An Interview with Badru Jafar a Kenyan student of knowledge on Islamic Principles and PracticeBy Suntou Touray
Pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca or Hajj as best known, is a pillar of Islam that many in the faith pray to fulfil at least once in life time. By permit of resources, some people perform the Hajj more than once. There are still others who provide the opportunity for one or more people apart from themselves. But the religion of Islam has restrictions about the Hajj particularly with money or resources that may not come from clean sources.
Suntou Touray caught up with Badru Jafar, a scholar of prominence on Islam from Kenya and now studying Islamic Banking at University of Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom. Mr Touray seeks to know what types of money Islam prohibits for use on Hajj. The eloquent scholar Jafar (BJ) explains what the principles are concerning use of unclean money. To share this valuable information, allgambian.net produces what Mr Touray tapped from Jafar’s vast knowledge of Islam’s fundamental practice, the Hajj. What is forbidden Hajj Practice?
Brother Badru Jaffar I choose to conduct this interview with you for two main reasons.
1. You are not a Gambian2. Your answers will be less prejudice towards inter-tribal practises peculiar to SeneGambia
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Kenyan citizen. I hold BA in Hadith and Islamic Studies from the University of Madinah. Currently I am pursuing an MA degree at the Gloucestershire University, United Kingdom. Since graduation I have served in different capacities of religious institutions in Kenya. Secretary to the Majlis Ulamaa of Kenya (Council of Muslim Scholars), and Chairman of the Fatawa Committee (Religious ethics committee)
QA1. What is Hajj in short?
BJ. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam; in short it entails one making an intention to visit Makkah for specific rituals during the pilgrimage period.Ibn 'Umar narrated: Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (pillars): 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle. 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) . 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.
Q&A2. Who is eligible to perform Hajj?
BJ. Anyone who is financially able and healthy is eligible to perform Hajj. Financially able entails;- • Earnings and funds set aside for hajj are halaal (clean money.) • One should be free from debt• One should leave all his/her dependants financially able during your absence.
Q&A3. Why is Hajj not taken seriously by Muslim like Salah or Zakar? Is it due to culture or lack of understanding its importance?
BJ. Generally Muslims do not take Hajj seriously because in a number of Muslim communities the youth who form a significant population feel they are young and need ‘to enjoy life first, perform hajj, reform and remain steadfast. Another assumption is; Hajj is a privilege of the rich, therefore exclude themselves from Hajj. Of course if one can plan and target-save he becomes eligible.
Q&A4. As a person from the Gambia, Hajj I assume is seen as status symbol more than its spiritual significance. People go to much length in paying for their parents to perform Hajj. What sorts of money can one use for Hajj?
BJ. As enumerated in the previous question, the funds used for Hajj have to be halaal (clean money). Allah is pure and does not accept except what is pure. (...whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner) There are two preconditions for acceptance of any act of worship in this verse. One the act has to be salih or pure and two free from shirk or intending other than Allah in the act of worship. Performing Hajj with impure money renders the act impure and it will not be accepted. Seeking social status through acts that only Allah should be sought is a form of shirk or ascribing partners with Allah. This is also the case with pilgrims who seek the al-hajj or hajjat title are in bordering on shirk. Unfortunately, acts of worship like prayer, fasting and hajj have reduced to cultural symbols and have lost the religious rationale because of this. The resultant effect of this is we pray, fast and perform pilgrimage but do not get the desired transformation in our spirituality. The Prophet’s tradition narrated by Abu Hurairah: "Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven." These two intentions should always form the basis of our acts of worship. Performing hajj because it is an act of faith and seeking the rewards thereof.
Q&A5. If for example, a son earns money through illicit means, such as drug dealing, fornication and other unlawful earnings. The son later use that illicit money and pay for his father to go on Hajj, how is that accounted?. Is the father under any obligation to ask the son as to the source of the income before accepting the money?
BJ. If the parents know their son or daughter is engaged in unlawful business they are obliged to ask where he/she got the funds. Otherwise if he or she is in halaal business or halaal salaried employment they are not obliged to ask. Turning a blind eye to the obvious neither absolves them from blame nor renders their Hajj acceptable.
Q&A6. Is it legitimate to pay for one’s parents Hajj trip without you being on Hajj? For instance, if one pays for his mother’s Hajj trip whilst him self hasn’t been on hajj.
BJ. Yes one can prefer his/her parents over himself and it is an act birr waalidain or respect and honouring ones parents. What is prohibited is performing hajj for someone else e.g. your parents before performing Hajj yourself. The culture adopted by some Muslims communities to commercialise Hajj as seen in burdening one who intends to perform Hajj to hold purchasing gifts for the extended family.
Q&A7. On a more delicate question, can a president whose annual income is less than $50,000, hire a plane that costs the region of $100,000 selectively take his loyal supporters on Umrah and Hajj for purification whilst ruling with iron fist? The second part of the question is about the income that the president is using for Hajj. If that money is from public coffers, is that hajj legitimate?
BJ. Unfortunately some Muslims in positions of power usurp and embezzle public funds and time for their own individual benefit. Taking someone else’s property unlawfully whether private or public is haram (forbidden) and cannot be used to fulfil an act of worship. Apart from rejection of the act of worship a grievous punishment awaits him in the hereafter. (O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!)
Q&A8. On different topic now, can an Imam in secular democratic country use his mimbar (pulpit) to condemn tyrannical action of his country’s president? If that Imam is seen endorsing the president is he obligated to also publicly criticise the president for human rights abuses and suppression of his people?
BJ. Imams have an obligation to advice the leadership and censure any wrong doing perpetrated by state and government. However, using the right channel is important. It might be appropriate to use the mimbar for some subjects and inappropriate for others. Scholars in the country are better placed to advice on the best approach.
Q&A9. Is human rights vital in Islam?
BJ. Shariah’s objectives as spelt out by Jurists include safeguarding human beings as defined by Islam. Human rights therefore, are an integral part of Islam. An example of human right is sanctity of life and right to basic standard of life. Preserving human rights is the obligation of the state and therefore, the state is held accountable for any breeches perpetrated within its environs.
ST. Thank you for your time and for sharing this useful knowledge .
BJ. Thank you may Allah Almighty bless us all.
Interviewer’s notes: The interview was conducted to highlight the significance of the fourth (4th) pillar in Islam. We shouldn’t look at Hajj as for the old and rich members of our community. Instead of going for holiday trips several times to the Gambia, it is better we also plan for hajj, as Muslims, delaying hajj incur us sin.
Also the societal pressure prevalent in our communities shouldn’t be something that bothers us. Dealing in illegal substance to fund the hajj trips of parents is unlawful and sinful. Let us pay for our parent’s hajj when Allah made the trip money available for us in rightful and legitimate ways. Again when our parents or family members come from performing hajj, the welcoming occasion usually turn into bidda or innovations diluting the whole purpose of hajj. People go at every length to buy cows and mark the occasion very extravagantly. Those acts contravene the spiritual journey of the pilgrims. May Allah grant us halal incomes and give us the faith to perform Hajj. Amen.