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​Any fasting person who forms the intention

Any fasting person who forms the intention of breaking or ending his fast before the time is due invalidates his fast, even though he might not eat or drink. Intention is one of two essentials for the validity of fasting. If it is broken, with the intention to end the fast, the fast is broken.

The Night of Decree and I'tikaf in Ramadan

The Night of Decree and I'tikaf in Ramadan is a recommended action, i.e. Sunnah, and it draws a person closer to Allah, who says in the Qur’an: ‘And We charged Abraham and Ishmael [saying], "Purify My House for those perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].’ (2:125).

Holding Friday Prayer More than Once in the Same Mosque

It is the general rule that when the Friday prayer is called, all Muslims should immediately respond and proceed to attend it. God says in the Qur’an: ‘Believers! When the call to prayer is made on Friday, go straightaway to the prayer and leave off your trading. This is best for you, if you but knew it. When the prayer is finished, disperse in the land and seek God’s bounty. Remember God often so that you may be successful. (62: 9–10) This means that when he is in a place of residence, Friday prayer is obligatory for every Muslim male to whom worship duties apply. It is a fact that in some situations in non-Muslim countries, it is difficult for all Muslims to attend the Friday prayer at the same time. Hence the question: can it be offered more than once in the same mosque?

Renting a Church for Friday and Eid Prayers

It is permissible to rent churches and other places to hold prayers, provided that the following is avoided:  1. Praying where statues are placed. If they happen to be there and in the direction of the qiblah, then they should be covered.  2. Praying in a place where there is physical impurity. This is included in the decision taken by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy’s third conference, held in Amman, Jordan from 8–13 Safar 1407 AH, corresponding to 11–16 October 1986. The decision was in reply to questions received from the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Washington. The Academy stated in its ruling that ‘it is permissible to rent a church for prayer when necessary. Praying facing statues and pictures should be avoided.  These must be covered if they are placed in the direction Muslims face in prayer. The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa in Saudi Arabia also issued a fatwa, No. 9,118, permitting prayer in a rented church, provided that there is no other place available. The Committee said:  ‘If a different place is available for prayer, then praying in a church or temple is not permissible because these are the worship places of unbelievers where beings other than God are worshipped and because they contain statues and shaped pictures. If no other place is available, then the case is one of necessity and prayer in such places becomes permissible.’ [Umar said to the priest: ‘We do not come into your churches because of what is in them of statues and shaped pictures. Ibn [Abbas used to pray in churches except those where there are statues and shaped pictures.’ (Related by al-Bukhari, subheading: prayer in a church)

Renting a Place of Entertainment for Friday and Eid Prayers

Scholars have two different views on this question:  The first view permits using such a building on condition that the place is thoroughly cleansed, while the second disallows prayer in areas and halls used for gaming or dancing and advises the community to look for an alternative place or an open area where prayer may be held. The first view of permissibility is coupled with discouragement.  The late Shaikh Jad al-Haq Ali Jad al-Haq, former Rector of al-Azhar, ruled that prayer in dance halls and places where wine is served and wanton conduct is normal is discouraged, but valid, provided that any physical impurity has been removed.

Offering Two Prayers Together Due to Study or Work Requirements or Time Overlap

Contemporary scholars have varying views on this question. The first view considers it permissible to offer two prayers together because of the short time range or because 'Isha prayer becomes due very late at night.  1. The European Council for Fatwa and Research considers it permissible to combine the Maghrib and 'Isha prayers because 'Isha falls very late at night or because its mark disappears for a period during the summer. Indeed, 'Isha may only fall due near midnight. The Council also considers it permissible to combine the Zuhr and 'Asr prayers in winter, due to the short hours of the day which makes it difficult for people at work to offer each prayer at its time in their workplaces. However, the Council makes clear that people should not resort to such combination when there is no need for it, and they must not make it their habit.  2. The General Secretary of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America published his view on the Assembly’s website making clear that it is permissible to bring the 'Asr prayer forward and delay the Maghrib prayer so as it may be offered together with the 'Isha prayer, if work conditions require this, until the person concerned can organize his working times differently.  However, he emphasized that the normal situation is to offer each prayer at its appropriate time. This concession should be exercised only when there is pressing need, or to remove hardship, or when the time of prayer cannot be properly defined.  3. A number of scholars are of the view that combining two obligatory prayers together occasionally is permissible, and in rare cases essential, in order to remove difficulty and make things easier for people engaged in work that cannot be interrupted, such as traffic police or a surgeon carrying out an operation.  4. The Fatawa issued in Tunisia in the fourteenth century AH (1883–1980 CE) considers the different views that outline the reasons permitting combining prayers together and concludes that it is permissible to follow any of the major schools of Islamic Fiqh. A special reference is made to the Hanbali school of Fiqh which states that ‘it is permissible to combine the Zuhr and 'Asr prayers together, as well as the Maghrib and 'Isha prayers’ and offer each two during the time range of either one in different situations, including circumstances and work that permit the non-attendance of Friday prayer, as clearly stated in Dalil al-Talib by Marie ibn Yusuf. These scholars add: ‘The preferable option is to follow the Hanbali school of Fiqh.  5. Shaikh Muhammad Abu Zahrah is of the view that combining prayers in situations of difficulty is permissible.

