Islam & Spirituality

Dealing with abusive parents in Islam

What has made my emaan weaker is that I became traumatisied from a bad childhood. My parents played part in this. Sometimes they used islam against me to manipullate me. Also I wasn’t allowed to get help, and my mom labelled my depression as kufr, which made me feel bad and try to suppress the despair . All scholars and everything I’ve read is about parental rights, and that it is a huge sin (akbar kabair) to cut family ties. I am not an adult and much better but I still want distance from them

Do not let other people’s mistakes affect your relationship with God. Read the Quran as if it was sent down to you personally, and follow its teachings and philosophy wherever you can in your life. If people misuse Islam to attack you, ignore it, knowing that God is better than them.

Regarding cutting family ties, that refers to treating family members as strangers, i.e. permanent estrangement where a child treats their disliked parent as if there is no relationship between them.

If your parents mistreat you, you have the right to keep your distance. What you do not have the right to do is cut off your relationship with them completely. Remain in their lives, help them where necessary, and be dutiful as much as you can, Islam doesn’t ask you to do more than this, it does not ask you to subject yourself to them if they constantly mistreat and humiliate you. Both you and your parents have your human rights, and if they neglect your human rights, they have sinned.

“Am I a fake Muslim if I feel guilty at what other Muslims are doing?”

I feel guilty sometimes because I feel because I’m muslim I am responsible for the bad acts of Muslims. Because a lot of muslims do sometimes bad stuff and justify them with Islam. Can I be a Muslim and not think or agree with them? I don’t want to be seen as someone who’s a fake Muslim because I don’t agree on all bad acts and geo-polical issues that are done in the name of Islam.

That’s understandable. It is similar to how some Americans feel guilt at the actions of other Americans or the US government, even though they themselves do not have anything to do with those actions.

The majority of Muslims have rejected the beliefs and actions of those Muslims not because we are fake Muslims, but because to us religion is about doing what is right and just and kind. If a religion asks you to do something that goes against your conscience, that religion is not worth following.

We read the Quran with our intellect and conscience, we build a vision of a way of life, of a moral philosophy, that always pushes us to be the best possible humans we can be, that teaches us to aim for the highest good of humanity.

That is the religion that the majority of Muslim thinkers and intellectuals follow throughout the world. You don’t have to be a fake Muslim to believe this, this is the most authentic Islam we have, that the majority of the world follows, coming from an unbroken tradition that goes back over 1000 years. So if a tiny minority of extremists do barbaric things in the name of Islam, instead of feeling guilty about their actions, we consider them criminals, outsiders, nobodies who have nothing to do with our religion.

Islamic terrorists are in the majority of cases funded and trained by different governments and intelligence agencies for their own political purposes, as I explain in my essay Why Most Terrorists are Muslim: An Introduction to the Origins of Modern Islamic Terrorism. It is not we who are guilty. it is those who fund them and train them.

Is Salafism the correct form of Islam since it is strict?

Are Salafism the correct islam? They are strict in their islam, but does that make them more true than others?

Salafism is an oversimplification of Islam that thinks the best way to be Muslim is to re-enact history. Mainstream Islam is superior because it is more focused on moral philosophy (following the Quranic ideals of truth and justice) rather than on secondary technicalities like dress code, etc.

For a version of Islam that is far superior to Salafism, please see my essay Quran-Focused Islam.

For a discussion of how Salafism oversimplifies Islam, please see my new essay How Islam Can Adapt to the Modern World: The Persian versus the Arabian Approach to Handling Complexity.

What is the Islamic way to treat cruel and repugnant relatives?

I have relatives (we’re all Muslims) who have mercilessly beaten the poor and vulnerable, mocked and treated the poor like they’re sub-human, and just overall have vile character. As a result, I have no respect for them. I can’t help but be filled with a degree of bitterness and scorn towards them. Is that considered a flaw in my character? Islamically, how are we expected to navigate such sentiments towards people like that? How far are Muslims obligated to take their compassion and humility?

When dealing with a complex issue like that, your best guide is the Quran. The Quran does not ask you to see such situations in black-and-white terms, forcing yourself to behave a certain way even if it goes against your nature. It tells you try to follow its moral philosophy in your life while continuing to use your intellect and conscience.

Therefore if you find their behavior repulsive, the Quran does not ask to continue treating them like they are close and beloved friends. It asks you to continue being nice and just toward everyone, even those who are mean and unjust toward you. But that is the limit of it. The Quran does not invalidate your thoughts and feelings, so you are free to think of them the way you described.

Umar ibn al-Khattab may God be pleased with him gave the job of governor to someone, and this person came to visit Umar the night before his departure to the area he was supposed to govern. He saw that Umar was playing with his children, who were riding him like a horse. He expressed wonder at how the ruler of the Islamic world allowed his children to do that to him. Umar asked him how he treated his own children, and the man said that when he goes home, his children all retreat to distant corners out of fear for him. Umar immediately sacks him, saying that a man who is not merciful toward his children cannot be merciful toward the people he governs.

So you see, Umar felt free to judge that man for his treatment of his children. His thinking wasn’t that he should love his fellow Muslim brother no matter what. If he sees someone being unkind, he feels free to criticize them and even takes action against them (by firing them from their job).

Life is complicated, so it is difficult to navigate certain situations. The best thing to do is to read the Quran constantly until its moral philosophy becomes second nature to you. In this way you will be able to use its teachings and your own intellect and conscience to come up with sophisticated solutions for each problem without oversimplifying things and without ignoring your own humanity and the humanity of those around you.

Do women make up the majority of people in Hell?

I read a hadith (that’s sahih) that says the majority of people in hell are woman. Is that true?

According to the scholar Qadi Iyad, “women are the majority of humanity” (not sure how he concluded this), so that they make up the majority in both Hell and Paradise.

There is another hadith narration in which the Prophet (pbuh) says that he looked into heaven and saw that the least of its inhabitants were women. Ibn Hajar says that it is likely that one of the narrators of this hadith had heard the other narration that the majority of those in Hell are women, so they messed up this one so that it says less women would be in Paradise, mistakenly thinking that if there are more women in Hell, there would be fewer in Paradise.

There is nothing in the Quran to suggest that women are less virtuous than men or that they are more likely to enter Hell, so this is the unshakable foundation upon which our beliefs are based.

Serving God when dependent on your parents

Does offering prayer, reciting Quran and being nice to people around me complete my deen? Because I don’t have opportunities to grow more than this, I’m totally dependent on my parents. So I cannot contribute any more to improve deen. JazakAllah!

Read the Quran and follow its principles and ideals in your life, that is all you have to do. Islam doesn’t ask you to do more than you are able, we are all required to do what we can with what we have, whether we are young or old, free or in prison.

Part of being Muslim is the seeking of knowledge, therefore if you are able, you should try to read or watch lectures, whether they are about Islamic topics or anything else that may benefit you. You should never sit content with how you are but always aim higher, always trying to become better than you are now.

“Why are Muslims so judgmental? Muslim men’s expectations of women are too high.”

Why are many Muslims so close minded and judgmental. I feel like I can’t keep it up. The expectations (especially from Muslim men) is way too high. Sometimes I feel like giving up . Especially the issue of modesty etc I don’t feel like we are being given the space and time and freedom to make our decisions. I’ve gotten many cruel comments and it’s hard.

Whether the Muslims around you are judgmental or open-minded depends very much on the society and culture in which you love. I grew up among my Hawrami relatives (a Western Iranian Sunni minority) and most of the people around me were extremely kind and open-minded.

Each race and culture has its own flavor of Islam, if you find a certain Muslim demographic not to your liking, try to connect with a different one if possible.

Many British converts do not find the cultures of their mosque communities satisfying and may end up mistakenly thinking that the problem is with born Muslims vs. converts or with Middle Eastern Muslims vs. converts. The problem in reality is that each race, culture, class and personality type practices Islam in the way that makes the most sense to it. You just have to find the right people to socialize with, as I mention in my answer What to do if you cannot find interesting and like-minded Muslims to befriend.

Regarding modesty, you are right, it is that way because people judge things by culture, not by lines of scripture. If you dress in a way that is culturally inappropriate, people may condemn you even if Islam does not condemn you, and in fact you will find that devout, spiritual Muslims are the least judgmental.

The Quran’s greatest focus is on spirituality, on developing the proper relationship with God, and on being kind and constructive when dealing with people. A person who is cruel toward you because of how you dress has not understood the first thing about the Quran’s teachings.

Read the Quran and develop your relationship with God. This is Islam’s first priority, and it has nothing to do with other Muslims. It is between you and God. Do not let other people define Islam for you or ruin your relationship with God.

As for dealing with other Muslims, you can act in a way that they find culturally appropriate to avoid their judgmentalism, many of them focus on appearances and do not care about what is in your heart. But if you wish to be able to make your own choices without being judged for it, then this unlikely, because most humans are judgmental and prefer cultural practices to spiritual ideals.

It is a choice between either fitting in and getting people’s approval, or being different and being judged for it. This applies to most things in life, not just dress code. If you wish things were different, that Muslim men saw you as a human and did not reduce you to how you dress, then such men exist, but they are more common in some places and cultures than in others.

If your idea about how Muslim men think comes from the internet (tumblr, Facebook, Islamic sites, etc.) and not real life, then that idea may not be accurate, since extremist Muslims are often a lot more active on the internet compared to moderates.

Dealing with an overly emotional mother

I know a mother who whenever there is a conflict between her boys (18,20,24 ages) she will exhaust her soul and torture it until she fells down just to make them stop fighting. Usually that will end the fight but it sends horror and complicates the situation. She uses the power of emotions this way because she doesn’t have any other way to stop the fights. Her children wish to know how to stop this. One time they even had to send her to a hospital because her mind stopped functioning right. I sometimes even get the feeling that she enjoys the pain. I know it’s weird and I apologize for disturbing anyone who is reading this. But she’s very religious and used to be much stronger and very wise. At some point in her life alot of shocking events kept happening which I think is the reason why she lost control over her problem solving abilities. Please help and thank you.

That seems like a problem for a psychologist to look into, perhaps what she needs is more love, attention and respect from the rest of the family, maybe in this way she can start to feel more balanced and at peace again. And her sons should do their best to avoid giving her cause to be distressed. Instead of saying that she is overreacting and that she is wrong to be like that, they should go out of their way to avoid doing anything that upsets her, even if this is a lot of work and even if she is being unreasonable. Mothers have to deal with unreasonable children all the time, so if the roles are reversed, if the mother is being unreasonable, the children should try to repay the favor.

What is a good prayer (dua) for fear?

I finally got a job hamdullah. But I finish late and I have to walk through some secluded places to go back home. Is there any dua i can say for protection?

Surat al-Falaq (chapter 113 of the Quran) is meant to be used as a prayer for God’s protection. That’s probably the best prayer you can recite. Prayers are not meant to be used like magic spells for achieving certain things (like some Muslims use them), they are simply conversations with God, so you can actually say whatever comes into your mind.

The best way to pray is to do it in a way that praises God and that acknowledges your reliance on Him, such as in Surat al-Fatihah, which starts with various praises of God, then acknowledges the human reliance on God, then goes on to pray for God’s guidance.

Can Muslims marry but never have children?

I (a female) want to get married but I am also not okay with the idea of having children, nor do I like children. Is having a child a must when one gets married or do we have a choice? My family always say that we must have children and it makes me feel totally anxious with marriage. Even though I’m still single, there’s a lot of reasons to why I want to get married, of course. Thank you!

According to Imam al-Ghazali in his Revival of the Islamic Sciences it is permissible for a husband and wife to agree to not have children. It is considered a good thing to have children, but there is no clear evidence to make it obligatory, so you have a choice. This is a complicated matter with many different opinions about it.

You could get married to someone who has an opinion similar to yours about children. Maybe you will feel differently about children down the road.

Are Muslims allowed to never marry?

Aslamu Alaikum! Brother I’m suffering from social anxiety (or with some other phychological disease). As I can’t afford therapy because I’m not financially well. So i don’t wAnt to get married because I don’t want to intentionally ruin someone’s life. So, is this a valid reason for not getting married ? What Islam guides us about this?

InshaAllah things will get better for you. Marriage is not obligatory, therefore you always have the choice of not marrying. Regarding your situation, you can wait and things may change a great deal for you in a year or two. There is no problem with delaying marriage for now, but there is no need to say that you will never get married, since you never know what the future may bring. You may one day meet someone who doesn’t mind your social anxiety and who can take care of you financially.

Do what you can with what you have, and always try to increase your knowledge through lectures and books, and inshaAllah you will be able to change yourself and your life for the better.

