Opinion, August 2003, www.aljazeerah.info
Tawaf on Behalf of Others
Arab News, 8/4/03
Q. I have been told that it is permissible to perform the tawaf on behalf of anyone, regardless of his or her status. However, someone else has told me that this is only so, if the person on whose behalf we are offering tawaf is invalid, poor, too old or deceased. Please clarify.
Hajra Kader • Johannesburg
A. The Prophet tells us that tawaf is a kind of prayer, except that it is not invalidated by ordinary talk. It is an essential part of the pilgrimage and the Umrah, whose validity depends on the performance of tawaf. Other than this, it is recommended, or a Sunnah, at any time. It is permissible to offer the pilgrimage and the Umrah on behalf of another person who is unable to offer such a duty personally, as in the case of a deceased person or one who suffers from a chronic illness. We cannot offer such a duty on behalf of one who is able to undertake the journey physically and financially, but happens to be too busy or unenthusiastic about performing his duty for any reason. Some people do not offer their daily prayers, or offer them intermittently. We cannot do anything to help them. Similarly, if a person has the wherewithal to offer the Umrah or the pilgrimage, but does not take steps to do so, we cannot help him by offering these duties on his behalf even if such a person happens to be a parent or a dearly beloved relative.
To offer tawaf on behalf of another person is the same as offering two raka’ahs of Sunnah on his behalf. Why should we do so, if the person concerned does not want to pray? Moreover, to offer something on behalf of another person is limited only to acts of worship that admit performance by proxy. There is clear difference among scholars as to whether this is permissible in the case of prayer, fasting and other physical acts of worship. It is perhaps the weightier view that such acts of worship cannot be offered by proxy. The pilgrimage and Umrah are different because they have been clearly stated by the Prophet to allow that. Financial acts of worship, such as sadaqah, may be offered on behalf of others.
Before the Day of Judgment
Q. I have heard different reports about the time preceding the Day of Judgment, with one saying that the whole world would be corrupt and people would not remember God at all. The other report states that the Prophet Jesus would come again and kill the Impostor and establish an Islamic state. Which is true? If the first one is the correct answer, then does this mean that Islam is ultimately a failure?
A. There is no conflict between the two reports which you have heard. But before I explain how this is so, I would like to say that many of the Hadiths that speak of future events, particularly those relating to the Day of Judgment and its signs and the events that precede it are not at the highest level of authenticity. Some of them are of the grade of Sahih, or authentic, and some are hasan, or acceptable, while others are poor in authenticity. Moreover, many accept a figurative interpretation.
The two reports should be read as speaking of events that occur in succession. The Earth would be first full of corruption, that people would be so used to it that they do not even think about God or their religious duties. When things reach this stage and the Impostor arrives to try to remove all goodness from human life, the second coming of Prophet Jesus Christ takes place. He would gather around him some believers who would be dedicated to the cause of the divine faith. He fights the Impostor and kills him to establish a world order based on the divine faith in its final form, i.e. complete human submission to God alone, which is the essence of Islam.
Islam is certainly not a failure. It is always victorious. Its victory is seen every day in the behavior of many a Muslim who disdains all temptation, forsaking wealth, position, power and other worldly values for God’s sake. Its ultimate victory is seen when such people are of sufficient numbers to organize the life of their community on the basis of Islamic values. This has happened many times in history and will continue to happen again and again until the end of human life on earth.
The Haram of Madinah
Q. In response to a question about non-Muslims being not allowed to enter the holy places in Saudi Arabia, I read that the city of Madinah also forbids entry to non-Muslims. However, to my knowledge, Madinah has a quite sophisticated international airport. A few years back, even a hijacked airliner, probably Russian, was allowed to land there with non-Muslims on board. Please clarify.
A. It is as we stated last time: Madinah is not allowed for non-Muslims within a 12-miles radius. This is in fulfillment to a prohibition order by the Prophet who says: “I am forbidding this city as God has made Makkah a forbidden city.” There are clear signs on the roads approaching Madinah from all sides stating that non-Muslims are not allowed in the city. Hence, the prohibition is applied and there is no question about it.
It is true that Madinah has an airport, but it is located outside the precincts of the city.
It is not part of it. Thus, it is not different from Jeddah airport, which lies within the Hil area. Moreover, it is only a semi-international airport with international flights coming only from Muslim countries. It is only Saudia and a few other airlines from Arab and Muslim countries that are allowed to land there. It is not a normal point of entry into the Kingdom, like Jeddah or Dhahran. International flights are received at Madinah airport mostly during the pilgrimage and Umrah seasons. As for the hijacked airliner, this is a case of an emergency that was dealt with in the proper way by the authorities. Certainly no non-Muslim on the plane was allowed in Madinah, unless that person needed urgent medical attention.
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