The Friday and Eid Sermon in Other Languages

Fatwas by different scholars and institutions agree that this is permissible when needed. Some of these make a condition that at least some people should learn Arabic.  1. The Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League issued its fifth decision in which it states that the validity of the sermons of Friday and Eid prayers is not conditional on the use of Arabic in non-Arabic speaking countries. It is preferable to make the introduction to the sermon in Arabic, as well as quoting the Qur’anic verses in Arabic, so as to get the audience familiar with Arabic sounds and the recitation of the Qur’an. This may make it easier for people in the audience to learn Arabic and recite the Qur’an in its original language. The person delivering the sermon may then make his address in the language of the audience.  2. The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa is of the view that it is permissible for whoever is delivering the khutbah in countries where the overwhelming majority of the population do not speak Arabic, to give the sermon in Arabic before translating it into the local language so as to enable the audience to understand. Alternatively he may preferably deliver it first in the local language then translate it into Arabic. Thus he follows the Prophet’s guidance, who used Arabic in all his sermons and letters. This also reconciles the different opinions on the question. 3. The European Council for Fatwa and Research is of the view that the normal situation is that the khutbah should be in Arabic, but in situations where the audience are largely or totally non-Arabic speaking then there is no harm in giving it in the local language.   4. Shaikh Muhammad ibn Ibraheem, the former Mufti of Saudi Arabia, was of the view that the normal situation is to give the sermon in Arabic. However, if the audience cannot understand it because they do not speak Arabic, then the person delivering it should subsequently explain it in the local language so that the audience could understand. 5. In his Fatwas, Shaikh Muhammad Rasheed Rida rules that there is no harm in translating the sermon into the local language, provided that the gap between the sermon and the prayer is short, no more than it takes to offer two rak[ahs. He prefers that the translation should be given after the prayer has finished. 6. Some scholars prefer that the essentials of the khutbah should be in Arabic, such as starting with the praise of God and reciting a verse or more of the Qur’an in Arabic, greeting the Prophet, emphasizing the need to remain God-fearing, praying for the welfare of the Muslim community, etc.  This is followed by the main sermon in the language of the audience. Alternatively, the sermon may be delivered in Arabic and then translated, either immediately or after the end of the prayer, and either by the speaker himself or another translator. 7. If none of the audience speaks Arabic it is permissible to give the sermon in their local language, while they learn Arabic. If the time needed for learning passes and still none of them has learned Arabic then they are in a state of disobedience and their Friday prayer becomes invalid.

