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August 2007

1. DEAR ABE: As a practicing Muslim, I wish to distribute my Zakat obligatory charity properly.  I have a retirement savings account that my pension is placed into.  According to the pension laws of my country, I can not have access to those funds until I retire with either 30 years of service or 60 years of age. The pension funds managers invest those funds, which generates a little additional income per annum.  Should I be including those funds or the additional income as part of my Obligitory Charity calculations?   --ISMAIL, GULF OF GUINEA

DEAR ISMAIL: Yes, distributing Obligatory Charity is an important worship practice for Muslims [1].  God tells us in the Quran that Zakat is due on the "day of harvest." [2] The day of harvest implies that a person has received and has access to provisions from God. Thus, your 2.5% calculation of Obligatory Charity distribution would be based on what you currently “harvest”.  If I understand your statement, you do not have legal access to those investment funds at this time. The time in the future, when, God willing, you actually receive and have access to those funds seems the appropriate time to include them in your calculations for Zakat, but I do not see a reason to include them at this time. [3]

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 7:156, 2:177; [2] 6:141; [3] Appendix 15: Zakat -of the Quran Translation by R. Khalifa.


2. DEAR ABE: Although I do enjoy reading your moderate interpretations of the Quran, I am curious what qualifies you to give these interpretations? --MARY, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

DEAR MARY: Actually, it is God who teaches the Quran.  If one’s heart is not willing to Submit to God and His instruction in the Quran, there is no amount of knowledge, Arabic language proficiency, or religious schooling that will help them understand God’s Religion [1].  This works the other direction as well.  A sincere believer will find their guidance in the Quran and not through religious leaders or man-made laws [2]. God will guide them [3].  The goal of Abe and friends is not to provide interpretations; rather, it is to demonstrate how one can use the Quran to find answers.  The level of education or number of degrees makes no difference when it comes to receiving God’s guidance.  The Quran tells us that God guides those who are sincere and wish to be guided.  [4]

Relevant Quran Verses: [1]  6:38, 16:104, 2:170-171, 62:5, 41:44;   [2]   12:111, 6:114-115, 6:154-155, 7:185-186, 5:15-16, 9:31, 3:78-79, 3:93-94, 5:87, 28:50, 69:44, 69:46, 45:6-7;  [3]  55:1-2, 2:2, 2:26, 2:272; [4]  6:125, 56:77-79.


3. DEAR ABE: Does Shariat laws allow us to remove unwanted hair from our face and to correct our eyebrows if it is not beautiful? -- M.A., SAUDI ARABIA

DEAR M.A.: It is important to refer to the Quran in order to understand God’s laws.  Thus, we avoid confusion from contrasting opinions [1]. One of our pilgrimage rituals involves cutting our hair; so it is not “less religious” to remove hair [2]. Also, I do not find a place in the Quran where God forbids us from participating in vanities like removing hair for a clean and well-groomed appearance. However, we are instructed not to distort God’s creations [3]. There is no instruction on how to judge “distorting the creation of God.” It is left up to the individual to determine if what they are doing is distortion. I would recommend for you to ask God for wisdom and support, and then make a decision, and go with it [4].

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 6:115-116, 5:15-16, 6:157, 6:56-57, 6:119, 49:1, 12:111, 39:29;  [2]  2:196, 48:27; [3] 4:119; [4] 47:19, 3:159, 2:129, 3:58.

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The answers provided by Abe and friends represent the understanding of the
writers, and should not be taken as the only acceptable approach. The reader is encouraged to research the topics further using the Quran.

Disclaimer: Abe and friends condemn all acts of violence, suicide bombings, and terrorism enacted under the banner of Islam.

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