Lecture by Suhaib Webb | Transcribed by Fuseina Mohamad
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.
Great article masha’Allah!
Mashallah, great Q&A, very informative! These are all day to day critical issues faced by Muslims in the West and many of us don’t know what to do or how to tackle them. So Imam, Jazakallah Khairan for discussing these and giving us some guidance.
Salams Shiekh Suhaib. Love the article. May Allah bless you. I think the confusion today over the dress is not only the fact that people think its against the sunnah to dress in certain ways, but they think its Tashabuh bil kufaar (copying the non muslims). Can you make that clear so others can understand this concept of Tashabuh( copying the kufar) more properly.
Salam Sheikh Suhaib,
“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.”
Alhamdullilah that has been my experience just by being up front from the beginning and saying Alcohol is against my religion.
But what about the huge parties (company wide) where there would be a lot of contacts that would help you move up in your career? or the least bit would be good to show your face there for a little while for your boss to see that you are a member of the team with the clear understanding that you won’t go to dinner with that same boss if there was alcohol at the table? These parties usually involve a lot of different tables of food but one that serves alcohol.
I am not trying to find a way out but i am honestly asking because I do not know how to approach this one. Everyone at work knows that i do not drink and that i would not be at a party where there is alcohol but at the same time going to this major function I get to meet a lot of important people (like congressmen, senators and the like) whom I want to introduce myself to because my name is a muslim one and inshallah may create some in roads for me as a muslim in the political system of my community (again with the understanding that the intention is promoting Islam)? I am doing the whole casting my net on Friday night bit or is this truly mujaz like I am understanding from the article?
[…] America. The lecture has been transcribed over at his website. The final part of the series which links to the previous parts is available here. Number one: As people involved in Cisco and Sun and the MCA (Muslim Community Association), the […]
In response to the comment on wiping socks, the instructions in the Qur’an are in Sura 5, Ayah 6:O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles.
Note: the Arabic instructs washing of the face and the hands up to the elbows, and the Masah of the head and the feet. There is no verb between ‘head’ and ‘feet’. Personally, having made wudu in dozens of mosques, and enduring the smelly footbaths as the last stop before prayer (peeyuu! talking about getting out of the mood!), I feel that prayer is a more spiritual experience when I am not thinking about how I just walked on the water that just came off 15 other dudes’ feet. If I can wipe, I’ll do it. If I’m at home enjoying the cleanliness of my own bathroom, I’ll wash. But my intention is to please Allah and to keep myself as clean as possible, and no to track foot water into the prayer area. I know that other imams have cited the example of the Prophet (SAW) in stating the need to wash the feet, but I feel that if Allah wanted us to wash everytime, He would have told us more clearly. Allah knows best.
Asslamu Alikum Warehmatullah,
This might be a bit controversial but something I have been struggling with it for about a year and half. In 2006, after doing some research, I started wearing Abaya all the time as I believes that was the proper dress code for sisters. I worked full time in a corporate setting for about 12 months with Abaya and blazer. Due to some issues, I left that job in 2008.
About three weeks after leaving that job, my father became seriously ill. He was diagnosed with a nodule in his lungs so we had to get alot of medical tests done for him. He didn’t have insurance and bills were just piling up with basically no source of income @ home. My parents were panicking and I had an interview scheduled which paid a really good salary. I wore suit (loose pants & blazer up to my knees) to interview and alhamdulillah I got the job.
The work setting is very business-like and there is no way , I can wear Abaya there. I feel like a big hypocrite as I wear abaya everywhere except work. Numerous times, I have used this against myself, preventing myself from doing more good deeds. I always find myself accusing of lack of Tawakkul, lack of Imaan which led me to compromise what I believed.
It is so easy for people to come and criticize others of being low in Imaan or not having Hayaa but what are we to do? What should I do now? Leave my job and get a lesser paying job where I can wear Abaya? How will we cover my father’s medical bills? My siblings college tuition? I will drive myself insane thinking about this all the time.
I pray your father’s getting better. I can’t offer much advice, but don’t let people get you down. What you’ve done for your family seems pretty awesome, and may Allah reward you for it. Like your namesake, stay sincere in your actions. I follow the opinion that sisters can wear forms of dress other than the abaya which are still compatible with Islam, however I support every sister who wants to wear the abaya etc. So look for windows in your workplace, or create opportunities where you could wear the abaya, this might take time, especially if your new to the workplace. Also, as mentioned in the article – talk to your colleagues or manager about the fact that you want to wear the abaya- I know that sometimes non-muslims can be a bit weirded out when sisters rock up in an abaya (there are too many other connotations attached to it), so talk to them about it, you’d be amazed at how much people respect the hijaab etc, once they understand the reasons for it, and the meaning it holds to the people who adhere to it.
