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The Haramness Of The Way Asia Bibi Was Treated In The Name of Islam

News of the dismissal of Asia Noreen Bibi’s case (a Christian woman accused of blasphemy and imprisoned for almost a decade) in Pakistan has erupted on TV screens and social media feeds. The more I read about the case and watch the hysteria unfolding in the name of preserving the sanctity of the Prophet, the more embarrassed I feel and frustrated with the misuse of Islamic doctrine. Obviously, this is not the first time nor the last when actions are being done in the name of Islam, but these actions have nothing to do with Islam.

Asia Noreen Bibi is a Christian woman, who lived in a small village in Pakistan; she was from one of the only three Christian families in the village. One day she accompanied her co-workers to a nearby farm for extra work.  As she fetched berries under the scorching sun, she wanted nothing more than a few sips of cold water. She walked up to the well in the farm, and as she drank some water in a metal-glass, another woman, Musarat, angrily told her that it was forbidden for a Christian to drink water from the same utensil from which Muslims drink and that some of the co-workers considered her to be unclean because she was a Christian.

Even though a lot of Asia Noreen’s story is “he said – she said”, I do believe this part of the story because I’ve heard this notion many times before. Muslims in Pakistan have asked me if they were allowed to share utensils with non-Muslims. This question often arises among the laborers, and most often amongst the affluent families who have Christian housemaids. 

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I was once visiting my in-laws in Lahore when a lady who offered on-call beauty salon services came over. She was Christian. While she was doing my pedicure, I started talking to her about her life as a minority in Pakistan. I could relate to some of the emotions and incidents she shared, because I grew up as a minority in the U.S. At the same time, there were some incidents she recalled that were completely ridiculous and I thanked God that I never had to go through them, like some “well-educated” women refusing to eat or drink from utensils that this woman had touched, because she didn’t share the same faith.

There’s a misconstrued belief among some people in Muslim majority countries that people of other faiths are “impure”, so much so that their touch can impurify our food and drink. This belief is obviously wrong.1 Much of this is class related discrimination, as the same people would have no issue serving dignitaries and CEOs (who are Christian) in their prized gold-plated crockery, in fact, it would be a matter of pride. They would also have no issues visiting non-Muslim countries and eating at restaurants and hotels. 

Going back to Asia Noreen’s story, an argument broke out among the working women in the field. Again, the story has a lot “he said – she said” but one thing is clear that it was the Muslim woman who raised the issue of Asia contaminating the water by drinking from it simply because she was a “filthy Christian.”

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The argument was prolonged when Asia also insulted her co-worker Musarat’s faith which happens to be my faith too. However, I find my sentiments more sympathetic and align with Asia than Musarat and her co. Is it strange that I applaud Asia for speaking up and defending herself?

Although I don’t agree with Asia’s statement at all, the more important question right now is, was her “reaction” wrong? Was she to be blamed for becoming angry and insulting Islam or the Prophet in response to the Muslim women insulting her faith and her Prophet?

I’ve tried to evaluate the situation by putting myself in her shoe. What if I was in the U.S surrounded by a group of Christians and I was criticized for taking a few sips of water in a scorching hot day and was called a “filthy Muslim”?

Had I have not known any better, I might have insulted Jesus too in “reaction”. But those Muslims who actually study the simple basics of Islam, know that we are not allowed to insult anyone else’s religion, no matter what.

What About Musarat’s Blasphemy: Isn’t Esa Our Prophet too?

In the case of Asia, it just happens so that her Prophet Jesus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), is my beloved Prophet too. So as I type this article, I’m wondering why isn’t Musarat on trial for insulting our Prophet Jesus (may God’s peace and blessings be upon him)?

This whole situation is wrong on so many levels. First of all, non-Muslims do not contaminate our water or food by touching it. Second, we are not allowed to put down other people’s religious beliefs. Third, a man was rewarded with Paradise for giving water to a thirsty dog– whose saliva can actually contaminate our utensils– and these women were more concerned about the religious beliefs of a thirsty woman– who was their coworker, and a neighbor– than her state of thirst on a hot summer day.

And most importantly, this Blasphemy Law of Pakistan is far from actual Islamic Law. Our Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), never punished anyone for insulting him neither did he ever instruct any of his companions to punish anyone who’d insulted our Prophet. This was not only the case when Muslims were the minority and were being persecuted, but it continued to be the case even after Muslims became stronger and gained political power.

In fact, in our religion, there is more emphasis on respect being earned than forcing it out of people. Non-Muslims, even the ones who opposed Prophet’s message, respected him for his good moral qualities. Islam emphasizes character building, earning respect through love and kindness rather than forcing it upon others through fear and authority. The woman who threw trash on Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to irritate him, later converted to Islam because of his kindness towards her when he went to visit her after she got sick.

