will, once in a while, give in to their temptations. As long as they are remorseful, do not be heartbroken and do not give up on your children.

Nevertheless, the struggles of the parenting continue. As much as I feel for our children, I do not have many alternatives to Twilight to offer them. How I wish we had more literature available with high morals yet in correspondence to our natural feelings, like we once had in the past.

Let me end this, with a beautiful quote from Pride and Prejudice, when Mary, merely a teenager, learns a lesson from the mistake of her younger sister’s elopement and reminds her other sisters:

“…that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable — that one false step involves her in endless ruin — that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful, — and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.”

May Allah azza wa jal help us all raise salih, strong, and pious children. Amin.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Saba Syed (aka Umm Reem) is the author of International award winning novel, "An Acquaintance."Saba has a BA degree in Islamic Studies. She studied Arabic Language & Literature at Qatar University and at Cairo Institute in Egypt. She also received her Ijaazah in Quranic Hafs recitation in Egypt from Shaikh Muhammad al-Hamazawi.She had been actively involved with Islamic community since 1995 through her MSA, and then as a founding member of TDC, and other community organizations. in 2002, she organized and hosted the very first "Musim Women's Conference" in Houston, TX. Since then, she's been passionately working towards empowering Muslim women through the correct and untainted teachings of Islam.She is a pastoral counselor for marriage & family, women and youth issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities all over U.S and overseas, also hosted special workshops regarding parenting, Islamic sex-ed, female sexuality, and marital intimacy.



                                                                • Pingback: Fifty Shades of Grey: What Young Muslim Women Looking for Love Need to Know |

                                                                • Pingback: FIFTY SHADES OF GREY: WHAT MUSLIM TEENS NEED TO KNOW

                                                                Leave a Reply

                                                                Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

                                                                Gender Relations

                                                                Loving Muslim Marriage Episode 10#: Do Angels Curse the Wife Who Refuses Sex?

                                                                It is often heard that the Prophet said that if a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses him, that the angels will curse her until the morning. There are a lot of ways that people understand this, but what is the right way of understanding this Hadith?

                                                                Join us with Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jandga to talk about this commonly mistranslated, misunderstood narration.

                                                                Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

                                                                MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

                                                                The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

                                                                Continue Reading


                                                                Torment And Tears: The Emotional Experience of Tawbah

                                                                Have you ever had that moment where, all of a sudden, you remember something that you said or did in the past, the severity of which you only realized later on?

                                                                That sharp inhalation, shortness of breath, the flush of humiliation, the sick lurching in the pit of your stomach as you recall hurtful words, or an action that was so clearly displeasing to Allah… it is a very physical reaction, a recoiling from your own past deeds.

                                                                It may not even be the first time you think about those actions, it may not even be the first time to make istighfaar because of them… but sometimes, it may be the first time that you really and truly feel absolutely sickened at the realization of the gravity of it all. It might not even have been a ‘big deal’ – perhaps it was a cruel joke to a sensitive friend, or not having fulfilled a promise that was important to someone, or betraying a secret that you didn’t think was all that serious.

                                                                Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

                                                                MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

                                                                The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

                                                                And yet… and yet, at this moment, your memory of that action is stark and gut-wrenching.

                                                                It is a deeply unpleasant feeling.

                                                                It is also a very necessary one.

                                                                The Act of Tawbah

                                                                Tawbah – seeking forgiveness from Allah – is something that we speak about, especially in Ramadan, the month of forgiveness. However, it is also something that we tend to speak about in general terms, or write off as something simple – “Just say astaghfirAllah and don’t do it again.”

                                                                In truth, tawbah is about much more than muttering istighfaar under your breath. It is a process, an emotional experience, one that engages your memory, your soul, and your entire body.

                                                                The first step of tawbah is to recognize the sin – whether seemingly small or severe – and to understand just how wrong it was. Each and every one of our deeds is written in our book of deeds; each and every deed will be presented to us on the Day of Judgment for us to be held accountable for. There are times when we say things so casually that it doesn’t even register to us how we could be affecting the person we’ve spoken to.

