Friday 13 April 2001
Last Update 13 April 2001 2:04 am
Q.1. On reading verses 200-201 of Surah 7, I am inclined to ask whether Satan can be in control of the nervous system of a human being. Moreover, are there two sources of evil thoughts: Satan and one’s soul?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Q.2. Considering verse 204 of Surah 7, can a person praying in a congregation read Surah Al-Fatihah if the Imam is reciting the Qur’an aloud?
Q.3. Since Prophet Abraham stoned Satan as he tried to dissuade him from sacrificing his son, he must have seen him. This means that the jinn can take physical forms to harm human beings. Please comment.
M. A. Azmi, Al-Khobar
A.1. The verses to which the reader is referring may be rendered in translation as follows: “Whenever any dark suggestion from Satan touches them, the God-fearing think of God, and they begin to see things clearly, even though their (godless) brethren would like to draw them into error.” There is no suggestion in these verses, or indeed anywhere else in the Qur’an or the Sunnah that Satan may be in control of man’s faculties. In fact, the reverse is true: these verses suggest that Satan fails to achieve his purpose with the God-fearing. How else would they remember God? It is through this remembrance that they reject the dark suggestion Satan makes to them. This includes thoughts of disobedience to God, image of falsehood, etc.
There are certainly two sources of evil thoughts in the human mind: Satan and one’s own soul, or desires. To resist both is the mark of piety and God-fearing. It is done all the time by those who have a good perception of God, believe in Him and are committed to obeying Him.
A.2. The verse you refer to here means: “When the Qur’an is recited, hearken to it, and listen in silence, so that you might be graced with God’s mercy.” Certain schools of thought make this obligatory, even in prayer. This means that if the Imam is reading the Qur’an aloud, the rest of the congregation must listen to him in silence. None can read anything at that time. The Shafie school of law, which requires everyone to read the Surah Al-Fatihah in every rakaah, advises the Imam to allow a period of silence, after he has finished reciting Al-Fatihah, so that the congregation may read it in private. But if he does not, everyone in the congregation must still read it, according to the Shafie school.
A.3. The jinn cannot possess a human being or be in control of him or her. That Satan was allowed to appear to the Prophet Abraham does not mean that he has a free reign to harm people. He could not do that with Abraham. Nor can the jinn do it. When people say that a certain person is possessed, they simply try to explain a severe condition of a mental illness. Mental or psychological diseases can play on people in a variety of ways. Many such diseases are now treatable and curable. They may take time and a package of treatment, but they must not be ignored. They cannot be attributed to the jinn, in the same way as the jinn are not responsible for our physical illnesses.
Women visiting graveyards
Q. My wife lost her father and then our infant child with only a few weeks difference between them. They are buried together in the same grave. She is prevented from visiting their graves because she is a woman. She is told that when a woman visits a graveyard the men buried there see her naked. Yet she feels great longing to visiting their grave, reading the Qur’an to them and praying God to have mercy on them. Is there anything wrong with that?
F. S. Siddiqui, Dhahran
A. Islam does not place any restriction against women visiting graves and graveyards except that they must not wail and cry aloud when they are there. The Prophet originally told women not to visit graveyards, but toward the end of his life, he said to them: “I had told you not to visit graves; now I am telling you to visit them.” The reason was that Arabian women used to wail at graves. The Prophet wanted this practice to be stopped. Therefore, he banned women from visiting graves to start with. After sometime, when Muslim women were better aware of how Islam wants them to behave in different situations, he allowed them such visits. In fact the Prophet encourages visiting graveyards because such a visit reminds the visitor of his or her own death and the fact that they would have to stand in front of God when their actions are reckoned to determine their reward or punishment.
Scholars like Ibn Qudamah, of the Hanbali school of law, make it clear that since this is the purpose of visiting graveyards, both men and women need such visits. Hence, it is allowed to both. Islam does not differentiate between men and women in matters which both of them need, unless he makes the difference in favor of women. Muslims, however, often deny women their rights under all sorts of pretexts. These are un-Islamic.
One such example is that which the reader’s wife has been told, claiming that she is seen naked by the dead. This is most absurd.
The dead cannot sea their visitors. How can they, when they have no eyesight, and no vision whatsoever? Even if they had, how can they see in the darkness of their graves? If you place a person with sharp eyesight in a hole and cover his face with a napkin, he cannot see anything. Would the dead who are buried deep in the graves see those who are above ground? It is all superstition.
Having said that, I may add that the reader’s wife can always pray for her father and son, without having to go to the graveyard. Whatever she prays God for them, from any place, will be accepted, God willing. Visiting their grave should be intended for the living, to remind them of death.