If the love of Prophet truly resides in our hearts, then it would show more in following into his footsteps and carrying on his legacy by showing kindness to a thirsty woman rather than declaring the water “haram” because of her touching the utensils.

Truth be told, the Blasphemy Law is a misrepresentation of Islam because we are taught to leave those people alone who mock or insult our Creator or His Verses in Qur’an, hence insulting the Prophet would fall in the same lines.

“And when you (Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)) see those who engage in false conversation about Our Verses (of Qur’an) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic…” (6:68)

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is instructing the Prophet to walk away from people who are insulting Allah or the verses from Qur’an, not punish them by any means. In fact, he’s being told to join them back after they’ve changed the topic.

So where does the blasphemy law come into the picture?

According to the story, Asia supposedly insulted our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) after Musarat insulted Jesus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Aren’t we told not to insult other people’s religion or religious deities for the exact same reason, i.e. so as not to provoke the reaction from them!

“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge…” (6:108)

I am not an apologist but today I apologize from the bottom of my heart to Asia, her husband, her daughters and her family, and all the religious minorities living in “Muslim” countries on behalf of all the Muslims who are Muslims because they were born in Muslim families and have yet to learn their religion in its proper format. What Islam truly is and what it has become in the hands of Muslims can be two very opposing things at times.

Do I find it surprising that in some news outlets it has been reported that Musarat had some property disputes with Asia’s family in the past!

My religion has been long used and abused by people for their self-interest, be it political gain, power gain or personal gain. When nothing else works, then they use Islam to mobilize people’s sentiments to advocate their agenda and win the situation in their favor, whether its extremists using Islam for their political gain, or MBS calling Jamal Khashoggi an Islamic extremist to justify his brutal killing, or Musarat claiming to defend our Prophet by accusing Asia of insulting our Prophet.

It is also said that Musarat and other Muslim women asked Asia to convert to Islam to redeem herself. My sincere advice to Musarat and all those Pakistanis who are protesting against Asia being acquitted that they should be more worried about redeeming their own souls, and they should learn the basics of Islam and build Islamic character for their own salvation first.

 

1 Report from Abu Dawood (3839): “We live next to some of the People of the Book who cook pork in their vessels and drink wine in their vessels.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If you can find anything else, eat from them and drink from them, but if you cannot find anything else, then wash them with water and eat and drink.” Saheeh Abi Dawood.

The Prophet subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was invited to eat some barley bread and other food by a Jewish boy.  Narrated by Ahmad, in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 1/71.

The Prophet subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and his companions did wudoo’ from the leather water skin of a mushrik woman. Narrated by al-Bukhari, 337; Muslim, 682.

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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.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Umm

    November 10, 2018 at 5:21 AM

    I totally share the same sentiments on this issue. Racial discrimination in our communities is so common, we need to educate ourselves the basics of our faith, before reviling other faiths.

  2. Avatar

    A.Ahmed

    November 10, 2018 at 3:43 PM

    Do not state that Blasphemy laws are wrong all together, Islamic scholars have based them on strong sources of hadith. It is a part of Islamic law.

    Narrated Jabir bin `Abdullah:

    The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Who is ready to kill Ka`b bin Al-Ashraf who has really hurt Allah and His Apostle?” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Do you like me to kill him?” He replied in the affirmative. So, Muhammad bin Maslama went to him (i.e. Ka`b) and said, “This person (i.e. the Prophet) has put us to task and asked us for charity.” Ka`b replied, “By Allah, you will get tired of him.” Muhammad said to him, “We have followed him, so we dislike to leave him till we see the end of his affair.” Muhammad bin Maslama went on talking to him in this way till he got the chance to kill him.

    Reference : Sahih al-Bukhari 3031
    In-book reference : Book 56, Hadith 238
    USC-MSA web (English) reference : Vol. 4, Book 52, Hadith 270
    (deprecated numbering scheme)

  3. Avatar

    AFJ

    November 10, 2018 at 9:38 PM

    I was speaking to a group of Muslim children here in the United States one day, and in the course of our conversation, I told them about a group of Christians being persecuted and driven from their majority Muslim homeland. I told the children that a number of these Christians had been killed.

    One of the Muslim children began cheering when I said that Christians were being killed.

    I was shocked, but he was oblivious.

    Please do not pretend that animosity towards Christians is not part of the Islamic faith and is not taught in your mosques. I know differently.

    Asia Bibi is simply the most famous case of persecution against Christians in Pakistan. From everything I’ve heard, it is absolutely an endemic attitude of that entire society and is based on Muslim teaching. Ditto Egypt. Ditto Iraq. Ditto Saudi Arabia.

