A. PRACTICE OF ISLAM AND NON-AVAILABILTY OF HALAL FOOD IN A NON-MUSLIM AREA * (Date published: 26 May 2002)
Question: Assalamo Alaykom….I am an OFW convert to Islam for five (5) years and fortunate enough to have discovered many things about Islam. I found practicing Islam in Kuwait as smooth and easy. However, I wish to anticipate a problem once I returned back to the Philippines for good, like the unavailability of Islamic or halal foods and Guidance Center in my hometown in Antique. I thank the Almighty that my Christian friends and relatives understand my being a convert to Islam. Although, I have no problem with them especially my one and only child, I wish I can propagate Islam to them. I also wish to live with and see a Muslim community in my hometown. Please advise me.
Sara of Hawally
Answer: Alaykom Assalaaam… Your eventual return to RP for good poses a big challenge on your part whether you can still practice Islam in Antique, the way you do it in Kuwait. While the practice of Islam and adherence to Shariá law are not based on territorial jurisdiction or residency, I am sure that you can still be a good worshipper and religious practitioner in Antique by applying a sincerest taqwa or self restrain and real fear to the Almighty GOD. The Almighty helps and saves those who practice taqwa or self restrain with utmost sincerity and those who fear Him in real fear (The Holy Qurán and Al-Hadith). Actually, you can turn this situation as a window of opportunity to show to your Christian friends and relatives the Islamic code of conduct by reflecting it in your daily routine and inter-personal relations with your friends and relatives. Meanwhile, as to Islamic or halal foods, you can rely heavily on nutritional fish and vegetables, in the absence of an Islamic-slaughtered meat. And as regards the Muslim community in your area, I think there is no city or municipality in the Philippines today where you cannot find a single migrant Muslim vendor, who professes Islam. A big flock of Filipino Muslims in the south started to leave Mindanao during the martial law days and on their own, many of them have built mini mosques and Islamic centers in the places of their work and livelihood. For this purpose, you may also wish to get in touch with the Office on Muslim Affairs at 117 Ablaza Building, E. Rodriguez, Sr. Street, Quezon City, Telephones: 742 2711, Fax: 731 4341 or at the Office on Muslim Affairs, 4/F GTC Building, 116.3 Borromeo Street, Cebu City. I hope you will succeed in propagating Islam to your friends and relatives.
*Published under writer’s pen name
B. PROHIBITING A MUSLIM WOMAN TO TRAVEL WITHOUT A MAHRAM (MALE-RELATIVE ESCORT) (Date published: 30 June 2002)
Question: I am a holder of a dependent visa. My Kuwaiti husband is prohibiting me from traveling alone even on my regular holiday to the Philippines. He said, I am now a Muslim and I should follow and adhere to Shariá or Islamic law. I respect my husband, but I know that he is not knowledgeable as regards this matter. Is this true? Please advise me, as traveling from one place to another is part of my vocation. We have two (2) children and I wanted to keep my family in tact.
Answer: Your Kuwaiti husband is correct though he is not knowledgeable in Shariá or Islamic law. He may have read or heard about a Hadith, which relates that Prophet Mohammad, upon whom be peace, said. “It is not lawful for a woman who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment to go on a journey lasting for a day and night without accompanying a person who is related to her within the prohibited degrees of marriage”, i.e., with whom marriage is unlawful between them (Riyadh-Us-Saleheen, Vol. 11, page 508; Articles 23,24,25 & 26 of PD 1083). Your situation is now on the balance between your husband and vocation. However, since you wanted to keep your family in tact, and as a Muslim, I believe that it is in your best interest, along with your two (2) children that you honor your husband’s wish. Otherwise, a feeling of hatred between you and your husband would develop in the process. For this purpose, you may also wish to read Article 36(3) of PD 1083, which elaborates the need of the husband’s consent in the exercise of the wife’s profession or vocation. It further emphasizes that the wife’s profession or vocation shall be in keeping with Islamic modesty and virtue.
C. MAHRAM OR RELATIVES WITHIN THE PROHIBITED DEGREES OF MARRIAGE (Date published: 01 September 2002)
Question: This is a follow-up question on your 30 June 2002 issue, regarding the prohibition for a Muslim woman to travel without a mahram. My wife, who is a convert to Islam is still curious and wanted to know who are her mahrams under Shariá or Islamic law. Despite my explanation about the subject, I felt that it is more convincing and authoritative if it would come from you. Please let us know through your column.