Also see: Marriage is not necessarily “half our religion”

 

Breaking up with a friend of the same sex who is sexually attracted to you

I’m a muslim girl and I’m attracted to girls. I’ve fallen in love with girls but I have never done anything (like kissing or more) because I know that would be fornication. Other than that, I pray, I fast, and I’m really religious. I know my attraction to girls is just a test Allah has made for me to pass. The thing is, I’m currently in love with a girl and she’s not religious. I’ve told her that I love her but that nothing would ever happen between us.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing since Allah hasn’t forbidden us from loving someone, but it’s tiring and I know that eventually this “relationship” will come to an end. I don’t want to hurt her or stop answering to her texts but I want to take my distance so I can focus on other things like my faith. What do you think I should do? Thanks in advance, peace be upon you!

Breaking up with someone you love is rarely easy. The best advice I can give you is to read the Quran daily and try to make its priorities your priorities, and this book can give you the best and most relevant guidance for each situation in your life. Read it and after a few pages you will see your own situation (or something very similar to it) mentioned in it, and that will always help you find your way.

The Quran teaches us to be kind, forgiving, good-mannered and empathic toward people. It also teaches us to stay away from people who call us toward actions that displease God. These different and conflicting concerns must be balanced when dealing with people.

Each person’s psychology is different, so I cannot give specific advice on your situation. Read the Quran (just 20 minutes per day if you cannot do more) and you will inshaAllah find guidance in it.

Honor killings and execution of adulterers in Islam

Salam. I grew up in Europe so I didn’t study Islam in a Muslim country so I haven’t been provided with the full version. However my cousin did in my motherland (Arab) and when we discuss islam with eachother it’s is so different, her views are more cruel in a way. For instance she said that honour killing is part of the deen because a woman’s wali has the right to kill her if she brings shame but I didn’t learn Islam that way. I was taught a more peaceful version. I wonder which one is true?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no such thing as honor killings in Islam. In Islamic law, an honor killing is murder and the person who does it is a murderer. A person can only be punished for a sexual crime only after trial.

It is true that many Muslim clerics have been complicit in honor killings, since they do not speak strongly against it and even tolerate it.

It is also true that many Muslims believe that a married person convicted of adultery should be executed, although in practice this has almost never been performed by Shariah courts, since the requirements for proving adultery are extremely stringent (four witnesses must have seen the sexual act taking place). Jonathan Brown mentions in his book Misquoting Muhammad that scholars have at times preferred to be exiled instead of signing the order for executing (stoning) adulterers.

The issue of advocating for executing adulterers is caused by most scholars preferring the less reliable evidence of hadith over the principles of the Quran, and the issue is not limited to executing adulterers. As an example, the Quran says that “There is no compulsion in religion” (The Quran, verse 2:256), yet most scholars support punishing people who leave Islam (sometimes by execution!), which as anyone with a tiny bit of common sense can see, is utterly hypocritical. Forcing people to stay Muslim is as much compulsion as forcing them to become Muslim. The Quran is clear on this matter, there must not be compulsion in religion, people must be free what religion they practice. Scholars, however, ignore this clear principle of the Quran and give preference to hadith, in this way justifying forcing people to stay Muslim.

Any Muslim who says Islam believes in religious freedom, but does not admit that the Quran’s principles are superior to hadith, probably does not know what they are talking about. The classical (and Salafi) Islamic view does not guarantee religious freedom, it forces people to stay Muslim against their own will.

Regarding adultery, using the evidence of the Quran and Islamic history, the great Egyptian Islamic scholar Abu Zahra, who was an expert on Islamic law, concluded that adulterers are not executed in Islam and presented his evidence at an Islamic conference in 1972, which immediately caused an uproar among the scholars, since he dared to give preference to the Quran over hadith. Salafis and classical scholars cannot accept Abu Zahra’s view because they refuse to acknowledge the superiority of the Quran over hadith. For a discussion of this serious problem within Islam and its solution see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

Can someone with mental illness marry in Islam?

Can a person marry, even if he/she is suffering from some kind of psychological disease and knows that it can affect his/her married life?

It depends on the seriousness of the illness. If there is a good chance that you can have a functional family life and can bring up children safely, then it may be fine (you should get other people’s opinion on this and not rely only on your own). Be honest with your potential spouse regarding your illness, you should let them know about it and give them your honest opinion on what you think your limitations are when it comes to being a good spouse and parent.

Marriage is not necessarily “half our religion”

You said marriage is not obligated but we’re told it’s half of the deen

The “half our deen” saying comes from a group of hadith narrations all of which are of questionable authenticity. One of them comes from al-Bayhaqi’s collection and the chain of narrators includes يزيد الرقاشي, who is untrustworthy according to al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hajar. Another version comes from al-Hakim’s collection, and the chain contains عبد الرحمن بن زيد, who is untrustworthy.

There is another famous saying “a woman completes part of a man’s faith”, this is not from the Prophet, but from Tawus ibn Kaysan, it is just a scholar speaking his personal opinion.

The hadith scholar al-Albani does a detailed study and considers all of the narrations untrustworthy except one that says “A woman supports a man in part of his deed, so let him worry about the second part.” This hadith is not authentic due to its chain containing at least one person whose is known to be of arbitrary reliability (he sometimes speaks the truth, sometimes says something completely wrong). al-Albani concludes that the hadith has a status of “hasan”, meaning that it is not authentic (”saheeh”), but that the content and the chain of narrations is good enough that one cannot say with certainty that it is fabricated (”dha`eef” or “maudhoo`”).

In conclusion, therefore, this “half our deen” concept is not certain and cannot be used as a basis for deriving principles. Since it sounds good, most people, including clerics and scholars, have accepted it without questioning. It sounds nice, and you can’t question nice things, otherwise that makes you a mean person.

I rarely hear a Friday sermon in which the preacher does not mention some cringe-worthy false narration. It is for the greater good, so even if they know the hadith is fabricated, the preacher believes that the end justifies the means. Even if it is a lie, it sounds good and is supposedly beneficial, so they repeat it.

One commonly repeated false saying that non-Muslims have used for the past century to poke fun at Islam is that a martyr is given 72 virgins in Paradise, and this is repeated by some Muslims to this day. This is from a set of weak hadith narrations whose chains of narrators cannot warrant a higher status than dhaeef (”weak”, i.e. unauthentic) (see Apppendix IV of Jonathan Brown’s Misquoting Muhammad)God, of course, has the power to reward people however He wants, but since these narrations are false, they are false, therefore Muslims must stop repeating them even if they are considered useful. A lie is a lie regardless of how useful someone thinks it is.

What are the manners and rules of performing wudu and prayer?

What are the manners and rules of performing wudu and prayer (for a female)?

Learning how to perform ablution and pray properly requires a lot of detail and I cannot give it in an answer or two. Please check out Asad Tarsin’s book Being Muslim: A Practical Guide, which mentions all the details of praying and other Islamic acts of worship, and inshaAllah you will find it highly useful.

Is getting agitated when someone walks in on you praying something to be concerned about?

Is getting agitated when someone walks in on you praying something to be concerned about? In general, I strongly dislike when my family members see me do worship.

It is normal to dislike being looked at when you feel others might be judging you regardless of the activity you are performing. Even if you love your family and they love you, if for example they are non-Muslim or non-practicing Muslims and find the prayer funny, you will not like to do it in their presence, similar to the way you wouldn’t want to work on a painting in the presence of someone who thinks painting is a foolish activity.

On intentionally delaying the isha prayer

I’ve read that it’s best to delay isha namaz I was wondering exactly how long should it be delayed for?

“You’ve described many scholars as corrupt in your blog…”

You’ve described many scholars as corrupt in your blog. Many of them are classical and accridited scholars from Al-Azhar. How come they are wrong after all? Like you seem to not agree on things there’s a consensus on eg apostaty, obligation on marriage, etc

I haven’t called any of them corrupt, I consider them good people doing their best to follow Islam. The view of Islam I present is actually a mix of the views of some of al-Azhar’s greatest scholars (Muhammad Abduh, Rashid Rida, Mahmud Shaltut, Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, Muhammad al-Ghazali).

Regarding apostasy, Mahmud Shaltut (Grand Imam of Al-Azhar from 1958 to 1963) says that apostates are only punished if they try to fight the Muslims and plot against them, that mere apostasy is not punishable.

Marriage is not obligatory. Imam al-Nawawi says in his commentary on Sahih Muslim that those who have the means to marry and are psychologically ready and willing for it (تاقت إليه نفسه) should marry, otherwise they are free not to, and he himself never married.

Regarding other matters, I follow Muhammad al-Ghazali’s view (an al-Azhar scholar) and the views of Sayyid Qutb, Ahmad Moftizadeh and Nasir Subhani that the Quran’s principles take precedence over hadith, so that a hadith narration that contradicts the Quran can be doubted or reinterpreted even if its chain of narrators is considered authentic by hadith scholars. If the Quran says people should have religious freedom, but there is a hadith that says people should not have religious freedom, the Quran takes precedence. We use the Quran to re-interpret everything else within Islam. For the details of this method see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

How to repent from zina (sex outside of marriage)

How does one repent for zina? What if the man is someone who I’m planning to marry anyway since we are close to being engaged? Will the punishment be as severe, especially since we both feel guilt?

If you both truly repent (meaning that you ask for God’s forgiveness and intend to not repeat the sin), then it is the consensus view that the two of you can marry without issue according to the Egyptian scholar Khalid bin al-Mun`im al-Rifa`i (fatwa #43035 on islamway.net)

Before marrying (before nikah) you must wait one menstrual cycle to ensure that you are not pregnant. If you are, according to the Hanafi and Shafii schools, you two can still marry, while according to the Maliki and Hanbali schools you cannot marry until you give birth. The Hanafi and Shafii opinions are preferable since this is better for the two of you, the child and for the rest of society (to marry now rather than later if you have became pregnant). If you have your period like normal, then you can marry according to all the schools.

There is no punishment, that is only something relevant if the issue reaches an Islamic court (if people saw you during the act then went on to report on you in a country that follows Islamic law). Since what you mention appears to have been done in private, then it is sufficient for both of you to repent, and that is the end of it. This is the opinion of the Saudi fatwa council, mentioned in fatwa #47834 on Islamicqa.info.

In short, both of you should repent, then you can marry like normal (taking into account the complications mentioned above) and go on with your lives. Both of you should do extra fasts and worship to prove to yourselves and to God that your repentance is true.

Can you pray after eating pork by mistake?

I’m a new revert and today my mother made me a meal and it had some Chorizo in it. It was one slice and I was so engrossed in conversation that I ate it without realising. It wasn’t until 5 minutes later that the penny dropped. What happens now? Is my Salah invalid? Do I repent? I’m confused.

There is no repentance necessary since it was a mistake (according to the Saudi scholar Ibn Baaz, http://www.binbaz.org.sa/noor/3155)

According to the Shafii jurist Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, if one eats something unlawful by mistake, one should try to throw it up if this is possible for them, otherwise they do not have to do anything other than rinsing their mouth. (Islamweb, fatwa 94019)

As for whether a person can pray, the only relevant opinion I can find is of the 19th century Maliki jurist Muhammad al-Desouki who says that as long as the pork is in the person’s stomach and they are able to throw it up, their prayer will not be accepted. This means that if one eats pork by mistake, they should try to throw it up unless there is a health reason that prevents them before they pray. But if one is not able to throw it up, or the food has passed beyond the stomach, then one can pray like normal. (Islamweb, fatwa 283165).

Why Islam forbids extramarital touching and kissing even if no sex is involved

I have read one or two of your articles on your website. It’s really insightful, jazakumullah ahsanul jaza. I have a question similar yet specific about homosexuality. How does Islam view if there is two friends of the same sex who love each other in a platonic-romantic way, and have strong desire to express their love with kissing or even making out, yet no intention of leading it to eventually having sex? Thank you.

The generally accepted principle of fiqh (Islamic law and jurisprudence) is that seeking sexual gratification with another person is only allowed in the context of an officially sanctioned relationship (i.e. marriage). From this principle, kissing someone you desire, whether they are of the same sex or the opposite sex, is considered forbidden, since it is in the wrong context.

Therefore if sexual desire and gratification is involved when you kiss someone of the same sex, then that is in the non-permissible zone.

While what you describe may appear harmless, in moral philosophy acts are considered not in isolation, but in the context of such acts becoming commonplace. If everyone started making out with people they desired, saying they did not intend to have sex, what would be the result?

Some unmarried Christians use oral sex as a loophole for enjoying sexual gratification, thinking that this preserves Christian sexual morality. This shows a lack of understanding for sexual morality. Sexual morality exists to channel sexual desires in ways that do not harm the persons involved and the rest of society. If everyone started having oral sex with people they desired, the result is a general laxness of attitudes toward sexual morality. It will seem quite foolish and arbitrary to most people that one form of sexual gratification with another person is allowed but another form is not.

