Khatams:from a Sharee’ah perspective
by Asma bint Shameem
Tuk….tuk….tuk….tuk…. That’s the sound I heard of date seeds falling one on top of the other, as a young girl when I had to attend ‘khatam’ gatherings. I would watch fascinated, no….mesmerized, as the adults around me would repetitively pick up the date seeds, one after the other, read the dua of Yunus Alayhi Salaam on it and then drop the seed on the pile below. Tuk…tuk…tuk, one after the other.
And they did this so rhythmically and so quickly that I would wonder how they could read a whole dua, an entire ayah, in a flash of a second, before I could even open my mouth! One after the other, tuk…tuk…tuk…
And if you didn’t have date seeds to count on, it didn’t matter. You could count on ‘chanay’ or chick peas, almonds, small sea shells, pebbles, you name it.
That’s how it was in Pakistan. Every time someone had a problem, or if a family had a crisis or trouble of some sort, or they were afflicted with a trial or calamity, they had a ‘khatam’ of the dua of Yunus Alayhi salaam, aka. ‘Ayat Kareema ka khatam’ in which they would read this dua125,000 times, hoping that Allaah would relieve them from the problem just like He relieved Yunus Alayhi Salaam from the stomach of the fish.
That was back then. But the questions we need to ask ourselves now are…..
Are these khatams from the Sunnah of the Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam? What does the Sharee’ah say about such gatherings? Are we supposed to read this ayah from the Qur’aan multiple times like that?
Apparently it seems like there should be no problem in doing so. After all, the dua of Yunus Alayhi salaam is proven from the Qur’aan and even the Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam himself encouraged us to read it in times of trouble. Then….how can that be wrong?
However, if we look further into the matter and examine the Sharee’ah, we will realize quite the opposite.
1. There is NOT a single ayah in the Qur’aan, nor a single narration from the authentic hadeeth that tells us that holding khatam gatherings is allowed in Islaam. Not one single evidence. 2. The Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam himself never held khatams of any sort to read this dua or any dua for that matter,or any ayah or any Surah of the Qur’aan.
3. Even in times of greatest of problems, and the most difficult of times, such as at the time of Badr or Uhud, at the time of the Boycott when the Sahaabah faced extreme difficulties, in Makkah when they were being persecuted, when Sumaiyyah RA was being killed and even when they were plotting to kill the Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam, he NEVER, EVER gathered his Sahaabah or family to read Ayat Kareema, the dua of Yunus Alayhi Salaam, not did he read it by himself 125,000 times, or ‘x’ number of times to be relieved of trouble or crisis.
BUT WAIT A SECOND……
BUT Yunus Alayhi Salaam read it!
Yes, indeed Yunus Alayhi Salaam read it but we have to look at how he read it. He didn’t gather all the people he knew to read with him, nor did he read it a fixed number of times. He read the dua but he read it with sincerity, coming right out of his heart, reflecting on the meanings, truly admitting the Glory and Might of Allaah while acknowledging His Oneness. He knew he had made a mistake and so he honestly admitted to it and realized his shortcomings.
That’s not what happens at khatams. Half the people don’t even know what the dua means nor do they even pay attention to what they are saying. And even if they do know what the actual words literally mean, most don’t understand what it implies nor what it means to apply this dua in their lives.
It’s just words coming out of their mouth.
BUT there’s an authentic hadeeth about it!
Yes indeed, there is an authentic Hadeeth about it. The Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam said: “Shall I not tell you of something that, if any worldly calamity or disaster befalls any man among you and he says these words, he will be relieved of it. (It is) the du’aa’ of Dhu’l-Noon:
لا إله إلا أنت سبحانك إني كنت من الظالمين
(none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allaah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You [above all that (evil) they associate with You]! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers).” (Saheeh al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer wa Ziyaadatuhu)
But he Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam never mentions in the hadeeth to say it a certain number of times or to gather people to read it.
He just tells us to make the dua. That does not prove that it is ok to hold khatams for it.
You see, acts of Ibaadah are tauqeefi, that means that any act of Ibaadah has to have proof from the Qur’aan or Sunnah in order for us to follow it. And if there is no proof for a particular act, then we cannot do it. Whoever encourages or promotes an act of Ibaadah has to bring proof for it. The burden of proof lies on them.