  4. Avatar

    Shahla

    November 10, 2018 at 9:49 PM

    Indian/Pakistani Muslims have still not gotten over their Hindu heritage. Christians in that region are converts from ‘untouchable’ classes of Hindus or Dalits. Ironically, they chose Christianity over Islam because Christian missionaries treated them as humans. If our Muslim ancestors did not practice untouchability, they would have been Muslims.
    Blasphemy laws of Pakistan are the gift of military dictator Zia ul Haq. These laws were imposed on Pakistanis without their consent and are now used by all kinds of mafia to consolidate power and wealth unlawfully.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad

      December 11, 2019 at 9:47 AM

      Assalamu alaikum, whilst the article is well written there are a few points I’d strongly disagree.
      1) Whilst it is true the issue of using vessels used by Christians may be due to the fact many Christians were previously low caste Hindus. But also there is a concern that as they can drink alcohol eat swine they pass on impurities. Now this isn’t correct but should provide a context to the objection
      2) The majority of scholars do deem there is a punishment for those who insult the prophet (saw). This goes back to the schools of thought. Here is mufti taqi usmani discussing the issue (I assume based on your article you speak Urdu. https://youtu.be/x-dmufBMMno
      Mufti taqi is internationally recognised as one of the leading scholars of our age

  5. Avatar

    Ahmad

    November 10, 2018 at 10:33 PM

    So you are sympathetic to a woman who insulted our prophet (pbuh), there is no case where a muslim can feel sympathy to a person who insults our prophet even a little I don’t know if this kafira is innocent or guilty but there is no excuse for the insult to our prophet pbuh I suggest you study islam and make your views based on islam, not liberalism disguised as islam.

    • Avatar

      Hamayoun

      November 11, 2018 at 10:25 PM

      To the user calling himself Ahmad: what Abdullah Bin Ubay did was much worse than what this woman did, but the Prophet did not have him killed. I guess that was based on liberalism too?

  6. Avatar

    Spirituality

    November 12, 2018 at 1:45 PM

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    We should always, always, feel upset when the Prophet (s) is insulted. If not, there is something is wrong with our hearts. We need to examine our hearts and check ourselves.

    On the other hand, we should remember that some of the Sahabah insulted the Prophet (s), or worse – they fought against him, threw him out of his house and city, killed Muslims and mutilated them- before they became Muslim! And as Sahabah, their station with Allah is much, much higher than ours.

    “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” Surah Fussilat: 34.

  7. Avatar

    hussein

    November 14, 2018 at 5:02 AM

    Ahmad, did you even read the article? did you even read the Ayats she quoted in the article? One letter writer says even some Shahaba that hold exalted status in in Islam insulted the Prophet (pbuh). And you use the word Kafira? Are you even a Muslim? its people like you thta give Islam a bad name!

  8. Avatar

    Ahmad

    November 15, 2018 at 4:44 AM

    Hussein did you even read my comment, of course I would call her a kafir she is a christian or are we not to call christians kafirs no more no friend it’s people like you who give islam a bad name people who are scared of the west that you change the religion to better fit in , learn the religion first from scholars don’t read the quran and interpret in your liberal western views, people who insult must be punished

    • Avatar

      David

      November 15, 2018 at 9:12 PM

      “that you change the religion to better fit in”; you DO know that places you contrary to the civil law of many western countries, what do you think will result from that?

    • Avatar

      hussein

      November 16, 2018 at 12:51 PM

      you have no right whatever to call anyone kafir….if you are going to take such liberties than point your finger at saudi royal family and isis….you ask if if i read your comment i ask you did you read this column at all..? its wahabis liek you with the wrong interpretation of Islam who give our religion a bad name….

  9. Avatar

    Kristy

    November 18, 2018 at 12:46 AM

    How sad is it that in 2018, 1408 years after the revelation of the Quran, the discussion between muslims is not what muslims can do to help poor, uneducated minorities in their theocratic countries become productive members of Islamic-majority societies, but whether or not one-sided blasphemy laws should exist and are adequate.

    To create one-sided blasphemy laws, to copyright and limit the use of “Allah” to be the exclusive right of muslims-only, and to intentionally make the lives of any minority hell-on-earth is to commit the following sins:
    – hatred
    – anger
    – bigotry
    – controlling others belief and faith in “Allah” through man-made schemes replaces this exclusive role of Allah
    – lying about others committing blasphemy is enticing if you desire to have what is theirs which you do not have
    – attempting to thwart the Will of Allah as to who belongs where they have been put by his Will.
    – looking down on others as being inferior and lesser than yourself is practicing arrogance, deceit of yourself, and pride which puts you on the pedestal of your own self-worship.

    I’m sure there are other sins which could be included on this list.
    But suffice it to say that if these are not sins against your deity as well as against your minorities, then what exactly is the deity you are worshipping?

