Sunday, September 23, 2018

Reflections: Alcohol, Health, and Morality

"They will question thee concerning wine, and arrow-shuffling (gambling). Say: 'In both is heinous sin; and uses for men, but the sin in them is more heinous than the usefulness.' They will question thee concerning what they should expend. Say: 'The abundance.' So God makes clear His signs to you; haply you will reflect;" Quran 2:219 (Arberry)

This week seemed filled with such clear signs concerning the wisdom of the prohibition of alcohol consumption.

It was widely reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) published a study declaring that alcohol accounts for one in twenty deaths worldwide. That latest study only confirmed another from last month which found that "there's no amount of alcohol consumption that’s safe for overall health" and that "some modest cardiovascular benefits associated with moderate drinking" are "overshadowed by the numerous ways alcohol can threaten health".

Less widely reported was this observation by Vladimir Poznyak, the Coordinator of Management of Substance Abuse Unit at the WHO:
It's definitely a global problem and only in countries with higher proportion of a Muslim population the levels of alcohol consumption are relatively low. But at the same time in all parts of the world, alcohol consumption now is widespread and is a source of significant burden to population health.
So the less the Guidance is followed the greater the health burden.

Yet we see another type of burden associated with alcohol, a moral one, evident in the spectacle of Brett Kavanaugh's supreme court confirmation hearings in the US.

How odd it is that people should regard fornication and alcohol consumption as perfectly acceptable, even among teenagers, yet recoil in supposed shock and disbelief at sexual assault (i.e. zina in the west) perpetrated by a "stumbling drunk" male on an accessible, inebriated female.

Allah says:

"Satan only desires to precipitate enmity and hatred between you in regard to wine and arrow-shuffling, and to bar you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer. Will you then desist?" Quran 5:91(Arberry)

And that is the question:

Will you then desist?

Indeed the mindless, politically expedient yet morally confused outrage of a society of drunken fornicators who will not desist is a tragic thing to behold.

May Allah save our bodies, intellects, and societies from the destruction that disobedience inevitably brings.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ashura and the family

By Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam (SourceDarul Iftaa)
Many ‘Ulama encourage the giving of gifts, charity, and spending on one’s family on the day of Ashura. That is as a purely optional virtue in addition to prescribed fasting. What follows is a brief look at some of the narrations upon which those recommendations are based.
There are two types of narrations related regarding these matters. The first concerning the virtue of giving general charity on the 10th of Muharram (Ashura), and the second concerning the virtue of spending specifically on one’s family on this day.
As far as general charity is concerned, it has been reported from the Companion Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said, “Whoever fasts on the 10th of Muharram (Ashura), it is as though he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity on this day, it is like the charity of an entire year.” (Recorded by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his Lata’if al-Ma’arif from Abu Musa al-Madini)
As for spending and being generous on one’s family, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is reported to have said, “One who generously spends on his family on the 10th of Muharram (Ashura), Allah will be generous on him for the entire year.”(Recorded by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his Lata’if al-Ma’arif from Tabarani in his al-Awsat and Al-Bayhaqi in his Shu’ab al-Iman)
These and other narrations indicate that one should be generous on one’s family and dependants and spend more on them by providing more food and other items on this day as compared to other days. One may give cash, food and drink, or any other item of gift.
Although some scholars consider these narrations to be weak (dha’if), others like Imam Bayhaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable. Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali relates from Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Allah have mercy on him) that he did consider some basis for them. He also quotes Sufyan ibn Uyayna (Allah have mercy on him) as saying, “I have practiced this [spending on the family] for fifty or sixty years, and have found nothing but good in it.” (Lata’if al-Ma’arif P 64)
Moreover, scholars have generally agreed on the permissibility of acting upon weak narrations for virtuous actions, as long as they are not fabricated (mawdu’).
As such, in conclusion, it would be virtuous and rewarding to spend more on one’s family on the 10th of Muharram. One may provide more food and drink or any other item. However, this practice should not be considered as firmly established from the Sunna, and thus, one should avoid attaching extra significance to it.
And Allah knows best.