The issue of making out is less dramatic than that of oral sex, but permitting it comes with the same consequences. Christians, again, provide a good case study. While 1000 years ago they were far more insistent on limiting contact between the sexes, the standards were slowly lowered, so that it became commonly accepted for unmarried people to enjoy some sexual gratification with each other, starting with the toleration of intense dances that greatly increased contact to letting unmarried couples spend hours of alone time together. That led to today’s Christian culture, where sex outside of marriage is the norm rather than the exception. Open-minded Christians have difficulty accepting the prohibition on extramarital sex because their religious authorities tolerate some extramarital sexual gratification.

Islam’s solution to this is to prohibit all forms of sexual gratification with another person outside of marriage, even if it is merely holding hands, because once any form of extramarital sexual gratification becomes commonplace, the door is opened for it to be extended slightly. Each generation lowers standards until a point is reached where sex outside of marriage becomes commonplace. This has happened in all Christian countries, and it is slowly happening in the non-devout sections of Muslim countries too.

One may go on to ask what the point of sexual morality is. What is so bad about sex outside of marriage? What is bad is that it reduces society’s fitness, causing it to slowly disintegrate. Look at the world’s civilizations and you will see that wherever sexual freedom is tolerated, that civilization is slowly going extinct due to below-replacement fertility rates. The people have lost their hope in the future and do not consider themselves worthy of having children, or they selfishly prefer their freedom and pleasure over bringing up children, and the result of these trends is that the number of old people dying is greater than the number of children being born every year, so that their society slowly goes extinct and is replaced by other societies that do not tolerate sexual freedom.

One of Islam’s primary goals is the long-term survival of humanity. Islam believes that there is a positive value in the existence and continuation of humanity and its practices are geared toward this goal. Usury, which enables the wealthy to drain the wealth of society, is forbidden, one reason being that it makes it unaffordable for people to have children. Many people in the West are enslaved to hundreds of thousands of dollars of student, car and mortgage debt, having to pay $2000 or more monthly in interest to the super rich, so how can they afford to have children?

Islam forbids all things that are destructive to humanity’s long-term survival; it thinks in terms of generations and centuries, and it forbids short-term gratification if it brings with it long-term harm.

So regarding your specific question of doing those acts with a member of the same sex, Islamic morality forbids it. Since (or if) sexual attraction is involved, then the case is similar to the case of an unmarried man and woman. This is a matter of conscience between you and God. Islam forbids that you eat bacon, even though eating it will not be the end of the world, you avoid it as a matter of respect for God’s laws, even if the thing seems relatively quite harmless. The same applies to drinking a can of beer.

God forbids certain things and requires that we carry out other things, all of which are there to enforce upon us a highly specific way of life. Telling one lie, making out with someone you are not married to, stealing $50 dollars when it seems like it wouldn’t harm anyone, and drinking a can of beer are all forbidden although they may all seem relatively harmless at the time, because all of these go against the enforcement of God’s structure. God wants us to act a certain way for humanity’s long-term good, even if occasionally breaking His laws does not seem to be harmful to anyone. Giving yourself the right to break any of His laws causes a degradation within your soul and makes it easier for you to break another law. For this reason, for your own good, it is best to avoid all things that your conscience is not comfortable with or that seem to go against His laws, no matter how seemingly unimportant.

Why is sexual harassment of women common in Muslim countries? IQ and development, not religion

What I have noticed is that in Muslim countries in which there are more modest woman I get more catcalls, harassment, men following me, staring at my body parts etc. I’m not saying I’m for zina, but it feels unfair that they take out their sexual frustration on us. Maybe you’re not able to relate to this, but every day I feel dirty. Even covered. Imagine people saying filthy stuff about your private parts, touching your etc. In countries where sex is more normal I haven’t encountered this

Sorry to read that, and I hope it gets better for you. I am actually very familiar with this problem, having spent my teenage years in a large Middle Eastern city (Sulaimaniyyah, Iraq).

This appears to be a matter of intelligence and culture and not religion or sexual frustration. In the United States, catcalls and harassment are common in ghettos and trailer parks, where the lower class lives, even though they have as much sex as anyone else and probably more than the middle class.

Lower class people often think catcalls and harassment are fine, this has been my experience with the lower class whether in Iraq or in the United States. By “lower class” I do not mean poor, I mean those who are unintelligent, rude and uneducated and proud of the way they are. They are generally poor and live ghettos and slums, but their being lower class is not due to their poverty, it is due to low IQ and a lack of devotion to any belief system.

In a country like the US the lower class is very well separated from the middle class. The middle class live in certain neighborhoods, the lower class live miles away in a different part of town. In this way the two classes rarely run into each other. The middle class can go shopping, get their errands done, go to work, do everything they want and go home without having to run into the lower class, in this way they can avoid the bad manners of the lower class.

In the Middle East, the classes are not very well separated in general. There are market districts where everyone goes, so that the classes constantly run into each other, and this is why it is hard for someone like you to avoid the type of man you are referring to. As these countries develop, the separation of the middle class and the lower class should increase, and with it the ability to avoid lower class men.

If you want to know whether the problem is Islam or something else, compare the country you are in with a non-Muslim country that has similar average intelligence (IQ) and similar levels of development. Egypt has an average IQ of about 83, similar to the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. I doubt women will fair much better in these two countries compared to Egypt when it comes to harassment.

The people in Egypt (and in the USA) who harass and catcall are not doctors and engineers, they are uneducated. And if you look at the middle class of the USA or Egypt, they are both equally good-mannered in general. I went to one of the top schools of my country in Iraq for high school, where boys and girls were mixed. Since everyone was middle class or upper class, everyone was perfectly good-mannered, not because we had Western-style sexual freedom (we did not), but because we all came from an intelligent and good-mannered section of society.

Instead of Islam being a cause for sexual harassment, it might be acting as a great limiter on it. If these societies abandoned Islam, the problem might get much worse. In the non-Muslim African country of Botswana (70% Christian), in 2010, 92 out of 100,000 women had been raped. In the Muslim African country of Senegal, that rate was 5.6 out of 100,000 women in 2010, 16 times lower. These two countries are not exactly comparable, due to different IQs and levels of development, but this should give people, especially Christian Westerners, pause when they try to blame Islam for the Middle East’s problems. A woman in non-Muslim Botswana is 16 times more likely to get raped than in Muslim Senegal, so it logically follows that Islam might possibly be having a beneficial effect in reducing rape.

I have never met a devout Muslim male who thinks it is acceptable to harass women. One could in fact say that the problem of these Muslim countries is that they have large non-Muslim underclasses, people who are Muslim by name but do not follow it in any manner in their lives (except when it comes to arranging weddings and funerals). A devout Muslim, no matter how sexually frustrated, would never catcall a woman, because they have sufficient self-respect and empathy to know that it is against good manners and civility to do that.

If a practicing Muslim is 100 times less likely to harass women compared to a non-practicing Muslim who knows nearly nothing about Islam and does not follow it, it is only logical to conclude that practicing Islam helps reduce sexual harassment, and that abandoning Islam will almost certainly make the problem much worse. It is the underclass that has abandoned Islam in all but name in the Middle East that is largely responsible for the harassment problem.

What you could possibly do is try to avoid such people, such as by shopping at malls instead of at shopping districts. If you can get a car and stick to the middle class areas of town, then you may run into them less often.

A certain level of intelligence is necessary for a man to have sufficient empathy for women to realize that harassing them is a really nasty thing to do. For this reason in well-developed high IQ countries like Japan (non-Muslim) and Malaysia (Muslim), women are far safer from harassment compared to undeveloped low IQ countries, whether non-Muslim or Muslim, where the men, due to their lack of intellectual capacity and empathy, are more likely to act according to their animal instincts without caring about their social responsibility or the psychological trauma they inflict on women.

Below is a table that lists countries from the highest IQ (Hong Kong) to lowest. You will notice that the highest IQ countries (those on the left) are generally the countries where women enjoy the most respect.

This table does not show the IQ of everyone in each country. It shows the average IQ, meaning the average person you meet will have this IQ, but there will be many people with higher and lower IQs. Countries with higher average IQs will have larger middle class populations, for example in the Netherlands, 50% or more of the population will have “middle class” values and manners. In India, where the average IQ is 81, the percentage of the population that will have middle class values and manners might be 15% of the population. This means that in India it is far more likely to run into men who think harassing women is OK than you would be if you were in the Netherlands.

Malaysia, with its average IQ of 92, is somewhere in the middle. Women will not be as free from harassment as they would be in the Netherlands, but they would fair much better than they would if they were in Egypt or India.

IQ might be the most significant factor, but it is not the only factor that affects these things. Testosterone levels may also play an important role, and perhaps more important than all of these is cultural and religious values. A truly devout Muslim (or Christian) man is not going to harass women even if they have a low IQ and a strong desire to do so, because their religious values will help them override their animal desires.

Feeling more spiritual with friends, less spiritual when alone

I could be a very different person with my friends( a good one that i always remind them of islam) but when I am not with them,i am not that way,how do I prevent it

That’s natural. Abu Bakr and another companion (may God be pleased with them) complained to the Prophet ﷺ that they felt very spiritual in his presence, but when they were away from him, they started to feel unspiritual and concerned with the worldly life rather than the afterlife. The Prophet ﷺ said this is the natural state of humans.

What you can do is read beneficial books in your alone time, listen to beneficial lectures, read the Quran and worship. You can also spend your time doing things you enjoy, such as a hobby, since Islam does not require you to spend all of your time in worship.

Once you can avoid sins small and great and are able to perform all of the recommended voluntary prayers, then you have reached the proper state of faith and spirituality, and from there on you can spend some of your time seeking knowledge and the rest of it doing things you enjoy.

Why can’t I pray tahajjud anymore?

I am a high school student, my teacher told me that she wasn’t a good student in her old times,but because she prayed tahajud,her results were magnificent.4 years back, at 3 30 am sharp I would wake up,almost every single day of the year,but now,i would just wake up on a usual daily basis,(6 am) ,what have I gone wrong? I see people that don’t even pray have success in their life,but I don’t want to be that way,what advice could you give,for me to wake up and pray tahajud?

The most important advice I can give you is to sincerely ask God for His help in performing tahajjud.

If over the years your closeness to God has decreased, then you must work on this. Many of the great early Muslims have said that sins cause God to forbid us from doing extra acts of worship, since these acts of worship are an honor that He grants.

Beyond that, your sleep schedule matters. If you try to get up at the wrong time in your sleep cycle, it can be very difficult to get up. Each person’s sleep cycle is different. If getting up four hours after you fall asleep is very difficult, you can try getting up four and a half hours or five hours after you fall asleep, or three and a half hours.

If you are not getting enough sleep, then it can be very difficult to interrupt your sleep to get up to pray. Try to get eight hours of sleep, for example by getting up four hours after sleeping, praying for 30 minutes or however long, then sleeping another four hours. Another way is to nap 7-8 hours after waking up in the morning (in the midday) so that the amount of total sleep you get in 24 hours is close to 8 hours (perhaps 7.5 hours at night and 30 minutes in the afternoon).

And if none of this works, you can pray tahajjud before going to bed, which is what I do, since interrupting my sleep makes it extremely difficult for me to work the next day (I do programming work, which is mentally demanding).

 

“How to avoid sexual desires?”

How to avoid sexual desires? (i’m a girl)

We all have sexual desires and there is no way to completely stop them. There is nothing wrong with sexual desire as long as it does not cause you to sin. If your sexual desire is difficult to manage, you can weaken it with fasting or dieting. You can also google “how to reduce libido” to find more suggestions.

From an Islamic perspective, the closer you are to God, the easier it is to avoid sins and obey Him. For advice on making it easier to avoid sins, please see my answers Islamic Strategies for Escaping a Sinful Life and God has not abandoned you.

“He made me fall in love with his words, I crossed my line for him…”

He made me fall in love with his words, I crossed my line for him. I was a good girl, i prayed 5 times a day and i sinned. When I couldn’t do more he left. I feel so heavy, my heart aches so much and i see no forgiveness for me. I left my Lord for someone i loved and now i feel nothing but grief.

Your sin is not greater than God, and the greatest sin of all would be to lose hope in His mercy and forgiveness and to delay repentance thinking that He is incapable of forgiving you. Go back to God, knowing that there is no safety except by His side, and even if you sin a thousand times, know that He is always ready to forgive, if you sincerely seek His forgiveness and work to improve yourself.

“I am tired of fighting and tired of trying…”

how could life fight me so hard while i didn’t do anything to deserve this hurt ,, I am tired of fighting and tired of trying, i don’t need this life I don’t want it, i can’t hold on, life is not for me i think i came here wrong i don’t belong here i don’t know where i even belong but it’s not here,, you should give it to someone else a dying baby whose parents are crying for his life or maybe a dying old father who has children crying for another day with him,, u should give it to them not me

Life’s difficulties are training for what comes afterwards, in a year or two. No difficulty lasts forever. Instead of succumbing to your difficulty and listening to Satan’s whispers when he tells you your life is purposeless and meaningless, patiently wait until God changes things for you.

