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Following a Mujtahid

Q1: I would be grateful if you could please inform me of the name of an Ayatullah whose taqlid can be undertaken. I have no information about the names or the total number of Ayatullahs that there are.
A1: In the issue of taqlid, it is necessary to follow the most-learned mujtahid. In this respect you can refer to the declaration by the respected society of scholars of the theological school in Qum, which comprises of fifty of the top scholars after the passing away of Ayatollah Araki. Seven individuals are introduced as the exemplary mujtahids, in which the majority introduces Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani as the first.

Q2: What is Taqlid and how can I follow a Mutjahid?
A2: It is necessary for a Muslim to believe in the fundamentals of faith with his own insight and understanding, and he cannot follow anyone in this respect i.e. he cannot accept the word of another who knows, simply because he has said it. However, one who has faith in the true tenets of Islam, and manifests it by his deeds, is a Muslim and Mo'min, even if he is not very profound, and the laws related to a Muslim will hold good for him. In matters of religious laws, apart from the ones clearly defined, or ones which are indisputable, a person must:
either be a Mujtahid (jurist) himself, capable of inferring and deducing from the religious sources and evidence;
or if he is not a Mujtahid himself, he should follow one, i.e. he should act accordi ng to the verdicts (Fatwa) of the Mujtahid;. The Holy Quran states as such: ( И ) meaning, if you do not know, you should ask those who know. There are many other traditions which prove that an ignorant person should refer to a knowledge person who should be pious and well-versed.
or if he is neither a Mujtahid nor a follower (Muqallid), he should act on such precaution which should assure him that he has fulfilled his religious obligation. For example, if some Mujtahids consider an act to be haraam, while others say that it is not, he should not perform that act. Similarly, if some Mujtahid consider an act to be obligatory (Wajib) while others consider it to be recommended (Mustahab), he should perform it. Therefore, it is obligatory upon those persons who are neither Mujta hids, nor able to act on precautionary measures (Ihtiyat), to follow a Mujtahid.

Q3: Who is a Mujtahid?
A3: Mujtahid is a jurist competent enough to deduce precise inferences regarding the commandments from the holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the holy Prophet by the process of Ijtihad. Ijtihad literally means striving and exerting. Technically as a term of jurisprudence it signifies the application by a jurist of all his faculties to the consideration of the authorities of law with a view to finding out what in all probability is the law. In other words Ijtihad means making deductions in matters of law, in the cases to which no express text is applicable.

Q4: Is it allowed to follow two scholars (Mujtahids) at one time?
A4: Yes, if a Muslim (mukallaf) really comes to the conclusion that one person, for example, is more learned in prayer and another in alms tax (zakat) and a third person in pilgrimage (Hajj), then he should follow the respective scholar in each issue.
Q5: How can I find the best Marja' without doing taqlid of another Marja'?
A5: Regarding your question, you must firstly identify a learned scholar. In this matter you should practice precaution, i.e. your identification must be based on your research or that of two knowledgeable persons. Acting according to the verdict of a mujtahid, is not called taqlid. There are several rational and religious ways stipulated in the resalehs, but it is possible that differences of opinion appear in varying resalehs in stipulating such ways of identification e.g. some may say asking two knowledgeable persons is sufficient, and others may say it is not.
Q6: If the scholars of today deem that no one particular Marja is the most knowledgeable (Alam) and that they are all on an equal level and your Muqallid agrees with their views then is your follower permitted to perform Taqlid of various Maraja in various sections of Fiqh? For example can he follow you in rulings of Salat, another Marja in rulings of Khums, yet another in hajj issues and so on?
A6: Given the details you have provided in your message, it is permissible to follow two Islamic religious authorities (Marja'-e taqlid) at the same moment, only if, for example, one is more learned and knowledgeable in worship and the other is more so in khums.
Q7: Please inform me about the name of Ayatollah whose Taqlid can be undertaken. I have no information about the names and the total number of Ayatollahs.
A7: In the issue of Taqlid, it is necessary to follow the most learned Mujtahid. In this regard you can refer to the statement issued by the Jame'a-e Mudarresin of the Hawzah (Islamic Seminary) of Qom which consists of fifty of the top scholars after the passing away of Ayatollah Araki. In that statement, seven individuals have been introduced as Marja-e Taqlid . Out of those seven Ayatollah Fazil Lankarani was introduced as the first by the majority.

Friday Prayer

Q1: There are two mosques "A" and "B" whose distance from each other is more then 5.5km. They have both held Friday prayers (jumah) for more than 45 years. Recently a mosque C has opened, whose distance from mosque "A" is 5.3 km and from mosque "B" is 4.6 km. Mosque C also holds the Friday prayer, but they hold it earlier than that held at the other two mosques. Is the prayer of mosque C correct, or the prayers of mosques A and B? All three mosques belong to fiqa-e-Jafriya.
A1: The distance between two mosques must be at least one Farsakh (around 5.5 km.). If the distance is less than that, then the prayer of the new mosque is not valid. Muslims must act in a way that leads to no discord; therefore, it is advisable to establish the prayers in one place.
Q2: When the Imam for the Friday (Jummah) prayer has completed the sermon (khutba), and thereafter an English translation ensues, is such a translation considered to be a part of the sermon? Also, is it permissible to perform any recommended (mustahhab) or outstanding (qadha) prayers whilst the translation is being read?
A2: A translation is not considered to be a part of the sermon. It is permissible to perform the recommended or outstanding prayers during this time.

