IslamQA

Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

How to be humble and sincere when doing good deeds

Assalamualaikum, I would like to ask you how do we be humble and sincere in our deeds in life. I am asking this because I am struggling to apply these two virtues in my life. It also caused me to be depressed when I am doing something to achieve pride,arrogance and peer recognition.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The two best cures I know for avoiding arrogance and pride are these: the first one is to read or listen to the Quran daily (I recommend an hour a day). The Quran is a great cure for all of the problems of one’s character. But it is necessary to do it daily because otherwise the good influence would fade. It is simply impossible to achieve a high character and stay in that state without working for it every day.

The second cure is to read the spiritual sayings of the great Islamic scholars. I have gathered those sayings in my book The Way of the Spiritual Muslim and I have found them extremely beneficial and humbling. If you submit your email address, I can send you a free ebook copy of it.

Is it haram to have lash extensions?

Swa Is it haram to have lash extension, and if it’s okay to do it as a job.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

As discussed in this previous answer, some scholars consider lash extensions permissible, while others consider them prohibited.

Doing it as a job would be permitted according to the scholars who consider lash extensions permissible, while those who consider them prohibited would not permit it.

Both opinions have their own validity, so I cannot really say which one is to be preferred.

Do we have to pray sunnat that are and aren’t muakkada?

Why are dogs haram? And do we have to pray sunnat that are and aren't muakkadah?

On dogs please this previous answer.

Non-muakkada sunna deeds are still recommended, but you do not have to do them. They are not obligatory and they are not strongly recommended. But they are still good deeds and you can choose to do them.

Are misfortunes punishments from God?

Assalamu alaikum! Lately I've been anxious about bad things happening to me or my family. I don't know if this is related to that, but I don't pray 5 times a day, although I'm trying to get better. But every time something bad happens to me, I wonder if it's a punishment from Allah because I'm not a very good Muslim, or wonder if I could have prevented it if I had prayed more. Is that a correct way to think about misfortune?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

When things go wrong in your life it could either be a test, a punishment, or a sign or reminder. So it is right to fear that you may have displeased God. When something bad happens to my children, even if it just a fall, I always worry if it is because I have done something to displease God.

The Quran says:

Whatever good happens to you is from God, and whatever bad happens to you is from your own self. We sent you to humanity as a messenger, and God is Witness enough. (The Quran, verse 4:79)

The Quran also says:

We sent messengers to communities before you, and We afflicted them with suffering and hardship, that they may humble themselves.

If only, when Our calamity came upon them, they humbled themselves. But their hearts hardened, and Satan made their deeds appear good to them.

Then, when they disregarded what they were reminded of, We opened for them the gates of all things. Until, when they delighted in what they were given, We seized them suddenly; and at once, they were in despair. (The Quran, verses 6:42-44)

Is menstruation a punishment from God?

Aslamalaikum, I was wondering whether menstruation is a punishment from allah swt as I have heard that it was sent down as a punishment for hawa after she told adam to eat the fruit from the tree but I have also read that it is a blessing which I don't fully understand how it can be a blessing as it is so painful etc.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

In my thinking the idea that someone could be punished for the sins of someone else is ridiculous. There is nothing in the Quran or widely-transmitted hadith that tells us Eve told Adam to eat of the fruit. That is a Jewish and Christian belief, in the Quranic version of the story they are both equally responsible. 

And you, Adam, inhabit the Garden, you and your wife, and eat whatever you wish; but do not approach this tree, lest you become sinners.”

But Satan whispered to them, to reveal to them their nakedness, which was invisible to them. He said, “Your Lord has only forbidden you this tree, lest you become angels, or become immortals.”

And he swore to them, “I am a sincere advisor to you.”

So he lured them with deceit. And when they tasted the tree, their nakedness became evident to them, and they began covering themselves with the leaves of the Garden. And their Lord called out to them, “Did I not forbid you from this tree, and say to you that Satan is a sworn enemy to you?”

