IslamQA

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

Understanding Islam’s Sophisticated Approach to Slavery: Why Muslims Practiced Slavery in the Past, and Why They Reject it Today

Below are my preliminary thoughts on why Islam’s tolerance for slavery is not necessary unethical.

It may sound like nothing but empty apologetics to defend Islam’s toleration of slavery and say that Islam’s goal was to abolish it, when Islam’s Prophet  and his companions all practiced it widely. And generally this is what much of the arguments defending Islam’s views on slavery sound like when they come from traditional scholars.

It is difficult to reconcile classical Islam with modern views on slavery because classical Islam calls for applying the Quran and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s traditions ﷺ as recorded in hadith collections) as equal authorities. Since the Prophet ﷺ practiced slavery, the implication is that anyone can practice it without it being an issue. Saying slavery is morally wrong today is like saying the Prophet ﷺ did something morally wrong, which naturally is considered unacceptable. The Saudi Salafi scholar Saleh al-Fawzan, reflecting this kind of thinking, recently issued a fatwa (ruling) saying that terrorist groups operating in Iraq have the right to enslave women belonging to the non-Muslim Yazidi minority.

According to Abul A’la Maududi, the Prophet ﷺ freed 63 slaves by himself during his life. In his commentary on Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s Bulugh al-Maram, the historian Muhammad bin Isma`eel al-San`ani says that the Prophet ﷺ and his companions together freed over thirty-nine thousand slaves in their lives.

I will focus on early Islamic history, since what Muslims did after that did not always reflect Islamic principles. If we find moral justification for the Prophet’s practices ﷺ, then this is sufficient. It is not necessary to find moral justification for Ottoman practices regarding slavery, since what they did regarding slavery and a thousand other things does not necessary reflect the teachings of Islam.

Islam’s critics may say that we modern Muslims are trying to back-rationalize Islam’s “savage” beginnings by reinterpreting the Prophet’s actions ﷺ as if he wasn’t a vicious and power-seeking warlord. But as will be shown below, his policies and reforms regarding slavery were so noble and ahead of their time that he puts the Christians of a thousand years later to shame.

The Arabian System of Slavery

Slavery has been a part of life in most human societies. American Christians were having sexual intercourse with their black slaves by the tens of thousands only to refuse to take care of the children born in this way and deny them their right to a family. Since Christianity has no framework for dealing with slavery, the slaves and the children born would be abandoned, rather than taken care of as Islam would require.

At Islam’s beginnings, it was common practice to take the defeated enemy’s women as slaves, this was done by the pagans too. It was an ordinary and accepted part of life. Before Islam, Arabs had twenty ways of acquiring slaves according to the scholar Muhammad Mutawalli Sha`rawi, such as people being made slaves due to debt, or a tribe offering one of their own as a slave as an offering to another tribe, or one tribe attacking another with the purpose of enslaving them. Islam reduces these ways to only one way: Enemy prisoners coming out of a just war, not an offensive war done for gain, but a war done against an aggressor.1 And if there are international treaties for dealing with prisoners of war, like there are today, then this way too would be closed.

So within the Islamic system, this is how slaves are created:

  1. During an age of the world where slavery is a worldwide practice, some group launches a war of aggression against Muslims. The Quran expects Muslims to sign treaties with their neighbors and commands them to not be aggressors, therefore a war would only be against an enemy that has broken treaties. Of course, many Muslim states throughout history have abused Islamic law to justify wars of aggression, but the actions of Muslims are one thing, and Islamic principles are another. You cannot hold Islam responsible when Muslims break its laws. All major religions, ideologies and constitutions have been used to justify wars of aggression.
  2. The enemy is offered peace but refuses to back down.
  3. The enemy is conquered.
  4. The enemy’s men, women and children are taken as captives and have the status of slaves, with a long list of rights ensured by Islam. Note that the enemy would have done the same to the Muslims if they had been the conquerors.

This is what happened to the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe, who at Islam’s darkest hour, when the Muslims were under attack by a large alliance of pagan Arabs during the Battle of the Trench, broke their treaty with the Muslims and plotted with the attackers to help them destroy the Muslim state. Their men were executed for high treason (treason during a time of war, it is also the law in the United States to execute those convicted of high treason), and their women and children were enslaved. Executing the enemy’s men was done for their treason, this wasn’t the standard Islamic practice against enemies. And it wasn’t the Prophet’s judgment. The Jews demanded that their judge should be a Muslim man from Medina that they liked and trusted, and the Prophet agreed to delegate the judgment to that man. And that was his judgment.

