Wiping over socks in wudhu
Can I wipe over cotton socks in wudu? At work all of us became the blunt of a joke.
I don’t like this kind of comedy. We shouldn’t make fun of wudhu. This is something taught by Jibreel to the Prophet (s). Allah says, “and do not take the verses of Allah in jest” (2:231). So many people ask, “Can I wipe on my socks?” Because they are aware of the opinion of the Hanafis and the Shaafis and the Malakis who said that you can only wipe on socks made out of leather skin. But as the ulema mentioned, and it is also the opinion of Ahmed ibn Hanbal in the Hanbali school, you can wipe over thick cotton socks; as long as you cannot see your skin and some other conditions, it’s acceptable. This is why we say Islam is based on ease. Not subjective ease, but legal ease that makes things easy for the people.
Praying late or combining prayers due to work obligations
The second question I get asked a lot by people is they say sometimes they are so occupied at work, something happens and they have to miss the prayer. We ask Allah for wellness; but we have the hadith of ibn Abbas, who said that the Prophet joined Dhuhr and `Asr, Maghrib and Isha, not due to rain, nor to travel, nor to sickness. Bidoon as-sabab (without a reason). This hadith is an authentic hadith related by Imam at-Tirmidhi. This hadith has a lot of discussion. The Malikiya, the Shaafiya and the Hanafiya they said what it means to say that the Prophet joined the prayers is that he waited until the end of Dhuhr, prayed Dhuhr then the adhan of `Asr came and he prayed `Asr. Then he prayed at the end of Maghrib and then he prayed Isha. What’s called as-suwaliya, as an example.
Al-Tirmidhi noted in the introduction to his collection that this hadith is a sound hadith, “But not acted upon by the scholars.” This is a noble statement, but it is not supported by evidence since it is well known, as noted above, that scholars differed on how it was acted on and not on its autheticity.
This is important and I want the students of knowledge here to note: that a text can be sound due to its source, but there can be differences over its usage as proof. So, for example, the Malikis don’t recite the basmallah in prayer, although there is a sound hadith that supports it. Their response is that, its source is sound, but using it as proof is not because of the number of narrations of the same hadith that contradict each other in wording. Thus, while scholars agree on the source of something, they are not forced, unless there is a sound ijma, to adopt a given interpretation as sound. For that reason, it is sad to hear some say, “your reject the sunna!” The response should be, “No, I differ with the understanding you hold of it.” A cool example of this is the prostration for forgetfullness. All four schools differ on its performance using the same evidences! So, the hadiths are sound, but the understandings of scholars are human. Here, with the hadith mentioned above, it is sound, but scholars differed over its application (which is open for interpretation).
Regarding joining the prayers, the madhab (school of thought) of Imam Ahmed, and others also, say it is applicable in the face of need. If someone has a sincere need, has a problem or a strange situation, for example like work. The Hanbalis mentioned the issue of work and someone fearing he will lose his job or his income; in that case, they said it is allowable for someone to do this, but not on a normal basis.
You don’t have to follow the opinion, but there are some people who maybe don’t have any other choice. It’s not that you can think, “Ok, now I’m going to go and join all my prayers alhamdullilah.” What they’re saying is in the face of a sincere need, and most of the fuqaha (scholars) said this, somebody can join his salawat (prayers). Like a doctor who is going to do a five-hour surgery maybe he cannot stop to pray, or someone who is going to go into surgery. Also someone who has to work very difficult hours and he cannot pray due to an extreme circumstance; like sometimes when you go to university, you have exams that go through two prayers. In this situation this is nawazil, not something that happens every day; it happens once in awhile.
And the proof is in Sahih Bukhari. In the battlefield when the Prophet met `Umar and `Umar said, “May Allah curse the Quraysh, because they kept me from praying `Asr.” And it was the time of Maghrib. The Prophet said, “And I’m as you. We are the same.”
So this opinion is not the normal opinion but the exception to the rule. So don’t go now and say Imam Suhaib said we can join all our prayers. Imam Suhaib didn’t say that. Only in specific situations if somebody has a specific problem, like taking exams and he can’t leave the exam, it is something different.