They said, “Our Lord, we have done wrong to ourselves. Unless You forgive us, and have mercy on us, we will be among the losers.” (The Quran, verses 7:19-23)

If menstruation makes life difficult, God can always make up for it by making other things easy. 

What use does God have for your punishment if you have given thanks, and have believed? God is Appreciative and Cognizant. (The Quran, verse 4:147)

You cannot earn the rewards of patience unless you have something to be patient about. So menstruation is a blessing in that it gives you a chance to prove your patience and your ability to love God despite seemingly suffering needlessly.

Ideally there should be nothing that can happen to you that would decrease your love for God. This attitude is best expressed by the Iraqi poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab in this poem:

For You is praise, no matter how long the distress lasts,
And no matter how oppressive the pain becomes,
For You is praise, afflictions are bestowals,
And suffering is of Your bounty.
Did You not give me this darkness?
And did You not give me this dawn?
Does the ground then thank raindrops,
But become angry if the clouds do not find it?
For long months, this wound
Has been cutting my sides like a knife.
The affliction does not calm at morning,
And nighttime does not bring death to wipe out the agony.
But if Job was to cry, he would cry,
“For You is Praise, for suffering is like drops of dew,
And wounds are presents from the Beloved,
The stacks of which I hug to my chest.
You presents are before me, they do not leave,
Your presents are accepted, bring them on!”
I hug my wounds and call out to visitors:
“Look here and be jealous,
For these are presents from my Beloved!”
And if the heat of my fever approaches fire,
I would imagine it a kiss from You fashioned from flame.

Should you open braids when doing ghusl?

AsalamAlaikumWaRahimatullah When finishing menses women has to do ghusl. When during ghusl I have to wash my hair. My hair are in small, many braids. If I wash my hair like this soap and water will have access to my whole hair and head. Do I still need to open my braids?

There is no need to open your braids as long as all of your hair gets wet.

Umm Salama reported:

I said: Messenger of Allah, I am a woman who has closely plaited hair on my head; should I undo it for taking a bath, because of sexual intercourse? He (the Holy Prophet) said: No, it is enough for you to cast three handfuls of water on your head and then pour water over yourself, and you shall be purified.

Sahih Muslim 330 a


Additional source on the permissibility of not opening braids when performing ghusl:

How to focus better when praying (performing salah)

Assalamualaikum. I'm a PhD student & often my research leads to complicated problems which keep coming into mind during my non-working activities & even in my salah. When I catch my mind drifting into my research problem I quickly say istighfar & focus on salah again, but then it keeps happening. Sometimes I can't even keep my focus between 2 takbir. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this? Is it alright to be distracted in salah as long as I'm trying to focus again? Thank you very much

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I too sometimes struggle to disengage my mind from my work when I’ve been busy. It is just a struggle that we have to accept and try to overcome during the prayer, whether we can overcome it or not is not entirely in our control. When the brain is tired it is not easy to force it to concentrate on the thing you want.

The best thing for focus during the prayer that I have found is to say the words loudly enough that you can hear it with your ears clearly. The act of pronouncing the words clearly and carefully makes it quite difficult for the mind to wander.

I also make up for my occasional lack of concentration by making sure to perform the sunna prayers, and by performing dhikr after every prayer (saying subhanallah, alhamdulillah, allahu akbar and astaghfirallah 34 times each). Different numbers of repetitions are mentioned in hadith, I do 34 of each to keep it simple.

I also listen to the Quran an hour a day, which I hope is another way of making up for my failings in my prayers.

Asalamu alaykum, Regarding the recent Q you answered. Is it permissible to say the prayers our loud in Shari'ah as it is supposed to be the movement of the tongue and lips only? Also, advice for the questioner, what one focuses on outside of his/her prayer will be his/her focus in prayer. Therefore, it may be worth mentioning to be conscious of God even outside of prayer.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The correct way is to pray loudly enough for yourself to hear it, but not so loudly as others praying beside you would be bothered by it. God tells us:

Say, “Call Him God, or call Him the Most Merciful. Whichever name you use, to Him belong the Best Names.” And be neither loud in your prayer, nor silent in it, but follow a course in between. (The Quran, verse 17:110)

Moving your tongue and lips is not sufficient, your voice should be audible to yourself in a quiet room (which is what I recommended).

