1. Music is characterized as vain if it causes estrangement from God, spiritual values, and moral virtues and inclines one toward licentiousness, purposelessness, and sin.
2. That is, the typical Islamic greeting.
3. The age of discernment—or tamyeez—is the age when a child has reached a level of intellectual development that enables him or her to discern what is right and what is wrong, to differentiate between good and bad. In other words, when a child reaches the age of discernment (which precedes the age of puberty (buloogh) and religious responsibility (takleef) usually by a few years in boys and by one or two years in girls), he can understand the notions of good and bad. This age varies from child to child and relative to different issues.
4. Zakat is the particular religious tax that applies to certain agricultural and mineral products when they exceed a certain limit. As such, it is not a universally applicable tax. Khums on the other hand is a universally applicable religious tax. It consists of one-fifth of one’s surplus annual income. That is, if at the end of one’s religious fiscal year, one’s income exceeds one’s expenses, one-fifth of this surplus is to be offered as the religious tax of khums.
5. Adhkar—or invocations—in the sense intended here consist of non-obligatory prayers and devotional formulas that Muslim believers regularly utter in order to preserve and strengthen spiritual mindfulness and to attain spiritual purity.
6. This question is prompted on account of the fact that in the absence of spiritual purity, touching certain things (such as the verses of the Qur’an) is prohibited? The inquirer wishes to know whether this prohibition extends to include the holy soil of Karbala?
7. There are four verses in the Qur’an (Surah 32, v. 15; Surah 41, v. 37; Surah 53, v. 62; Surah 96, v. 19) that if one recites or hears them being recited, one must fall in prostration, performing a canonically prescribed prostration (sujood), and it is recommended that one also say a prescribed formula as one’s forehead is positioned on the ground. These four verses are called the four prostration-requiring verses.
8. It should be noted that this question applies only to four-segment prayers. It is only the four-segment prayers (i.e., the noon, afternoon, and evening prayers) that are curtailed and reduced to two segments while one is traveling.
9. As the gap caused by one person is usually insufficient in breaking the connection of the members of the congregation with the leader.
10. Say, for instance, the traveler completes his evening (isha) prayer at the end of the congregation’s second segment. In order to preserve the connection of those members of the congregation that are connected through him to the leader, the traveler must reconnect with the congregation by beginning an obligatory prayer (say, he has missed a morning prayer for which he must compensate) before the congregation rises from the bowing posture (rukoo’) of the third segment. If he fails to do so, those members of the congregation that are connected through him will be disconnected from the congregation and thus must continue their prayers as personal (furada) rather than congregational (jama’ah) prayers.