Abdullah & Teresa
Answer: The issue on mahram came out when Prophet Mohammad, upon whom be peace emphasized that a Muslim woman should not travel without a mahram, when the journey is to last a day or more (Al-Hadith). Under Shariá or Islamic law, your wife’s mahram’s are: her father, grandfather, uncle, granduncle, brother, son, foster son (milk, relationship) stepson, son in-law & nephew (Verses 22-23, The Holy Qurán). Actually, mahram is based on the relationship between a man and woman, i.e. by consanguinity, by affinity and by fosterage (Articles 23,24,25 & 26 of PD 1083). In fine, mahram is referred to as the male traveling companion or escort of a woman who is related to her within the prohibited degrees of marriage. In other words, the above-mentioned persons are the parties who are allowed by Shariá or Islamic law to accompany or escort a traveling woman. Of course, a husband in this circumstance is a mahram by reason of marriage. God knows best.
D. Protection of Non-Muslims in a Muslim Country (Date published: 08 September 2002)
Question: I am a non-Muslim expatriate. Your Panorama column on Islamic law prompted me to ask whether non-Muslims are entitled to protection from the Muslim government of Kuwait in case a war breaks out in the region. i.e. the US attack on Iraq. I am afraid of a worst-case scenario that might bring the Muslims into rampage since all Muslim countries including Kuwait signified their strong opposition against any attack on Iraq.
Answer: Under Islamic jurisprudence, non-Muslim residents in a Muslim state are entitled to protection and security from the Government (Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam), therefore, you are entitled to such protection since Kuwait is a Muslim state. This kind of protection is known as "dhimmi". Literally, this doctrine is a sort of obligation or contract imposed upon a Muslim state to protect and secure its non-Muslim citizens or residents. While you are perhaps apprehensive, please do not get the impression that the life of a non-Muslim is not safe in a Muslim society for God has safeguarded and declared the life of every human being to be sacred. And one of the Divine protective measures thereof is the said doctrine. Prophet Mohammed, upon whom be peace, threatens anyone who violates this doctrine with wrath and punishment. He said, "he who hurts a dhimmi hurts me and he who hurts me annoys God (Al-Hadith Al-Tabarani)". In fine, you can always invoke on this doctrine.
E. TERRORISM (Date published: 20 October 2002)
Question: We are newly converts to Islam and skilled OFWs assigned in Ahmadi. In view of the worldwide issue on terrorism, please let us know the penalty for terrorism under Shariá Law since we are taught that Islam is very much against terrorism.
Ahmed and Alexander
Answer: First of all I would like to emphasize that the word “terrorism” has yet to be defined perhaps by the United Nations (UN) for purposes of consistency and uniformity by all member states. The UN may likewise draw the borderline between an act of “terrorism” and an act of “rebellion” as the two words connote different meaning, although these are inter-changeable nowadays. For example an act of terrorism is construed as an act of rebellion or an act of suppressing the rebellion is construed as a state terrorism or the other way around. At any rate, Oxford dictionary of law defines terrorism as the use of violence for political ends, including the use of violence for putting the public in fear, while the Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. In both definitions, please be informed that Shariá jurisprudence imposes death penalty to terrorism, if it has caused the death of individuals. Otherwise, the penalty maybe lighter depending upon the damage caused by the terrorists, and assessment of the Shariá judge or qadi. Moreover, Islam is not only against terrorism, but is also against extremism as other may call it.
F. REVERENCE TO PARENTS (Date published: 17 November 2002)
Question: I am married to my former employer. Few weeks after our marriage, he has my visa changed from category 18 to category 22. he said, it was a show of goodwill and sincerity. From that time on, he started to buy me expensive items, including a simple house and lot in the Philippines. My problem now is my mother, who is a fanatic non-Muslim and opposite of my fanatic Muslim husband. Lately she wrote me a letter advising me to return to the Philippines and divorce my husband. Knowing my husband’s temper, my mother's advice is bothering me because I am sure that he would divorce me or retake the items he has given me once he is informed of my mother’s advice. Do you think it is legal for my husband to divorce me because of this development?
Answer: Although divorce under Shariá law is basically in the hands of the husband, your mother's advice does not constitute a legal ground for your husband to divorce you (Article 45, PD 1083). Such advice is immaterial in the eyes of law, unless implemented or executed. Actually, it is up to you to weigh between your mother's advice and husband's goodwill and sincerity. After all, it is you and your husband who will heavily suffer the consequences, in case you heeded to your mother's advice. Remember it is your marital union that is at stake. If I may add, Shariá jurisprudence gives a lengthy emphasis as regards the treatment to one's parents. God forbids those who disrespect their parents whether they are Muslims or not, who are fanatical to the point of arguing or interfering very personal matters, like religion and husband-wife issues. Reverence and obedience to one's parents are a must, but such are limited within the bounds of faith. Moreover, love and respect to one’s parents cannot compromise the belief to the oneness of God (31:14-15, The Holy Qur'an).