Women are not meant to recite out loud during prayer though, correct?

That only applies in the presence of strangers. At home or in the presence of other women the rule is the same as for men.

Source:

However, what I mentioned regarding the prayer being audible to yourself is a different matter and applies to all of the prayers. I was not referring to being loud during the fajr, maghrib and isha prayers.

Is ruqya part of Islam? A study of the hadiths on ruqya using probability theory

There are numerous narrations that mention ruqya (the use of certain words, prayers or Quran recitations as charms or spells to heal or protect a person). I decided to to conduct a search of all major hadith collections and some minor ones to find all the hadiths that mention ruqya in order to find out just how authentic they are. I then used my own mathematical method of calculating hadith authenticity which combines probability theory with the science of hadith transmitter criticism (al-jarḥ wa-l-taʿdīl). The method (see my essay about it) is useful in judging between contradictory hadith narrations because it produces a single percentage for each hadith that reflects its chance of authenticity. We can then compare the chance of the authenticity of different hadiths to find out which one is most likely to be truly from the Prophet PBUH.

Summary

The hadith against ruqya has a 64.1% chance of authenticity, which makes it ṣaḥīḥ. The hadiths that support ruqya, however, are much lower in quality, the strongest having only a 20.78% chance of authenticity. But by combining the chance of the authenticity of all the ruqya-supporting hadiths, we reach a probability of 49.69%, which means that the crux of the meaning of the hadiths is likely to be true. It is strange, however, that the most authentic hadith in support of ruqya says that it is only to be used against the evil eye and scorpion stings.

In conclusion and considering all of the hadiths together, it appears that the Prophet PBUH forbade the use of ruqya in the pre-Islamic sense of casting a spell. But he permitted the use of the recitation of the Quran as a means of hopefully bringing about healing and protection. While some Muslims think that ruqya has an almost magical power that is guaranteed to bring about results, it is probably more correct to think of it as the same as prayer. It is merely the use of God’s words in the hope of attaining His blessings.

The traditional understanding of ruqya as casting spells is therefore highly doubtful and appears to be an importation of pre-Islamic Arab beliefs into Islam. The Prophet PBUH himself appears to have strongly disliked the spell-casting aspect of ruqya, which is why the most authentic narration speaks against it and mentions it along with other pre-Islamic practices. However, he appears to have tolerated the use of Quran recitation as a substitute for pre-Islamic forms of ruqya while allowing it to be called ruqya.

I am therefore fairly confident that we should reject the understanding of ruqya as spell-casting and instead think of it as similar to prayer and no more likely than prayer to be effective.

Technical details

The hadith against ruqya

It is interesting to note that the most authentic narration on ruqya actually says good Muslims will not use it:

Verily the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Seventy thousand men of my Ummah would enter Paradise without rendering account. They (the companions of the Holy Prophet) said: Who would be those, Messenger of Allah? He (the Holy Prophet) said: They would be those who neither practise charm (ruqya), not take omens, nor do they cauterise, but they repose their trust in their Lord.

Sahih Muslim 218 b

This hadith comes to us through three Companions (ignoring unauthentic chains). I decided to gather all of its versions from the major hadith collections to find out just how strong its chains are.

Below is a diagram of the chains coming through Ibn Abbas:

The numbers indicate probability of authenticity. Thus this chain has a 24% probability of being truly from Ibn Abbas (according to my methodology).

Below are the chains from Imran b. Husayn:

This chain is stronger and has a 45.7% probability of authenticity.

The last chain is from Ibn Masud and has a 12.85% chance of authenticity.

We use the following equation to combine all of these probabilities into one probability:

probability of authenticity = 1 - (1 - probability of authenticity of first chain) × (1 - probability of authenticity of second chain) × (1 - probability of authenticity of third chain chain) and so on.