If you lose hope in God in times of extreme difficulty, it means you will also lose your dedication to Him in times of ease. There is no such thing as a true friend of God who is close to Him and worships Him when things are going easy and who then turns his back on Him when hardship befalls them.

God teaches us to think the best of Him at all times. Satan  tells us to think the worst of Him, to lose hope in His mercy and question His wisdom. Which voice do you choose to listen to?

When you can, follow the steps I describe in my answer God has not abandoned you.

If you cannot find the motivation to do anything to get closer to God, trust in His saying “with hardship comes ease” and do your best to survive until things change.

“Is it bismillaah ar rahman ar raheem or bismilaa hir rahman nir raheem?”

Can you please tell me what is the correct way to recite surah fatihah? Is it bismillaah ar rahman ar raheem or bismilaa hir rahman nir raheem?

The Arabic letters say “bism Allah al-rahman al-raheem”, but when you read in Arabic, you say bismillahir rahmanir raheem. The way you pronounce certain words changes based on the context, so the reading is usually slightly different from what it appears to someone who doesn’t know Arabic very well.

To learn the correct way to recite Surat al-Fatihah, just listen to its recitation many times until you memorize it. Here is my favorite recitation of the surah.

“This world has always been so cruel to me…”

This world has always been so cruel to me. I have given up on life. Now, I’m planning to leave my home and live my rest of the life in orphanage/Housing home. So that my parents/siblings won’t get upset by seeing me in such state all the time. Is this step right islamically?

Sorry to read that. I cannot give you any specific advice without knowing more about your age and situation, but what you are suggesting (of leaving home) sounds like almost certainly the wrong thing to do. If you do not like your present situation, think of the possible solutions then consult with your family and relatives and maybe a solution will be found. Since your decision affects your family, this is not something you can decide all by yourself.

Masturbation is not clearly forbidden or allowed in Islam

The generally accepted principle of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) is that when it comes to enjoying sexual pleasure, everything is forbidden unless it is explicitly allowed. The Quran’s general teaching on sexuality is that Muslims should “guard their privates” except when taking pleasure in the context of a religiously sanctioned intimate relationship.

A strict interpretation of this verse is that all sexual pleasure is forbidden unless it is had with a spouse. A non-strict interpretation is that all sexual intercourse is forbidden unless it is had with a spouse, which means that masturbation is not included in the prohibition.

The Quran never mentions masturbation, so we cannot use it to reach a final judgment. As for hadith, there isn’t a single authentic narration that mentions masturbation (as stated by fatwa number 35889 from IslamWeb.net), therefore hadith cannot help us either in reaching a definitive judgment.

Ambr bin Dinar, one of the Tabieen (belonging to the generations that came soon after the Companions) and a hadith and fiqh scholar says, “I see no issue with masturbation.”1 Jabir bin Zaid, known by the nickname Abul Shaathaa, student of the companion Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) also says he sees no problem with it2. Ibn Abbas says that marriage is better than masturbation, and masturbation is better than fornication.3. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh, says there is no issue with it.4

The most famous scholar to permit masturbation was Imam al-Shawkani (died 1839), a widely respected reformer and revivalist. While he ruled that masturbation is permitted in Islam without conditions (other scholars have said that there are conditions needed to make it permissible, but al-Shawkani says no conditions are needed), he says:

There is no doubt that engaging in this act is a flaw (in one’s character), a show of a lack of self-respect, and a show of abasement in manners and a lack of willpower.

So he criticizes the act, but says there isn’t sufficient evidence to forbid it.

In the modern world, the Moroccan scholar Abdel-Bari Zamzami (died 2016) allowed masturbation for men and women, saying that since it helps one avoid illicit sexual acts, and since there is no clear evidence that it is forbidden, permitting it is more beneficial than forbidding it.

The Maliki and Shafii schools say that masturbation is forbidden.

Making sense of the situation

What scholars have often done is try to take the vagueness out of the scripture by enforcing their own interpretations, either saying masturbation is a sin (some of them say it is a major sin and the person who does it is somehow cursed), or saying that there is nothing wrong with it, such as Imam al-Shawkani who permitted it. Both of these approaches ignore an important teaching of the Prophet ﷺ in dealing with vagueness in religious matters, expressed in the two following authentic narrations:

“What God makes permissible in His book (the Quran), then that is permissible, and what He makes prohibited, that is prohibited, and what He is silent about, that is out of His mercy, so accept His mercy, for God does not forget anything.”

“God has made certain things obligatory, so do not neglect those, and He has set certain bounds, so do not overstep those bounds, and He has remained silent on certain matters out of His mercy on you, not out of forgetfulness, so do not seek out those matters (i.e. do not make a big deal of them).”

When it comes to masturbation, the Quran and the Sunnah do not explicitly prohibit it, and they do not explicitly allow it, leaving it in a gray area.

To a pious person who is eager to please God, the meaning of these things is clear:

  1. It is not important enough to be explicitly forbidden or allowed by God and His Prophet ﷺ.
  2. Every Muslim’s aim should be to avoid it if they can, since true love and fear of God means that a person should avoid everything that has even the slightest possibility of displeasing Him.
  3. If someone is overwhelmed by desire into doing it, or cannot control their impulses so that they habitually do it, they should not obsess about, they should repent and go on with their lives, knowing that what they have done is a small lapse in manners, rather than a crime.

Masturbation, teenagers and scholarly humility

Teenagers, especially teenage boys, have heightened sexual desire, while also having poor impulse control, since the brain’s prefrontal cortext does not finish developing until after the age of 25. These two factors (increased sexual desire, low ability to control urges) can make it very difficult for them to avoid masturbation.

Making teenagers feel bad about masturbation is a short-sighted and destructive thing that many preachers misguidedly do, decreasing these teenagers’ religious self-esteem and making them feel as if they will never be good Muslims, since they are supposedly committing a great sin and cannot stop themselves.

The result is that these teenagers start to think of Islam as an outdated and cruel religion that is asking them to do the impossible.

The balanced approach is to tell teenagers that it is best if they avoid it since it is in a gray area, while also telling them that it is not clearly forbidden, therefore if they cannot help themselves and end up doing it, they should not obsess about it, but repent and go on with their lives.

Rather than making baseless statements about masturbation, saying it is allowed or saying it is forbidden, we must acknowledge the vagueness of the Islamic texts on this issue, while also respecting the wisdom of the scholars in their dislike for it.

 

Conclusion

Different stages of growth and different life circumstances affect a person’s desire for masturbation. Depression, loneliness and a lack of social interaction, for example, makes it more likely that a person will want to masturbate, and not just among humans. I have seen many articles mention that monkeys in captivity masturbate, but those who live in the wild do not.

Most of our scholars consider masturbation an undignified act that a self-respecting person would not do. While they are right about this when it comes to themselves, they should have empathy for younger people living in very different circumstances and subject to far stronger sexual desires and a lower ability to control their impulses due to the fact that their brain development is not complete. Instead of asking the impossible of young people, of having perfect control over their desires like the scholars themselves, they should treat them with kindness and forgiveness, telling them that there is a consensus among Muslims that masturbation is not a dignified thing to do, but that Islam does not clearly forbid it, and that as people age, it becomes easier to avoid it.

Niqab is not more “Islamic” than hijab, and why I do not recommend it

As Muslims, the program we follow is the Quran. Its priorities are our priorities. Those priorities are to be kind, generous, understanding, forgiving, to work to make this world a better place as God’s stewards (agents, khalaa’if in Arabic) on the earth.

Veiling your face is not one of the Quran’s priorities, it is not even mentioned in it, and it should be considered in the light of the Quran’s priorities. Does veiling your face help you more effectively embody the Quran and carry out its program?

The root of the question is the matter of the Quran versus hadith. The Salafi view, which is a minority view that has billions of dollars of Saudi funding behind it, says that what the early Muslims did, we too must do. If their women wore niqab, then our women must do it too, since they were “the best generation” of Muslims and the represent the ideal all Muslims most follow.

The alternative view, which is the mainstream view followed by hundreds of millions of Muslims, is to follow fiqh al-awlawiyyaat (the law of priorities), giving importance to things the Quran considers important, and not obsessing with things the Quran does not consider important.

While Salafi Muslims are often obsessed with things never even hinted at in the Quran, mainstream Muslims read the Quran and try to apply its message in the modern world.

These differences lead to two different types of Islam. Salafi Islam thinks niqab and various other things about dress code are important parts of Islam, because it refuses to distinguish between the Quran and other texts. It treats all of Islam’s early history as a binding program that must be followed, thinking that the best Islam is one that creates an accurate reenactment of 630 CE.

The mainstream view rejects this, saying we follow the Quran, we do not follow Islamic history as if it is a program in itself. If the Quran and the most authentic narrations (those known as mutawatir) do not command that women should wear niqab, then it is not a necessary part of Islam, it is a cultural practice of early Muslims that we are free to adopt or ignore as it fits our modern context.

Since I belong to the Quran-focused camp (rather than the Salafi camp), to me niqab isn’t just unimportant, it must be judged within the context of the Quran’s priorities, and if it is found that wearing niqab goes against those priorities, it is more advisable to avoid it rather than wear it.

For Muslims living in the West and various other areas, wearing niqab will nearly always get in the way of applying the Quranic program more than it helps one follow it. Muslims are meant to belong to the societies in which they live, reforming it, working as activists to eradicate poverty and injustice, to create alliances with good people around them, Muslim and non-Muslim, in order to improve the world (please see Tariq Ramadan’s Western Muslims and the Future of Islam for detailed explanation of what I mean by these priorities.)

The Salafi view, exemplified in the fatwas of Salafi leaders like Ibn Baaz, is that a woman is a walking “bag of fitnah” that has to be cut off from society for her own good and the good of everyone else. Mainstream Islam considers this view inhumane and disrespectful toward a woman’s dignity, respecting her right to be an active member of society.

Wearing niqab will act as a barrier that turns people away from Islam on the one hand, while also reducing a woman’s ability to interact and connect with those around her. I respect a woman’s right to wear what she wants, but if you ask my opinion on it, then niqab is not something I recommend, I consider its potential harms to be greater than its potential benefits. This is, of course, something that every person should decide for themselves. But those who say that niqab is a “duty” or that it is “recommended” are voicing a minority view that is rejected by the majority of Muslims. Niqab is neither a duty nor is it recommended, it is a tool whose benefits and harms should be judged according to one’s culture and local context.

If a woman sees that it is more beneficial for her to wear it in her particular time and place, then she can do it. And if other women elsewhere decide not to wear it, like the majority of Muslim women have decided, then that’s their choice, and no one has the right to say that their faith is not complete or that they should “aim higher”, having the goal to one day wear niqab. There is nothing “higher” about niqab, it is a tool for separating women from society. If a woman prefers to separate herself in this way, then that is her choice, but this is not something the majority of Muslim women would choose.

The Salafi view is that niqab is more “Islamic” because there is evidence that some early Muslims wore it. The Quran-focused view is that niqab is not more “Islamic”, because it has little relation to the Quranic program. It is considered a tool that may or may not be beneficial depending on the time and place. The Salafi view is that Islam is about reenacting history. The Quran-focused view is that Islam is about following the Quran’s priorities.

Instead of thinking of niqab as a duty, it must be thought of rationally. As a woman, does it help you carry out your function (of being God’s agent for good on Earth) more effectively or less effectively? Which is more beneficial for you, separating yourself from society (and wearing something that many people find disconcerting), or engaging with society? Is it beneficial for your psychological health to feel separated from and potentially disliked by the people you interact with daily?

This way of thinking of niqab does not apply to hijab, since hijab is commanded by the Quran (although the Quran’s view on hijab is more moderate than the views of many Muslims, since the Quran recognizes that different cultures may choose to show less or more than others).

Niqab can help a person in avoiding unwanted male attention, and the separation it causes is beneficial toward applying the Quran’s teachings regarding modesty and lowering the gaze. But these benefits must be weighed against the potential harms it does.

There is nothing wrong with a woman veiling her face at a certain occasion, the way Victorian women used to, if she decides that she is more comfortable that way and expects benefits from it. This is the proper way to think of wearing niqab, not as a duty to be practiced no matter what, but as a tool that can be used if and when necessary.

The highly respected mainstream scholar Yusuf al-Qaradhawi has done a detailed study of the Islamic rulings regarding niqab, published as al-Niqab Baina Fardiyyatihi wa Bid`iyyatihi, and his conclusion is that niqab is neither a duty, nor is it a bid`ah (false innovation) to be condemned, it is rather a tool, an item of clothing, that can be beneficial to wear at times and harmful at others.

