Q. Could you please let me know whether it is permissible to offer Taraweeh prayers at home, individually, or it must be offered in congregation in the mosque. Is it permissible to hold a copy of the Qur’an and read from it in Taraweeh prayer? What is the minimum number of rak’ahs in Taraweeh?
A. A. Yusufzai, -Thoqba
A. It is perfectly appropriate for anyone to offer Taraweeh prayer, which is the name used for night worship in Ramadan, at home, individually or in a group. In fact, it is better to offer voluntary prayers at home, leaving the mosque for obligatory prayers. If one prays at home, alone or with one’s wife and children, one does well. There is no harm in that. Some people may not be able to join the congregation because they are working or have something to attend to. So, they may pray at home when they can. Others may wish to read long passages of the Qur’an in taraweeh, which means that they have to pray at home. All this is acceptable. It is also all right to read from one’s copy of the Qur’an in voluntary prayer, including Taraweeh, but not in obligatory prayers. The minimum number of rak’ahs in Taraweeh is 2.
Government Restrictions on Business
Q. If a government restricts the licensing of certain types of business, does violating the restrictions constitute an illegal action from the Islamic point of view? For example, if a government says that only certain organizations can establish telecommunications business, and then a person establishes his own, paying the fine imposed by the government, does he commit something forbidden in Islam? Can we see here a parallel in a government outlawing marriage with more than one wife? If one lives in a country where polygamy is outlawed, and he nevertheless marries a second wife, his marriage is valid from the Islamic point of view, even though the government of his country may consider it illegal. Please comment.
A. It is open to a Muslim ruler to restrict some permissible actions, provided that such restriction is lawful under Islamic law and undertaken in the interests of the community. To give a simple example, a government may impose speed limits that vary on the basis of the nature of the road. To start with, driving at any speed is permissible. When the government imposes speed limits and punishes those who violate such restrictions, for the sake of public safety, its action is perfectly lawful from the Islamic point of view and it must be obeyed. Hence, when a driver exceeds such speed limits, he does not only violate the law of the land, but also commits something forbidden in Islam.
This means that the nature and purpose of the restriction are vital in determining whether it must not be violated from the Islamic point of view. If a government restricts telecommunications to a public authority because it knows that such business generates good income which is then used to provide services to the public, then such restriction is perfectly legitimate and it must be obeyed. On the other hand, if the restriction is such as to give certain people monopoly because they are related to the president or to some minister, then the restriction violates Islamic law. Those who impose this monopoly, depriving people of the chance of earning their livelihood will have to account to God for their injustice.
What should be our attitude in such a situation? The general rule is that stated by the Prophet: “A Muslim must obey and comply, in matters he likes or dislikes, unless he is commanded to do what constitutes disobedience to God.” This applies when one lives under a Muslim government, or indeed under any government, because a Muslim does not unnecessarily defy orders. But when a government order requires him to disobey God, he does not comply.
This must not be confused with cases like the reader has cited, i.e. outlawing something lawful, or legalizing something forbidden. When a government does that, it exercises an authority which belongs to God alone, namely the authority to prohibit anything. When God has made marriage with up to four wives permissible, it is not for any ruler or government to say that it is not.
Arab News Islam 21 February 2003