In Islam’s early history, this enslavement of an enemy was not done out of aggression. An enemy, instead, initiated the aggression, with full knowledge of its potential consequences. In the case of Banu Qurayza, it was a risk they took, hoping to annihilate the Muslims on the one hand, and to take over their wealth, lands, women and children on the other. The risk they took did not pay off. Had they been successful, it would have been the Muslims who would have suffered execution and enslavement under the hands of the pagan Arabs and their Jewish accomplices.

Couldn’t God have asked the Muslims to do something morally superior to enslaving the women and children? He could have, but He didn’t.

The main reason for tolerating slavery could be that slavery took care of providing for the women and children acquired through war. The Jewish solution to this problem in Biblical times was to also kill the women and children, as is recorded in the First Book of Samuel in the Bible and in other places:

…and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (Samuel I, 15:3)

Christians did the same at times, for example:

Albert of Aachen, a chronicler of the First Crusade era, explicitly claims that the Arab soldiers capture and enslave virgins. (According to him, the Christians just kill everyone.)

[From a historian’s answer posted on Reddit]

Muslims, being more civilized, did not kill people needlessly, and especially not women and children. The killing of women and children in war is strictly prohibited by Islamic law.

New populations of slaves acquired during war would be mostly women and children (because the men were mostly dead, since the wars in those times were often “total wars”, where all the males fought). If this population of mostly women and children had been abandoned, they could have starved, since they had no men to take care of providing for it.

The Prophet ﷺ couldn’t have asked the Muslims to take care of these women and children without getting anything in return. Food, clothing and houses did not magically fall from the sky; it required much labor to provide these. Politically it could have been highly damaging to his cause to force the men to become practically slaves of the interests of this defeated population, building them new neighborhoods of homes in their towns and feeding and clothing them without getting anything in return. Doing this would have also led to a great increase in prostitution and theft, because this new population of women and children would have had no alternative ways for advancing in life. This is what happened in New York City in the 1850’s when a great number of unmarried Irish women and children were dumped into the city, escaping famine in Ireland. Their neighborhoods turned into ghettos full of crime, as happens to all jobless and idle populations, and the meme that Irish Americans are dirty criminals lasted for over a century afterwards.

The Prophet ﷺ could have asked his followers to marry these women and take care of their children. This wouldn’t have worked because only a man who had two homes and the income to maintain both could have married a second woman. They couldn’t keep two wives under the same roof, because this is practically guaranteed to cause marital discontent (it is quite difficult enough for a man to manage two wives living under separate roofs). Most men did not have a second home or the income to maintain one. So marrying these women wouldn’t have been practical, a few of the women could been married, but not most.

As a reminder, I am describing the reasons why Islam tolerated slavery in the ancient world. As I will describe below, Islam today does not tolerate slavery and Muslims around the world have supported banning it, this is not because Islamic principles have been abandoned for modern principles, it is because the Quran supports us in doing what we know to be the just and kind thing, while also tolerating slavery in societies that already practice it. The Quran has an anti-slavery agenda, but its agenda requires that it should tolerate slavery if a society already practices it, ending it from the inside. Societies that already practice slavery may be violently opposed to the thought of abandoning slavery, as the example of the American Civil War shows. Islam’s toleration for slavery enables it to spread in such societies and gently reform them until it can put an end to slavery.

So marriage was not a practical option. What was needed was a form of marriage that did not strongly compete with the man’s existing marriage, that did not require a second home, and that did not require high income for a man to engage in it. The Arabian system of slavery provided all of these features by enabling the women to work as servants in the men’s homes, in this way not being competitors in status to their wives. By giving the men the right to have sex with their female slaves, it made the men willing to keep them as slaves, otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted them (as will be described further).

In this way the women were taken care of and fed as were their children, they were not killed like Jews and Christians would have done, and they were not left to starve. These women grew up thinking of slavery and concubinage as a normal part of life and probably had them in their own homes, they saw nothing wrong with this as long as it was not happening to them. For them the difference between being a wife and a concubine was a difference in status, not a difference between a consensual sexual relationship and rape. This is evident to someone studying China and Japan’s ancient practice of concubinage. Concubines were neither wives nor mere sex toys. They had a specific social status, it was lower than that of a wife, but it is a highly naive view of history to think of such women as merely bodies that were abused and raped.

