IslamQA

Answers to questions received on my islamic-art-and-quotes tumblr blog.

Is not praying worse than adultery?

is neglecting to pray salat a worse sin than zina?

Some scholars, such as Ibn al-Qayyim, have said that. But there is no explicit evidence on this from the Quran or hadith. The reason they say that is because intentionally avoiding the prayer is out of arrogance and rebelliousness, while committing adultery is out of desire, and rebelliousness is considered a greater sin due to it being more intentional and cold-blooded.

But personally I recommend not speculating about which sin is greater. It is God’s business, and the judgment may differ with each specific case.

What to do if certain Quranic verses and hadith narrations sound harsh or illogical to you

Hi! i'm trying to read the quran in my language to understand and apply to my life. but it comes harsh to me. i don't want to be disrespectful to Quran but some things even look ridiculous. same goes for the hadidths and so. the more I try to learn I get distanced. I already believe and I wanna keep believing Allah fully. But I feel like I'm tricking myself to believe because sometimes I'm not persuaded with explanations I find. But I still accept them afraiding that I'm gonna lose my Imaan.

pt.2: and this feels like I’m not a true believer. I act as one on the outside. But I can’t make good decisions according to my Islamic knowledge. I feel so lost. What can I do for understanding and loving Islam more. Without getting distanced?

It is true that some verses sound ridiculous in some Quran translations. Some translations are better than others. Since you speak English, I recommend that you check out Abdel Haleem’s translation which is better than many others. You can also check out the translation at ClearQuran.net, I use this most of the time when I need to quote verses in English because it is simple and modern.

As for hadith narrations, they should be treated with caution. If they say something that sounds illogical or that seems to go against the Quran, then most of the time you can safely ignore them even if they are supposed to be authentic. There is an authentic narration that says women are a “bad omen”. There is another authentic narration in which Aisha (may God be pleased with her) refutes this hadith and says the Prophet was actually saying that the pre-Islamic Arabs used to believe that women are a bad omen. You should never take a hadith at face value without researching further.

So I understand the difficulty of trying to remain a good Muslim when there is so much that sounds ridiculous and absurd that is attributed to Islam. In reality once you understand the verses and hadiths in context, then everything makes sense. The Islamic world’s solution to this problem is simple: find intelligent and reasonable scholars and listen to their opinions and read their books. They do the hard work of reading the original sources and making sense of them. A person who speaks Arabic has a great range of intelligent and sensible scholars to choose from, people like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Muhammad al-Ghazali, Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda and many others.

Unfortunately most of their works are not available in English, and the English-speaking Muslim intellectuals have not yet created a definitive set of works that we can comfortably point people to. But there are still many good books out there which you can check out, by people like Timothy Winter (also known as Shaykh Abd al-Hakeem Murad) and Jonathan Brown. You can also check out lectures on YouTube by Timothy Winter, Hamza Yusuf and Yasir Qadhi. The more you learn about Islam from the available modern sources, the more you will be able to make sense of it.

Start by trying to understand the Quran as best as you can, then use its philosophy to judge everything else that you hear about Islam. If you hear something that sounds ridiculous and that is not in the Quran, you can be skeptical toward it and ignore it even if you cannot say with certainty that it is false.

And remember that Islam is merely a tool that helps us know the best way to understand God and worship Him. The point is God, not Islam. So even if something in Islam does not seem to make sense, this should not affect your relationship with God. You should hold onto God and the Quran and when you hear something that is strange or unsettling, wait patiently until you learn more and can make sense of it.

