Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wan oo Wan

Wan is one of my friends since form four at Sek Men Agama Persekutuan, (SMWP) in PJ then continued to IIU till 92....He got married with one of our friends from teh same school... Wan has a good position in IKIM, currently as the Director for Centre of Syariah...

Timbul kecuh bila Wan tulis artikelnya dalam STAR baru-baru ini, dalam tu disentuhnya tak perlu solat atas kapal terbang dan ISS kerana masalah masa, tempat, tak yakin masuk waktu sehingga tahap ghalabatul zan, glatitude dan sebagainya...
Dah jadi isu, kena jawab ler pulak...

Kenapa Wan mulakan isu ini dalam paper? Pada pendapatku, sekiranya dia ada pendekatan dan penyelidikan baru yang ingin diketengahkan, rasanya lebih baik jika dibentangkan dalam majlis ilmu, bengkel ilmuwan Islam atau perbincangan dengan orang JAKIM dulu, tidaklah terus on air....

Hari tu masa terjumpa dengannya dalam satu majlis, I did say something bahawa sepatutnya kita perlu puji usaha JAKIM mengeluarkan buku panduan ibadah di ISS, sekarang dah jadi terbalik.. JAKIM siap keluarkan tata cara di ISS, dan ada scholar lain kata sebaliknya..

My stand adalah Islam itu mudah, selagi masih waras kita wajib solat. Jika ada masyaqqah, (hardship), buatlah setakat terdaya tetapi mesti solat. Itukan maksud kemudahan Islam.. Tapi apasal pegi approuch macam tu? Dia kata sekarang ramai orang marah dia dan dia tengah write another article to clarify... Dan aku pun jawab, 'saya pun marah, baik awak jawab cepat'..

Orang awam yang tidak memahami perbahasan terperinci akan terpinga-pinga.. pening dan memeningkan mereka...

Semoga usaha Wan membuat clarification ada manfaat untuk semua..
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Concessions in prayer
By DR WAN AZHAR WAN AHMAD,
Senior Fellow / Director, Centre for Syariah, Law and Political Science, Ikim

The prayer constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam. While it is obligatory, Islam offers concessions for Muslims to carry out this religious duty relatively smoothly under difficult circumstances.

MY ARTICLE, “Islam is simple and easy,” basically pertains to the matter of prayer during air travel and in space (The Star, Nov 20). It aroused the sentiments of many. That prompted me to extend the discussion over IKIM.fm’s airwaves a few days later. The subsequent feedback was even more overwhelming!

I was thought of as someone sowing the seeds of unnecessary confusion and doubt in society, arguing a fundamental pillar of religion, namely prayer.

I take full responsibility for my opinions on both occasions. However, my point has been misunderstood and has been mistakenly construed because the readers and listeners failed to grasp the basis for my argument.

The most “controversial” statements in my earlier article were perhaps two assertions. Firstly when I wrote “?that Muslims are not to pray when travelling long distances on airplanes?”.
Secondly, “? the question of prayer during the journey by air seems absurd. We have already said that prayer during flight is unnecessary, what more prayer in outer space.”

Many got the impression that I declared prayer was non-obligatory or at least that I was taking it lightly, to the extent that I had apparently thought that prayers may simply be excused by virtue of what the readers perceived as trivial and invented “excuses” having no sound or valid basis.

I affirm that is not my position. I am a Muslim who firmly believes in Islam, both the established rituals (ibadat) and the fundamental elements couched in the creed (aqidah). At no point did I hold prayer to be non-obligatory upon Muslims.

It is insulting for one to even assume that I am ignorant of the fact:
(i) That prayer constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam, conclusively established by the Quran, the sunnah and hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) and the consensus (ijma’) of Muslim jurists;
(ii) That prayer is an obligation necessarily known by all as part of religion (shay’ ma’lum bil-darurah fi al-din);
(iii) That any Muslim who purposely abandons it commits a grave sin, and he who treats it lightly is considered to be fasiq; and
(iv) That any Muslim who consciously denies such responsibility has removed himself from Islam.

Readers would not have misunderstood if I had included the word “required” in the first sentence. It should have read as follows: “? that Muslims are not required to pray when travelling long distances on airplanes?”

In the second instance, I would have perhaps been better if the sentence read: “We have already said that prayer during flight is deemed unnecessary, what more prayer in outer space.”
The terms “required”, “seems” and “deemed”, would in fact allow the context to be understood as intended and would have allowed room for more discussion.
Prayer according to Islam has two dimensions: essence and form. The former refers to the fact that prayer is indeed an undisputed obligation commanded by God.

This religious instruction, as recorded in the words and letter of the Quran, remains unchanged. In this sense, in other words in essence, the obligation of prayer is absolute.
The latter refers to the manner of how such an obligation (taklif) is carried out. Taklif, though originating from defined revealed sources, assumes room for change according to conditions surrounding the obliged (mukallaf) with regard to his obligation. When it comes to the practical application of the divine commandments, there are many conditions attached to it.

In this regard, the obligation is neither absolute nor rigid, but dependent upon the situation. While prayer is textually mandatory, under certain circumstances, its imperative may be loosened, suspended or lifted.

If a Muslim suffers from insanity (temporary), senility, falls into a coma, or experiences a blackout, he is not obliged to perform such duty since one of the conditions is not met, that of being of sound mind.