What’s a good modern biography of Prophet Muhammad?

Can you recommend a good bibliography of the prophet Muhammad pbuh. I’ve read one so far but I didn’t like it. The style of the author was too heavy.

I just read Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet and it is extremely good. I think it should be required reading for every Muslim. It focuses on the personality and spiritual teachings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, rather than focusing on unnecessary technical details.

Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time is also good.

(I assumed you meant biography)

What to recite next after finishing salah

After finishing salah what should be reciting next? and are you meant to do dhikr after each fard prayer?

You can do various forms of dhikr or dua. The most common dhikr, which is done after every prayer, is to say subhanAllah 33 times, alhamdulillah 33 times, and allahu akbar 33 times, mentioned in Sahih Bukhari. You can also shorten these to ten each, aslo mentioned in Sahih Bukhari.

You can also recite any other dhikr words you know if you choose.

After that, you can perform dua, or stand up to pray the voluntary salah, if there is a voluntary salah associated with the obligatory one.

Can a person perform the ritual washing of a dead spouse’s body?

Regarding the ruling of washing a dead body; can a man or woman wash the body of their spouse? In my East Asian culture the scholars say that the nikah is ended when one of the spouse dies, and therefore it’s haraam to wash their body. I tried on islamqa, but their not giving a definite answer.

The Saudi scholar Ibn Baaz says there is nothing wrong with washing a spouse’s body. He mentions that Asmaa’ bin Umais (the wife of Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him and her) washed Abu Bakr’s body when he died, and that Fatima (daughter of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family) washed Ali’s body.

Dealing with parents who disrespect and fight each other

I would like to ask about my family problem. My parents have been fighting for years. My father no longer talks to my mother although he tried to make amends once. My mother constantly talk bad about my father to me and my siblings. She is always full of hatred and anger towards my father. I’m afraid with time I’ll begin to hate my father as well. What is the view in Islam about parents talking bad about their partner to their kids? Where should I stand in this? Thank you.

What your parents are doing is against Islamic teachings. What you should do is stay neutral and respectful toward both of them. If one parent does something unjust toward the other parent or toward one of the children, if you can help prevent it without causing greater harm, then you should try, without belittling or offending either parent.

In your situation, one thing you can do is encourage your siblings to think the best of your father so that they are not unjustly biased against him by your mother’s words. Since your father is not speaking to her and allowing the situation to continue as it is, it appears that both parents are responsible for the bad situation, therefore it is best to not take sides but try to be fair toward both.

If there was anything you could to improve their relationship, then that would be a good thing to do, although it is unlikely. Anything you try could do greater harm than good, since they are older than you and know much more about each other than you do.

Please also see my answer On Islamic Manners Toward Parents.

On Islamic Manners Toward Parents

What to do if you cannot find interesting and like-minded Muslims to befriend

I have experienced bad things in Muslim communities for so many years that it led me to giving up religion and I went astray. After going through many hardships in life alhamdulillah I came back to the Deen to take shelter. However I’m afraid of mixing with Muslims again. They are shallow at their thinking, even non Muslims understand me better and try to help. I’m tired of being judged yet I want to belong to a community or at least have Muslim friends so I’m not alone. How can I find balance?

Your experience of not finding mixing with other Muslims uplifting, although disheartening, is common. The Medieval scholar Ibn al-Jawzi mentions the same thing, and one of the primary pieces of advice he offers in his book of advice Sayd al-Khatir is that one shouldn’t mix too much with others, because most people are not very spiritual and will harm rather than benefit your faith.

When it comes to most Muslims, Islam is just a small add-on on top of their personalities and characters, so that if their personalities and characters are not compatible with yours, Islam will do little to change things. The exceptions are those who have taken Islamic spirituality to heart and try to follow Quranic manners in everything, but such people are rare, and you will be lucky to meet one among a hundred Muslims you meet.

There are different sections of society, each section having its own interests, character and manners. What Islam means for one section can be very different to what it means for another, therefore if you try to engage the wrong section, you will may not get anything satisfactory out of it.

I love reading, but the majority of people, including the majority of Muslims, do not. The people I like to befriend are those who enjoy reading and learning, and such people are few. This means that most people I meet are not going to be the type I can enjoy spending time with, even if they are good people and I like them.

Your experience might be the same. This is also the experience of many genetically European converts to Islam, who want to find fellow Muslims who are interested in intellectual topics, who care about the long-term good of the community and want to plan things and solve problems, but who discover that most people in the community do not care very much about these things. Perhaps this is what you meant when you said you find most Muslims shallow.

The type of people you like might be rare and perhaps not present in your local community. The internet can be a great help in overcoming this issue. You can find like-minded Muslims from around the world and follow them and perhaps befriend them. The people I keep in contact with over the internet are far higher in quality as friends compared to anyone I know at my local community.

Feeling lonely is a common experience if you are different from the people around you. You must first accept this reality, knowing that this is how things will always be unless God grants you the deep friendship of someone. In the end, it is only God who can cure our loneliness. He can arrange things for us, plan for us and facilitate things for us so that we are no longer lonely, if He wishes, if the time is right and if we deserve it. For this reason this is a thing that must be sought through God more than through any other means.

Islam’s theory of free will versus physical determinism: Why humans are responsible for their actions even though God operates the universe

Emission Nebula

In your essay “God, Evolution and Abiogenesis,” you said an atom has no power to move on its own. It is God who has to move every single thing that moves in this world. Given that, does that mean we don’t have free will? On the atomic level, it is due to the chemical reactions and the firing of neurons in our brains that we think and make decisions. So, since God is responsible for everything that’s in motion (including atoms), then isn’t God to blame for all my immoral actions?

Your soul is “plugged into” this universe without being part of it. When you desire to lift up your hand, the desire is yours, therefore you are responsible for this action, but it is God who actually has to move the atoms (and everything else) for your hand to actually move.

When you play a video game, you can issue a command for your game character to lift its hand. You personally have no power to lift the character’s hand, it is the video game engine that actually has to carry your command out, and if the video game engine malfunctions, no matter how many times you issue the command for your character to do something, it may not do it.

When your soul, which is independent from this universe, issues a command, it is fully responsible for this command. But this command is nothing but a feeble wish, it has zero power to change the universe. It is God who has to communicate the soul’s commands to your body, and it is God who has to carry the command out by moving the universe, since nothing in this universe has the power or ability to move or change by itself.

So your soul is free, it is not part of the functioning of this universe. This universe can be thought of as a simulation that is entirely upheld and operated by God. Your soul has no power except to wish for things, and God can transfer these wishes to the body that is temporarily under a human’s control inside our universe. When a person dies, the soul is simply “unplugged” from the universe, and when the person is resurrected, the soul is plugged back into a new body.

Since He wants us to have the choice of disbelieving in Him, He always reliably operates this universe for us, making us think that we have control over our brains and bodies, and making us think that this universe would function by itself even if there was no God. This is a necessary part of the design of the universe, to make faith in God a choice.

Imagine yourself as sitting in a room outside of this universe, holding a remote control that enables you to send commands to your brain and body which are inside the universe. You are responsible for the commands you issue, but you do not have any power or authority to cause a change within the universe. God (or some mechanism laid down by Him) changes the universe so that the command is carried out. He does this so reliably for us that we are tricked into thinking that we have power over this universe.

In reality, the view of the universe we arrive at from the Quran is that it is a simulation-like thing upon which humans have zero power. The human soul is temporarily given the illusion of control over a body, and as the soul issues commands, God moves the body in response, as part of everything else He does in operating this universe.

Saying the soul is independent of this universe does not mean that it is not affected by it. By being plugged into this universe, it experiences it and responds to it. When a human is presented with a temptation, the physical body (and I include the brain in this), which belongs to this universe, responds to it and desires it. The soul, however, maintains final judgment on whether the human succumbs to the temptation or not. The stronger the temptation is, the less room there is for the soul to exert control over the physical body, and the weaker the temptation, the more control the soul has over the body. For this reason we are not always, perhaps never, entirely responsible for the bad deeds we do, the environment affects us and pushes us toward some things. The mistake is in thinking that the environment completely controls us, which is what some atheists say. The Quran says that while the environment affects us, our soul maintains its independence, being able to go against the environment if it wants.

God could prevent all evil from happening, since all that He has to do is stop carrying out an evil person’s intentions, or cause slight changes so that a terrible accident does not happen. I explain why He does not prevent evil things from taking place in my essay Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Humans would have had no responsibility for their actions if they were merely brains and bodies, similar to other animals. If things were so, they would be parts of this universe, and everything they do would be a consequence of the motion of particles and forces within the universe, similar to the actions of bacteria in a pond. But when a soul is plugged into the body, the soul “rides” the body, taking charge of it, directing it, and being responsible for it.

At times, the physical body is out of control, such as when under the influence of a drug, or due to mental illness, or due to witnessing some horrible crime. When this happens, when the soul loses control over the brain and body, it is no longer responsible for what the brain and body do until it regains control.

Our responsibility for a sinful act increases as the involvement of the soul increases. If there is no terrible temptation making us partially lose control over the human body that we control, if our sin is done in cold blood while having full control over the earthly body, then this is a far greater sin than a sin done out of overwhelming desire.

This concept also applies to good deeds. A person who forces their unwilling earthly body to do a good deed is going to deserve higher rewards than a person who only does good deeds that make them feel good. It is for this reason that Umar ibn Abdul Aziz says:

The best good deeds are those that one has to force the ego to perform.

When your ego wants to do evil and your soul overcomes it and prevents it from doing it, or your ego dislikes to do a good deed but your soul overcomes it and forces it to do it, in both of these cases you deserve reward, you used your free will to go against the environment, against the ego your soul is plugged into.

The ego is the earthly body’s sense of self. Even if humans had no free will, if they were merely animals, they would still have an ego. This ego makes them seek what they desire and avoid what they do not desire. The soul is an add-on over the ego, able to override it or go along with it. The ego is arrogant, loves pleasures and dislikes work. The soul can submit to it and do as the ego pleases. It can also receive guidance, submit to God and go against the ego when the ego desires something harmful.

You will meet some humans who mostly live inside their egos. The soul has nearly fully relinquished all control, letting the ego make nearly all of their decisions for them. These people are greedy, power-hungry and love pleasures, they are kind and loving toward their own families (since it is an animal instinct to be this way toward one’s own family), but have no empathy or understanding for others. If their child unjustly beats up someone else’s child, they will continue to defend their own child without caring about right or wrong, since they judge things based on the ego, and the ego wants what is good for the human animal’s interests and does not care about justice.

An easy way to find out if someone lives in their ego is to ask yourself, “Will this person help me if helping me required them to do something that gave them some inconvenience and discomfort?” People who live in their egos will generally only help others if helping others is easy and costs them nothing. If there is any cost involved, they immediately ignore the person who is asking for help, treating them as an annoyance to be gotten rid of. But if helping others will bring them fame and praise, they will do it.

The concepts mentioned in this answer are not meant to be used in scientific discussions with atheists, they help explain the Quranic view on these matters for people who have already accepted the truth of the Quran. The concepts in this essay are also useful in discussions with atheists like Sam Harris who falsely claim that the theory of physical determinism proves free will wrong. If the universe was physically determinate, there would be no free will. But there is no proof for this, as I will explain. What they say is similar to saying “If God did not exist, then there would be no God.” In reality, we can have a perfectly scientific universe that appears physically determinate, while also having free will that operates in parallel to it, and which to a scientist appears either as randomness or as a chaotic and emergent behavior

There is no proof that free will exists, the same way there is no proof that God exists. All that we have is soft evidence (rather than hard evidence) that the Quran is true, and once we have accepted the Quran as true, we accept that both God and free will exist.

Should Muslims boycott the Hajj because of Saudi repression and war crimes?

I’ve read that when we do hajj we are financially supporting the Saudi government to oppress people in it’s country and also to kill people in Yemen. Is it true that they use hajj revenue for bad stuff?

I doubt there is a major country in the world that does not kill innocent people whenever it suits its political goals. Doing business with them or buying products from them always in some way supports them in doing this.

The United States is responsible for the murder of somewhere between 500,000 and 2 million innocent Afghans through staging the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. It is also responsible the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians through its regime change and war-mongering operations. This means that doing any business with the US in some way supports them in doing these things.

And yet there are millions of Muslims living in the US, paying taxes, and in this way supporting the US government.

A government is not a single beast. It is made up of various groups, often conflicting, each working for its own interests. Parts of it does much good, for example the US government and thousands of American charities have saved millions of lives around the world. Technologies developed in the US have helped save millions more lives through making farming more efficient and in this way bringing down the price of food.