Thus:

1-((1−0.241)×(1−0.4579)×(1−0.12855)) = 0.641438499

The result is that this hadith has a 64.1% probability of authenticity. Any hadith that has a 60% probability of authenticity or higher is ṣaḥīḥ al-ṣaḥīḥ (a degree above ṣaḥīḥ) in my methodology, so this hadith is extremely authentic.

The hadiths in favor of ruqya

Narrated Al-Aswad:

I asked `Aisha about treating poisonous stings (a snake-bite or a scorpion sting) with a Ruqya. She said, "The Prophet (ﷺ) allowed the treatment of poisonous sting with Ruqya."

Sahih al-Bukhari 5741

It was narrated that Jabir said:
“There was a family among the Ansar, called Al ‘Amr bin Hazm, who used to recite Ruqyah for the scorpion sting, but the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) forbade Ruqyah. They came to him and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! You have forbidden Ruqyah, but we recite Ruqyah against the scorpion’s sting.’ He said to them: ‘Recite it to me.’ So they recited it to him, and he said: ‘There is nothing wrong with this, this is confirmed.’”

Ibn Maja (authentic) Vol. 4, Book 31, Hadith 3515

The below diagram is the result of my search of all hadiths mentioning ruqya (click to enlarge it):

Below is a summary of the authenticity probabilities of the hadiths:

  • Aisha 10.88%
  • Aisha 7.77%
  • Aisha 15.67%
  • Aisha 7.278%
  • Anas 14.29%
  • Jabir’s uncle 1.2%
  • Abu Saeed al-Khudri 11.27%
  • Anas + Buryada + Imran 20.78%
  • Jabir + Asmaa’ b. Umays 14.89%
  • Awf b. Malik 5.8%
  • Shifaa’ b. Abdullah 3.88%

The strongest hadith is the one coming from the Companions Anas, Burayda and Imran, and it is as follows:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: No spell (ruqya) is to be used except for the evil eye or a scorpion sting.

Sunan Abi Dawud 3884, Ibn Maja Vol. 4, Book 31, Hadith 3513, al-Tirmidhi Vol. 4, Book 2, Hadith 2057, etc.

The hadith, however, has only a 20.78% chance of authenticity, which is far below the 64.1% authenticity of the anti-ruqya hadith mentioned at the beginning.

There is one final step we can take by combining the authenticity probabilities of all the separate pro-ruqya hadiths, as follows:

1-((1−0.1088÷2)×(1−0.077÷2)×(1−0.1567÷2)×(1−0.07278÷2)×(1−0.1429÷2)×(1−0.012÷2)×(1−0.1127÷2)×(1−0.2078÷2)×(1−0.1489÷2)×(1−0.058÷2)×(1−0.0388÷2)) = 0.444614954

Before merging the probabilities we divide each of them by two. This reflects the fact that we are combining entirely different hadiths together. It is easier to fabricate entirely new hadiths and chains than to fabricate supporting chains for the same hadith. So the probability of all the separate hadiths being true is lower than the probability of all the chains of the same hadith being true.

So the result is that there is a 44.4% chance that the crux of the meaning of the hadiths is true. In my methodology a hadith that reaches 30% or higher is ṣaḥīḥ. So the combined hadiths together can be considered authentic.

Islam and hobbies

Assalamualaikum. Do you have any tips on useful hobby? Or maybe you can share what you like to do on your down time? I try to be more productive by reading beneficial books between work break and during weekend, but sometime my brain just can’t take anything and I turn to social media or youtube. Then it often leads me to regretting the time spent on these activities… Any advice would be very appreciated, thank you very much in advance for your answer

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

My time is divided into three types: 1. I am able to do my work 2. I am too fatigued to work but I can read. 3. I cannot work or read. 

My work is programming and writing educational books. My “hobby” is to conduct research in Islamic studies, philosophy and evolutionary science by reading books and papers. So if I am unable to do my main work, I work on my research.