The Christians of Egypt gifted the Prophet ﷺ a Christian concubine named Maria. Were the Christians merely sending the Prophet ﷺ a sex toy as a gesture of good will? Of course not. As any historian of ancient times will tell you, this was similar to a man offering his daughter’s hand in marriage to someone else as the Christian Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos did when he offered his daughter’s hand in marriage first to Hulagu then to Hulago’s enemies in his attempts to ally himself with the winning side. In such a marriage her own opinion in the matter was ignored, as has been standard practice among large sections of society in all of history, especially among the aristocracy. A concubine did not have to be placed in chains and shipped off in a box. For her this was her status in life, and she had no problem with doing it, similar to the way today female actresses do not mind having a male actor’s sexual organ inside them for a movie sex scene, it is part of their job and they do it.

The difference is that, in theory, concubinage was “forced”, while a modern actress is not “forced” to do that. But it all depends on the woman’s mindset. A concubine did not feel raped the way a modern woman forced into slavery would feel, she felt that she belonged to a lower-class caste of women, one of whose jobs was to have sex with their masters. She may have hoped for a better life, to one day be a full wife and not merely a concubine, but she had a respected social status and function, she thought of herself as an integral part of society, not as someone imprisoned and raped against her will like modern-day sex slaves are. These things do not justify slavery, but provide part of the explanation for why Islam tolerated it. A modern woman may value her own dignity so much that she may consider murdering anyone who tries to enslave her, but at that time, the women thought of concubinage as a forced, low-status marriage that would be their fate if their men failed to protect them, and they perfectly approved of it as long as it was happening to their sisters.

In the modern world, a sex slave is an unperson; she is a non-human commodity used and discarded as an animal. In Islam’s system, a concubine was a person. She had rights, she could own property, her master could be punished for mistreating her and he did not have the right to sell her if he got her pregnant. A sex slave has no place in society, her status is lower than even a family’s dog, because a family dog fits within the family and is loved and is respected. It has a place. A sex slave has no place. She has been dehumanized into an object whose opinions, rights and free will no longer exist. It is as if she is dead and animated by some form of magic that keeps her flesh alive so that she can continue performing her sexual functions. This is a far cry from concubinage in Islam, in which, first and foremost, the concubine has a place in society. She is not an unperson, she continues to be treated like a human. A low class of human, certainly, but still a human; people would treat her the way they treat the extremely poor among them.

In Hegelian terms, the sexual relationship between a master and his concubine is a relationship between subjects, while the relationship between a kidnapper and his sex slave in the modern world is a relationship between a subject and an object. For more on the important differences between subject-subject and subject-object sexual relationships please see Sexual Desire by the British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton.

In Islam, the relationship between a slave woman and her master is an official relationship, it is similar to a marriage. She cannot be in a sexual relationship with anyone else during this relationship (there are many stories of masters who would unscrupulously exploit their concubines and share them with other men, but that behavior is against Islamic teachings.). If she is already pregnant when acquired, her master does not have the right of having sex with her until she gives birth. If she becomes pregnant by her master, her master no longer has the right to sell her, because she acquires that status of umm walad and cannot be sold as a slave, becoming a semi-wife instead. Her children that are born to her and her master will be free citizens and not slaves, and if her master dies, she becomes a free woman herself. If Islam was a barbaric religion that taught its adherents to enslave people, why would it have so many sophisticated mechanisms for eradicating it?

What is the point of preventing a master from selling his slave once she is pregnant or has given birth? The Christian slave owners of America didn’t think there was any point in this, since they were not civilized enough to worry about the status and rights of the slave, while the Muslims of 630 AD found a point in this, because it enabled the woman to care for her children under the care and protection of her master, while also forcing the master to take full responsibility for the children, who were now free citizens. Americans just 160 years ago were savages in their dealing with slaves compared to the Arabs of 630 AD.

A person who has a limited view of history may think that the best solution to slavery is to ban it and let whatever happens happen afterwards, and this was the idea of the North in mid-19th century America, which led to the American Civil War2, causing the death of about a million people (it was the bloodiest war in history up to that time). Since Islam was not invented by short-sighted humans, it respects the existing culture, enables an extremely undeveloped society to take care of the women and children who are victims of war (instead of killing them, allowing them to starve or encouraging them to become prostitutes and criminals by dumping them into cities), and provides various methods for slowly but surely eradicating slavery until it can be banned without any social unrest, the way almost all Muslim-majority countries today have banned slavery. Muslim Tunisia banned slavery before the United States did.

While these facts are, of course, not sufficient to justify slavery in the modern world, in the ancient world, given the political and economic circumstances of those times, it is understandable why Islam tolerated slavery.

