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Ramazan and eye ointment

Published Jul 18, 2013 07:14am


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THIS is apropos Ahmad Raza’s article ‘Is new fiqh possible?’ (July 12). The writer has correctly pointed out that the changing dynamics of society has necessitated re-interpretation of certain injunctions of Sunnah to make it more relevant and compatible with the norms of society.

In the absence of this, Muslims may be forced to compartmentalise their lives and place Islam in the corner where it is only able to guide few aspects of life and revert to codes of conduct formulated by secular agents.

Last Ramazan my mother, who happens to be a follower of a stricter view of Islam, encountered an acute eye infection which compulsorily needed application of certain medicine every three hours, otherwise the infection could damage the affected eye beyond repair at her advanced age.

She was not sure whether she can apply external ointment to her eye during fasting time. She consulted the imam of our neighbourhood mosque who happened to be no more knowledgeable than any average madressah-educated cleric. Most of his likes are captains of mosques of our cities and towns.

The imam, while feeling much elevated and honoured, emanated a fiat that she could do so. My mother girded up her loins and put her foot down that she would neither apply that vital concoction, nor would miss the fast. We, her obliging sons, moved mountains but she would not budge. The result? Today her left eye has been damaged permanently.

The doctor says that because of non-application of the infection-controlling ointment she has to do it with only one eye for the rest of her life.

Now, had there been clear-cut instructions from a body of learned religious scholars guiding us in the matter quoted above and many more staring us in the face daily, an average Muslim like myself would have felt a lot more comfortable.


Comments (6) Closed

irtaza Jul 18, 2013 07:47am

Well, to my understanding, if there is a medical condition where not taking treatment may damage your health, you should pursue getting the treatment and not fast. Once you are cured, you are then to fast in lieu of the one you missed. If for any reason you cannot fast at all, then you are to feed a miskeen. This is my understanding but needs ulema's opinion on it.

Abdul Wahid Jul 18, 2013 10:15am

Dear Siraj,

I am sure you would have known that your mother is consulting with the local masjid imam. Why didn't you tried to persuade her to contact or visit the Darul Uloom or any other authentic place as per your faith where the authentic fatwas are properly provided in the light of Quran and Sunnah? As per my humble understanding, Shariah allows for such provisions.

zafarov Jul 18, 2013 11:53am

Surely you mean that the fiat was that your mother could NOT apply the ointment. Very sorry to hear this. This is outrageous. Where is that Imam now? Perhaps you should consult a learned Islamic scholar to learn if this falls within the purview of 'an eye for an eye'.

NihilisticMystic Jul 18, 2013 12:04pm

If I were you, I'd see to the Imam personally.

Mohammad Ateeq Iyoob Jul 18, 2013 12:12pm

This is true that all the imams are not that well versed and do not have a grip over religious matters, but there are classes of Imams based on the length of education they have acquired. If your mother would have consulted a Mufti or Alim, they would have guided her appropriately. It is not right to stereotype the entire class of Imams based on a single person's acts or words. Regards Ateeq

Nauman A Jul 18, 2013 12:38pm

Common sense should have prevailed - nothing to do with religion or seeking the Imam's advice here. Just shows how religion has made us so blind (sorry about the unintended pun).

"My mother girded up her loins and put her foot down that she would neither apply that vital concoction, nor would miss the fast. We, her obliging sons, moved mountains but she would not budge." .....Oh dear, how flowery?