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Ramazan and eye ointment

July 18, 2013

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.