It would be untrue to say that the Prophet tolerated slavery entirely out of charitable motivations. The Arabian system of enslaving war captives and distributing them was done as part of the distribution of war booty, the goods taken from a defeated prisoner. From Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet:

Seven days had elapsed since the surrender, and the Hawazin had not appeared to ask for their womcn and children back. Now thinking that they would not come, Muhammad decided to share out the captives between the Quraysh Muslims (who once again received a more important share) and the Ansar. He only just finished the distribution when a Hawazin delegation arrived. The Prophet explained to them that he had waited for them, but since they had not arrived he had already shared out the captives; he said that he would intercede for them and ask people to give back their prisoners if they wanted to. After some hesitation, all the fighters gave up their captives to the Hawazin delegation. (Pages 184 and 185)

The Muslim fighters wanted the captives as their slaves. The Prophet, however, wanted them to wait for the captives’ tribe to come and hopefully sign a peace treaty, after which they would be given back to the tribe. Since the Hawazin didn’t seem willing to come for a treaty, the Prophet assumed they still intended war, and for this reason allowed the Arabian system to take its course, giving his warriors what they were used to get.

But once the Hawazin finally appeared, the Prophet showed his noble character and the non-Arabian-ness of Islam by convincing his fighters to give the captives back. Instead of acting like an Arab warlord, rejoicing in defeating and enslaving an enemy that had gathered to destroy the Muslims, he let them go free once their representatives came to ask for peace.

This scene also illustrates the sensitivity of the Prophet’s political situation. He could not force his fighters to give up the captives. They were from different Arabian tribes with their own ideas about their rights and their status in relation to the Prophet. The Prophet was not in charge of a “horde” of mindless soldiers like so many detractors of Islam wish to portray, he had to keep a sensitive political situation balanced, giving sufficient satisfaction to each section of his following so that they would not rebel against him.

He did not act like the largely Bolsheviks of Russia (led by the Jewish Vladimir Lenin), enforcing a new ideology on the entire population and giving everyone the option of either accepting it or dying. He humored the population, their pride, their culture and their various forms of social organization. He did not want to destroy society then rebuild it (like all Marxist and neo-Marxist ideologues wish to do), he peacefully gave his message to his society, giving them the option of either accepting it or leaving it, and never responding to the violence offered him and his followers. Only when he was elected the sovereign ruler of Medina by its main tribes did he start to act like a ruler, doing what was necessary to protect his state against aggressors.

And even then, he continued to respect the existing society and culture. Instead of acting like Lenin or Ayatollah Khomeini, using assassinations and purges to enslave the population to his interests in the name of the greater good, even though he was a prophet of God and had His authority behind him. He continued to respect them, consult them, while the Muslims continued to maintain the right to question and criticize his decisions. Even at the end of his life, when he had become the supreme ruler of Arabia, his companions severely criticized him to his own face after he chose a 17-year-old as the leader of a Muslim army. Instead of thinking “God’s messenger says so, therefore no argument can be admitted”, they treated him like a human and felt free to disagree with him, so that he had to convince them of the sense and rationality of his decisions.

In his truly democratic form of governance, in allowing everyone to voice their opinions and take part in decision-making, treating him like any other human, rather than as a supreme leader, he was a far cry from the typical modern dictator who expects absolute obedience, or the typical modern democratic leader who considers democracy an annoying formality that gets in the way of their achieving their goals, paying lip service to it while betraying its principles on a daily basis. It is all the more strange that someone who had over 100,000 people under him, considering him truly a messenger from God, would never make use of his status as God’s messenger to get his way, instead allowing people to challenge him daily.

Compare him to Ayatollah Khomeini, who by the virtue of (supposedly) belonging to the Prophet’s descendants and being the main religious authority of his sect, while in his weakness he professed to believing in democracy and spoke with non-Shia leaders like Ahmad Moftizadeh, once he achieved supremacy in Iran, he quickly went on to purge the government of his opposition, rushed the constitution he liked through the judiciary to the dismay of his opposition and his own friends, and used theological arguments to prove that his decisions could not be questioned.

Vaso di fiori sulla finestra di un harem (“The window of the Harem”) by Francesco Hayez (first half of 19th century)

The Prophet’s Concubines ﷺ

A person may acknowledge that politically and economically, it made some sense for Islam to tolerate slavery instead of banning it immediately. They may even acknowledge the fact that Islam in the modern world does not command slavery nor support it, since the Quran does not command the practice of slavery, and since we in the modern world dislike slavery and consider it repulsive, Islam gives us full rights to ban it.