The ruling on watching uncovered women on television

In answer to questions regarding whether it is permissible to watch people on television or in public not dressed according to the Islamic dress code, for example watching a female television presenter who does not wear the hijab

While the Quran prescribes what Muslims should wear on public, there are no Quranic verses or hadith narrations to help us formulate a clear policy regarding watching people not dressed according to the Islamic dress code. Many scholars have issued fatwas prohibiting watching non-hijabi women on television, or watching soccer matches where the men wear athletic shorts that end above the knee. But their prohibitions are not based on any clear evidence–they are extending the logic of the Islamic dress code into a different domain. Due to the lack of clear evidence regarding this issue, it is best to follow the common sense policy that the majority of Muslims already follow, which is to avoid watching sexually suggestive material while considering everything else neutral (such as watching non-hijabi television presenters and actresses).

Each person should judge the matter for themselves and according to each circumstance. When watching TV, it is sufficient to look away when sexually suggestive material is shown (for a example certain scenes of a film).

The Saudi scholar Dr. al-Sharīf al-ʿAwnī says regarding watching non-hijabi women on TV:

I cannot say with certainty that it is forbidden. I rather lean towards considering it a disliked thing. And if a Muslim can avoid it then it is better.

The Saudi scholar ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Suḥaym says there is no issue with watching non-hijabi females on television if there is no sexual desire involved.

Source:

How to begin practicing Islam

Hello. I write to you because I don't know what else to do. I come from a Christian family, in a very much Christian country where Islam is never regarded, not even discussed or insulted. Just ignored. Yes, people know about it but when I speak about my love for the Quran or my wishes to become a Muslim, they laugh it me. There aren't any mosques where I can pray. If there where I feel I would spent the better part of the day there. I don't care what people think of me. That's not the issue... the thing is I'm not sure how to practice Islam. I read what I can from the Quran online. But I don't feel close enough. What do you recommend? I have no one to guide me through it. But I can't help how I feel about Islam. I want to be close to Him and do as much as to serve Him well.

Hello,

I recommend reading a book intended for beginners to Islam, such as Being Muslim: A Practical Guide by Asad Tarsin (it is available on Amazon.com). All you need to do to start practicing Islam is to say the shahada (”I bear witness that there is no deity besides God and that Muhammad is his servant and messenger.”). That makes you officially a Muslim. Then you would have to start praying the five daily prayers and fast when it is Ramadan. The daily prayers have their own requirements which you can easily find out more about by searching online for “how to pray”, or by reading books for beginners to Islam.

To improve your knowledge of Islam you can also watch lectures on YouTube by respected English-speaking scholars like Yasir Qadhi, Hamza Yusuf and Abdal Hakim Murad.

Sleeping on the stomach is not clearly forbidden or disliked in Islam

Assallamualeykum! Why is it bad to sleep face down? Are the hadiths about it reliable?

There appears are two narrations that mention the Prophet disliking sleeping on the stomach, one in the collection of al-Tirmidhī and one in the collection of Ibn Māja. The imams al-Bukhāri, al-Dāraquṭnī, Ibn Abī Ḥātim and Ibn Rajab consider these narrations unreliable, while al-Albānī considers them reliable. So it is not firmly established that it is disliked or forbidden to sleep on the stomach. Scholars like Ibn al-Qayyim mention that it is harmful to one’s health to sleep on the stomach.

A fatwa by the Jordanian fatwa authority considers it disliked (makrūh), meaning that it is not forbidden (ḥarām). The fatwa also says that if a person has to sleep in that way for health reasons, or if they turn onto their stomachs while asleep (without intending it), then it is not disliked.

According to many English-language health sites children younger than 12 months should not sleep on the stomach due to the increased danger of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Sources:

Is it permitted to use the student loan interest deduction?

salamu alaykom, i know that student loans are haram but i have one that I’m paying off from when I didn’t really know it wasn’t okay. my question; on taxes in the U.S. you can put down the interest you paid on student loans as a deductible on your tax return filing and get some of it back, is this also haram? even though id be getting back interest that i paid? or is it okay to do? thank you in advance.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The student loan deduction is the government paying back some of the interest, which actually makes the loan less “evil” since it reduces the interest. I see nothing wrong with benefiting from the deduction, it is like any other government-paid benefit (such as certain university scholarships).