On a more practical note- wearing a blazer with an abaya can sometimes work, it can look professional, and you still feel comfortable.
But honestly sis – I have too much respect for what you’ve done so far for your family. May Allah bless you, and continue to give you the strength to be a pillar to your loved ones, and a example to other. If I’ve said anything wrong please correct me. If I have said anything to offend, please forgive me .
You definitely should keep your job so that your father can get the necessary treatment. As long as you are observing the limits that Islam has set, you are fine.
Your family definitely takes more precedence then a dress code. The shariah came not to impose a burden on people, but rather, to remove difficulty and bring about ease.
As far as hypocrisy goes, know that this feeling of hypocrisy is a sign of Imaan. The reason being is that Abu Bakr (R) felt the same way. Whenever he was in front of the Prophet, he was enlightened and always on top of his game. However, when he wasn’t near the Prophet, it was the opposite. And because of this, he thought that he was a hypocrite. However, when the Prophet (S) heard this, he told Abu Bakr that this is a sign of Imaan. (If anyone knows the exact story, please feel free to say it).
As far as other people criticizing you, know that their criticism is nothing compared to the criticism of Allah (SWT). Thus, worry about what Allah (SWT) will say to you and not what these people have to say. Being judgmental is a huge problem that exists in the Muslim Ummah. People judge without understanding the reality of the situation. And because of this, so many Muslims, namely youth, have left the masjid. and have gone to do things that go against Allah (SWT).
But to conclude, you shouldn’t definitely not sacrifice your job because of the abaya. Your parents take priority over it. As long as you are observing the limits of the dress code you are fine. Don’t fall into the mindset that not wearing an abaya will lead you to the hell fire. Its good that you are wearing an abaya, but it is not mandatory. You won’t be punished for not wearing it. You will be punished, however, if parts of your body is exposed.
Correction in the first line of the last paragraph.
“But to conclude, you definitely shouldn’t sacrifice your job because of the abaya.”
The ‘Abaya is not fard, covering everything save your hands and face is. As some scholars noted, “A woman can were a two piece, three piece or four piece outfit and as long as it is lose (doesn’t show her shape), isn’t transparent and not worn to pull the opposite gender, it is fine.”
Great article mashallah. I am curious if there is any info on this blog about the different ways of doing Sajdah Sahwa according to the 4 imams? Jazakumullah khayr.
I really enjoyed these wonderful answers. As Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah once said (in a Q-News interview) that one madhab is not enough for us living in the West (or perhaps the entire modern world-my comment). With that said, what is the purpose of studying a particular madhab if we often choose to follow another opinion that makes things easier (like wiping socks according to the Hanbali school)? Is it to give us a good foundation?
Dear Suhaib Webb
I have been following your site for a long time and mashAllah i am glad that your post reminded me of a problem i am facing for a long time and for which i contacted Dr. Zakir Naik IRF but some how i didnt get any reply so i decided to ask you since you are also a scholar.
I am running an Alumni scholarship in my university in Pakistan. We help the financially challenged students with their tuition fees. Lately, few people contacted me and wanted to donate their Zakat money to me but i declined since i am not sure if i can take the Zakat money and i didn’t want to burden my shoulders with such a big responsibility of doing justice in disbursing the funds to the most deserving people. Our criteria is mostly subjective and we do invite details but rarely get a chance to physically verify them. We do the best possible due diligence but that is mostly from the trusted sources. Therefore, we may reach the best possible candidate for the purpose but still we are not sure if all the information provided by the candidates in the scholarship application is correct and true.
Now problem is that my own Zakat money is too much to fund such ventures but i can not even donate myself as i am not sure and in such scenario i do not want to take risk.
I will be really glad if you can help me in reaching some conclusion. My e mail address i have provided in the fields is correct and you can contact me or let me know your phone number and i will call myself to clarify this scenario.
May Allah guide us to the right path. Ameen
Thank you, May Allah swt reward Imam Suhaib Webb and the transcriber this was a great post