But if I am too fatigued to work or read, there is not really anything productive I can do. In the evenings I cannot work or read, so I spend an hour listening to the Quran, I consider this an essential part of my day. After that if I have time left I may listen to one of my favorite Terry Pratchett, Frank Herbert or Tolkien audiobooks on my phone, or play with my children, or both. Listening to these audiobooks is not productive since I have listened to them dozens of times. It is just something I enjoy.

If you are too tired to read or do other beneficial things, I do not see anything wrong with enjoying your time on social media or YouTube. But I recommend dedicating an hour to listening to or reading the Quran, even if you feel tired and cannot give it perfect attention. Afterwards you can do whatever you enjoy with the time that is left. 

Islam does not require us to be productive our entire waking time even though we may wish to be that way. So there is no need to worry about an hour or two a day spent unproductively on things you enjoy.

A woman’s worth does not depend on her accomplishments

AOA, Akhi! few days ago I met an aunt of me.She and her daughters are very social and they all are well known in their fields.My father couldn't afford our studies so we sisters are just graduate.Also my father never allowed us to go out much so we are kind of staying at home type girls.But Alhamdulillah all are married and happy in their lives.My aunt said to me that the kind of life u are living,is just making u a burden on society.So does a person must be recognized by society before dying?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

In my opinion a saintly “soccer mom” who has no accomplishment beyond taking care of her family is infinitely more admirable than a selfish and greedy female CEO. A woman’s worth has nothing to do with her accomplishments and everything to do with her character. A saintly woman who carries out her duties (whatever they may be) is better than other women regardless of accomplishments.

The idea that a woman’s worth should depend on her accomplishments is a self-defeating modern superstition. It tells women they are not good enough unless they ignore their own desires and instincts and enter races with men in the corporate, political or scientific world. 

I fully support women’s participation in these things. What I do not support is acting as if a woman’s worth depends on these things. It does not. Her worth depends on her character. I would consider a woman with no accomplishments but with a good character superior to a female Nobel Prize winner with a bad character any day.

Our accomplishments are gifts from God. He created us, gave us talents and made things easy for us. Acting as if accomplishments increase our worth is the height of arrogance, it is the same as a rich person thinking their money that God has given them makes them worthier than poor people.

I see nothing wrong with a woman having no interest in accomplishments and simply wanting to take care of her family. And I see nothing wrong with another woman who likes accomplishments. Neither is worthier than the other. Both are simply carrying out their duties.

It is only ignorance and arrogance that makes a scholar or scientist think their job is more glorious than a mother who takes care of her children. To me their worth depends on their character, including how well they try to carry out their duties. If God has enabled me or some woman to be a scholar and has put scholarship in our path, it would be shameful if we do not try to be the best scholars we can be. But if God has not enabled another person to become a scholar, then it is not shameful that they are not scholars.

I firmly believe that an uneducated and illiterate shepherd who fears God more than I do is a better and worthier person than I am regardless of my accomplishments.

Your aunt’s statement that you are a burden on society is rather ignorant and arrogant. Just because God made things easy for her and not for you makes her think she is better than you. If you fear God more than her and carry out your duties just as well as her, then you are superior to her even if she gains global fame in her field.

There is no worth, honor or glory except through God. Anyone who chases these things outside of God is chasing a mirage. 

I do not want to discourage women from working in traditionally masculine fields. What I want to discourage them from is the arrogance to think that this makes them superior to other women. It does not. Whether you work with test tubes or diapers, you are a lowly servant of God and your only worth comes through Him. Anyone more pious and saintly than you is superior to you regardless of who you think you are.

And I find pious women who seek worth and honor through God to be infinitely more admirable than women who seek these things by trying to race with men in traditionally masculine fields. Of course there is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to work in these fields, what is wrong is her thinking this is something to be proud of. Like I said, being proud of your accomplishments is like being proud of being rich. Both are blessings from God that you would never have had if He had not made things easy for you. Accomplishments should only increase your humility and gratitude toward God.

If anyone, man or women, thinks their accomplishments makes them superior to someone more pious than them, then they have become arrogant and misguided. If you think your fame and accomplishments make you superior to a completely unknown mother who fears God more than you and whose only accomplishment is raising healthy and happy children, then that is the height of arrogance.