G. SECRET MARRIAGE (Date published: 22 December 2002)
Question: I am a convert to Islam OFW and holder of visa 18. Last Ramadhan, my employer proposed me a marriage. However, he wanted it secret. Is this legal under Shariá or Islamic law? Please advise me.
Answer: Please be informed that conducting a marriage without permission from the bride's wali or guardian and/or without witnesses is null and void, therefore, it is illegal and un-Islamic (Article 15, PD 1083, and Maulana Mahad Ahmed Mirpuri, Fatawa Sirat-e-Mustaqeen, p.223). Islamic scholars are unanimous of its invalidity. Moreover Shariá jurisprudence recommends that marriages are made open so that everyone in the community, especially the couple's friends and relatives are not caught surprise to see the couple together in private and public places. You may not know that the marriage in secrecy creates doubts, and hence goes against the nikaah or marriage principle emphasized under Shariá law. Since you are an expatriate, it is to your advantage for security reasons that you avoid establishing any secret relation with your employer. After all, if he is sincere in his proposal he can easily do it in the open even with limited number of guests or witnesses just to satisfy the Islamic requirements.
H. SERVING LIQUOR TO GUESTS (Date published: 05 January 2003)
Question: I am a holder of visa 18 and convert to Islam OFW. My direct supervisor is a non-Muslim. At a Christmas party in his residence, he requested my assistance to serve food and drinks to his guests, who are mostly our officemates. And since I am one of his trusted staff, he assigned me to take care of the serving of liquor and wine to the guests, which I did until the last bottle. Last Friday, my friend from IPC who has learned about the party I attended told me that I am partly liable for the liquor and wine illegal activity because of the services I rendered, although I did not drink even a drop. Is this true? I’m worried.
Answer: Your friend from IPC is correct. In Kuwait, a mere possession of liquor is already a crime, which is punishable by imprisonment depending upon the quantity and quality found in you. You must be thankful to the Almighty GOD that nothing happened in that party that calls for a police action, otherwise you could have been held liable for your role. The Almighty GOD cursed liquor in the strongest terms. That is why it is considered a crime per se in Kuwait. Moreover, Shari’a jurisprudence categorizes the persons liable, as follows: the manufacturer or distributor, buyer, drinker, seller, server, holder or keeper, carrier and even the beneficiary of the profits, if said liquor is being commercialized. While your intention is good and your loyalty to your immediate supervisor is invaluable, your fear to the Almighty GOD would have been the paramount consideration. Please be informed that although Islam is a friendly religion, it cannot afford to compromise the laws of the Almighty GOD (Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Baz, Fatawa Islamiyah, Vol. 1). In your case as a new Muslim, I believe that local authorities are very lenient on your status, and the Almighty GOD is more lenient. You don’t have to worry, just keep on learning Shari’a law.
I. FULFILLMENT OR IMPLEMENTATION OF OBLIGATIONS OR CONTRACTS (Date published: 02 February 2003)
Question: We owned a Manpower Recruiting Agency based in Manila. Recently we signed a contract with a certain businessman in Kuwait. However, before fulfilling his obligation to recruit workers from Manila through our Agency, he changed his mind and cancelled our contract. It was a clear violation of our contract, but we decided not to take legal action because of his known connections and influence. However, we wanted to fight against his conscience in the hope that he would realize later the damages he has inflicted on us. Since he is a Muslim, what do we invoke as regards this case under Shari’a law.
Answer: As deeply emphasized under Shari’a jurisprudence, obligations must be fulfilled in letter and spirit (The Holy Qur’an, 5:1). In our own human and material life we undertake mutual obligations, both express and implied. Every person who enters into a commercial or social contract is expected to faithfully fulfill all obligations in the contract he or she has signed or agreed upon. In your case, it is an obligation that arises from a written contract, which has legal consequences. However, since you opted not to file an action, then you could always invoke on the explanation presented by Islamic scholars, among others, that curse is to a person, who intentionally and willfully refused to fulfill an obligation. For your information, Shari’a demands that every man of faith must discharge conscientiously his tacit obligation. Since your supposed partner or sponsor is a Muslim, then he must know that truth and fidelity are parts of religion in all relations of life. In fine, you can always invoke the aforementioned explanation.
J. SODOMY OR THIRD SEX (Date published: 16 February 2003)
Question: I am a visa 18 OFW and belong to the 3rd sex people. Recently, my Arab co-worker warned me of the tough and stringent laws of Kuwait against the practice of 3rd sex. Is this true and what is the penalty under Shariá law in case I am caught in the act together with my friends. Please let me know. Thanks.