Having friends who make fun of Islam

I have friends who are not muslims. Sometimes they make fun of islam and we go into discussions but i feel like sometimes they just want to insult muslims. 2 of them are atheists and another one is a christian. They ask the same questions/claims repeatedly but always jump from one question to another before i can fully answer. Maybe they dont really care about the answer. It hurts when they make claims about the prophet and allah and other muslims. Are they wrong to do this or am I just lacking?

Your friends lack good manners and it would be best to find more civilized friends even if it was not a religious issue.

The Quran says:

He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear God’s revelations being rejected, or ridiculed, do not sit with them until they engage in some other subject… (From the Quran, verse 4:140)

The Quran therefore recommends that you avoid such people. Make it clear to them that you will avoid them if they bring up Islam with the aim of making fun of it, and if they continue, then stop befriending them.

Eating with the left hand is permitted in Islam

Is it okay for the Muslim lefties to eat with their left hand rather than their right hand? Because their dominant hand is left and is not adept at using their right hand. Thank you.

There are authentic narrations in which the Prophet commands that a person should eat with the right hand, but the majority of the scholars from the Ḥanafī, Mālikī, Shāfiʿī and Ḥanbalī schools agree that it is a recommendation rather than an obligation.

This is also the opinion of Ali Gomaa (Egypt’s Grand Mufti from 2003 to 2013).

Source:

Is it permitted for a Muslim woman to shave her head?

Can I shave my head clean so that it will grow evenly long? I'm a girl.

According to a fatwa on IslamOnline, most scholars permit it if there is a need for it. Also, Shāfiʿite and Ḥanbalite opinion is that women cutting their hair is disliked (makrūh), not forbidden (ḥarām).

See also the related answer: Having short hair as a Muslim woman

Is it permitted to pray for death in Islam?

Is it haram to pray for death?

The Prophet says:

"Let none of you wish for death on account of an affliction that befalls him. If he has no alternative, let him pray: O God, grant me life so long as it is good for me to be alive, and take my life if death is good for me." [Bukhari and Muslim, quoted in Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn Book 1, Hadith 586)

Since praying for death is an expression of hopeless in God’s ability to make our life better, the following saying of Prophet Ibrāhīm also applies to it:

He said, “And who despairs of his Lord’s mercy but those who are misguided?” (The Quran, 15:56)

Therefore it does not befit a believer to pray for death. They should instead leave the matter in God’s hands and let Him decide their fate. Rather than praying for death, wait patiently until God changes your circumstances. Also please check out the following essay: Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide.

 

The Islamic ruling on blowing on food to cool it

Is it true that it be haram to blow on ones good before eatin even tho it be hot to eat?

According to a fatwa from Egypt’s fatwa authority, it is not a prohibition, it is just good manners not do it since it can cause the food or saliva to fly off, and it is for this reason that the Prophet disliked it. It is therefore considered disliked (makrūh), not forbidden (ḥarām).

According to the the important legal theorist Shams al-Dīn al-Āmidī it is permitted to blow air on hot food to cool it (apparently he thought that the disliked aspect was if it was done unnecessarily). According to the Mālikite scholar Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī the issue has to do with communal eating etiquette. If a person is eating alone then it is not disliked, but if they are eating in company, since it may gross people out, they should avoid it. This is also the opinion of al-Muhallab b. Abī Ṣufra, mentioned in his commentary on Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and quoted by Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqālānī.

The important Ḥanafī scholar Abū Yūsuf said it is permitted as long as it is not done so forcefully as to make a sound.

On failing to achieve something despite years of effort

Hi. There was something that I've been working very hard to achieve. In fact I've spent a few years of my life, sincerely working hard for it. When the time came, I didn't get that thing. In fact I keep getting hurt more and more and it seems as if all doors are closed. I feel like all my hard work went down the drain. Everytime I heal and try to make peace with my situation, I fall down again and again, like a never-ending cycle. (Continued...)