BUT what’s wrong if I gathered my family and friends?
Holding khatams and reading this dua a specific number of times becomes wrong because there’s no proof for it. If gathering people and reading duas or ayaat or surahs by gathering everyone together was good, the Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam would have done so. And so would the Sahaabah.
But they didn’t.
We have no proof of them doing so.
No ayah, no hadeeth, nothing from the history of Islaam.
So if they didn’t do it, we don’t do it either.
What about the other kinds of khatams?
Similarly, there’s no evidence for all the other kinds of khatams that we have, whether it is khatam of Ya Salaamo when someone is seriously sick or a khatam of Surah Yaseen or Durood Shareef, sending peace and blessings on the Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam a specific number of times for barakah, or a khatam of Surah Waqi’ah if someone is facing financial difficulties.
The Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam did not ever read Surah Yaseen or Surah Waqi’ah or any other Surah of the Qur’aan multiple number of times in a gathering for any reason whatsoever, nor did he have a khatam for it, even though of course, reading the Qur’aan by itself is a great act of worship. The Sahaabah had no food, they didn’t cook for months, some of them would make their kids go to sleep hungry and themselves remained starving just because they had a guest and they had just enough food for the guest only. Yet, they never ever had khatam of Surah Waqi’ah to be relieved from hunger and poverty.
That’s because it is not from the Sharee’ah to pick out these Surahs to read a certain multiple number of times, whether individually or in a gathering.
Besides, the hadeeth about reading Surah Waqi’ah in case of fear of poverty and financial need is weak.
Nor did the Sahaabah ever get together to send peace and blessings on the Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam as a group a certain specific number of times, nor did they hold any khatams. They loved the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) more than their own selves. They died for him, they sacrificed every thing they had for him, their love for him had no match. Surely there’s no denying that. YET, they never ever held khatams for sending salaams and peace on him, in his life or after he passed away.
And yet again, never did the Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam nor the Sahaabah gather and have khatam of Ya Salaamo or any other Name of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala for any reason, no matter what the circumstances. Their children died in front of their eyes. They themselves got sick. Their families suffered severely. At distressful times as these, what did they do? They prayed to Allaah.
But never EVER did they have a khatam of “Ya Salaamo”.
You see, it is NOT sanctioned in the Sharee’ah to read ANY of Allaah’s Names by themselves, any number of times. In fact, saying the any of the Names of Allaah by themselves is incomplete in meaning and makes no sense.
Ibn Taimiyyah says:
“The Name of Allaah on its own, either as a noun (“Allaah”) or a pronoun (“Huwa”) is not a complete phrase or meaningful sentence. It has no implications to do with eemaan or kufr, commands or prohibitions. This was not mentioned by anyone from the early generations of this ummah, and it was not prescribed by the Messenger of Allaah (Sal Allaahu Alyh sallam). It does not bring any knowledge to the heart or bestow any kind of benefit upon it.” (Majmoo Fataawa)
The Standing Committee was asked about someone who remembers Allaah by saying “Ya Lateef” repeatedly.
They replied: “That is not permissible because it was not narrated from the Prophet (Sal Alahu Alayhi wa sallam). Rather it was proven that he said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours (i.e., Islam) that is not part of it, will have it rejected.” (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 2/379)
Also, someone asked about reading Surah Yaseen a cerain number of times in times of trouble to get relief. Here’s what the Shuyookh said:
“What you have mentioned about reading Soorat Yaa-Seen a certain number of times, or reading other soorahs, or sending blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) a certain number of times, in a group or individually, with the aim of fulfilling one’s needs or attaining one’s desires, has no basis in sharee’ah, and it is something innovated that has been introduced into Islaam.” (Islamqa team)
Our deen condemns such gatherings
In fact, there is specific evidence in the Sharee’ah that actually condemns such gatherings and khatams.