Similarly women experiencing menses are not only not required to perform prayer, they are forbidden from doing so because the condition of purity is not fulfilled.
“Not required” (tidak dituntut) assumes that while the word and letter of the ruling itself remains unchanged and is generally applicable for all under normal circumstances, it does not apply to those placed in abnormal situations.

Islam is certainly not a religion where its obligations are to be strictly adhered to regardless of the individual’s conditions, examples of which are mentioned above. As in many other rituals, the injunctions pertaining to prayer are not without flexibility.

When I said that Muslims are “not to pray”; prayer seems “absurd” or “unnecessary”, I was referring to the form only, in other words, with regard to how they are to be performed, and not in the sense of belittling or rejecting its textual and essential obligatory nature.
It is the rejection of the essential nature that affects one’s religious status.

Prayer in an aircraft
According to Islam, all obligatory ritual duties imposed on individual Muslims are closely associated with place/location and time as prerequisites for their fulfilment.

In the case of prayer, it’s obligatory nature is subject to a number of conditions for it to be valid. These include that the Muslim is of sound mind, is in a state of purity, whose body is modestly covered, and who is aware and conscious of the fact that the time has come for prayer (masuk waktu), that he is facing the Qiblah, and has the intention. Unless and until all these necessary prerequisites are fulfilled, prayer will not be valid.

Our focus here is the condition pertaining to time, i.e. the arrival of the specific designated or appointed prayer time.

A Muslim must be present in person at a certain location for the time of prayer to be in effect. The arrival of prayer time may be determined either with certainty (yaqin) or by a preponderance of probability (ghalabah al-zann).

If a Muslim prays zuhur but is doubtful with regard to its time, even if in reality the time has indeed already arrived, his prayer is invalid.

Therefore, if one insists of performing prayer under that condition of uncertainty, its obligatory character is of no value whatsoever. So it is meaningless to perform prayer before, outside or beyond its designated time.

The religion of Islam teaches that when a Muslim travels and exceeds a certain distance, along the way he can either combine or shorten his prayers.

When he reaches his destination, he has to perform his religious duties in the normal manner according to the peculiarities relative to the new land, particularly its time requirements.
He must no longer subject himself to elements relative to his place of departure.

Therefore, if one reaches Mecca, he is not supposed to pray according to the time relative to Kuala Lumpur.

The insistence by the Government to adhere to Dec 20 as the date for Aidil Adha proves that it is both necessary and logical to adhere to the method of sighting the moon (ru’yah) and its calculation (hisab) which is applicable and relative to this country in determining the day, i.e. the location and condition relative to us in Malaysia and not that of Saudi Arabia.

A Muslim who travels by air not only has to establish the prayer time according to the manner of preponderance of probability while onboard, but he also needs to adjust that probability based on the prayer time determined by the corresponding time on the ground below.
In addition, the science of Islamic astronomy (ilm al-falak) has defined that there are certain differences of time between lower and higher grounds.

If at sea level the maghrib prayer time is at 7.15pm, then a few more minutes must be added to that time 1000m higher up. Therefore, being more than 30,000m in the sky, a Muslim traveller must add between 15 and 30 minutes from the time for prayer determined by the time on the ground. Furthermore, while onboard an aircraft, time and the corresponding ground location become relative as both keep changing throughout the flight.

There are always exception(s) to every general rule in Islamic law. The Syariah prescribes that prayer is obligatory, period. But, on many occasions, Islam offers concessions for Muslims to carry out their religious duties relatively smoothly under difficult circumstances. For instance, if one is sick, or is travelling, one is allowed to either combine or to shorten ones prayers, or to combine both.

Even during war, it happened during the Prophet’s time that he and his Companions performed prayer in a special manner referred to as solat al-khauf. On other occasions, it occurred that they prayed subuh and asar after the times for both prayers had lapsed.
This suggests that in certain circumstances, Muslims may “suspend” their prayers until things are back to normal again.

While all Quranic exegeses (tafsirs) I have referred to acknowledge the indispensable duty to pray even during times of war, the Tafsir Baydawi affirms that according to Imam Abu Hanifah, a warrior in battle is not required to pray until the situation becomes tranquil (la yusalli al-muharib hatta yatma’inn).

Therefore, if the preponderance of probability means required in determining prayer times on an aircraft is difficult to establish, I am justified in saying that Muslims are not required to pray in the aircraft the way they normally do when they are on the ground. I am not saying that the obligation is lifted. It is just suspended.

We may also consider safety reasons for a Muslim traveller to “postpone” his prayer. Bringing stones or dust onboard for “dry ablution” (tayammum) may not be allowed by certain airlines.
The bearer of these stones and dirt may need to go through medical screening upon arrival at his destination and some countries that fear a possible health threat may put him under quarantine. On the other hand, the excessive use of water of an aircraft may affect the electronic systems of the plane. This is very likely to happen on an aircraft carrying hundreds of pilgrims to Mecca.

Any Muslim who chooses to exercise the concessions allowed must not be regarded as someone who takes religion lightly. What more if he is doing so by virtue of the fact that one of the pre-conditions of a particular obligation is not met.

Hence I maintain my position, unless and until proven otherwise, that Muslims travelling on a fast craft, jet or rocket traversing different time zones are not required (tidak dituntut) to pray until they reach their destination.

The primary reason is clear – the inapplicability of time, one of the most important conditions for the validity of prayer. If one wishes to make up the “missing” prayers during the journey, he may do so if only to soothe his anxiety.

Islam is simple and easy – how beautiful!