1. What is the significance of Friday in Islam. Is it a day of rest and is it fair to describe it the "Muslim Sabbath"?
Friday is a very important day for Muslims. In terms of its significance, it can best be described as the 'Eid of the week'. It is also known as the 'Day Of Assembly' on which Muslims show their unity by sharing in public worship. When asked about its significance the Holy Prophet (s.A.w.) is reported to have said, "Friday is the day on which Adam was created and the day on which the Day of Judgement will be."
In a sense, Friday can be considered as the Muslim Sabbath in that Muslims are forbidden to conduct any business during the time of Friday Prayer. According to the Qur'an: "O You who believe! When the call to prayer is proclaimed on Friday, hasten earnestly to the remembrance of Allah and leave off business (and traffic): that is best for you if you but knew."
Muslim scholars have deduced from this Qur'anic verse that all business matters must be temporarily suspended once the adhan, or call to prayer, is given. All contracts signed or heard after the adhan is heard are deemed to be invalid. However, there is no compulsion for Muslims not to work on Fridays in the same way Jews are forbidden to work on Saturday. According to the Qur'an: "And when the prayer is finished, then may you disperse through the land, and seek of the bounty of Allah: and celebrate the praises of Allah often that you may prosper." The Companion, Abdullah Ibn Abbas (May God be pleased with him) went as far as to say that this verse gave Muslims permission-to use the rest of the day for social visits, go to tend to the sick and visit fellow Muslims.
The Holy Prophet (s.A.w.) is reported to have said that Allah seals the heart of a person if he misses three consecutive Friday prayers.
(82 - Solah 5)
2. Is income tax deductible from my Zakah dues?
No, income tax cannot be deducted from the Zakah you owe. Income tax is a responsibility one has to the society in which he lives, whether it is secular or religious, while Zakah is an act of worship which is due to God. So any amount of money that is taken by the civil or secular authority cannot in any way be considered a replacement for Zakah.
(62 - Zakah 3)
3. I have been attracted to a girl for a very long time and we both agree that we should get married. However, the problem is that although she is Muslim she is West Indian whereas my family is Pakistani. My family will not even consider the possibility of marriage. Should I Ignore them and go ahead with the marriage, or pander to their prejudices and look for someone else?
It is not an Islamic problem. There is no racial barrier to marriage in Islam. The point is that the person concerned does not need the consent of his parents. If he is well established and able to look after himself and the girl, he can get married. We are no longer living in a static society, and strict family bonds may no longer be relevant in the new situation. However, the questioner sounds a little hesitant and appears not to have the moral courage to break with the wishes of his family. Love between the couple at the moment may be very strong, but he must also consider that later on his marriage may affect his integration into the Muslim community. After one or two years when the initial attraction has worn off, will he still be able to protect his wife and children in the face of a hostile environment? Once there is love, this is what is important from the Islamic point of view. But it is also a question with wider implications which should not be overlooked. All eventualities should be discussed and carefully thought out.
(35 - Munakahat 3)
4. I am thinking of going to do voluntary service in a third world country. My only problem at the moment is a nagging suspicion that the agency with which I will go is a Christian propagation concern, although it advertises itself as purely humanitarian. Regardless of the group, I know the work I will be doing as a water services engineer will be vital to the community. Should I go?
If you are conscientious and committed to the mission of such an organisation and it is genuinely for the welfare of a needy community, there is no objection to co-operating in what is for the good of society - in line with the Qur'anic order for believers to compete against each other in doing good.
But the moment it becomes clear that such a mission is intended to beguile and deceive people into a non-Islamic way of life, you must withdraw. There are many organisations which are cloaked as humanitarian agencies. Be careful not to get involved in anything which has hidden aims and try to establish accurately what you are getting yourself into.
(151 - Social Issues 11)