But they may wonder why the Prophet ﷺ himself accepted to have slave women he had sex with (concubines). Couldn’t he himself, and his closest companions, have chosen the moral high ground of avoiding it?

We cannot find a conclusive answer for this, but we can speculate. Perhaps in God’s view, there was no good to be gained by prohibiting the Prophet ﷺ and his companions from keeping concubines when everyone else did. These women would have had masters anyway, so it wouldn’t have improved the lot of these women to prevent some Muslims from keeping them, it may have even worsened their lot, because many Muslims may have tried to follow the Prophet’s example ﷺ of not keeping concubines, creating large populations of female slaves that nobody wanted. And if the Prophet ﷺ had kept concubines without having sex with them, in this way practicing slavery without the sexual intercourse part, other Muslims may have tried to follow his example, and by so doing, they may have avoided keeping female slaves at all, since an important reason, perhaps 90% of the reason, for their wanting to take care of these slave women was that they received the privilege of intimacy with them. So the result, again, could have been large populations of female slaves that no one wanted. The result would have been that the slaves would have been sold to non-Muslims (since Muslims didn’t want them), and this wouldn’t have been better for the women, but worse, since the non-Muslims may have had no laws for protecting the rights of these slaves or providing them with ways for themselves or their children to be freed. So there would have been no moral gain from these choices.

By keeping concubines the way the rest of the culture did, the Prophet ﷺ showed the rest of the Muslims that they too could do this. In this way the society of that time was able to absorb conquered populations and slowly free them.

In Islam, slaves also have the right of mukataba, which was for them to be given free time in which to work, so that they could buy themselves off of their masters. In this way many male slaves were able to buy their own freedom. America’s slave owners of 1850 CE and their official laws considered their slaves and everything the slave owned as properties of their masters. Imagine their infuriation if they were told their slaves should be allowed to have free time in which to work, or that what they earned was not a property of the master, but a property of the slave. They, including their religious clergy, would have considered this a dangerous attack against their God-given rights over their slaves.

The Prophet ﷺ himself could have kept no concubines, saying that God had commanded him not to keep any, while making it lawful for everyone else. This could have affected his status negatively in the eyes of his followers and allies, since the concubines belonging to a man’s household added to his prestige. The Prophet himself ﷺ was part of Arabian culture, considering slavery and concubines a normal part of life, like everyone else did. God could have taught him that one day humans will discover that it is morally wrong to enslave people, but He did not for His own reasons, perhaps it served the interests of everyone, including the slaves, for the Arabian system to continue functioning like usual, with a few crucial reforms added to it to significantly reduce the number of new slaves, and to provide various ways for slaves to be freed.

While today we can think of various things the Prophet ﷺ could have done at that time instead of practicing slavery and concubinage, we can never be sure that our solutions wouldn’t fail miserably in that ancient Arabian context. We can never be sure if Islam’s solution wasn’t the best possible solution for that time and place, enabling a society to slowly eradicate slavery without causing civil wars, and without the religion being abandoned for being too ahead of its time if it had outright banned slavery.

Therefore a fair-minded reading of the Quran and early Islamic history will see that there is not sufficient justification for calling Islam a false or unjust religion for tolerating slavery at that time. They will see that the Prophet ﷺ was already greatly ahead of his time and that he made some incredible reforms in various areas of life, including reforms regarding slavery. Therefore the only thing they can criticize him for is not being even more ahead of his time, which is a pretty weak criticism. Who is to say that he wasn’t already operating as much ahead of his time as it was possible to be without people abandoning his movement?

Is Islam Outdated?

A person could say that now that the world is sufficiently developed, Islam is an outdated religion, that since it contains many rules and regulations regarding slavery, the religion must have been meant for ancient times and not today.

The truth is that there is no guarantee that the world will continue to be developed. Perhaps a nuclear war will break out 10,000 years from now and there will be isolated areas of the world that would live in conditions as basic as those of 630 AD, and in that case, there may again be warring entities that practice slavery, and Islam’s rulings regarding it would become relevant again.

Or humans could establish a colony on another planet where slavery is practiced. If some people among them convert to Islam while belonging to that culture that practices it, then Islam’s rulings regarding slavery would be relevant again.

Islam’s Historical Mistakes

It is true that various Islamic empires have acted aggressively and have sought to enslave not as a matter of practical necessity but for profit and pleasure. One could say that if Islam had forbad slavery, all of those evils would have been prevented. There is no way to know this for sure, because as explained, banning slavery may have been politically and economically unfeasible, and even if it had been banned, Muslims were still free to do a thousand other evil things.