‘Amr ibn Salamah said: “We were sitting at the door of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood before Fajr prayer, when he came out. We walked with him to the mosque, then Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari came to us and said: Has Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan come out to you yet? We said: No. So he sat with us until he came out, and when he came out we all stood up. Abu Moosa said to him: O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, just now I saw something in the masjid that I have never seen before, but I do not think it was anything but good. He said: What was it? He said: If you live, you will see it. He said: In the masjid, I saw some people sitting in circles waiting for the prayer. In every circle there was a man, and in their hands they had pebbles. He would say: Say Allaahu akbar one hundred times, and they would say Allaahu akbar one hundred times. He would say: Say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah one hundred times, and they would say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah one hundred times. He would say: Say Subhaan-Allaah one hundred times, and they would say Subhaan-Allaah one hundred times. He said: What did you say to them? He said: I did not say anything to them; I was waiting to see what you think and I waited for your command. He said: Why did you not tell them to count their bad deeds and guarantee to them that their good deeds would not be wasted? Then he moved on and we moved on with him until he came to one of those circles, and he stood over them and said: What is this that I see you doing? They said: O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, these are stones with which we count the takbeers (‘Allaahu akbar’), tahleel (‘Laa ilaaha illa-Allaah’) and tasbeeh (‘Subhaan-Allaah’). He said: Count your bad deeds, for I guarantee to you that none of your good deeds will be lost. Woe to you, O ummah of Muhammad! How quickly you have become doomed! His companions are still alive and his cloak has not worn out, and his vessel is not yet broken. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you are either following a way that is more guided that the way of Muhammad or you are opening the door to misguidance. They said: By Allaah, O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, we intended nothing but good. He said: How many of those who intended good did not achieve it. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us that some people would recite the Qur’aan and it would not go any further than their collarbones. By Allaah, I do not know, perhaps most of them are from among you. Then he turned away from them and ‘Amr ibn Salamah said: I saw most of those circles on the side of the Khawaarij (those who fought Ali RA) fighting us on the day of al-Nahrawaan.” [al-Daarimi (204)]
OKAY…..OKAY, I GET IT.
So what to do?
1. DO read the dua of Yunus Alayhi Salaam when you have a problem or crisis. But read it like he read it….by himself, thinking about the meanings, reflecting on his own actions and regretting his mistake, feeling sorry for what he did.
And don’t fix a number to it. Read it whenever you think of your problem. Read it in sujud while you are praying. Read it at Tahajjud time when everyone else is asleep but you are awake…alone with your Rabb. Read it at all the different times of day and night and at times when dua is more likely to be answered. And surely, Allaah will relieve you of your difficulty.
2. Have patience and know that with the Prophet Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam said that with difficulty comes ease, with patience comes victory.
3. Have tawakkul on Him and know that whatever Allaah does is for our best.
4. DO send peace and blessings on the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) and do it as much as you can. It’s one of the best acts of Ibaadah. But do it by yourself and don’t fix a number, time or place or form to it. That’s when it becomes wrong.
5. If someone you know is sick, know that healing and sickness is in Allaah’s Hands. He will cure Him when it is written for him. Make dua in the meantime and ask Allaah directly for a cure, instead of gathering people and saying the name of Allaah by itself.
6. DO use Allaah’s beautiful Names and perfect Attributes to seek what you want. Just don’t do it in a gathering having a khatam and don’t fix a number or form to it. And don’t say the Name by itself. Instead make dua using the Beautiful Names and Perfect Attributes of Allaah. Ask as-Salaam to give you and your loved ones salaam. Ask ash-Shaafi to give the sick shifaa’. Ask al-Haadi to guide those who are astray. Ask at-Raaziq to increase your rizq, instead of holding khatams of Surah Waqi’ah.
Pick up your hands and ask.. He is not far away. In fact He is really close to you. All you need to do is ask and He will give you. All you need to do is pray and He will listen to you.
You don’t need to resort to khatams for Him to listen to you.
Why do we need these khatams anyway? Half the people say it so fast, judging by the speed with which they are dropping the seeds in the pile below, I seriously wonder if they even read anything on it. It seems that they are just dropping them one after the other to ‘appear,’ to be reading while they are actually not. Wallaahu ‘Alam.
Just remember….All goodness is in following those who came before us, and all evil is in the innovations of those who came later.