We cannot, therefore, treat a government like an individual and make a final judgment on it when it is something very complex and made up of millions of individuals with varying degrees of morality. When American Muslims pay taxes, while supporting the US military, they also support it in taking care of millions of poor people, in doing scientific research and in carrying out various projects for the benefit of humanity.

In return for paying taxes, American Muslims get to enjoy the freedom to practice their religion in a peaceful and prosperous country. This is a great privilege that takes priority over the US government’s immoral actions. While we criticize the government and try to stop its immoral and unethical deeds, we recognize that good that it does, and recognize that living the US and paying taxes is preferable to living in a war zone or in a tyrannical country. There is no such thing as an all-good government, therefore we must operate within the limits of what is possible, enjoining good and forbidding wrong wherever we can.

The same applies to the Saudi government. By going to the Hajj, we carry out an important religious duty, we support the Saudi government in taking care of Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, and we support it in providing welfare for millions of its citizens, while also supporting its oppressive government and its murder of Yemenis.

The Saudi government is also partially responsible for all of America’s wars, because through its petrodollar agreement with the US, it ensures that the US dollar remains the world’s reserve currency, and this enables the US to print trillions of dollars and use it to wage wars without fearing poverty. The Saudi’s have enabled the US to have a free source of cash wherever they need it, and in return they get US weapons and support.

It is a question of whether the good of performing the hajj outweighs the evils of supporting the Saudi government. Most people think that the good outweighs the bad, meaning that performing the Hajj is justifiable even if it in some way supports the Saudi government.

Whenever you do business with anyone who does not have good morals, you support them in doing any immorality they do. But Islam does not prohibit us from doing business with them, because the facts of reality are complicated, and we must do what circumstances require, rather than closing ourselves off and expecting perfection from the world. Tumblr, Facebook and Google are all Jewish companies and all of them support Israel to some degree. Yet we use their services, because we (rightly or wrongly) think that the good of using their services outweighs the vague evil of their support for Israel. Ideally, we’d have alternatives to these services, owned and operated by better people. But realistically, since there are no such services, we cannot give up their services, because the loss we suffer from avoiding these services is greater than any good we do by avoiding their services.

Avoiding these sites is somewhat similar to cutting your house’s electricity because the electricity company’s owner is supports Israel. Will you do so, or will you decide that the good of having electricity outweighs the bad of supporting a company owned by a such a person? Most people will choose to continue to have electricity until there is a better alternative.

Even if you went back 500 or 1000 years, you could still find evil deeds that the rulers of Arabia did that would make you question whether doing the Hajj is justifiable. This is not a new problem.

Muslims are free to boycott the Hajj to shame the Saudi government into behaving better, and perhaps if there was a worldwide boycotting movement, it would do good. But this would require the support of many religious leaders, who at the moment are unlikely to support a boycott, since they believe that performing the obligation of Hajj takes priority over reforming the Saudi government. Maybe if things get much worse they will support a boycott. But at the moment there is little political will to do this.

You are free to try to educate Muslims about the mass murder of Yemenis by the Saudi government (which is largely ignored by the West’s media, since it is done with the full support of the US) and to encourage them to boycott the Hajj. But don’t be surprised if most people prefer to do the Hajj despite Saudi’s actions.

Most of the Saudi government’s revenue is from oil, not Hajj. If your country imports oil from Saudi, like most countries do, and you drive a car or pay to use a taxi, then you are in reality sending money to the Saudi government. If someone is really serious about boycotting Saudi, they should also boycott their oil.

Most people don’t like boycotts because they make life difficult. In Islam, the choice is yours. You can boycott the entities you dislike, or you can continue to do business with them if you have to, while working to make the world a better place in whatever way you can, through enjoining good and forbidding, exposing and criticizing wrong.

What to do if strict/intolerant Muslims make you dislike Islam

I’m now making slowly process to turn to Islam (as a Muslim) after years of no Iman. However sometimes I can come across really blogs here that post Islamic posts that are really strict and even dark in someway. I feel like I can’t keep it up if Islam requires me to hate other religions and groups so I end up not performing my prayers etc. because I don’t feel peaceful at my heart. It feels as if I’ve come to the wrong religion.

Generally whenever you stray away from the Quran and put your focus on anything else, you will lose your understanding of God and get an inaccurate and even depressing view of Him and His religion. This is true even if you read books by inspiring writers like Ibn al-Qayyim, who focus too much on certain of God’s characteristics and less on others. Only the Quran is perfectly balanced, all other sources will contain some imbalance that can upset or mislead you.

It is the Quran that defines your mission in life, your principles, your philosophy, your ideals. When people say something that goes against anything in the Quran, reject it and go on with your life.

There is no such thing as an “Islam” that is independent of the Quran. Islam is nothing more or less than the Quran applied to the real world. Read the Quran and you will see that it will not tell you to hate other religions. Read In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan and you will see that the Prophet, peace be upon him, was an example of love and tolerance toward non-Muslims.

You should not allow others to define Islam for you. Do your own reading and learning, and if anyone says something that insults your intelligence or goes against your sense of justice, research it and ask others about it, and you will find out that there is always a sensible answer. Instead of giving in to others when they present a version of Islam that you find unacceptable, find your own tolerant and beautiful version of Islam and use it to challenge theirs.

Many of the “strict” Muslims you see are Salafis who believe that the best way to please God is to follow the authority of hadith as an equal to the Quran, while the school of Islamic thought that I follow is Quran-focused Islam, which considers the Quran the center of Islam. These two different approaches lead to very different types of Islam. Salafism is “strict” and thinks virtue is in strictness, which often leads to an intolerant and judgmental form of Islam, while Quran-focused Islam is tolerant and respects your dignity and individuality.

I describe the problems with Salafism and its alternative in my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

Also see: How Islam Can Adapt to the Modern World: The Persian versus the Arabian Approach to Handling Complexity.

God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely and meaningless

Flowering Azaleas by Marie Egner (c. 1895)

I would appreciate some advice. I pray all my prayers on time and I read Quran daily, along with other forms of worship, but I feel so numb & empty. I feel like I have no purpose in this life, like if I died it won’t even matter. I don’t affect this Ummah in any way. I just work full-time, I’m single, I don’t have friends, my family and relatives are not on good terms, and I have social anxiety so I hate interacting with others. I feel so useless, is there a point to my worship?

It is human nature to want to be productive and achieve things for the sake of any cause you believe in, such as Islam. But ideally, your Islam should not be in any way attached to results.

Even if you were the only remaining human on earth, you can still perfectly apply Islam in your life, achieving your mission in life and a great success in the afterlife.

Your mission is the same as the Prophet’s mission, peace be upon him. It is to read the Quran and apply it wherever you can in your life, living by its manners, principles and philosophy.

When speaking of placing humans on Earth, God said to the angels, “I am placing a steward on Earth.” What is a steward? It is someone who takes care of something, for example a farm, for the sake of its owner, until the owner comes back.

We Muslims (and faithful Christians and others) are stewards on Earth. Our job is to take care of it for the sake of its Master. And this is achieved by following God’s Straight Path. The Straight Path is a program designed to ensure two things: humanity’s long-term survival (by placing various mechanisms to ensure that humanity doesn’t die out), and humanity’s short-term moral integrity (never justifying evil in the name of the greater good, never saying “the end justifies the means”).

We stewards are God’s representatives on Earth, and an important part of our stewardship is to keep God’s remembrance alive:

“And I have chosen you so listen to what is being revealed.
“Indeed, I am God, there is no god except Me, so worship Me and establish the prayer for My remembrance. (The Quran, verses 20:13-14)

Regardless of your situation, you are always able to fully live your life as a Muslim. You do not need anyone else’s involvement, this is something between you and God.

I have lived alone twice in my life, once when I was 18 and another time when I was 27, and both are some of the worst experiences of my life. I understand the difficulty of your situation, and how purposeless and meaningless it feels.

These are the times when your faith in God is tested. Will you think bad thoughts about Him, consider Him incapable of helping you, or consider Him unkind so that He wants you to suffer?

If we are fair-weather friends of God, then we will worship Him and love Him when things are easy, and once things get truly difficult, once our patience is tested, we fail the test and prove that we are unworthy of being honored by Him.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, suffered many hardships during his career that must have seemed purposeless and needless, since God had the power to protect him at all times and to ensure the very best for him. For 13 years he and his followers had to suffer under the hands of the pagans of Mecca. Couldn’t have God made this only one year, so that the Prophet and his followers used their time more productively? Couldn’t they have used all these years of suffering better if God had enabled Islam to spread faster? What was the point of the Prophet losing his wife and his main protector in Mecca, his uncle Abu Talib, at a crucial place in his career, greatly weakening him?

What the Prophet was taught with all of these difficulties is that God is a King, and He does as He wishes with His servants. If we have truly submitted, we will accept His decrees, thinking the best of Him and continuing to love Him, praise Him and worship Him, even as we suffer knowing that He can end our suffering.

Know that God has no need of you. You cannot do God any favors. No matter how talented or capable you are, God can always create someone with exactly your talents and abilities in little time. Everything we do for God’s sake is actually a gift from Him, because it is He who taught us, guided us, and sustained us throughout all of these years so that we could do this thing in His name and claim credit for it.

Any good deed you do for God is actually a favor from Him. If you want to be productive, to serve Islam, Muslims and humanity, what you are actually asking is for God to give you the favor of being useful in His cause.

You are asking God for a great favor. Ask yourself if you deserve it. Ibn al-Qayyim says:

Whoever, among the workers, wishes to know his status in the eye of the King, let him look at what jobs He gives him and with what He busies him.

If you want the King to give you a great job the ensures you rewards in this life and the afterlife, then you must know that this job is given to those He wishes, and not to everyone. You must purify yourself, rededicate yourself to God, give up all sinful behaviors, and constantly seek His guidance and forgiveness, while remaining patient and thinking the best of Him, and in this way you will be guided to Him step by step, month after month, until you reach a place where He decides to give you a better task in life.

There are no shortcuts if you want to be a sincere and useful servant of God. You must turn yourself into the type of person who deserves God’s honor and favors, and He will give these to you.

God can change your situation in an instant, solving all of your problems, giving you immense knowledge and placing you somewhere where you can be a great and highly admired leader. God will not do this for you, because God does not perform miracles for us. If God did miracles for us, yet we sinned afterwards, this would cause us to deserve the utmost punishment from Him, as happened to Jesus’s apostles:

112. “And when the disciples said, ‘O Jesus son of Mary, is your Lord able to bring down for us a feast from heaven?’ He said, ‘Fear God, if you are believers.’“

113. They said, “We wish to eat from it, so that our hearts may be reassured, and know that you have told us the truth, and be among those who witness it.”

114. Jesus son of Mary said, “O God, our Lord, send down for us a table from heaven, to be a festival for us, for the first of us, and the last of us, and a sign from You; and provide for us; You are the Best of providers.”

115. God said, “I will send it down to you. But whoever among you disbelieves thereafter, I will punish him with a punishment the like of which I never punish any other being.” (The Quran, verses 5:112-115)

They demanded a miracle from God, and God answered their prayer. But to maintain justice, it is necessary for God to hold these people who see the miracle to extremely stringent standards afterwards. Disobeying God after seeing physical evidence with your own eyes of His power is a far greater sin than disobeying God while He feels hidden from you.

It is out of His mercy that He does not do miracles for us. If He did miracles, this would be a burden that many of us couldn’t carry. On the one hand, it would cheapen our good deeds, because now we’d be doing them while having some proof of God’s existence. On the other hand, it would greatly increase our sinfulness if we disobeyed Him in anything, because we’d be committing sins while having had direct experience of Him.

What God wants, instead, is for us to go through the boring, difficult, numbing experiences of life, so that the good we do can be fully attributed to us, and so that we can be rewarded for our faith and patience. If God intervened directly in our lives, showing Himself and performing miracles, all of these things possibilities would be destroyed.

Accept your situation, knowing that God is fully capable of changing it in an instant. He wants you to be responsible for the change, so that He can reward you for it, instead of He Himself causing the change directly and taking away the chance for you to prove yourself.

Nothing you achieve in this life is going to be of any worth except the record of your deeds. Even if you build the world’s greatest mosque in His name, when the world ends, it will be destroyed and turned into nothing, as if it never existed. If you want to work for Him, then know that results only come through Him, and not through your own efforts. If He allows you to achieve any success in His name, then know that this is a favor from Him, not a favor from you to Him.

This is not to say that nothing we do for Him is of value, saying that He can accomplish anything He wants Himself. It is, rather, to realize that there are two worlds, the world of the seen and the world of the unseen. The unseen world is that which has priority. Nothing you do in the seen world is of value if the unseen part of your world is corrupt. And nothing you do in the unseen world is worthless regardless of your results in the seen world.