Therefore a fair-minded person will not criticize the deeds of Muslims, but the program they follow. Islam is the program, and its programming logic makes Muslims avoid and ban slavery, therefore there is nothing to criticize today’s Islam for regarding slavery. You can, however, make this criticism:

I dislike the fact that in some isolated space colony 1000 years from now if slavery is already practiced, and if some people embrace Islam, I dislike that they will not ban it immediately but instead take a generation or two doing it.

A final question could be; why believe in a religion that has parts which require so much justification, why not just abandon it and embrace the modern world instead? Because Islam has undeniable soft evidence of its truth in the Quran, therefore the issue of slavery is a very minor thing for someone who has accepted Islam based on this evidence. In my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species, I discuss the reasons why I believe in Islam.

Conclusion

The best of Christians have also acted as the best of Muslims in fighting slavery, therefore what I mentioned above is about Christian history, not Christian ideals. Christians continue to use Islamic history against Islam, so there is no injustice in doing the same towards Christian history, so that it is known that Christian criticism of Islam is generally quite ignorant of the ugly sides of Christian history. As for Christian work against slavery, from Wikipedia:

Several early figures, while not openly advocating abolition, did make sacrifices to emancipate or free slaves seeing liberation of slaves as a worthy goal. These include Saint Patrick (415-493), Acacius of Amida (400-425), and Ambrose (337 – 397 AD). Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-394) went even further and stated opposition to all slavery as a practice. Later Saint Eligius (588-650) used his vast wealth to purchase British and Saxon slaves in groups of 50 and 100 in order to set them free.

Today, if there is a war of conquest between a Muslim nation and a non-Muslim one, then there would be no question of slavery, the enemy’s women would be treated according to modern practices. Muslim states officially recognize and respect international treaties, and the majority of Muslims have no problems with this. It is only barbaric, CIA-trained-and-funded groups like ISIS and al-Nusra which want to bring back slavery.

So it is true that Islam does not forbid slavery, and it is against the Quran and the Sunnah to say that the religion forbids it. But it does not encourage it either. It has a sophisticated approach toward it that takes the facts on the ground into account, regulating it and ending it when the time is right, rather than doing it too soon when it might cause starvation or war.

The fact that a child born to a female slave and her master is considered a free citizen, and the fact that the Quran strongly encourages the freeing of slaves is sufficient evidence for the fact that Islam came to end slavery, not to encourage it. If the Muslims before us made the mistake of encouraging slavery at times instead of fighting against it, we the Muslims of today are not required to act like them, and in fact are fully justified in disavowing their actions as we follow the Islamic program in the modern world.

The Quranic and Prophetic Way to Treating Non-Muslims

My father says we must hate Buddhist and Hinduists because they are mushrikin. I don't really hate them or see them as enemy. Is that normal?

There is no reason to hate them. Hatred often causes you to be blind to the good qualities in the person you hate and to only see the bad qualities in them.

We must instead treat them the way the Quran teaches us to treat people, and the way the Prophet ﷺ treated his pagan extended family and neighbors. The Prophet ﷺ did not gather his following by preaching hatred and intolerance toward others. He did it by preaching recognizing God’s Oneness and the importance of connecting with Him, and by preaching good manners and patience toward the insults and attacks of the pagans against the Muslims.

Here is an anecdote about the Prophet ﷺ and his treatment of his arch-enemy Ibn Ubayy in Al-Madinah:

The Prophet’s leniency toward this hypocrite continued until Ibn Ubayy died of natural causes. The Prophet accepted to have his (own) garment used as Ibn Ubayy’s burial shroud upon Ibn Ubayy’s son’s request.

The Quran says that God would not forgive the like of Ibn Ubayy even if the Prophet asked for forgiveness for them seventy times, so the Prophet said he would ask for his forgiveness more than seventy times. He accepted to pray at his funeral, after which verse 9:84 of the Quran was revealed which prohibited him from praying at the funerals of proven hypocrites. (From my book A Beautiful Path to God).

The Prophet ﷺ, instead of finding excuses to hate this man who spent most of his time plotting against the Muslims, continued to find excuses for him, and honored him after death by letting his own garment be used as his burial shroud.

Prophet Ibrahim was a similar person as is recorded in the Quran:

74. When Abraham's fear subsided, and the good news had reached him, he started pleading with Us concerning the people of Lot.