Prayer in Polar Areas

The European Council for Research and Fatwa endorses Resolution 6 of the ninth session of the Islamic Fiqh Council held on 121-19 Rajab 1406 AH, which states that this question is open to scholarly discretion, as it is not ruled by a definitive religious statement.  The scope of scholarly discretion is wide open. The resolution says: Certain areas between latitudes 45–48 degrees north and south have clear marks for prayer times throughout the day (24 hours). People living in these areas are required to observe these clear times. The areas between latitudes 48–66 degrees go through annual periods when the marks for prayer are lost,  with the timing for 'Isha and Fajr prayers overlapping. In these areas the times for these two prayers should be determined on the basis of analogy with the times of these prayers at the nearest place where prayer times are clearly marked. The areas beyond latitude 66 degrees should estimate prayer times on the basis of the times at the parallel places at latitude 45 degrees.  In its session of 14 Rabi' II 1402 AH, corresponding to 4 February 1982, the Islamic Fiqh Council adopted a decision based on Decision 61 by the Supreme Committee of Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, dated 12 Rabi' II 1398 AH.  The decision states that the times of prayers go through two seasons. The first is when the prayer times are clearly marked during night and day, and the second is when prayer times overlap. In the first season, people should observe the prayer times as defined by the hadīths that define these times. In the second season, when the times overlap, the times of 'Isha and Fajr prayers and the start of the fasting day should be estimated according to the last period when the two twilights are clearly distinguished. In its nineteenth session, held on 22–26 Shawwal 1428 AH, the Islamic Fiqh Council reiterated its earlier decision that the areas between latitudes 48–66 degrees should estimate their prayer time on the basis of the times during the season when the relevant marks are clearly visible. However, in this new decision, the Council added the following:  ‘When the prayer time is very late, people who find it hard to wait in order to offer their prayers at the correct time, such as students, employees and labourers on their working days, may combine prayers, offering Maghrib and 'Isha prayers together.  This may be done on the basis of the religious statements that require the removal of hardship.The decision cites the texts mentioning combining prayers as evidence in support of combining prayers by students and workers, and during the period when the marks for prayer times are lost. The late Shaikh Muhammad Rasheed Rida expressed a different view on prayer and fasting in areas where the night and day are too long or too short. He said that people in these areas may estimate the times for prayers on the basis of analogy with what the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained. He mentioned that scholars have different views on whether the estimation should be based on the times in Makkah and Madinah, or in the nearest areas where the marks of prayer times are visible. The fatwa given by al-Azhar says that the estimation of prayer times in the areas where the days and nights are too long or too short should be based on the times of Makkah and Madinah or the nearest areas with visible marks. The late Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot, the Grand Shaikh of al-Azhar, said in his Fatwa: ‘The people in these areas should estimate their days, nights and months according to the times at the nearest areas with reasonable times, i.e. according to the nearest countries where the times are clearly marked and where the night and day accommodate the obligations of fasting and prayer in a way that achieves the benefits of the obligations without placing much hardship on people.

Fasting in Polar Areas

The European Council for Research and Fatwa endorses the sixth decision adopted by the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League, in the Council’s ninth session, 12–19 Rajab 1406 AH (1986), which takes into account that no clear religious text applies to this situation, leaving wide room for scholarly interpretation. The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa says that when the night or the day are too long to enable a person to fast, such a person should fast as long as he can. Should he fear that he might die or fall ill as a result, he may break his fast, eating or drinking what he needs to spare himself harm, then continue the fast till the end of the fasting day. He must also compensate for such days as he cannot fast by fasting a similar number of days at a later date. Shaikh Muhammad Rasheed Rida considers that people in areas where the days and nights are too long or too short should resort to estimating the times of prayer on the basis of analogy with what the Prophet has taught. He mentions that scholars have different views on whether the estimation should be according to the prayer times in Makkah and Madinah or the times in the nearest cities where the days and nights are of moderate length.   Shaikh Muhammad ibn Ibraheem ruled that people in these areas must fast, but they fast according to the times in the cities nearest to them. The ruling given by al-Azhar is that the times in areas where the days are too long should be estimated on the basis of the times in Makkah and Madinah or in the nearest cities with moderate timings.  In his fatwa on this issue, the late Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot, the former Rector of al-Azhar, stated: ‘People in those areas should estimate their days, nights and months according to the times of the nearest cities with moderate timings, where the different times are clear and where the days and nights allow the observance of the duties of fasting and prayer, in accordance with the way that enables people to fulfil their duties without much hardship.

Shaking Hands with Women

Scholars have two different views on this question. The first view states that it is not permissible for a Muslim man to shake hands with a woman who is unrelated to him, or for a Muslim woman to shake hands with a man who is unrelated to her. This is the view of the majority of scholars, and included in Decision 23 (11-3) of the International Fiqh Academy. It is also upheld by Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz. A Muslim who feels embarrassed for not shaking hands should offer a courteous apology, explaining that this is required by his faith.

Sitting at Table Where Wine is Served

The first view is expressed by the late Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz. He said that it is not permissible for a Muslim to sit with people drinking wines unless he makes clear his disapproval. If they do not accept, he should leave them.The second view is expressed by some contemporary scholars who make clear that the normal ruling is that it is forbidden to sit with someone drinking intoxicants. However, if a Muslim fears some adverse reaction should he refuse to attend a function or decline an invitation, he may attend. This also applies when a Muslim hopes that by accepting his neighbour’s invitation, he may be able to advise him and to tell him about Islam.

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