Friendship

Q1: Is it permissible for a boy to have a girl friend?
A1: It is not permissible for a boy to make girl friends as he might fall into a sin or indulge in sinful acts.
Q2: I love a girl so much that I kiss her. She is my friend and I have now fallen in love with her? Can I keep up my frienship relation with her? We intend to marry each other after we are ready for it.
A2: Unless you have contracted marriage you cannot have any friendship relation with her.
Q3: Can I have non-Muslim friends?
A3: There is no objection to having non-Muslim friends insofar as there is no fear of getting influenced or misguided by them. Try to guide them to the right path, if you can.

Fixed-Time Marriage

Q1: Can I make a fixed-time marriage (mutah) with a prostitute, only for the satisfaction of my sexual needs? Is this fornication (zina) or a sin?
A1: It is permissible to marry either a Christian or Jewish women in fixed-time marriage. She needs to understand that mutah is a form of marriage, and she should obtain a proxy (wekalat) in order to execute the marriage formula. Temporary marriage with a prostitute as an obligatory precaution is not permissible.
Q2: What are the requirements for making fixed-time marriage (mutah) with a non-Muslim woman in Europe, who is from the people of the Book (Christian or Jew)?
A2: There is no problem in conducting a fixed-time marriage with a woman who is either a Christian or a Jew, but the following conditions should be observed:
1. She should understand that fixed-time marriage is still a form of marriage.
2. The dowry and the time duration of the marriage must be stipulated.
3. You must have her proxy recite the specified marriage formula.
4. If the woman is a virgin, her fathers permission is obligatory. However if it is the custom in such countries that the fathers do not interfere in such affairs, then the fathers permission is not required.
5. She must not be in the waiting period (iddah) of another person.
She also has the right to stipulate that there will be no sexual intercourse.
Regarding the waiting period, it is not necessary to ask her the last time she had intercourse. But if you are aware that she is in the waiting period, you must wait until it is over before contracting marriage with her. In the case that she committed fornication, she must pass one menstrual period as a precaution.

Q3: If we are residing in a country where it is difficult to find a Muslim spouse, can we take a Christian spouse?
A3: They are ritually clean and you can consummate temporary marriage contract with them.
Q4: I have a question with regards to fixed-term marriage. If a Muslim man's wife, who is a Muslim woman, leaves the man for a couple of months, (for example leaving the country to visit relatives abroad, or for employment, etc.), what should the man do if he knows he cannot control his sexual desires, and knows his lack of control will lead to forbidden acts (for example masturbation, or adultery)? If this man has the opportunity to perform a fixed-term marriage to a woman from the People of the Book, but knows that his wife will not give him permission, or it will emotionally hurt his wife if he asks her, what should this man do? What are his options in order to refrain from any forbidden acts and satisfy his sexual desires?
A4: As you wrote, fixed-time marriage with women from the people of the Book (ahl-e kitab) is permissible and acceptable, if possible. But one who has a permanent wife should observe the duration of short-term marriage in such a way that he would not be married with two wives simultaneously; thus the fixed-time marriage must not exceed a few hours.

Fasting

Q1: I am a mother with a part time job and I work two days a week from 7:00 A:m to 3:00 p.m. My work place is more than 15 miles away. When "Ramadhan" comes, how will it affect my fasting? Since this is my job I would like to know whether I can fast those two days?
A1: It is necessary to observe fast in the said case.
Q2: In the summer months, the northern parts of Canada and Europe have extremely long days anywhere from 18 to 20 hours. Thus in the summer months, the time of fasting would be very long, making it hard to bear for some people. It is also not practical or possible to move to another locality during this period due to work and other commitments. What should be done in this situation?
A2: They must fast. If they cannot fast or there is a fear of harm for health, they can break their fast and give the Qaza later.
Q3: What is Ayatollah,s fatwa about big cities?
A3: If a city is so big that going from one part to another is commonly considered "traveling", that city is called "big city". At this time, there is not a city in Iran with these specifications. In a "big city" the beginning of the distance must be reckoned from the end of the locality, not the end of the city.
Q4: I left Iran almost 1 year ago and I 'm studying in one of US cities right now and in order to complete my studying program I have to go to another city which is more than 35 miles. I don't intend to stay in any of these two cities for a long time and as soon as I can get admission in a university in another state I'll move there.
Now I need to know what I should do for my prayer and fast in either of these cities.
A4: Based on the question, in both of the cities you have mentioned, your prayers will be shortened (Qasr) and fasting is not correct unless you make the intention of staying in one place for ten days.
Q5: What is the Kaffara for breaking one's fast intentionally?
A5: One who has broken his fast intentionally he must, in addition to making up the qadha of that day, must fast for two months the first thirty one days in a row. Or he must feed 60 poor Momins to their fill or he must give 750 grams of wheat to each one of them. If none of these is possible for him, he is free to either fast for eighteen days or feed as many poor people as he can. If he cannot do this also, he must ask Allah for forgiveness even if he has to say "Astaghferullah" once. And it is an obligatory precaution that if he is able later, he must give the kaffarah. Of course, the kaffarah is obligatory in the case that his ignorance was not due to his own negligence in learning the rulings. However, if he has grown up in a place that without his own choice, he was unaware of the rulings, then it is obligatory that he must make up that day only.