  10. Avatar

    hussein

    November 26, 2018 at 2:20 AM

    So MM deleted my comments!

    • Aly Balagamwala

      Aly Balagamwala

      April 10, 2019 at 3:42 AM

      Dear Hussein

      WHile MM reserves the right to remove of edit any comments to make them conform to our Comment Policy, I see several comments by you on this article. If any have been deleted it is possibly there was some reason identified by a member of our team. In any case feel free to resubmit the comment.

      Best Regards
      Aly
      Comments Team Lead

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#Current Affairs

This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Bidding farewell to Ramadan, celebrating Eid?

Well, the Muslims of East Turkestan under Chinese occupation had neither Ramadan nor will they have Eid…

Not only that, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) run government has transferred Uyghurs and other ethnic minority citizens from East Turkestan to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Nike, Gap, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Carters and others. Read Uyghurs for Sale for more information

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CCP is also pressuring governments across the world to extradite Uyghurs back to occupied East Turkestan.

Here is what you can do to help them:

Action Items

  1. Keep making dua for the oppressed of East Turkistan and the world.
  2. Boycott Chinese products! Do not be complicit in slave labour. Start with focusing on the companies in the graphic. Share it with #SewnWithtTears, #StopChina, #BoycottChina. Write to them and demand that they do better.
  3. Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs and the East Turkistani cause. Learn more at SaveUighur.org
  4. Work towards reducing your country’s economic dependence on China.
  5. Build alliances with all people of conscience to demand a cessation of China’s oppression of all faith groups, be it Muslim Uyghur, Hui; Chinese Christian; or Tibetan Buddhist.
  6. Encourage and promote fairer trade and commerce with Muslims and others rather than China.
  7. Inquire about Uyghur diaspora members in your area. Organize to help out orphans, widows, and students.
  8. Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  9. Get your universities/endowments to divest from China. Raise awareness about Chinese espionage and hired guns in academia. Demand academic and financial support for Uyghur scholars and students. Request more academic attention and funds for Central Asian, Uyghur, Turkistani studies. 

Read a greater discussion of action items in A Response to Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s Comments on the Uyghurs, which also contains a greater discussion on East Turkistan’s history and its current situation. A condensed Arabic version of the article can be found here

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Coronavirus

Alternative Eid Celebrations In The Midst Of A Pandemic

“Eid-al-Quarantine” is what my sister has so fondly dubbed our upcoming Eid al Fitr this year. I find myself asking, “How are we going to make Eid a fun and special celebration this year in the midst of a dangerous pandemic?” With a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness, this Eid can be fun–no matter the current circumstances. This post will provide you with some inspiration to get your alternative Eid preparations underway! 

Special note: Shelter-in-place restrictions are lessening in many places in the United States, but this does not give us the green light to go back to life as normal and celebrate Eid in the ways we usually would have in the past. I am no health expert, but my sincerest wish for all Muslims throughout the world is that we all err on the side of caution and maintain rigorous precautions.

In-person gatherings are going to be much riskier in light of public health safety concerns. I do not recommend that people get together this Eid. Keep in mind, as well, that this is a big weekend for all Americans, as it is Memorial Day Weekend and crowds may be expected in places like parks and beaches. 

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Eid Day Must’s

Just because you are staying in, doesn’t mean that all of the Eid traditions have to go. Some may be exactly the same, some may be slightly adjusted this year. 

  • Get dressed up, even if it’s just for an hour or two. This might be a good chance to do hair and make up for sisters who normally don’t on Eid because of hijab or other modesty concerns. 
  • Take your family pictures, as usual. 
  • Decorate your house, even if it’s just with some fresh flowers in a vase or hanging up some string lights. (This time, I think sharing pictures of your setup may  have some more wiggle room.)
  • Find a way to pray Eid salah at home, if your local imam mentions a way to adapt for the current situation or check out this MM article
  • Eat some good food, and make sure to feast. 
  • Take that infamous Eid nap. 
  • Greet loved ones (phone calls, video calls, text messages, voice/video messages, make and send Eid cards).
  • Give and receive gifts. (Electronic ways to transfer money/checks in the mail, dropping off gifts to homes/sending gifts in the mail/having an online order pick-up in-store. You may also choose to do a gift exchange, if not this weekend, next). 

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Virtual Parties

Virtual celebrations are a great, safe, option. The best thing about virtual hangouts is that people from all over the world can “come together” to celebrate Eid. This can be as simple as talking and catching up, or can be as orchestrated as a full-out party including games. Keep in mind, the games and virtual parties aren’t only for the kids–everyone should have fun this Eid! We recently threw a virtual birthday party for our one-year-old and it was quite the experience. 