Hello,

I did not find the second part of your question, maybe it failed to submit. But to answer the question as it is: that is an experience that many of us have had. There is no help for it but to submit to God’s decree, knowing that He is in charge and that we are not in charge.

Always keep in mind that God is in charge and that He can give you the greatest success in an instant if He wanted. Ask yourself why He does not do that. The answer is that God has no need for us or our works. Whatever we hope to achieve, He can achieve it without our help. This teaches us that we should not be attached to achievements, but to God. We must re-orient ourselves toward Him, asking Him to help us have useful and productive lives, and accepting whatever happens to us as His decrees. We have not truly understood God until we are fully content with His decrees: rather than thinking we deserve better or that this should not be happening to us, we must learn to fully submit, knowing that God is in charge and that nothing escapes Him.

Once you realize that God is the source of all good things and all blessings, you will stop being attached to achievements, knowing that achievements are nothing but a gift from Him that He gives when He wants. It is God who should be first in our minds; we cannot achieve anything unless He allows it, and if He does not allow it, there is nothing in this world that can help us achieve it. So keep going back to God, stop rejecting your situation and instead accept it, knowing that God can end it and replace it with something better whenever He wants.

This does not mean that you should stop your efforts. We are God’s agents on Earth and we have work to do. But rather than being attached to results, we must be attached to God and let Him take care of the results. Whether we fail or succeed does not matter; what matters is for God to be pleased with us.

For more please see my essays below:

The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

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

How to achieve khushoo in salah

How to do we get khushoo in our salah? Sometimes I feel like I'm not completely focused and I start thinking of things that aren't important.

I have found that my feeling of closeness to God outside the prayer is what matters most when it comes to whether I can focus on the prayer or not. And that closeness comes from performing an extra amount of worship every day. Staying close to God requires daily work. If last night I spent an hour reading or listening to the Quran, then today I can focus much better on the prayer and enjoy it more.

For more on performing extra worship see my essay: Mysticism without Sufism: A Guide to Tahajjud, Islam’s Meditation Practice

Her abusive parents make her feel depressed

Assalamu aleikum, for several years i have been feeling like a burden and a problem to my parents. they never support or show love and admiration for anything me or my sisters do, they’re always scared that we’re going to ruin their reputations and have absolutely zero respect for us, the degrading things they’ve told us would take hours to count. lately this has been weighing on me and my mental health is at my lowest, i have dark suicidal thoughts but i know i’d never have the courage to-

-take my own life. i want to get professional help but feel like they would humiliate me for that too. do you have an advice for me? maybe i should pray more or something. i’m sorry if this is too dark but I've been feeling helpless for a long time

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry to read about your difficult situation. It is natural for such difficult situations to make us wish that we did not exist. Unfortunately there may be no solution except to be patient. Maybe getting professional help will help even if your parents dislike it. When some people make our lives miserable other people can help us feel consoled.

In general we have two options when faced with such situations; either to give in to them and let them defeat us, or we can do our best to keep close to God and to think the best of Him despite feeling lonely, abandoned and unspiritual. This is how we can prove we are extraordinary; to keep our souls above our suffering, not letting it crush us and patiently waiting for God to ease our situation and replace it with something better.

The best people you meet in your life are those who suffered like you do, but who were able to defeat the suffering by keeping close to God and thinking the best of Him. And the some of the worst people you meet are those who suffered and who let their suffering make them dislike God so that they now hold a grudge against Him and reject Him and blame Him for having meaningless and empty lives.

Please check out my three essays below where I discuss how to find meaning in suffering and how to overcome it:

Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide

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

The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

Best wishes.

Spending money on expensive mosques rather than the needy

Assallamualeykum! Could you please share your opinion on spending a lot of money on building beautiful mosques instead of using that amount to help the people who are really in need?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

When Imam Ahmad was asked about a rich and powerful man who had spent 1000 dinars (a large sum of money at the time) on a decorated book of Quran, he said, “Let him, for this is the best way to spend his money.” He said this despite the fact that he considered it a religiously disliked thing for people to make or spend money highly decorated and expensive books of Quran. His point was that this rich man was going to waste his money anyway, so he might as well waste it on something that has a better value than other things.