Answer: Your Arab friend is right. Sodomy (3rd sex) is one of the most repugnant shameful acts rigidly emphasized under Shariá law. During the time of Prophet Lut, upon whom be peace, the Almighty God destroyed his people and punished them with terrible punishments, i.e., turning their homes upside down and raining them with stones of baked clay, layer by layer. Nowadays, most Islamic jurists are of the opinion that the penalty for sodomy should be death by stoning or burning. They emphasized the punishment as justified and appropriate, inasmuch as sodomy corrupts the moral and customs and violates the natural human state. Moreover, such act abandons the universal practice of lawful marriage and damages the moral fabric of the society. In Kuwait, you are lucky that the penalty is lesser as Shariá law is not totally implemented here. Utmost, the penalty for sodomy is imprisonment and immediate deportation for expatriates (Fatawa Al Islamiya, Islamic Verdicts, Vol. 6). Please be careful and be discreet.
K. PLACE OF BURIAL FOR MUSLIMS (Date published: 23 March 2003)
Question: Under our employment contract, our employer is obliged to bring our bodies to Manila in case we die in Kuwait. However, our mandoub told us recently that our employer is no longer under obligation to do so inasmuch as we are now Muslims or converts to Islam. He said Muslims by practice are buried in a place where they met their fate of death. Is this true? Please advise us.
OFWs Aldin & Roy
Answer: Your mandoub is right, it is a matter of practice that Muslims are buried in a place where they met their fate, especially if the place is a Muslim-dominated area where there are facilities to carry out completely the burial or funeral in accordance with Islamic rites. You may not also know that dead Muslims are buried within 24 hours from the time of death, unless a very exceptional case occur or is present that should be considered (Abu Bakr Jabir Al-Jaziry, Minhaj Al-Muslim, Vol. 2). In your situation as expatriate, your contract will stand as I know that the Philippine Embassy will not issue its consent for your burial without permission from your next of kin. And your next of kin would certainly ask that your body be brought back to the Philippines. Although your employer will probably insist that you be buried in Kuwait because you are Muslims. Moreover, since you sought my brotherly advice, I suggest that you keep on learning the teachings of Islam. I assure you that in the process you will realize that your mandoub is right since Islam avoids burdensome and difficulties. It made everything easier to benefit the Muslims. For example, Muslims are buried in simple graves without expense and ornamentation. And before burial, their bodies are washed carefully and shrouded with white clothes. Coffins and other items are considered waste that will not help the dead Muslims in any manner. Muslims are also encourage not to mourn with ostentation, instead to praise God and remember that the deceased will get the reward of his/her good and bad deeds earned in this mighty world.
L. PAYMENT OF DEBT OBTAINED BY USURY (Date published: 07 April 2002)
Question: I am a visa 18 Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). Prior to my departure to Kuwait, I borrowed P70,000.00 from our neighbor in the Philippines to cover my placement fee and other expenses while in Manila. Although a monthly interest is not written in the contract, I agreed to pay an interest of 10 per cent per month effective upon my departure. Since my salary is low and my family is big, I have not completed paying the said debt as of this writing. However, the principal amount I borrowed had been paid since last January 2001. Last Ramadhan I converted to Islam at IPC, Kuwait City. In one Islamic lecture I attended, I have learned that my debt was in the form of usury and therefore un-Islamic. My question is, shall I continue paying the interest until it is fully paid or leave it as is, since it is un-Islamic and there is a Shari’a law in the Philippines which prohibits usury among Muslims?
Bogart – Hawally
Answer: You did not specify whether your neighbor is a Muslim or not. At any rate, if your neighbor is a non-Muslim, you are obliged to pay your debt until it is fully paid. Your conversion to Islam last Ramadhan shall not have the effect to extinguishing any obligation or liability whatsoever incurred prior to said conversion to Islam (Article 179 of PD1083). Otherwise conversion to Islam will serve as a defense mechanism by any Muslim convert to do away from paying his or her debt under the cloak of Islam. Furthermore, despite the usurious nature of your debt you still have to pay it considering that the interest rate was never reflected in the contract. While it is true that Shari’a law is being implemented in the Philippines, please be guided that nothing in the provisions of the Muslim Code shall be construed to operate that will prejudice the non-Muslims (Article 3 (3) of PD 1083). Meanwhile, if your neighbor is a Muslim, it is enough that you have paid the entire principal amount of your debt. You can explain to him or her that Islam condemns and prohibits usury in the strongest possible terms (2:275-6, 2:27880, 3:130, The Holy Qur’an)