                                                                As RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once told A’ishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her),

                                                                “You have said a word which would change the sea (i.e. poison or contaminate it) if it were mixed in it.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

                                                                The second step is to feel true remorse. It’s not enough to rationally acknowledge that action as being sinful; one must feel guilt, remorse, and grief over having committed it.

                                                                Tawbah is to feel that sucker-punch of humiliation and guilt as we recall our sins: not just the mildly awkward ones, like a petty fib or mild infraction, but the genuinely terrible parts of ourselves… ugly lies, vicious jealousy, violations against others’ rights, abuse.

                                                                Some of us may be actual criminals – others of us may seem presentable on the outside, even religious, maybe even spiritual… and yet have violated others in terrible ways. Abuse comes in so many forms, and some of us are perpetrators, not just victims.

                                                                Facing that reality can be a gruesome process. 

                                                                It is a necessary process. Token words, glib recitation of spiritual formulae, those do not constitute tawbah in its entirety. Rather, it is a matter of owning up to our violations, experiencing genuine emotion over them – true humiliation, true regret – and striving not to be that person ever again. 

                                                                Much as we hate to admit it, we have our own fair share of red flags that we create and wave, even before we get into the nasty business of committing the worst of our sins. Tawbah isn’t just feeling bad for those Big Sins – it’s to recognize what led us to them to begin with.

                                                                It requires us to acknowledge our own flaws of character, of the ease with which we fall into certain behaviours, the way we justify the pursuit of our desires, the blindness we have to the worst parts of ourselves. Tawbah is to sit down and face all of it – and then to beg Allah, over and over, not just to forgive us and erase those specific actions, but to change us for the better. 

                                                                This experience is so much more powerful than a mere “I’m sorry,” or “omg, that was awful”; it is an act that embodies our submission to Allah because it requires us to make ourselves incredibly emotionally vulnerable, and in that moment, to experience a deep pain and acknowledge our wrongdoing. It is to hold your heart out to Allah and to beg Him, with every fiber of your being, with tears in your eyes, with a lump in your throat, wracked with regret, to please, please, please forgive you – because without it, without His Mercy and His Forgiveness and His Gentleness and His Love towards us, we have no hope and we will be utterly destroyed.

                                                                Surah Araf Verse 23

                                                                {Rabbanaa thalamnaa anfusanaa, wa illam taghfir lanaa wa tar’hamnaa, lanakunanna mina’l Khaasireen!}

                                                                {Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers!} (Qur’an 7:23)

                                                                This experience of tawbah is powerful, emotional, and heartbreaking. It is meant to be. It is a reminder to us of how truly dependent we are upon our Lord and our Creator, how nothing else in our lives can give us joy or a sense of peace if He is displeased with us. It is a reminder to us of how deeply we crave His Love, of how desperately we need it, of how His Pleasure is the ultimate goal of our existence.

                                                                Finally, there is the step of resolving never to commit that sin again, to redress the wrongs if possible, and to follow up the bad deed with a good one.

                                                                The vow is one we make to ourselves, asking Allah’s help to uphold it – because we are incapable of doing anything at all without His Permission; the righting of wrongs is what we do to correct our transgression against others’ rights over us, although there are times when we may well be unable to seek another individual’s forgiveness, whether because of distance, death, or otherwise; and the good deeds to undertake as penance are numerous, whether they be sadaqah or increased ‘ebaadah.

                                                                But it doesn’t end there. And it never will.

                                                                Tawbah is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is not even a once-a-year event, or once a month, or once a week. It is meant to be a daily experience, a repeated occurrence, in the earliest hours of the morning, in the depths of the last third of the night, during your lunch break or your daily commute or in the middle of a social gathering.

                                                                Tawbah is a lifelong journey, for who amongst us doesn’t commit mistakes and errors every day?