My opinion on beautiful mosques is similar. Their beauty has a positive value, but spending money on helping the needy is better than spending money on expensive mosques. However, as Imam Ahmad recognized, the choice is not between helping the needy and wasting money on expensive religious items. The choice is between wasting money on religious items and wasting money on non-religious items. This means that if a rich person is going to waste his money anyway, he might as well waste it on building a beautiful mosque.

So while technically it is better to help the needy, realistically, there are many rich people who would spend money on an expensive mosque but who would never consider giving that money away to the poor. For such people, building an expensive mosque is the best use of their money. If they do not spend it on a mosque, they might spend it on a big palace.

We should therefore not judge the matter as if expensive mosques are created in a social vacuum. They are often created by rich and powerful people who already waste money on many other things. Once the mosque has been built, we should appreciate it even if we think the money could have been used better. We should thank God that this rich and powerful person was moved to build something beautiful and valuable when they could have spent their money on something that was useless or harmful to society.

The meaning of not taking Christians and Jews as allies in the Quran

Salam, you articulate your explanations very nicely MashAllah. My question is in Surah Ma'idah how can Verse 52 apply to modern day Muslims? A lot of the time I read a verse and get apprehensive about how it relates to me, then I read the tasfir and it makes sense in its context. But then I struggle to apply it to my own life.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Usually when the meaning of a verse of the Quran is unclear, another part of the Quran clarifies it. That verse should be understood in the context of other relevant verses. These verses are concerned with diplomatic relations between Muslim groups and Christian and Jewish groups. The passage says:

51. O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies; some of them are allies of one another. Whoever of you allies himself with them is one of them. God does not guide the wrongdoing people.

52. You will see those in whose hearts is sickness racing towards them. They say, “We fear the wheel of fate may turn against us.” But perhaps God will bring about victory, or some event of His making; thereupon they will regret what they concealed within themselves. (The Quran, verses 5:51-52)

The chapter goes on to say:

O you who believe! Do not take as allies those who take your religion in mockery and as a sport, be they from among those who were given the Scripture before you, or the disbelievers. And obey God, if you are believers. (The Quran, verse 5:57)

In another chapter, it says:

138. Inform the hypocrites that they will have a painful punishment.

139. Those who ally themselves with the disbelievers instead of the believers. Do they seek glory in them? All glory belongs to God. (The Quran, verses 4:138-139)

In another chapter, the Quran says:

8. As for those who have not fought against you for your religion, nor expelled you from your homes, God does not prohibit you from dealing with them kindly and equitably. God loves the equitable.

9. But God prohibits you from taking as allies those who fought against you over your religion, and expelled you from your homes, and aided in your expulsion. Whoever takes them for friends—these are the wrongdoers. (The Quran, verses 60:8-9)

In these verses, what is translated as “taking as allies” are verbs from the W-L-Y root that refer to the concept of wilāya. This means to enter into a relationship where you are dependent on a person for your safety and protection. The verse you mentioned is referring to some of the hypocrites and other misguided Muslims who tried to enter into such a relationship with the Jews of Medina. They thought that in this way they would be safe in case the pagans of Mecca attacked the Muslims. The Quran is forbidding Muslims from putting their lives in the hands of Jews and Christians out of fear and in the seeking of safety, because such relationships always have strings attached. It is an unequal relationship that causes the Muslims to submissively accept the demands of the Jews and Christians. It also means putting one’s trust in people who may have agendas of their own and may betray the Muslims at some point, as the many examples of history show us.

Verse 60:8 tells us that we are not forbidden from dealing with non-Muslims justly and kindly. We can have equal relationships with them, what we cannot have are unequal relationships that make us submit to them spiritually and materially.

