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September 2006:

1. DEAR ABE: Is it true that for Ramadan fasting, Muslims can not eat OR drink during the daylight hours?  I do not think abstaining from drinking for that long is something I could do, it seems a bit extreme to me.  Can a Muslim drink just a little bit, say, like one cup worth each day? -- MIKE P., ILLINOIS

DEAR MIKE:  Fasting during Ramadan is defined as not eating OR drinking from dawn to sunset each day [1].  “One cup worth” is not mentioned in the Quran, and thus we can not add this exception.  It is important for us to abide by all specified instructions in the Quran without additions or deletions [2]. Fasting from dawn to sunset is not an impossible feat, and even has health benefits [3].  Since, at times, some people are not able to fast in the described manner, God does provide specific alternatives. With this in mind, God still strongly recommends for us to fast whenever possible because it is best for us [4].

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 2:183, 2:187; [2] 6:115-116, 5:77; [3] Appendix 15 of the Quran translation by R. Khalifa; [4] 2:184, 2:185.


 2. DEAR ABE:  I should be very pleased if you could conduct some brief consultation (Shoora) on diagnosing the causes and cure of the current victimizations of innocent peoples’ lives, homes, and social services in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. -- A. A. W., BAGHDAD

DEAR A.A.W.:  Obviously, the people in these places who commit evil are failing the test to work righteousness and redeem their souls. The victims are also being tested, to see if they implore God in times of hardship, and if they accept that God controls all things [1]. God tells us that no community suffers unjustly, as long as the people are righteous.  When it is time for a community to cease to exist, no amount of humanitarian aid or intervention can delay it [2].  We can not ignore the simple fact that in these places most of Muslims killed are being killed by their own (Muslims). The people have divided themselves into sects, going against God's commands in the Scriptures and risking retribution now and in the Hereafter by failing to uphold God’s commands [3].  The current conditions that exist in these places can be described as oppression, tyranny, occupation, etc., and are due to the choices that individuals and their communities have made in the name of religion, under the guise of pleasing God. Therefore, they are indeed, "tasting each others' tyranny" [4].  The cure is to worship God alone while abiding by His commandments in the Scripture.  The people must implore God to keep on the righteous path while remembering that only God can guide or help anyone [5].

Relavant Quran Verses:  [1] 3:156, 4:85, 7:54, 4:78-79, 13:11, 2:168-169; [2] 9:116, 6:61, 7:34, 11:117, 17:16; [3] 6:159, 30:32, 42:13-14; [4] 6:65, 7:96-98; [5] 10:98, 33:43, 10:55-57.


3. DEAR ABE: Recently I was told that it is forbidden (haram) to draw pictures of people and animals; or things with a soul. I don't recall reading anything to support this in the Quran. I must admit that it weighed down my heart, because ever since I was a child my strength was drawing people, not still life of plants or barns, but people. It hurt to be told that I can no longer do it. Can you please shed some light on this?  --ALISHA, OHIO

DEAR ALISHA:  I’m sure you will be glad to hear, then, that this command to not draw pictures of things with souls is not in the Quran.  It is not a command from God.  We are warned against forbidding something that is not prohibited by God, or following such “religious” prohibitions not commanded by God [1].  I sincerely hope you will disregard those statements and continue drawing pictures of people.

Relevant Quran Verses:  [1] 5:87, 3:93-94, 6:150, 6:114-115, 7:32, 10:59, 16:35.

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