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Q. & A  WITH DR. MOHAMMAD ALI ANSARI

Translated By Dara Malihi posted December, 2008

Q. What happens to kids/Infants who suffer early death?


 A. Do all kids/infants who die go directly to heaven? The answer is, no, not directly. On the “Day of Judgment”, they, as with non-Muslims who remain faithful to their beliefs their entire lives, will be tested. A type of test that can measure their potential for sincerity and submission to Allah’s will, once the truth is revealed to them with clarity. 

Moreover, In Surah Al-Tur (52:20) Allah (S.T.) says, “And to those who believe, let it be known that we shall never deprive them of their good deeds on Earth, and so they shall be joined in the hereafter with their offsprings…”   


Q. What is the nature of “Jinn”?


A. “Jinn” refers to the invisible creatures that like human beings range from being extremely evil (i.e. Shaytan, or the Devil) to extremely good (i.e. Malak, or the angels), as well as, those in-between who, as described in a Surah by the same name, are a mix of good and bad, powerful and weak, faithful and not so faithful. Also noted in that Surah is the possibility of communicating with the Jinn, as when Prophet Suleiman was able to harness their powers, and use them for the purposes of good.   

According to Holy Qur’an, these “Jinn” can and do operate alongside us and, thus, do have a role to play in this world (Surah Al-Rahman). And, so it seems, they, too, will be judged by their actions the same way as Almighty’s other creatures.   


Q. Other than acquiring knowledge, what should we strive for?


A. We have been brought to this world so that we may have the opportunity to be presented with situations (some quite demanding and complex) where we can choose between good and evil. However, in order to do that, we must first acquire the necessary knowledge. The right kind of knowledge is the kind of knowledge that would get us ever closer to our God, our Creator. We must continue until we reach the zenith of our capability and to the point where we are equipped, as much as possible, with Godly attributes. To the point when the hidden and the unknown of this world become transparent, and any fear and worry we might have of this world is gone.


Q. Is there any mention of "Vozou" in Qur'an?


 A. Although, not specifically by that name, the Islamic Holy Book does describe "Vozou", or ablution, in some detail in Surah AL-MAA'EDAH (5:6) as follows: "O ye who believe, when you rise up for prayer, wash both sides of your face, and your arms up to the elbows, and lightly rub your head, and your feet up to the ankles..."


Q. Marital considerations for Muslims.


 A. Whereas a Muslim man can marry women of other (monotheistic) faiths, Muslim women may not wed a non-Muslim. As far as who is, or is not a Muslim, unless there is evidence to the contrary, whenever someone professes to be a Muslim, we should take him/her on his/her word.

 

Q. What is meant by "ASMAA" in Surah Al-BAQARAH, v. 31?

 A. ASMAA' (i.e. plural for the word "name" in Arabic) does not really stand for "names" per se. Obviously, those "names" that Allah revealed to Mankind had much deeper meaning to them than the ones taught to the angels. In other words, whereas, to the angels the "names" stood for actual facts and description of things, the "names" that were revealed to Man, more than likely, involved situational wisdom, powers to extrapolate, and/or form new ideas, as well as, the ability to reason all of which were beyond what angels were equipped to learn.


 Q. How beneficial is a prayer for the deceased?


A. The great prophet of Islam (PBUH) used to pray for his loved ones such as his dear mother and uncle who had passed away. Thus, we know for it to be definitely helpful. The only condition is that the prayer itself be sincere and heartfelt. It also matters that the deceased who is the subject of our prayer truly merits it and, God forbid, not someone who was a wrongdoer.

 

Q. Any descriptions of the Almighty in Holy Qur'an?


A. Indeed, there are quite a few instances in Islam's Holy Book (i.e. Surah ALE-IMRAN, AL-HADID, and AL-HASHR to name a few) where descriptive names and attributes of Allah (SWT) are given, such as "Most Beneficent", "Most Merciful", "All Knowing", "All Wise", "All Seeing", "Swift Reckoning", "The Majestic", "The Compeller", "The Guardian of Faith", ... , etc.


Q. The place of "Hijab" in Islam?


A. It is clearly mentioned in two places in Holy Qur'an: 1) Surah NOOR, verse 31, where the subject of covering women's hair and neck are discussed, and 2) Surah AHZAAB, verse 59, where a type of dress covering is recommended that does not reveal the shape of a woman's body.


It should be pointed out that whereas in Islam there is Hijab for men, as well, their share of it is considerably less since in accordance to their enjoying comparatively less beauty and grace than their female counterparts.

 

Q. Can we combine daily prayers (i.e. pray 3 times a day instead of 5)?


A. Although, SALAAT, or daily prayers are repeatedly called for in the Holy Qur'an as one of the essential pillars of Islam, the exact manner in which we perform them is entirely based on the way Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) personally used to perform them, as there are no detailed instructions anywhere in the Holy Book regarding the mechanics of these daily rituals.   


 On the specific topic of their timing, too, suffice to say, there are no major disagreements among Muslims, as both Shi'a and Sunnis agree on the 5 prescribed daily prayers as well as the exact number of RAK'AAT, or parts, that are included in each. Nor, in fact, is there any disagreement on the general starting and ending times of each prayer. All Muslims agree, for example, that the FAJR, or morning, prayers consist of only 2 RAK'AT with its prescribed starting and ending times occurring precisely at dawn and continuing until sunrise (when the upper edge of the sun becomes visible on the horizon).


 In fact, the only area where a minor difference of opinion exists is that while Shi'a considers it "FAZEELAT" (i.e. preferred, or more worthy) to perform the daily prayers at 5 separate times during the day, they also believe that due to coinciding period of time in which noon and afternoon prayers (ZUHR and ASR) as well as evening and night prayers (MAGHRIB and ISHA) encompass, it is permissible to combine them, as long as, the correct order of them is preserved (i.e. ZUHR prayer takes place before ASR, and MAGHRIB prayers prior to ISHA, preferably, with a short break in-between, Insha'llah).  


 Some Sunni brothers regard this practice as invalid contending that each prayer must be performed precisely at a specific time and hour of the day. Though, the exalted Prophet of Islam (PBUH) who we all copy as far as Islamic rituals are concerned, is known to have performed his daily prayers in both separate and combined forms.

  

Q. When is a child considered fully responsible in Islam?


 A. Islam has traditionally considered children born into a Muslim household as Muslims. Meaning, upon coming of age, children are expected to follow their own parent's faith as Muslims, and in a way that conforms to the teachings of Islam. This parental priviledge is actually a time-tested custom that has been around for centuries in all the various religions and faiths. It benefits the kids, as well, in that it gives them a degree of certainty and stable spiritual guidance they need in the early phases of their development without unduly burdening them with all the confusion of having to decide on their own among various beliefs and ideological schools of thought, none of which they are fully prepared to deal with yet as children.


Needless to say, upon reaching the age where as young men and women they are reasonably capable of determining the type of faith and ideology that is right for them, they are well within their rights to either stay with Islam and its righteous principles, or reject it and choose another.