When it comes to individual Muslims, these concerns are usually not relevant since befriending a Christian or Jew does not automatically place you in a relationship of wilāya with them. An example of a Muslim who enters into a relationship of wilāya with Jews and Christians is a Muslim politician who builds his or her entire career around pleasing Jewish and Christian allies, relies on them for success, and does his or her best to live up to their expectations. We see such examples among British Muslim Members of Parliament. In their desire to fit in and to gain Christian and Jewish support they largely abandon their Muslim identity. That is what these verses forbid us from doing.

As for a Muslim politician who keeps friendly relations with Jews and Christians but does not submit to them or rely on them for success and protection, then such a Muslim is not doing anything wrong in this regard.

In summary, Muslims can befriend non-Muslims if the friendship is on equal, non-submissive terms. But they are forbidden from selling their Muslim identities to enter into relationships of spiritual and material submission with non-Muslims out of the desire for protection and gain.

Why are we supposed to control our sexual desires in Islam?

Why do we have to suppress our sexual desires in Islam? I'm unmarried and always have sexual thoughts, but in Islam we're told masturbation is haram and that we should fast to control our desires. It just doesn't seem fair to those who are struggling to find someone.

Masturbation is not clearly forbidden as I explain here. And sexual fantasies are not sinful as I explain here.

The reason we have to control our sexual desires is so that we can satisfy them in civilized, rather than destructive, ways. We do not want our societies to descend into being like jungles where everyone has sex with everyone else. Even though some may imagine a sexual utopia where everyone is free to do whatever they want with their sexuality, that does not lead to happiness. It actually creates a hellish world that is devoid of love and the warmth of human interactions. The British philosopher Roger Scruton speaks of this in detail in his important 1986 book Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation.

If you are interested in reading more about this please check out the chapter “Women and Sexuality in Islam” from my new book An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims (you can download the book for free here).

Her friend is said to suffer from “jinn possession”

Salaam, I have a friend who is suffering from jinn possession. Someone did black magic to her in order to destroy her and her marriage. She's now severely depressed, what can be done to help her?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

As I explain in my answer Can jinns possess objects or show themselves? we must be extremely skeptical toward claims regarding jinns. Unless your friend has undeniable proofs that her depression is caused by jinns, we should assume it is just a medical condition.

This world is not a playground for jinns doing whatever they want to humans as some superstitiously believe. Their only power it seems is to inspire thoughts in humans, and even then their power is strongly limited by God’s protection of His believers. The Quran says:

30. Surely, those who say: “Our Lord is God,” and then remain steadfast, the angels will descend upon them: “Do not fear, and do not grieve, but rejoice in the news of the Garden which you were promised.

31. We are your allies and protectors in this life and in the Hereafter, wherein you will have whatever your souls desire, and you will have therein whatever you call for.” (The Quran, verses 41:30-31)

The Quran also says:

There are succeeding ones assigned to him; before him and behind him, protecting him by God’s command. God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. And if God wills any hardship for a people, there is no turning it back; and apart from Him they have no protector. (The Quran, verse 13:11)

Imam Mujāhid b. Jabr (d. 722 CE) says in his interpretation of this verse:

There is not a servant of God except that he has an angel protecting him in his sleep and wakefulness from jinns, humans and natural dangers [hawām, literally meaning deadly and disease-causing animals and insects]...

Since the believers enjoy God’s protection and since jinns have so little power, we should always be extremely skeptical about claims of jinns doing things to humans. Such things are not impossible as far as we know, but they are extremely unlikely.

My recommendation therefore is for your friend to seek medical help for her depression. She can also read the Quran and do extra worship to be closer to God and enjoy His protection more, and maybe this will help reduce her fears of being possessed by jinns.

Does being a Muslim make us better humans than non-Muslims?

Does being a Muslim make us better humans than disbelievers?