Fish

Q1: What is ruling on: shrimp, lobster, crab, clams? Are they permissible to eat?
A1: It is not permissible to eat from marine animals anything except fish that has scales; shrimp is considered from that category [of permissible sea animals]. But other than fish, like lobster, and similarly the fish that does not have scale is forbidden.
Q2: Is it permissible to eat mollusks, shrimps, crawfishes and similar animals which dwell in the sea?
A2: Eating shrimps is halal and from sea dwelling animals fish with scales are Halal. However, fish without scales, crawfish and the like are not halal.

Foods

Q1: What is your ruling on food prepared by the Ahlul Kitab? Can we eat it, and should we (from an Akhlaaqi point of view) eat their cooking as long as nothing forbidden is in it?
A1: If their food does not contain any haram ingredients like haram meat, fat and intoxicating liquid, it is permissible to eat it.
Q2: Many grocery stores in North America and Europe which are run and owned by non-Muslims sell forbidden products and also are now carrying halal meat both slaughtered by Muslims who are known to be Muslims and to be slaughtered according to Islam and also others which only bear a label of halal however we do not know its actual source. What is the rule on buying this meat?
A2: They can use the meat only when they are certain that the meat is halal.
Q3: What is your opinion on Muslims eating in non-Muslim or even Muslim owned and operated restaurants which serve halal food however also serve alcoholic drinks? If the alcohol is not being consumed at our table, does this change the ruling?
A3: If there is no alcoholic drink on your table, there is no problem in eating in these restaurants. Yes, if going to restaurants where alcoholic liquids are served is degrading for a Muslim, it is not permissible to eat in there.
Q4: Gelatine in the West comes from unknown sources, however sometimes we are told it is from a beef source (not pig). In this case, since we know that it is not from an animal slaughtered according to Islamic rites, is it permissible to each such products? Does the gelatine go through a chemical process of change that we would be permitted to eat products made with it?
A4: If it contains haram ingredients or haram meat extracts, it is not not permissible.
Q5: Is it allowed to eat at table where there is haraam meat?
A5: It is better to be avoided.
Q6: Is it allowed to slaughter a halal animal with a machine, when a Muslim starts the machine and all other conditions are observed such as the recitation of Allah's name, and facing the qibla? Is this meat permissible for consumption?
A6: According to the conditions mentioned, it is acceptable, and therefore eating such meat is allowed.

Funeral Prayer

Q1: Can a funeral prayer be held at the prohibited times for prayer i.e. at the time of sunrise, sunset and noon? If yes/no, then why?
A1: Funeral prayer can be performed at any time, and that above mentioned prohibition applies only to the recommended prayers, for which it is abominable to pray at these times.
Q2: If a Muslim commmits suicide, what are the procedures for his funeral ceremony? Can he be buried in a Muslim cemetery? Can he be shrouded?
A2: The same as other Muslims, he or she must be given Ghusl, put in a kafan (burial shroud), prayed over, and be buried in the graveyard of the Muslims.

Film Industry

Q1: Is getting a job in show business such as a producer / director of films allowed if they are no sinful acts in the film being made?
A1: If this occupation does not necessitate or involve doing any haram act, it is permissible.

Fate

What is meant by FATE. Does it mean that all the events in life of an individual is predecided? How the Astrologers tell the future of a person. Do they read from some record. If so then the outcome of any event to take place in future is predecided. Then what is the contribution of individual in that event? We say that matrimonial matches are decided in heaven then if a divorce happens. That is also predecided and no fault of either husband or wife.How my religion (Shia) view the aforesaid. Please guide.
A1: Most of the events which take place in life are decided by man himself. For this very reason, we see that active, industrious individuals are successful in life whereas lazy people and self-indulgent societies always remain behind the caravan of advancement. Based on this, fate means, because Allah, the Most High has made the world of existence, a world of means and causes and made it so that every thing comes about because of a certain cause, He has decreed it so that for example, if one with his own freewill takes a certain course he will reach a particular destination and if he goes in the opposite direction, he will end up far from there. Or for example, if a student studies during the course of the year, he will get passing grades in his exam and if he does not work, he will fail. The role of some who knows the future, like a fortune teller or astrologer, supposing they know the future, is that they know so and so, with his own volition, will choose such and such a path and reach to a certain destination or not reach. However the person who plays the main role is the individual himself. Based on this, a husband and wife whose married life falls apart and in whose house a divorce takes place are themselves to be blamed, because they could have like others, through good manners and behavior lived together. In short, the Shiite school of thought, negates all forms of predestination and robbing man of his freewill.