Community support for professionals
Let’s talk about difficult things at work. What I want to encourage you to do is realize that these types of talks only motivate people. We should form in our communities support groups for young professionals and professionals in the community. What we have to have in communities is brokerage of issues, not Suhaib, not Siraj Wahhaj, not Sheikh Muhammed and Sheikh Ibrahim. You make your community. You do things. So if you establish, for example, support groups for young professionals or professionals it’s very important. People need some time to talk out problems that they’re having.
We have to clarify what it means to say dressing according to the sunnah. This doesn’t mean wearing shalwar kameez. And I’m saying this sincerely by Allah if you go to any book of fiqh you will not find a picture of what is called the sunnah dress. It’s offensive if you come to a brother and say “You’re not dressed according to the sunnah.” No, he’s dressed according to Islam. But what happens is that we confuse culture with Islam. There was no one making Bonanza shirts in the time of the Prophet, or a Chinese thobe from China. Ibn Qayim said the Prophet wore what was given to him; even when the Christians of Egypt sent him clothes, he wore them. We have to be careful of the later books of fiqh, even in the Maliki madhab, where culture became mixed with the fiqh.
For example if you read the early books of the Hanafi school you will find maybe ten makruhat (undesirable actions) of salah (prayer). But if you go to the later books like Al-Hidayah you find 36 makruhat of salah. Where did these 36 makruhat of salah come from? From cultural issues. So we have to be careful.
If we go to the books of fiqh and usool we find what is Islamic dress is very clear. For a man: what’s not silk, what’s not gold, and what isn’t too tight. That’s it. Not a specific pattern of dress. Islam is not concerned about “Dress like this.” Islam has more goals and more vision. But somebody who wants to wear as the Prophet wore and they know that this is what the Prophet wore, the scholars of Islamic law said they will not be rewarded for the dress but rewarded for the niyyah (intention). And ibn Taymiyyah said sometimes it might not be advisable to dress like this if you are going to create more harm than benefit, because perhaps you will obligate the people to do something that Allah did not obligate them to do. This happens to converts all the time when they go home. I remember one time I went home dressed in cultural Muslim dress, my father he was enraged with me. He said, “What happened to my son?” I started going off on my father and I destroyed my relationship with my parents for almost ten years because of that stuff. Because I’d obligated them to do something that Allah didn’t obligate them to do.
So in regards to this issue of dress if you want to dress like that it’s good alhamdullilah. But all of what we see here is Islamic dress.
Taking vacations for itikaf
Taking vacations is not easy for itikaf in Ramadan. I’m sure it’s very difficult for brothers and sisters to work in the month of Ramadan. That’s why it’s good to have that group together so all the chachis can hook us up. Cook some food, bring it to work, share the food.
Gender relations at work
Let’s clarify a few things about gender relations here.
Number one, al-khalwa (mixing). If you go to the classic books of fiqh you are not going to find something called al-ikhtilat (mixing). This came later on after modernity and urbanization. Before that everybody lived in villages and some big cities, but not like now.
So in the last twenty years you’ve heard this term al-ikhtilat. But what is forbidden in Islam is al-khalwa, not al-ikhtilat. The type of ikhtilat, the type of mixing that is forbidden is the ikhtilat that can lead you to haraam. To mix in a way that will cause you to fall into zinnah (adultery). But what is clearly forbidden in the Quran and sunnah according to the ulema, especially the Hanafiyah and the Malikiya, is al-khalwa. As Imam Maliki mentioned in al-Muwata and others, it is to be alone with a woman or man where you can engage in a physical, the physical relationship, and nobody can find you. This type of khalwa is clearly forbidden according to the Quran and sunnah. But going to the coffee machine, walking by each other in the hallway is not khalwa. It’s not considered khalwa. Even if you go into your supervisor’s office and there’s a window and people can see you and she says, “Shut the door” it’s not khalwa. Khalwa means no one can see you.