  • Split guests into different calls (kids’ call, adults’ call; men’s call, women’s call)
  • Party agenda for a rigorously planned party so everyone knows what to expect
  • Party games, either with certain items that everyone has (or can easily and quickly purchase) or games that do not require much else besides an internet connection 
    • Games requiring physical items (think of items that everyone is likely to have and think of carnival-type games):
      • Soccer ball juggling or basketball shooting competition
      • Water balloon toss
      • Timed races (three-legged, holding an egg in a spoon, etc.)
    • Games with little to no special equipment
      • Online Pictionary https://skribbl.io/
      • Online Scrabble
      • Video games
      • Charades
      • Taboo (we do this for our cousin game nights with pictures of cards that one person sends to people from the opposite team)
      • Scattergories
      • Bingo
      • Mad libs
      • Speaking games that take turns going around a circle (going through the alphabet saying names of animals or colors or foods, rhyming words [we played the last two lines of “Down by the Bay” for our son’s birthday party])
      • Movement game (Simon says, dancing if you’re into that [“Cha Cha Slide,” dance-off, passing along dance moves as was a TikTok trend I heard of, simply dancing…])
      • Games like in Whose Line is it Anyway? or like the “Olympics” (specifically the “middle games”) that I wrote about way back
  • Performances
    • Skits prepared by one family or even across households
    • Reciting a poem or surah or singing
    • Other showcases of talent, by individuals or not
  • Gift Exchanges (I’ve been doing this virtually since 2013 with friends/distant family members.)

Alternative Virtual/Group Celebrations

Being “together” isn’t always gathering for a party, and that’s what I think most people miss during the forced isolation caused by the pandemic. There are many things you can do to get ready for or celebrate Eid with loved ones even if you’re not together. 

  • Share special recipes with each other or plan to serve the same meals.
  • Coordinate Eid outfits or attempt to do matching henna designs.
  • Send Eid pictures to family and friends.
  • Prepare and cook meals or clean or decorate while on a video call (you don’t have to be talking the entire time).
  • Watch the same movie or show (whether that’s something everyone does as separate households or you do concurrently/even with a video or phone call running. This might be a good time to watch Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King” and do the 10 things it invites us to do.)
  • Go through family pictures or old videos together. Maybe even create a short slideshow/video of your favorites. 
  • Story time full of family legends and epic moments (the best Eid, a difficult time of sickness, immigration or moving story, new baby in the family, etc.). Someone build the fire and get the s’mores going.

Alternative “Outings”

In the same breath, it’s so refreshing to go out and do something fun, not just stay cooped up in your house, right? Seriously. 

  • Check out a virtual museum tour
  • Go on a nice drive to some place you love or miss going to, like drive by the masjid or school or a beautiful area (but stay in your car if there are other people around)
  • Watch an Eid Khutbah (or a regular one) on Eid day (make it special by listening outside in your yard or as a family where you pray).
  • Create a movie theater experience inside the home (that might just mean some popcorn and homemade slushies).
  • Get carry out from a favorite restaurant (if it’s open), and finally have the motivation to take a longer drive if needed
  • Make fruit or gift baskets for friends and family and drop them off at their homes
  • A “paint night,” or some other craft, that everyone in the family participates in
  • Decorate your car and drive around to show it off to friends (I’ve heard there’s an actual Eid car parade at various masaajid in Chicago

Interesting Alternative Community Celebrations I’ve Heard About

Some communities are getting super creative. As I mentioned above, a handful of masaajid in Chicago (Orland Park Prayer Center, Mosque Foundation, and Islamic Center of Wheaton as well as Dar Al Taqwa in Maryland) are putting together Eid drive-thru car parades. I’ve heard of different communities, whether officially sponsored by the masjid or just put together by groups of individuals, having a drive-in Eid salah, in which families pray in their cars in a rented drive-in theater or parking lot (Champaign, Illinois and a community in Maryland). I’m  definitely impressed with that last option, and I’m waiting to hear about more creative ways to get together and worship and celebrate.

So, what am I doing for Eid (weekend) this year? All the must’s, inshaAllah, including getting extra dolled up and making donuts from biscuit dough. A “game night” (virtual party) with alumni from my MSA. A gift exchange party with my cousins as well as another gift exchange party with classmates from my Arabic program (we’ll send unboxing videos out instead of meeting at the same time.) Check out a local college campus we’ve been dying to drive around. Binge a few episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender newly released on Netflix and do some online Memorial Day sale shopping. Le’s put a tentative on all of those, haha.

At the end of the day, Eid al Fitr is about acknowledging the month of worship we engaged in during Ramadan and spending quality time with loved ones. It doesn’t really matter what that quality time looks like–as long as it is intentional, this Eid will be special no matter what, inshaAllah. Who knows, this might be one of the best, most memorable holidays ever!

