Selasa, 30 Juli 2013

The Best Time for Performing Night Worship

Q.1. What is the proper time for performing night worship, or tahajjud? Should one go to sleep first? What about Lailat Al-Qadr? How many rakahs should we offer in taraweeh?
Q.2. Is investing money in the form of a life insurance acceptable, particularly if it reduces our income tax liability? Is it permissible to subscribe to health insurance or educational insurance?
Q.3. When a person dies it is often the case that the body is kept for a day or two before burial, waiting for all relatives to come. Is this correct? Is it also proper to arrange to send the body of a deceased expatriate to his home country, even though this may result in a delay of burial for several days or a couple of weeks?
Q.4. In our home country, on the third day after a person dies, people gather in his home and take part in reading the whole of the Qur’an. The reward of this reading is gifted to the deceased. The same is done on the 40th day and on the first anniversary. Please comment.
A.1. Tahajjud, or night worship, may be offered at any time during the night, after one has prayed Isha. However, its best time is the portion of the night that precedes dawn, or Fajr prayer. This means it is more appropriate to have some sleep first. As for the night you mention, many people prefer to stay up all night.
This is fine, but if you go to sleep for a few hours and spend a portion of the night in worship, you also do well. This is all voluntary, and when you volunteer worship, you choose what to offer. Every possibility is acceptable. Taraweeh prayer is offered in Ramadan, after Isha prayer. You can pray any number of rakahs, two being the minimum. People normally offer either eight or 20 rakahs. Both options are acceptable.
A.2. Scholarly views on insurance differ. However, I find the view that insurance is permissible to be perfectly valid. It is supported by sound evidence. Moreover, it gives the insured good returns for the money invested, not least the peace of mind that is associated with the alleviation of risk. This applies to life insurance and health insurance. I am not clear what educational insurance means. If it means that a person takes an insurance policy to pay for the education of one’s children, then this is a form of saving for a particular purpose. There is no loss involved for anyone. Therefore, it is permissible, unless the money is invested in a usurious transaction, in which case it becomes unacceptable because of this investment.
A.3. From the Islamic point of view, it is more honorable for the deceased to be buried as soon as possible. This is ingrained in the culture of all Muslim peoples. There is no need to wait for anyone. Waiting means giving the living relatives more consideration than the deceased. This should not be the case. No one should be waited for.
Likewise, there is no need to send the body to a different country. People should be buried where they die. Many of the Prophet’s companions died in different countries, and they were buried in the cities where they died, even though these were foreign cities with non-Muslim populations. If sending the body will involve such long delay in burial, the wrong is compounded.
A.4. All such habits are un-Islamic. There is nothing associated with the third, seventh, tenth, or fortieth day after the death of a person. Likewise, the anniversary of one’s death has no significance whatsoever. Yet people organize different functions on these days. Whatever they organize goes back to some traditions inherited from pre-Islamic days or borrowed from other cultures or religions. According to Islam, death marks a new stage of the life of a person, which is known as an interim stage, lasting until the Day of Judgment, when we are resurrected to receive our reward for what we have done in life.
What is much better for the deceased is to do things on their behalf, which will increase their reward on the Day of Judgment.
The best thing that may be done is to offer the pilgrimage or the Umrah on their behalf, or to give money to charity, or to read the Qur’an and request God to credit the reward of such acts to the deceased. Such reading of the Qur’an need not be in an organized function or a special day.
It can be done at any time, by anyone. Any portion of the Qur’an, a short passage or a long surah, may be read with a request to God to credit the reward to the deceased. If you do this for your deceased parents every day, reading a short or a long passage, this will earn you a status of a dutiful son or daughter, which earns you rich reward from God.
Paying Zakah in Money or Kind
Q. Is it acceptable to pay Zakah Al-Fitr in cash and to pay the normal zakah in kind or in a mixture of cash and kind?
A. Some scholars insist that Zakah Al-Fitr, which is paid at the end of Ramadan, before the Eid prayer, must be paid in kind, i.e. in flour, corn, barley, rice, dates etc.
This view has good supporting evidence, but does not look at the changing conditions of societies and the needs of the poor who live in towns. Such people may often find that zakah given to them in such method to be a burden.
They often resort to selling what they receive at a price that is below its cost in order to use this price to buy what they need.
The purpose of this zakah is not to provide the poor with such types of commodities, but it is, as the Prophet says, to make them self-sufficient on the day of the Eid, which is a festive occasion. It is often the case that the poor will be much better off receiving money than receiving such items.
If you give flour to a poor person living in a city, he may not be able to use it to bake bread for his family, while if you pay him in cash, he will easily buy bread. Giving him money will buy him more bread than twice the amount given to him in flour. Likewise, it is perfectly permissible to pay ordinary zakah, due on different types of money, in either cash or kind, or in a mixture of both. We should always look at the interests of the recipients of zakah and what suits them best.

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