So never let someone make you think you are inferior just because they are more accomplished and famous than you. It is the same as letting a rich person make you think you are inferior because you are not as rich. Seek worth an honor only through God, He should be your standard and your guide, not other people. If you are more pious than your aunt, then she has absolutely nothing to be proud of, and her self-satisfaction has only set her up for failure in attaining God’s love and pleasure.

There is, however, the danger of letting our sense of our piety make us feel arrogant and superior to others. This too is wrong. Feeling superior to others is always wrong, whether because of piety, accomplishments or wealth. You should only compare yourself to what God wants you to be, and seeing your numerous failures in being the best person you can be in God’s sight should only increase your humility and fear of God’s dissatisfaction with you.

Is ayahuasca haram?

Is Ayahuasca haram?

If it causes one to lose their judgment then it is haram. Anything that causes intoxication (a loss of judgment) in large doses is haram whether taken in large doses or small doses. Ayahuasca contains DMT and from what I found, people recommend not driving a car while on it. This seems to suggest that it is intoxicating and therefore haram.

Dealing with intrusive family members

My parents and siblings ask way to many questions about my life, sometimes finding out way more than they need. What should I do? It's bothering me. Sometimes I feel like I have no privacy or that they give me no space. The relationship sometimes feel nonreciprocal as well, for example they do not always answer me or do not share with me about what's going on in their life. Can you give me some advice one what I should do?

Unfortunately it is very difficult to change the way family members treat us since they have been doing that for years and think it is the right way to behave. The best course of action is just to be patient and to try to minimize it in whatever way possible without upsetting them.

Best wishes.

Are there any books you would recommend?

Are there any books you would recommend to read apart from islamic books and quran?

I recommend reading the great classic novels. Please check out the following page where I have made a list of over 100 good books you can check out:

World’s Greatest Books

You can also check out my about page where I list books I have read. Most of the books you see on there I recommend reading.

On men and women having a partition between them at mosques

Salam Brother! What is your stance on men and women having a partition in mosques? If yes, why should they have one?

The partition is not necessary, but it can be helpful in reducing unnecessary contact between the sexes. It is not a matter having to do with rights and freedoms. It is about creating an atmosphere that is best suited for focusing on worshiping God. Partitioning can help remove a potential source of distraction, so it is something that both men and women can like and appreciate.

How should females wipe their hair during wudu?

How should females wipe their hair during wudu? It's difficult to wipe back to front

It is sufficient to wipe the front part of your head without wiping anything else. This is what Aisha, may God have mercy on her, used to do.

Source:

On how to stop masturbating

Assalamu alaikum, can i ask on how to stop masturbating? Ive tried and stopped for a week, but then i accidentally started again. Repetitively failing to control myself had me felt useless, and ive starting to lose hope with myself. Thank you for your consideration.

Your ability to control your impulses only matures after the age of 25, since this is when brain development completes. Before this age it is always going to be difficult to control your impulses. Since masturbation is such an easy source of getting an intense climax, it is going to be difficult to resist for many people.

The way to stop masturbating is to realize that your will power will likely not be able to resist it, so the solution is to make it difficult and inconvenient to masturbate, for example by not living alone, by spending your time with other people, and by spending time outside. Rather than staying home, go to a library to do your reading or studies.

And rather than losing hope when you again succumb to it, use it to motivate yourself to do good deeds. God says:

... good deeds take away the bad deeds. This is a reminder for those who remember.

The Quran, verse 11:114

So to make up for it, make it a rule that every time you do it, afterwards you will spend 30 minutes reading Quran (as an example).

Additionally, the closer you are to God the easier it becomes to resist temptations. You cannot stay close to God unless you do the daily work needed to maintain this closeness. I recommend spending at least an hour a day reading the Quran for the rest of your life. This is the best way to maintain a high level of faith and piety and resist sins.

For more on masturbation please see: Masturbation is not clearly forbidden or allowed in Islam

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