Eid Mubarak!

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#Islam

Eid Prayer During the Pandemic

Introduction

We have observed a Ramadan that was unlike anything we have experienced before. The community and individuals everywhere have shown dedication, commitment, and creativity. We learned to pray tarāwīḥ on our own in our homes. We read the Qur’an everyday consistently. We attended daily lectures and reminders delivered by our imams, teachers, and scholars online. We gathered virtually to hold iftars and check in on each other. We donated to our organizations to gain the blessings of charity in Ramadan. All of this and more is only possible through the guidance of Allah and resilience of our faith.

We now find ourselves approaching Eid al-Fitr. Eid is an occasion of celebration, joy, gathering, and gratitude to Allah for his countless blessings. We all have cherished memories of past days of Eid. However, we face the prospect of an Eid that is difficult and challenging. Similar to our mindset in Ramadan, we can and should find a way to have a joyous and meaningful Eid. Shāh Walīullah al-Dihlawi writes in his Hujjatullah al-Bālighah, “Allah provided us with two days of celebration that commemorate the markers of the Islamic tradition. He associated celebration with the remembrance of Allah and acts of devotion on the day of Eid, ensuring that the congregation of believers would not be for mere vanity. Rather, the gathering of Muslims would revolve around exalting the Word of Allah.”

The Obligation of Eid

The scholars of the four major schools of thought have differed regarding the obligation of the Eid prayer. Their differences stem from their methodologies in interpreting the verses of the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition ﷺ. The Shāfiʿī and Mālikī schools agree that the Eid prayer is an established Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ, and the prayer is highly recommended for every individual to attend.[1] However, the Ḥanafī school has deemed the prayer as wājib, necessary, for every believing man of age.[2] The Ḥanbalī school has ruled the Eid prayer as farḍ al-kifāyah[3].[4] 

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The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ prayed the Eid prayer in congregation with the Companions from the time it was prescribed until he passed. The Ḥanafī school has considered this consistency demonstrated by the Prophet ﷺ as an indication that the Eid prayer cannot be merely a recommendation. Additionally, the Prophet ﷺ did not go out of his way to inform his Companions of the lack of obligation as he did with ṣalāh al-tarāwīḥ.[5] The scholars of the Ḥanbalī school referenced the command in the Qur’an, “Pray to your Lord and sacrifice,”[6] and concluded the Eid prayer is farḍ al-kifāyah.

The Shāfiʿī and Mālikī schools quote a well-known Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ in which he informs an inquisitive Bedouin regarding the Islamic mandates. The Prophet ﷺ tells the man about the five obligatory daily prayers. The man asks the Messenger ﷺ if there are any additional prayers that are required and he responds, “All other prayers are optional.”[7] Therefore, they regard the Eid prayer as voluntary.[8] 

The Khutbah of Eid

On the day of Eid, it is recommended, according to the majority of scholars, to have a khutbah given by the Imam. The Imam advises the people in the congregation and reminds them of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ. Unlike the Friday khutbah, the Eid khutbah is given immediately after the congregational prayer is completed. The Friday khutbah is considered an essential pillar of the Jumu’ah obligation. However, the scholars of the four major schools have all come to the conclusion that the khutbah on the day of Eid is not required for the validity of the Eid prayer.[9]

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Congregations

The following question has emerged in light of our current situation: Are we excused from the obligation to gather together and worship Allah for Friday, Eid, and congregational prayers? Is the concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 a legitimate reason for individuals to not attend religious services in person?

The scholars of the Ḥanafī school list reasons that excuse individuals from attending congregational prayers. The list includes inclement weather, sickness, paralysis, old age, and notably, fear of harm. It is reported in an authentic Hadith that the Prophet ﷺ once excused the Companions from attending congregational prayers by instructing the Mu’adhdhin to call the adhān and announce, “Pray in your homes.”[10] The Ḥanafī scholar al-Ṭahṭāwī uses this Hadith as proof that those exposed to immediate danger should be excused from congregational prayer, including Friday and Eid prayers.[11]

Al-Shurunbulālī[12] reminds us that the reward is still obtained by individuals who are not able to attend due to challenging circumstances. If an individual is prevented from fulfilling an obligation due to an acceptable and valid excuse, that person will still be rewarded (if Allah wills) according to his or her intention.[13] The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us, “Actions are rewarded based on their intentions. Every person will be rewarded according to his or her intention.”[14]

Recommended Eid Rituals

While our ability to congregate for Eid may be limited, this should not prevent us from observing the rituals recommended in our tradition.[15] 

  1. Supplicate to Allah ﷻ the night before Eid and ask Him for forgiveness for any shortcomings.
  2. On the morning of Eid, recite the Takbīrāt of Eid[16], glorifying Allah and rejoicing in the occasion.[17]
  3. Take a shower and celebrate by donning your best garments. It is also customary to apply perfume.
  4. Demonstrate the end of the month of fasting by eating something after Fajr on the morning of Eid. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would not leave his house on the day of Eid without eating some dates.[18]
  5. Be kind and generous.
  6. Congratulate others.
  7. Fulfill your obligation of contributing zakat al-fir before the morning of Eid. The majority of scholars are in agreement that zakat al-fir is mandatory for every believer male or female, young or old.[19] This serves the purpose of uniting Muslims on the day of Eid so they may celebrate regardless of financial circumstances.