                                                                All we can do is beg of Allah not only for His Forgiveness, but also: {Allahumma ij’alnaa min at-tawwaabeen.} – O Allah, make us amongst those who are constantly engaging in repentance!

                                                                Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

                                                                MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

                                                                The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

                                                                Continue Reading


                                                                Moonsighting Gone Wrong, Again.

                                                                Moonsighting is just not working out.

                                                                Atleast not for our community here in the Toronto area. As I speak to my friends in other large (read: fragmented) communities, such as those in the UK, I hear similar tales of confusion, anxiety and horror. The problem in these communities stems from the fact that there are numerous moonsighting organizations in the same area, all following different methodologies for declaring Eid and Ramadan. This naturally results in a catastrophe and Muslims from the same family living in the same city are forced to celebrate the holidays on different days.

                                                                To give you a taste of how (and why) things went wrong in this year’s Ramadan declaration, here’s a summary highlighting the series of events as they unfolded. (Reminder: Ramadan was expected to start on Friday, April 24th or Saturday, April 25th 2020 in North America)

                                                                • Wednesday, April 22, 10: 13 pm EST: Crescent Council of Canada (CC) declares Ramadan to start on Friday, 24th April based on the fact that it received no reports of moonsighting sighting on Wednesday night. This committee follows global moonsighting and it declared Ramadan so early because it was already the 29th of Shaban based on the lunar calendar it follows (for most of North America, the 29th of Shaban was to be on Thursday). So, starting Ramadan on Saturday was simply not an option for the group (as it would have meant observing 31 days of Shaban). Also to note is that this group gives precedence to official declarations from authorities from Muslim-majority countries, even if these declarations conflict predictions of visibility charts and astronomical calculations. It argues that testimony of witnesses takes precedence in the sharia over astronomical data.
                                                                • Thursday, April 23rd, 7:27 pm EST : The Hilal Council of Canada (HC), another committee in the area that follows global sighting, states that there has not been any sighting of the moon in any country, including South and Central America (it is past sunset in most of the Muslim world by now). The committee decides that it will wait till sundown in California to receive the final reports before making a declaration. Confusion starts spreading in the community as one organization has already declared Ramadan while another claims no one in the Muslim world saw the moon. Note that HC does not accept moonsighting reports if they contradict astronomical data.
                                                                • 8:39 pm: Confusion continues. The CC claims that Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia, Turkey and a host of Muslim countries have declared Ramadan. The committee thus feels validated in its original declaration which it made on Wednesday night.
                                                                • 8:48 pm: More confusion: California-based also claims that moonsighting reports from the Middle-East and Africa are all negative. People naturally start wondering how so many countries supposedly declared Ramadan if there were no positive sightings.
                                                                • 9:40 pm: The Hilal Committee of Toronto and Vicinity, the oldest moonsighting group in the city, declares Ramadan to start on Saturday the 25th of April. Since the committee did not receive any positive reports by sunset from areas in its jurisdiction, it declared Ramadan to commence on Saturday. This committee follows local moonsighting and doesn’t rely on reports from the Muslim-world. Two of the three major moonsighting groups in the city have declared Ramadan on different days at this time. Residents are confused whether to fast the next day or pray tarweeh as its almost Isha time.
                                                                • 11:11 pm: The HC finally declares Ramadan to start the next day, i.e. Friday, based on confirmed reports from California. Mosques following the HC advice to pray tarawih – an hour after Isha time had already entered. After an anxiety filled and frustrating evening, residents finally know the positions of the various moonsighting groups in the city. Now they just have to decide which one to follow!
                                                                Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

                                                                MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

                                                                The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

                                                                This baffling circus of contradictory declarations is nothing new; it has become a yearly occurrence. Last year we saw the exact same series of events unfold and the same confusion spread throughout the community; it is entirely expected that the same will happen again in future years.

                                                                Our leadership has decided that it is acceptable to put the average Muslim through this nerve-racking experience every year. For Eid declarations, the experience is far worse as thousands are often waiting till midnight to decide whether to go work the next day or send their children to school. The stress and anxiety this decision causes for the average person year after year is simply unacceptable.