But there’s a difference between at-taqwa and al-khalwa. For somebody that has at-taqwa, they want to preserve their iman and be strong, and they’re scared of themselves, if you want to take a more difficult articulation that’s fine. There’s no problem with it. We should not debase each other on different opinions. But what the ulema forbid clearly is al-khalwa. So there’s no problem if you go to your secretary and ask her for something, this is not haraam. It is not khalwa that will lead to something forbidden. But you have to be careful; it’s not easy.
Social events and activities involving alcohol
What’s the ruling on going to a social activity that has alcohol? The Hanafis, Imam al-Shatibi, as well as Imam ibn Qayim and the scholars of Islamic law, they differentiate between what is haraam in its essence and what the leads to haraam but is not itself haraam. So, what in its essence is haraam, like khamr (alcohol), its essence is forbidden. But what can lead to something forbidden is not the same level as something that is in itself forbidden. The Prophet (s) said “the most despised type of permissible thing to Allah is divorce.” [Scholars differed over this hadith status]. Sheikh Qaradawi said that means there are levels of halal. Also there are levels of haraam. That which is haraam in its essence is called haraam bi thati. And this thing can only be permissible in the face of an absolute necessity.
What does durura mean in Islam? A necessity means you have no other means to do anything else: “But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him,” (2:173). But if there is a way out then that thing is not permissible. That’s why, with all respect to Sheikh Qaradawi, the fatwa (ruling) about buying a house with a mortgage now cannot be applied. Why? Because we have guidance (Guidance Financial). Because the fatwa is based on al-durura. If you did it, don’t flip out, I’m just giving an example of how this fatwa has been criticized, because now the idea that you’re forced to buy a house on mortgage is not correct because you have Islamic finance. You have a way out is my point.
But for durura, the first condition is that there is no way, no means of escape. As the Prophet (s) said, “My ummah was forbidden [except] what they were forced to do.” So that thing that’s haraam in its essence can only be made halal in the face of al-durura. What are the durura? Religion, life, intellect, property, and honor.
So if somebody comes to you and says, “Are you Muslim? If you say yes, I’m going to blow your head off.” What’s the hukum (ruling)? You say, “I’m not,” because one of the necessities is to protect your life. The opposite also holds true. Why is alcohol forbidden? Because one of the necessities is the intellect. You should not harm your intellect. You see how the law works, it’s very beautiful.
But also we have something called al-hajat. Al-Shatibi said al-hajat are those things which you don’t need but they make life easy for you. Like an air conditioner, for example. So the ulema, as ibn Qayim and others mentioned, differentiated between the one who drinks and the one who’s in the place of alcohol. They said the one who drinks, this is haraam in its essence. The only time it can be allowed to drink alcohol is, for example, if somebody puts a gun to your head.
Number two is al-hajah. So the ulema said if somebody has a need to be in a place where there’s alcohol, yajuz (it is permissible). Not the bar. I’m talking about your corporate parties.
But I will tell you something, personally. I’ve found the best thing to do is to tell them, “I don’t drink.”
When they ask you, “Yo, Abdul, why don’t you come to the party?”
Instead of being scared and shy, we should say, “I’m Muslim, I don’t drink.”
And, as has been the experience of some professionals in the community, they said, “You know what, we want you here. We’re not going to drink.”
Facing financial hardships at the university
Wallahi (by Allah) the communities have to start thinking about developing financial programs to empower young people to get out of loans. It’s something that we have to think about. And I know in Oklahoma there was a scholarship program for certain students sponsored by a few older uncles; masha Allah, that was successful. But we have to think about long-term capital, how to develop long-term capital for people who are stuck, for example, in law school. How much is one year of law school, for example, at UC Berkeley? What happens is that people become perpetually indebted to the system. We ask Allah to relieve that and make it easy. And we hope that this younger generation realizes I’m not going to give you solutions; I’m not living that narrative. But you come together, and you think about these and then talk to your community leaders and discuss your ideas. And then develop those ideas. It’s very important. Brokerage in the community. We don’t have one superman who is going to address all the issues but we are a super community, insha Allah.