First, note that the word “disbeliever” as it is used in Quran translations does not refer to all non-Muslims as explained here. It only refers to someone who believes in God but knowingly disobeys Him and denies His blessings and scriptures.

The attributes that make some humans better than others are mercy, compassion, submission to God and fear of Him, generosity and other attributes that God teaches us to try to have. Any human who has more of these attributes is superior to those who have less of them.

It is quite possible for a non-Muslim to be more kind than a particular Muslim. In that case they are superior to the Muslim when it comes to kindness, but they may be inferior when it comes to submission to God (maybe they believe in God but knowingly reject following Him).

Some people believe that merely entering the fold of Islam automatically makes one a superior species of human compared to everyone else. But the Quran seems to reject that view. The Quran says:

13. O people! We created you from a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-Knowing, Well-Experienced.

14. The Desert-Arabs say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not believed; but say, ‘We have submitted,’ [i.e. we have entered Islam] for faith has not yet entered into your hearts. But if you obey God and His Messenger, He will not diminish any of your deeds. God is Forgiving and Merciful.”

15. The believers are those who believe in God and His Messenger, and then have not doubted, and strive for God’s cause with their wealth and their persons. These are the sincere.

16. Say, “Are you going to teach God about your religion, when God knows everything in the heavens and the earth, and God is aware of all things?”

17. They regarded it a favor to you that they have submitted. Say, “Do not consider your submission a favor to me; it is God who has done you a favor by guiding you to the faith, if you are sincere.” (The Quran, verses 49:14-17)

These verses criticize the Bedouins for claiming to have faith when they do not. They accepted Islam but they have only done so out of political and material considerations–they have not become believers yet. ﻹhe verses imply that their being merely “Muslim” has little value if they do not believe and strive in the way of God.

That teaches us that being Muslim is not automatically a ticket to being superior to others. A Christian who better embodies the attributes of submission, piety, fear of God and kindness seems to me a superior human in the Quranic view compared to a cruel and evil-doing Muslim. The Quran says:

146. Those to whom We have given the Book [Jews, Christians and followers of other Abrahamic religions] recognize it as they recognize their own children. But some of them conceal the truth while they know.

147. The truth is from your Lord, so do not be a skeptic.

148. To every community is a direction towards which it turns. Therefore, race towards goodness. Wherever you may be, God will bring you all together. God is capable of everything. (The Quran, verses 2:146-148)

Verse 148 above says “race towards goodness”. The call may be directed towards Muslims, telling them to race with one another in goodness, or it could be a call to Muslims, Jews and Christians to race each other. This second interpretation follows more logically from the context, since in 148 it says “Therefore, race towards goodness” right after it means “every community” (meaning Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc.). Now, if there is to be a race towards goodness between Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others, that means it is possible that some Jews and Christians may win the race and some Muslims may lose the race. If Muslims were supposed to always win just by the virtue of being Muslim, then there would be no point in a race. The race would be won by default every time before it even begins.

So the concept that Muslims, Jews and Christians can race one another in goodness suggests that it is goodness that matters, not the mere fact of being Muslim.

Of course, merely being Muslim comes with its own virtues, but it is only one attribute among other equally important attributes.

In summary, being Muslim does not necessarily make every Muslim automatically superior to every non-Muslim.

Is it permitted to study astrology out of curiosity alone?

assalamu aleikum, is astrology still haram if we read it not to know our traits or future but out of pure curiosity?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The problem with astrology is that it attributes mystical powers to things other than God. If it is studied purely out of curiosity without adopting its teachings then that is a different matter. It may be similar to studying Buddhism out of curiosity; this is permitted since to merely study something does not mean that one adopts its beliefs.

Still, I doubt that a person who reads a lot of astrology and is interested in it can be immune from taking it seriously. So it is up to you to decide whether it is competing with your belief in God or not. If you find yourself thinking that the fate of humans are affected by astrological factors then that shows astrology is negatively affecting your belief in God.

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