Becoming a chosen servant of God

If you want to become the type of servant that God favors by making him or her productive in His cause, then these are the steps you can follow to accomplish this.

1. Clean your slate

Chronic sins in your life will block God’s blessings. You cannot hope to be honored by God if part of your life is in direct contradiction to His teachings. For example, if you have usurious debt (debt upon which you pay interest, such as mortgage, car or credit card debt), then this is going to be a blocker of God’s blessings in your life. If you have cut off your relationship with a family member despite the fact that God commands love and kindness and tolerance toward them, then this will block God’s blessings.

Think of your life and find anything that could be considered a chronic sin, and fix it as soon as you can, doing your utmost to do so. God will not believe you to be sincere in wishing for His forgiveness and love if your life contains sinful parts that are insults toward Him.

The next thing to do is to ask God for His forgiveness for every great and small sin you have ever committed. Do this with every prostration of every one of your formal prayers, and do it after every formal prayer.

Equally important is to not add new sins to your record. Your goal should be to have a pristine record, clear of all sins. You cannot hope to have God’s favors if you are carrying a great burden of sins on your back.

2. Reestablish your connection with God through worship

Your question suggests that you are already doing this, that is good. Perform tahajjud at night (8 extra units performed after the isha prayer) and the duha prayer in the morning (8 rakat performed anywhere between 15 minutes after sunrise to 15 minutes before the dhuhr athan). Sit down for a few minutes after every formal prayer, supplicating to God for everything you desire. Do this with all of your five prayers.

3. Be patient and do not expect results

Even if you do not see results for months, detach yourself from expecting results, knowing that God is a King, and a King does what He wills with His servants. Submit to His decree. Do your part of worship, seeking forgiveness and avoiding sins, knowing that God will do His part. If you repent, worship Him ardently and constantly pray for His help, yet see no results for a week or two, what do you know, perhaps if you are patient, results will come in a few months, when you are ready for it.

If you feel numb, uncared for and abandoned, then realize that all of us have felt like that at some point in our lives, even the Prophet, who after revealing the first few revelations, stopped receiving revelation for a period of six months to two years, after which these verses were revealed:

1. By the morning light.

2. And the night as it settles.

3. Your Lord did not abandon you, nor did He forget.

4. The Hereafter is better for you than the First.

5. And your Lord will give you, and you will be satisfied.

6. Did He not find you orphaned, and sheltered you?

7. And found you wandering, and guided you?

8. And found you in need, and enriched you?

9. Therefore, do not mistreat the orphan.

10. Nor rebuff the seeker.

11. But proclaim the blessings of your Lord. (The Quran, verses 93:1-8)

4. Read

An important help toward being patient, thinking the best of God and understanding His decrees is to read. Read Ibn al-Jawzi‘s and Ibn al-Qayyim‘s sayings. If you do not speak Arabic, read multiple translations of the Quran, especially Muhammad Abdel-Haleem’s. Read Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet if you haven’t. Read every good Islamic book you can find, especially by modern, mainstream writers.

5. Put your hopes in the afterlife

This world will never live up to your expectations, and nothing you achieve in it will last forever. It is a central spiritual teaching of the Quran to focus more on the hereafter than on the present life, as verse 4 above teaches.

Think of this world as nothing more than a waiting room. You are here for a while, waiting for the door to be opened, behind which there is a beautiful and thriving city where you can finally have peace and freedom from all stress and worry. Arriving at this city must be your goal, you must never be deluded by the cheap counterfeit goods of the worldly life, which almost always cause as much pain as the pleasure they bring.

If you at this moment feel depressed and unable to do anything for the afterlife, then wait patiently, and this in itself is worship. Imagine yourself waiting in that waiting room. Just wait, if you cannot do anything more. Wait, knowing that eventually the door will open. You do not need to do anything more than waiting, God does not burden you with more than you are able.

6. Be easy on yourself

A mistake many of us make is to rededicate ourselves to God for a short period of time, such a during Ramadan, only to burn out, feeling that we can never be the perfect saint that we hope to be.

Never push yourself beyond what you are able to carry at this moment. Continue to enjoy what you enjoy, reading novels, browsing your favorite sites, playing video games, doing whatever (non-sinful) thing you enjoy doing.

Islam does not ask you to give up the pleasures of this world, or to turn yourself into a God-worshiping robot. It asks you reform your life, to remain close to God as much as you are able, and to continue living a normal human life. God does not blame you for enjoying yourself, for taking the time off to go to the park, to listen to music, to do anything you find enjoyable and uplifting.

Be gentle with yourself and increase what you do for God only when you are able. If today you are tired and cannot perform an extra good deed that you performed yesterday, then do not do it.

Pushing yourself too hard can cause your ego to rebel, because it will feel like Islam is an enemy that wants to prevent it from enjoying life. Children and teenagers also feel this way when their parents try to push them too hard to be pious and religious.

Instead, be a gentle and kind master with yourself, respecting your own dignity and giving yourself time to do what you enjoy.

7. Rely on His guidance

Another mistake that people make is losing hope in God’s ability to guide them. They lose hope and think that they are permanently lost, thinking as if God is incapable of reaching into their lives and purifying it again. The truth that Quran teaches us is that God is with us every hour of every day, teaching us, educating us, helping us overcome challenges and grow into better humans.

Some Muslims, especially strict ones, mistakenly think that for a person to acquire guidance, a thousand things have to go exactly perfectly for them. In reality, once a person accepts the Quran as their guide, and sincerely prays to God for guidance, then their guidance is assured. God will take care of arranging for them everything necessary to help them grow and improve. The Quran speaks much of guidance (al-huda), and there would be little point in mentioning this if it was all about a human’s own efforts toward learning about God and Islam. Rather, guidance is largely about God bestowing His favor upon humans, inspiring them and helping them along the way:

God chooses to Himself whom He wills, and He guides to Himself whoever repents. (The Quran, 42:13)

He said, “I am going towards my Lord, and He will guide me.” (The Quran, verse 37:99)

No matter how lost you feel, pray to God for guidance, and He will guide you, in ways you do not expect. He will arrange for you to go through the right experiences, to hear, read and see the right things, to be able to learn and grow and mature. What you must do, above all, is repent and be sincere.

On social anxiety and loneliness

I too do not enjoy social interactions except with people I know really well. This is perfectly normal. It is not a character flaw, it is due to your genes. If you get only four hours of sleep one night, the next day nearly all of your social anxiety will be gone, because the parts of your brain that cause you social anxiety will stop doing their usual thing.

Consider social anxiety just one of life’s annoyances, similar to a person who has an accident and has to limp for the rest of their lives. It is probably never going away completely, although many things can significantly reduce it (such as gaining wealth and status). Accept social anxiety as a part of life and move on. There are people who are blind, be thankful that your problem is not as serious. It will still get in the way of enjoying a life that people would call normal, but it is not more than you can bear.

When you are in a situation where your social anxiety becomes a factor, it is like a person who has a limp being expected to move fast or run. It is not enjoyable and you’d much rather avoid it, but if you think of it as just another physical disability, then you will be able to handle it with few negative emotions. If people constantly expect you to be outgoing and comfortable socially, then the blame is on them for expecting you to act in a way you are not designed to act. Instead of trying to live up to their expectations, trying to act the way their genes make them act, instead of acting the way your genes make you act, be comfortable with yourself, accepting your limitations, finding social enjoyment in the ways you can (instead of in the ways people expect), and having hope that as you grow older, you will learn better ways of dealing with the issue.

If you feel lonely and wish for meaningful social interactions, for example with a loving spouse, then you can pray for this and let God decide when and how you will have it. Loneliness is just one of the many tests of life, and the happiness we desire from ending our loneliness is only something that God can give to us:

42. And that to your Lord is the finality.

43. And that it is He who causes laughter and weeping.

44. And that it is He who gives death and life.

45. And that it is He who created the two kinds—the male and the female.

46. From a sperm drop, when emitted.

47. And that upon Him is the next existence.

48. And that it is He who enriches and impoverishes. (The Quran 53:42-48)

It is best not place your hopes of fulfillment in this life, as already mentioned, and this includes hoping for an end to loneliness. It is better to put our ultimate hope in the afterlife and to serve God as best as we can, expecting favors and blessings only from Him, whenever He decrees these for us.

This is about the spiritual side of things. As for the material side of things, you are free to seek fulfillment, for example by trying to get married. If you take care of the spiritual side, God will give you His help and guidance as you use your intelligence and planning ability to improve your material situation.

Spiritually, seek fulfillment only through God. Wealth, a spouse, family and friends will not bring you fulfillment unless He allows it and makes it possible. In the worldly life, act like any intelligent human, spiritually, act like His servant, knowing that He is the King above all kings.

When to stand up during the iqamah, at the beginning, a specific point or at the end?

In our part of the world, I have noticed a few people standing up for the salah when the caller pronounces the words “Haiya as Salah” during the iqamat and most stand up from the beginning of the iqamat. Which is correct?

There is no specific evidence on the right time to stand up once the iqamah starts, and this is what Ibn Uthaymeen says. The various schools have used different arguments to justify different times for standing up. But since there is no strong evidence on any of these opinions, you are free to stand whenever it suits you. There is a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari in which the Prophet says not to stand up until the crowd sees him stand up, therefore if there is a specific person who is meant to lead the prayer, then the rest should wait for that person to stand up before standing up themselves.

The Hanafi opinion is to stand up when the athan reaches “hayya alas salat”.

The Shafiee opinino is to stand up once the athan is finished.

The Maliki opinion is that you can stand any time, at the beginning, middle or end of it.

The Hanbali opinion is to follow what the imam does. The imam is supposed to stand up once the athan reaches “qad qamatis salat”. But if the imam takes longer to stand up, then the rest will wait until the imam stands up.

However, if there is a specific imam who is meant to lead the prayer, and the imam is late, and the iqama is said, the rest should wait for the imam to arrive before standing up.

Muslims may use “God” instead of “Allah”, and why most converts to Islam should keep their pre-Islam names

They say in our doctrine that the word “God” is way different than “Allah”, and shouldn’t be said as long as the Kuffar use it. We as Muslims differ from what they came with.. Similar to what happened when Adan was first confirmed. What’s your take on that?

The Saudi scholar Ibn Uthaymeen says there is no issue with using foreign words to refer to God if the meaning of the word is commonly known and well-understood and not confusable with pagan deities.

I try to use the word “God” wherever I can if I am speaking or writing in English, because it sounds more natural than using “Allah”. My wife is a native English speaker and we always say “God” when we speak.

I come from a Kurdish culture and we always use Khwa and Khoda when we speak about God. It sounds highly unusual if someone says Allah in the wrong context, it is like saying “thou” and “thee” in English to refer to someone.

You will find some Arab-centric opinions on the internet that say to use “Allah” instead of other words, acting as if the cultural choices of hundreds of millions of non-Arab Muslims around the world are of no importance.

Using the word God in English is recommendable because it shows non-Muslim English speakers that we are not speaking of some foreign deity like some of them mistakenly think. It shows that we are speaking of the same God that they know of, the God of Abraham and Jesus, peace be upon them.For similar reasons I recommend that converts to Islam keep their pre-Islam names. A convert to Islam named Christopher is going to have a far easier time befriending and approaching non-Muslims, putting them at their ease and showing them that Muslims are just like themselves. If he chooses some foreign-sounding name, this will always act as a barrier.

Ultimately it comes down to personal choice whether a convert chooses to change their name or not. But it is a big mistake to tell them this should be one of the first things they should do after converting. This should be one of the last things they do, by choosing a foreign name they separate themselves from their local community and make it far more difficult on themselves to get their conversion to Islam accepted by others on the one hand, and to get others to have a friendly view of Islam on the other.

Additionally, converts to Islam who have children have the right to continue using local names, as long as these names do not have a meaning conflicting with Islam. Irish Muslims can continue using common Irish names, the way that Kurdish Muslims use Kurdish names, and Turkish Muslims use Turkish names.

Strategies for forgiving others

I’m having a bad past and it was not easy to forgive and forget. I’ve already tried my best to forgive people, but I still can’t find the inner peace. I still can’t find what I should be. Why it is so hard to forgive people? And why it is hard for me to forget the past. What should I do?

You are a human living in a human body. It is a natural part of you to find it difficult to forgive people who have injured you, since the subconscious part of the mind keeps track of every harm others have done us and in this way controls our emotions toward them. This is done for our own good, it is an automatic response meant to help us stay away from people who may harm us.

It is sufficient for you to consciously forgive people (to decide in your mind to not try to harm them or take revenge on them), as for your subconscious mind, it will continue to have its negative emotional response toward these people until a long time passes and you either start to see these people in a new light based on positive interactions, or so much time passes that you forget most of the injuries they have done you.