75. Abraham was gentle, kind, penitent.

76. “O Abraham, refrain from this. The command of your Lord has come; they have incurred an irreversible punishment.” (The Quran, verses 11:74-76)

The angels had arrived to tell Prophet Ibrahim that they were about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, which were inhabited by a people who were homosexual rapists and robbers. Instead of rejoicing at the news of the destruction of these people, Prophet Ibrahim argues with the angels on their behalf, wanting to block the punishment.

And the Quran does not blame Prophet Ibrahim for trying to block the punishment, instead praises him for it in verse 75 above.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his ancestor Prophet Ibrahim are role models in kindness and tolerance toward others, including toward non-believers. It is the example of these two men that we must follow above all others.

If individual Buddhists or Hindus, or groups of them, commit a crime against Muslims then they should be dealt with as the case requires, the way the Prophet ﷺ dealt with the Jews, hypocrites and pagans who plotted to destroy the Muslims. But there is nothing in the Quran and the Prophet’s life ﷺ to teach us to have a blanket hatred toward people who mean us no harm just because they are not Muslim.

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. (The Quran, verse 60:8)

How is it fair that unattractive women have difficulty getting married? Why does God allow this?

I was reading your blog post and I keep wondering isn't the system unfair? That the most attractive woman will get men and the unattractive not . As an unattractive female I can't get married although I wish

First I will explain why the world is the way it is, then I will explain the Islamic way to think of these facts.

Of course it is unfair, because life is unfair. How is it fair that some people should have everything they need, and others have to struggle every day to stay alive and avoid starving?

As for relationships, it is equally unfair to men that fat, ugly, creepy and broke men are not considered attractive by women, regardless of how good his heart is. If this person had a million-dollar car, women’s interest in him would skyrocket, as the various “gold digger prank” videos show on YouTube.

It is unfair that a man should be judged by his wealth and success, which are things not outside his control. And in the same way, it is unfair that attractive women get more attention than less attractive women.

And it is unfair that innocent children are born poor.

This life is not meant to be fair. It is not meant to be Paradise. It is meant to have problems, imperfections and injustices, because this makes it an ideal testing ground for a person’s faith, patience and dedication to God. A person cannot be patient unless there is something they have to be patient about. And they cannot claim to be devoted to God unless they are able to overcome temptation.

So the system I described is part of the order of the natural world. It is in the benefit of humanity’s survival that men are attracted to good-looking and young women, and that women are attracted to successful men. This is called sexual selection, and it is not unique to humans. All sexually-reproducing animals have criteria they prefer in the opposite sex. This ensures that those individuals who have the highest genetic quality are most likely to successfully reproduce.

It is about “quality control”. In biology, there needs to be a way for a species to ensure that bad genes are not passed on to the next generation. A male bowerbird who has a broken leg will not be able to build a good nest, meaning that females will judge him inferior, since they judge him by the quality of his nest (among other things), they will reject him and prefer another male. This is unfair to the male bird, but it is in the benefit of the species. Because if the females did not care about the male’s abilities, birds of low ability would be able to reproduce, resulting in offspring that has a higher chance of dying (because the male bird cannot care for them properly), and if the male bird’s incapability is due to defective genes (due to mutations), then if this bird reproduces, those defective genes are passed on to the next generation. In this way, if those defective genes spread throughout the population, the species will suffer from the issues caused by these genes and may go extinct, as it becomes easier prey to predators, or less able to withstand environmental challenges.

The same concept applies in humans. A man who is incapable of holding down a job and being somewhat successful is naturally suffering from some genetic or environmental issue that is preventing him from being like other men who are successful. If a woman marries him and has children with him, first he will not be able to care properly for the children (because he is not good at providing for the family), and second, if his incapability is due to a genetic defect, that defect is passed on to his children, and in this way more incapable humans are created, harming the species as a whole.

So an important part of the female sex’s duty is quality control over males. They decide which males deserve to have children by rejecting some men and preferring others. This ensures that the highest-quality males reproduce the most, and the lowest-quality males reproduce the least, in this way the species as a whole maintains a high quality and capacity for survival. This applies whether we are talking about animals or humans, although humans, due to their advanced brains, are more able to ignore these instincts and act against them. But the instincts are always there underneath everything else.

So when a human is unattractive, whether they are male or female, that is the species deciding that others should be given preference over them. This is unfair to the individuals, but it is in the benefit of the survival of the species. The human species wants the most genetically fit people of both sexes to reproduce the most, which gives preference to some men and women over other men and women. This is not about religion, it is about the system of the natural world.