Michael Eric Dyson was asked about Barack Obama and he said something very telling. He said, “Barack Obama is not going to change the country. The people of America are going to change this country.” So also, in our communities, one person or two people are not going to change the community. We have to get rid of this homerun way of the community. We are a community; we work together. For example, my community taught my daughter how to read. I couldn’t teach my daughter how to read. Where did I send Shifaa, my daughter, when I wanted her to read? I sent her to Granada. One year, masha’Allah, with an amazing kindergarten teacher she comes back to Egypt reading and writing. So you see this is the beauty of the community. We have to help each other. That’s why the Prophet (s) said, “We support each other.”
So there should be think-tanks on how to help young Muslims deal with the financial crunch of graduate studies in particular. It’s very important.
I asked some of the scholars of Egypt about this and they said it is allowed based on the axiom, “Needs permit necessities.” Now the scholars I asked about this are respectable and sincere inshallah. So if one wan’t to follow them, he can.
Here’s a very good point. “There are a lot of sisters who go to the Santa Clara library on Homestead and their children are running around uncontrolled. Librarians get hold of our children and go straight to the women with hijab and tell them to control them. Please talk about the bad image they are creating of Muslims.”
I think this is very clear. Sister with hijab you’re an ambassador of this religion. So when you’re out there it’s not easy. It’s not easy, man. May Allah make it easy for sisters. Look at me [wearing a suit and tie] I’m incognito right now. I look like Frank Lucas, not Imam Suhaib Webb. So our sisters are permanent ambassadors, so you have to be careful. And I’ve noticed this before, when I was at the library with my kids, my son was trying to do that too, and I had to say, “Let’s go, man.” So think about it; when you’re out there, people are watching you and looking at what you’re doing.
Converting to Islam
Converting to Islam is not easy, by Allah. You will never understand how it is the night you go home that you became Muslim, and you tell your parents that you joined the club. It’s not easy. So we ask Allah to facilitate. And that’s why we have a very good program here, alhamdullilah, for new Muslims. Don’t underscore that program, may Allah reward all the people involved in that. But we ask Allah to facilitate things for the converts, to make things easy for them.
Challenges at work, place to pray
Is it allowable for you to pray in the restroom? The ulema they said it’s not where you pray, but as Imam ibn Arafa said in at-Ta’rifat, it’s not an issue where you pray, expect where the Prophet clearly mentioned you shouldn’t pray, like the graveyards, however that is allowed in the Maliki school with conditions, as long as what you pray on is clean. So some said it’s acceptable for someone to pray in the restroom as long as they ensure that what they pray on is clean. Why am I telling you this? For converts. You know how hard it was for me to pray in my house? The only place I could think to pray was the restroom. Because my parents would have flipped out.
Some people at their workplace, maybe that’s your only option. But I encourage you to be brave. They’re not going to fire you for praying, and if they fire you for praying, they’re going to be paying. You can get them for a lot of money. Masha’Allah, we need some extensions here at MCA. But have some guts. Stand up for yourself. Stand up for Allah.
But this is applicable just in certain circumstances. Don’t go home and start praying in the restroom.
Having a very mean boss who cuts you down all the time
[Asking the audience] Have any of you ever had this problem? Have any of you ever been intimidated by a co-worker? How did you handle it? What did you do? Because I don’t know, I sit in that office back there, and I have no idea.
How can someone handle that if they’re at their workplace and somebody is intimidating them, what’s the right way to handle that?
[Audience suggests, “Go to HR.”]
OK, anyone else?
[Audience suggests, “Talk to the person.”]
Talk to the person. Because if you go to HR, what’s going to happen? They’re going to hate your guts. So talk to the person first. If it continues, what should you do?
[Audience suggests, “Talk to your boss.]
Talk to your boss. Does that work? Sometimes? Ok, if that doesn’t work what do you do? Call CAIR. But you don’t want to call outside the company right away because that will create more problems for you. Be patient and try to handle it internally. And think about what the Companions of the Prophet went through, maybe that person will become Muslim.
We ask Allah to bless all of you at your places of work, we ask Allah to give you strength to work hard and to set a good example. We ask Allah to forgive us for our shortcomings and to grant us Paradise insha’Allah.