If you can consciously forgive people, and you can control your actions toward them, then there is no need to worry about the rest. Your focus should instead be on maintaining a heightened state of spirituality (through daily Quran reading, listening to lectures, and other acts of worship), increasing your knowledge, and always going closer toward God. As you improve in these regards, the worldly things that trouble you will feel less important.

Your subconscious (the emotions you feel toward people) is not under your direct control. The only way you can affect it is indirectly, by focusing on things that can rewire its priorities so that it stops worrying about people. And this is done, as I said, through days, months and years of spiritual practice.

There were people in my life who were extremely unkind to me years ago. Instead of trying to forgive them, I moved on with my life. I read hundreds of books, traveled, suffered many hardships and many good things, and in this way the negative things I felt toward these people became irrelevant, so that today I can interact with them without feeling anything negative toward them.

This is similar to how we do not feel strong emotions toward people who were mean to us in kindergarten or elementary school. It is not that we actively forgave them, it is that we grew up, we changed, so that they no longer feel relevant to us, to our emotions and our sense of self-worth.

In the same way, to forgive someone, a person can go to a different country, spend 5 years there and become a completely different person, and coming back to their home country, they may discover that they have forgiven the person even though they almost never thought about them.

To forgive, grow into a new person, move to a new position in life where those people’s negative actions toward you no longer feel important or interesting, so that you do not even bother to think about them anymore.

Besides Islamic worship, another thing you can do is to read 100 books. Read 100 good novels (classics written before 1965) and I guarantee that you will feel like a very different person once you are done, your view of yourself and the world around you will expand and you will start to see the world differently, so that your past stops having the power to hurt you.

Evolutionary psychology

/ No Comments on Evolutionary psychology

What got you interested in evolutionary psychology?

I have always been interested in science, in finding out how the world works, and I have read hundreds of books on all kinds of topics. I discovered that the ordinary field of psychology is full of irrationalism and principles derived not from reality, but from political ideologies. Psychology is one of the “woolly sciences”, as I call them, along with sociology, anthropology and many other fields of the social sciences. More than half of the findings of psychology research cannot be “replicated”, meaning that what psychologists say about something is generally far more derived from their own personal opinions, biases and ideologies rather than reality and an honest desire to find out how things really work.

In such a context, there comes evolutionary psychology, which rejects political correctness and treats humans like science treats any other creature, not bringing moral judgments into its research, but simply finding out how humans really are, which is a breathe of fresh air from the stuffy atmosphere of the West’s woolly science academia and the hundreds of thousands of rent-seeking scientists and researchers who have attached themselves to these fields.

Evolutionary psychology is just one of my interests, among many others, and I have no attachment to it. At the moment it offers the best explanations for human behavior, and I recently published a book based on ideas taken from it (Sex and Purpose). If anything it says is proven false, then it is the truth that takes priority.

What to do if the Quran (in English) does not touch your heart

I have an issue I feel bad about. Whenever I read the Qur’an i can’t connect to it. At worst I haven’t even had a clear feeling it’s from God. Idk why. Maybe because I don’t know Arabic. But whenever I watch a religious video explaining the religion i feel very connected.

You could try different translations of the Quran, some of them have a very technical style that is hard to connect to. Many people like The Qur’an (Oxford World’s Classics) which is not available for free online. You can also try Irving’s translation, which is free.

And if that doesn’t work, but you continue to enjoy lectures, then that is fine too. Once you have understood the religion and follow it, you are free to worship God and seek spirituality in the way that works best for you.

My favorite way to feel spiritual other than listening to the Quran is to read my collection of Ibn al-Jawzi’s sayings, which I have published as a book and which you can read here for free.

What is “sabr”?

/ No Comments on What is “sabr”?

What is sabr actually? Is it to learn to be stoic?

Sabr means “patience”, its literal meaning is “to withhold”. To have sabr means to be able to withhold yourself from doing anything that displeases God. In times of hardship, sabr means not to complain, not to think negative thoughts about God, and not to give up worshiping Him and seek refuge in other things.

In times of ease, sabr means to withhold yourself from using God’s blessings to disobey Him. It also means to continue worshiping Him as ardently as during times of hardship, instead letting times of ease make you complacent and lazy toward worship.

To have sabr means to be steadfast. Regardless of what life throws at you, if you have sabr, you continue to obey and worship God, withholding yourself from doing things that displease Him.

Dating and Relationships in Islam: What is Allowed and What is Not

Is dating and having relationships totally forbidden in Islam?

I will start with a description of an example scenario of the way dating and relationships work in Islam, then will clarify the Islamic stance. If a woman works somewhere, and there is a man there that she likes and who likes her, and both of them want to enjoy a relationship with each other, Islam asks them to get their families involved and work toward getting married.

The time between knowing someone and marrying them could be years. When two people are interested in each other, Islam does not strictly prescribe how they should behave with one another. The two people are expected to get their families involved, and to have a polite and formal relationship with one another, until the marriage takes place.

Depending on the culture, the couple may be allowed to see each other often; for example the man may visit the woman’s family and see her there once or twice a week. This is how dating works among conservative Iranian families. Once the nikah takes place (the official engagement ceremony), but before the wedding, they are allowed to spend time alone outside, going to cafes and restaurants for example, and it is accepted of them to be in constant contact with each other, such as through their phones. But they are not expected to be sexually intimate until after the wedding.

Therefore the Islamic way of dating is as follows. This is the Iranian solution (which is perfectly acceptable in Sunni Islam as well) which allows for dating before the wedding. Note that this is not a loophole, this is perfectly in accordance with Islamic manners:

  1. The man and woman know each other, either as family friends, coworkers or classmates, and both show interest in marrying the other (or the man is interested in marrying her).
  2. The man approaches the woman’s family in an official proposal ceremony. If the man doesn’t know the woman’s family at all, he may get her family’s contact information and set up an official meeting with them. The woman will tell her family about it, and in this way it is set up. The man visits the woman’s family accompanied by some of his own family, and in this way the two families get to know one another.
  3. If everything goes well, the man and woman maintain a formal and polite relationship, although it is not expected to be as formal as that between strangers. The man may visit the woman’s family occasionally. The two families work toward setting up a nikah ceremony.
  4. The nikah takes place. The relationship between the man and the woman becomes religiously officiated by a cleric. They are not married yet culturally. They are allowed to date and to be in contact, similar to a Western-style relationship (without sexual intimacy).
  5. The wedding takes place, after which they are a married couple.

There are all kinds of subtleties involved with this process, and Islam does not strictly prescribe the exact way it is carried out, as long as there is no intimacy before the nikah.

Within the Islamic system, people are discouraged to become intimate emotionally before the nikah, although there is no punishment for this within Islam, so it is not considered a crime, it is considered a breach of good manners and etiquette that could have harmful consequences, so that a person who truly fears God would avoid it.

Lovers in a Garden by Marcus C Stone (c. early 20th century)

For someone living in a different society, what they do could be different. Islam strictly prohibits physical intimacy between people before marriage, leaving emotional intimacy in a gray zone. If a young man and woman fall in love and become emotionally intimate before getting their families involved, their behavior may be considered sinful, or approaching sinfulness, but they have not committed a punishable crime. They are instead strongly encouraged to get their families involved and to maintain a formal relationship until after the nikah.

For two Muslim converts in the West who get to know each other and who want to start dating, performing the nikah is as simple as getting the permission of the woman’s guardian (a male family member, such as a father, brother or other blood relative if they are Muslim, if not, some respect Muslim man from the community), performing a 10-minute nikah ceremony in front of witnesses, then publicly announcing their nikahengagement (for example on Facebook). This can be done months before the wedding. Once this ceremony has been performed, they can start dating like any couple (if they want to date but not marry). In this ceremony the woman’s dowry is set. If they decide to separate before physical intimacy, the women receives half of her dowry, rather than the full dowry, she can also forgo the dowry if she wants.

And, if after the nikah they want to start living together as a husband and wife (without a wedding ceremony), they can do that too, making the nikah the wedding too. In Iran too, sometimes the nikah and the wedding are on the same day, other times they are separated by long periods of time.

So, in Islam it is considered bad manners and a weakness in one’s faith if one tries to have an intimate emotional relationship (for example over the internet) with a member of the opposite sex before the nikah, because this can lead to various sinful behaviors, as there can at times be an immense desire for the couple to take the relationship further, “sexting” and exchanging inappropriate photos. A couple who want to follow Islam’s guidance fully would avoid such a relationship. If they want to know each other better before the nikah, they would get their families involved, or at least the woman’s family (meaning her guardian) should be involved.

Different Muslim cultures have differing practices. Islam does not expect people to act like robots, it acknowledges their humanity, which is why it leaves the pre-nikah relationship in a gray zone, acknowledging that different circumstances require different policies. It is ultimately a matter of conscience between you and God. It is very easy for us to find excuses for our sinful desires and to say that our case is different. So we must be aware of our ego’s desire to always take a relationship with a person of the opposite sex further until it becomes sinful.

By having a relationship with someone before nikah, you constantly create opportunities for you and the other person to act in ways that would be considered sinful by others and by God. Therefore you must do your best to keep your ego’s desires in check, and you must do your best to get your families involved at the first possible opportunity.

If you want to date before marriage, then have your nikah ceremony, then start dating. In this way you can have a relationship, and if you end up not wanting to get married, you have the option of ending the relationship. If it is the woman who wants to end it, then she will get no dowry. If it is the man who wishes to end it, he must give her half the dowry, unless she says she does not want it.

If it is a long-distance relationship, it is sufficient to have a Skype session that involves the two of them, the woman’s guardian and two male witnesses. In this session, the woman’s guardian gives his agreement to the nikah and the dowry amount, and this would be it. They would be considered engaged in Islam, and they can publicly announce their engagement, and from then on they can have an intimate relationship like any non-Muslim Western couple. Depending on their culture, however, physical intimacy may be considered highly inappropriate until after the wedding, although technically it is allowed.

Why should your relationship life be anyone else’s business?

Why can’t young Muslims simply get into relationships without having to involve other people? They mean harm to no one, and they are old enough to think for themselves.

The reason is that in Islam, marriage is an extremely serious business, because the survival of humanity depends on it. Islam creates a system that ensures above-replacement fertility rates, meaning that sufficient children are born and taken care of so that the the population does not start shrinking and slowly going extinct.

Why should anyone care about that when one’s fulfillment is involved?

For the same reason that a factory owner has to worry about not releasing contaminated water into the environment. It may bring him or her great fulfillment to do this, since it reduces costs and increases profits, but for humanity’s greater good, their desire is curbed. What they do isn’t just their business, it is also society’s business.

In Islam, relationships and marriage are equally society’s business. It may seem really fun to spend one’s youth “hooking up” with a dozen different people, having a different sexual partner every few months. This can be highly enjoyable, there is no need to deny this. The problem is that this leads to a society that does not value its future, and that considers having and bringing up children a nuisance that gets in the way of personal fulfillment.

The result is that the number of people dying ends up being greater than the number of people being born, so that the population starts to shrink, like it is happening in Japan. A person may say, “So what? They have 120 million people, let it become 10 million instead.” But if a population it can go from 120 million to 10 million, it can go from 10 million to zero if the same trend continues.

You are free to think this is OK, that it is fine if humanity goes extinct by preferring personal fulfillment over the good of society and humanity’s survival. Islam says it is not OK. Islam wants humanity to survive, and it doesn’t make a difference in God’s eye whether it is a plague that may kill off humanity in a year, or an ideology of sexual freedom that does it in 2000 years. The result is the same; humanity dies out.

You could say that you personally shouldn’t have to sacrifice your fulfillment for the sake of some disaster that may happen thousands of years in the future. Islam says you must. It says you must not kill, you must not use legalized robbery (usury) to extract profit from society, you must not do injury to others, you must not abandon your children so that they starve. And you must not have casual sex, you must instead build families intended to survive for the long-term.

All of these commandments are there to ensure humanity’s long-term survival while also ensuring its short-term moral integrity, since one of Islam’s central teachings is that the end does not justify the means; you must never do evil for the sake of some good you wish to obtain. Even if you are made to testify, and your testimony harms those you love or harms the Muslim community, you must do it. You must give preference to truth and justice over worldly concerns. To a materialist this sounds like insanity, to prefer principles over one’s material good. But this is what we believe in, because we believe by following principles, God will ensure our material good.

When it comes to relationships, Islam asks you to not be selfish, but to engage in them in a way that benefits society and humanity’s survival, rather than harming it. You are part of humanity and you have a responsibility to leave in as good a state as you found it, and that, needless to say, means that you do not do what leads to its extinction, whether it is by releasing toxic waste into the water supply or by giving preference to your sexual desires over doing the hard work of building families and raising children.

Page 1 of 3
1 2 3