                                                                Popular advice in these situations has been to ‘follow your local masjid’. However, this idea is impractical for large communities where there are numerous local mosques, all following various opinions. It is also impractical for the thousands who simply don’t frequent the mosque and are not tied to a particular organization. The layperson just wants to know the dates for Ramadan and Eid; it is an undue burden on them to research the strength of various legal opinions just to know when to celebrate a religious holiday with their families.

                                                                Only one way forward: astronomical calculations

                                                                There have been numerous sincere attempts to solve these long-standing problems associated with moonsighting over the past 50 years – all have failed. I have documented in detail these attempts, the reasons for their failure and argued for the only viable solution to this problem: astronomical calculations.

                                                                Since its introduction in 2006, Fiqh Council of North America’s calculations-based lunar calendar has proven to be the definitive solution for communities struggling to resolve the yearly moonsighting debacle. An example of such a resolution is the 2015 agreement by some of the leading mosques in the Chicago area who put aside their differences and united behind FCNA’s calendar. This approach has brought ease and facilitation for the religious practice of thousands of Muslims in that community.

                                                                While the use of calculations has been a minority position in Islam’s legal history, it has a sound basis in the shariah [1] and has been supported by towering figures of the past such as Imam Zakariya al-Ansari and Imam Ramli. Given the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in now, it is incumbent on scholars of today to revisit this position as a means of providing much needed relief to the masses from this lunar quagmire.


                                                                [1]  From SeekersGuidance: Scholars upholding this can be traced all the way back to the first Islamic century. The textual basis for this opinion is the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari, “When you see it [the new moon of Ramadan] then fast; and when you see it [the new moon of Shawwal], then break the fast. If it is hidden from you (ghumma ‘alaykum) [i.e. if the sky is overcast] then estimate it (fa-qdiru lahu);” (al-Bukhari, hadith no. 1900). The last verb, fa-qdiru, can be validly understood to mean calculation. Of the scholars who held this, are Abu al-‘Abbas b. Surayj (d. 306/918), one of the leading founders of the classical Shafi‘i school, the Shafi‘i scholar and renowned mystic Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri (d. 465/1072), the leading Shafi‘i judge Taqi al-Din al-Subki (d. 756/1355), the Shafi‘i legal theorist al-Zarkashi (d. 794/1392), the renowned Maliki legal theorist al-Qarafi (d. 684/1285), and some Hanafi scholars. The late Shafi‘i commentator al-Qalyubi (d. 1069/1659) held that all sighting-claims must be rejected if calculations show that a sighting was impossible, stating, “This is manifestly obvious. In such a case, a person may not fast. Opposing this is obstinacy and stubbornness.” See al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, pp. 31-4. The leading scholar of the late Shāfi‘ī school Muhammad al-Ramli (d. 1004/1596) held that the expert astronomer was obliged to follow his own calculation as was the non-astronomer who believed him; this position has been used by some contemporary Shafi’i scholars to state that in the modern world, with its precise calculations, the strongest opinion of the Shafi’i school should be that everyone must follow calculations; see ‘Umar b. al-Habib al-Husayni, Fath al-‘ali fi jam‘ al-khilaf bayna Ibn Hajar wa-Ibn al-Ramli, ed. Shifa’ Hitu (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj, 2010), pp. 819-22. See also the fatwa of the Hanafi scholar Dr Salah Abu al-Hajj (معنى-حديث-لا-تصوموا-حتى-تروا-الهلال-ول) last accessed 9/5/2016) which states, after arguing against relying on calculations, “However, the position of [following] calculations is the position of a considerable group of jurists, so it is a respected disagreement in Islamic law, whereby, if a state were to adopt it, it is not rejected, because the judgment of a judge removes disagreement, and the adoption of a state is [as] the judgment of a judge.

                                                                Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

                                                                MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

                                                                The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

                                                                Continue Reading

                                                                MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

                                                                Sign up below to get started