Requirements to Conduct Eid Prayer

When performing the Eid prayer, one should, first and foremost, observe the requirements of ritual prayer (ṣalāh) such as being in a state of purification and facing the qiblah. The scholars have agreed that the prescribed time of the Eid prayer begins shortly after sunrise and ends before Ẓuhr time starts.[20] 

For the validity of the Eid prayer, the scholars among the Shāfiʿī, Mālikī, Ḥanbalī,  and Ḥanafī schools have stipulated: the prayer should be conducted during the prescribed time of Eid prayer.[21] The Ḥanafīs and some Ḥanbalīs[22] have additionally stated that the Eid prayer must be conducted in a group.[23] The Ḥanafīs specified that this requirement is fulfilled with 2 or 3 adult males other than the imam.[24] Moreover, the Ḥanafī scholars have stated that an Eid prayer should be accessible by the general public and not be in a restricted or an exclusive space.

Conducting the Eid Prayer

The Eid prayer itself is conducted very similarly to any other congregational prayer. The four major schools agree that the Eid prayer should be performed out loud with 2 rak’āt, units of prayer, just like the Fajr congregation. However, there is a difference of opinion in regards to the number of extra takbīrāt that are said in the Eid prayer. The format of the prayer has been detailed below based on the different opinions.

Mālikīs[25]

  • Make wuḍū’, face the qiblah and begin the prayer with Allāhu akbar
  • Perform 6 additional takbīrāt[26], say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Finish the first rak’ah
  • After standing for the second rak’ah, perform 5 additional takbīrāt, say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Complete the prayer as usual

Ḥanbalīs[27]

  • Make wuḍū’, face the qiblah and begin the prayer with Allāhu akbar
  • Perform 6 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Finish the first rak’ah
  • After standing for the second rak’ah, perform 5 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Complete the prayer as usual

Shāfiʿīs[28]

  • Make wuḍū’, face the qiblah and begin the prayer with Allāhu akbar
  • Perform 7 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Finish the first rak’ah
  • After standing for the second rak’ah, perform 5 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Complete the prayer as usual

Ḥanafīs[29]

  • Make wuḍū’, face the qiblah and begin the prayer with Allāhu akbar
  • Perform 3 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Finish the first rak’ah
  • After standing for the second rak’ah, recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Perform 3 additional Takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Say Allāhu akbar and bow into rukū’
  • Complete the prayer as usual

Conclusion

Eid is an occasion of glorifying Allah, praying for the acceptance of our deeds, and enjoying the blessings of Allah. It is a day to spend time with family and loved ones. The regulations of social distancing have limited our ability to congregate and spend time together as a community. However, these restrictions do not prevent us from fulfilling the rituals and traditions of Eid.

We recommend that every Muslim observes the Eid rituals as mentioned above. It has been authentically reported that the Companion of the Prophet ﷺ Anas ibn Mālik did not make it to the Eid prayer, so he gathered his family and offered the Eid prayer at home in the same manner the imam would with the congregation.[30] Furthermore, the Mālikī, Shāfiʿī, and Ḥanbalī schools allow people to perform the Eid prayer individually or with family at home. While the Ḥanafī school traditionally does not allow this, many senior Ḥanafī scholars have eased the condition of performing the Jumu’ah prayer in a public place during the current pandemic. Therefore, we recommend that individuals and families who are not able to attend an Eid congregation pray the Eid ṣalāh as detailed above at home.

May Allah accept our deeds. May Allah provide us with a joyous Eid. May Allah alleviate the current crisis. May Allah protect us all.

Allah knows best.

AbdulNasir Jangda

Sohaib Sheikh

26 Ramadan 1441 AH/19 May 2020 CE

Qalam Institute’s  mission is to educate humanity about Allah, His message, and His Messenger ﷺ. This article is written by the instructors at Qalam. Please consider supporting them as they create beneficial content for people to study their religion. 


[1] al-Majmu’ 5:2, al-Jumal ala sharh al-Manhaj 2:92

[2] Bada’I al-Sana’I 1:274

[3] farḍ al-kifāyah: An obligation that is mandated at a communal level. If a community fulfills the obligation, any other people that did not participate are excused from the obligation.

[4] al-Mughni 2:304

[5] Bada’I al-Sana’I 1:274, al-Hidayah 1:60, Tuhfah al-Fuqaha 1:283

[6] Qur’an 108:2

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari 2678

[8] Jawahir al-Iklil 1:101, al-Majmoo’ 5:3

[9] al-Lubab 1:118-119, Maraqi al-Falah 91, Tabyin al-Haqaiq 1:226, Fatawa al-Hindiyyah 1:141, Fath al-Qadir 1:428, al-Durr al-Mukhtar 1:782-784, al-Sharh al-Saghir 1:530, al-Sharh al-Kabir 1:400, al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah 86, Mughni al-Muhtaj 1:311, al-Muhadhab 1:120, al-Majmoo’ 5:36, al-Mughni 2:384-387, Kashaf al-Qina’ 2:61-62

[10] Sahih al-Bukhari 10:29, Sahih Muslim 6:32-33, Sunan Abi Dawud 2:672-673, Sunan Ibn Majah 5:989-991, Sunan al-Nasa’I 7:660, Sunan al-Nasa’I 10:78

[11] Hashiyah al-Tahtawi ala Maraqi al-Falah 297

[12] Hanafi scholar who authored the famous work Nur al-Idah

[13] Nur al-Idah 65, Hashiyah al-Tahtawi ala Maraqi al-Falah 299

[14] Sahih al-Bukhari 1:1, Sahih Muslim 33:222

[15] al-Fiqh al-Islami Wa Adillatuhu 1412-1416

[16] Takbirat of Eid: Saying Allahu Akbar and La Ilaha Illa Allah

[17] al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah 13:213-214

[18] Sahih al-Bukhari 13:5

[19] al-Zayla’I 1:307, Ibn Abidin 2:110, Fath al-Qadir 2:30, Bulghat al-Salik 1:200, Sharh al-Minhaj 1:628, Kashaf al-Qina’ 1:471

[20] Fath al-Qadir 1:424, al-Lubab 1:117, Maraqi al-Falah 90, al-Dur al-Mukhtar 1:779, al-Bada’I 1:276, al-Sharh al-Saghir 1:524, al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah 85, Mughni al-Muhtaj 1:310, al-Muhadhab 1:118, Kashaf al-Qina’ 2:56

[21] al-Dasuqi 1:396, Asna al-Matalib 1:279

[22] Imam Ibn al-Qudama stated both opinions in the Hanbali school regarding the requirement of a congregation to conduct Eid prayer. Some Hanbali scholars require a group of people for the validity of the Eid prayer while others said that an individual can pray Eid by him or herself. al-Mughni 2:291

[23] Kashaf al-Qina’ 1:455, 2:50, Bada’I al-Sana’I 1:275

[24] Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad stated that 2 congregants other than the Imam are the minimum required to be considered a congregation. Imam Abu Yusuf was of the opinion that 3 congregants other than the Imam are required.

[25] al-Sharh al-Saghir 1:525, al-Sharh al-Kabir 1:397, al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah 86, Bidayah al-Mujtahid 1:209

[26] Takbirat of Eid: These are extra Takbirs unique to the Eid ṣalāh. According to the majority of scholars, these Takbirs are conducted by the Imam raising his hands as he does when he starts the prayer and saying Allahu Akbar. The stronger opinion according to the Malikis is that when performing the extra Takbirs, the Imam does not raise his hands but says Allahu Akbar.

al-Sharh al-Saghir 1:525, al-Sharh al-Kabir 1:398

[27] Bidayah al-Mujtahid 1:209, al-Mughni 2:376-384, Kashaf al-Qina’ 2:59-65

[28] Mughni al-Muhtaj 1:310, al-Muhadhab 1:120, al-Majmoo’ 5:18

[29] The famous Companion, Ibn Masood, said in regard to the ritual of Eid prayer, “The Imam of the prayer should say Takbir to initiate the prayer. Afterwards, he should perform 3 additional Takbirat followed by the recitation of Surah al-Fatihah and another Surah following it. Then the Imam should continue his prayer, go into Ruku’, Sujood until he stands up (for his second Rak’ah). He should read Surah al-Fatihah and another Surah and proceed to perform 3 Takbirat followed by the Takbir to go into Ruku’” – Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar 4:347

al-Lubab 1:117, Maraqi al-Falah 90, Fath al-Qadir 1:425-427, Tabyin al-Haqaiq 1:225, al-Dur al-Mukhtar 1:779-782, al-Bada’I 1:277, al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah 1:141

[30] al-Sunan al-Kabir 3:503, al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah 2:183, Sahih al-Bukhari includes this Hadith in his Tarjamtul Baab 2:23

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