If you ask why God allows this, it is because He wants this world to appear to function perfectly without a need for Him, so that people have the choice of disbelieving in Him if they want. He does not want people to be forced to believe in Him, He want them to make the choice. And that requires that the survival of all species, including humanity, works along well-defined natural laws (such as that of natural and sexual selection). I explain this in detail in my essays God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species and Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Note that no matter how attractive or unattractive someone is, they are nothing but a point on the timeline of humanity’s evolution. A person who is unattractive today may be considered extremely attractive if they went back 50,000 years in time. And if they go forward 50,000 in time, they may see that everyone in the world is as attractive as the most attractive people today, and such people may actually be considered unattractive compared to new people who have come into existence.

From the religious perspective, being unattractive is one of those things in life that one has to deal with, similar to being born blind, or being born in an extremely poor village and spending one’s life there, not being able to go anywhere else. The point of existence is not this life, but the next one. If you have been assigned a life that is more difficult than the lives of others, and if you show patience (by not complaining, by thinking the best of God, and by worshiping Him ardently), then He will do for you what is in your best interest in this life and the next.

Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while being a believer, We will grant them a good life (in this world)—and We will reward them according to the best of what they used to do (in the hereafter). (The Quran, verse 16:97)

Treat your situation like other Muslims have treated their various hardships. Prophet Yusuf, despite his good looks, was oppressed by his siblings then spent years in prison. After years of patience, he was given his reward. If you feel oppressed by life and by the way society treats you, think of it as just another prison. If you endure patiently, you will have God’s rewards in this life and the next.

God will not let your life go to waste. This is a promise that the Quran repeats in many places. Good people are taken care of by God in this life and the next. God does not say that we will suffer and suffer in this life until we die, to be rewarded in the afterlife. He says that we will sometimes suffer, and other times will have highly enjoyable lives, and if we continue to serve God in both conditions, we will have an amazing afterlife.

I cannot say what kind of you life you will have, or how God will give you fulfillment in this life, but He is capable of all things. Satisfying a human being is the easiest thing for Him, therefore seek only from Him instead of looking at the world’s unfairness. He has full power and control over this world.

And whoever fears God—He will make a way out for him. And will provide for him from where he never expected. Whoever relies on God—He will suffice him. God will accomplish His purpose. (The Quran, from verses 65:2-3)

83. And Job, when he cried out to his Lord: “Great harm has afflicted me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.”

84. So We answered him, lifted his suffering, and restored his family to him, and their like with them—a mercy from Us, and a reminder for the worshipers.

85. And Ishmael, and Enoch, and Ezekiel; each was one of the steadfast.

86. And We admitted them into Our mercy. They were among the righteous.

87. And Jonah, when he stormed out in fury, thinking We had no power over him. But then He cried out in the darkness, “There is no god but You! Glory to You! I was one of the wrongdoers!”

88. So We answered him, and saved him from the affliction. Thus We save the faithful.

89. And Zechariah, when he called out to his Lord, “My Lord, do not leave me alone, even though you are the Best of heirs.”

90. So We answered him, and gave him John. And We cured his wife for him. They used to vie in doing righteous deeds, and used to call on Us in love and awe, and they used to humble themselves to Us. (The Quran, verses 21:83-90)

Why did God let His scriptures (the Torah and the Gospels) become corrupted?

Why did Allah allow other books beside Quran to be changed by man like the Torah, gospel and bible? It was his own sacred word too when they were revealed and they were still his words so why did he allow that to happen? Why they became secondary when at one point they were the most important books for mankind?

The answer is the same as why God allowed Adam to be tricked by Satan into leaving Paradise.

This universe is a story that God writes. He gives humans things and sees what they do with it, and based on that, He responds and gives them new things, in this way writing a story that is truly authentic and made up of the free choices of millions of people.

This instant, God could solve all of the world’s problems and turn it into Paradise. He does not, because the point of this world is the story, the process, not the destination. This process continually produces good, sincere and proven friends of God who die and spend eternity in closeness to Him. If these people had been brought up in Paradise instead, never suffering, they would have never had any chance to prove their sincerity, their patience, their courage, since all of these require hardship, temptation and the existence of evils.

God is the Master and Teacher of humanity. Humans used to be ignorant, Stone Age people. God gave the Hebrews the Torah, in this way teaching them, helping humanity grow, giving them new ideas and new ways of social organization.

He knew that they would eventually corrupt it, and He allowed it to happen, because this makes a good story. It creates the opportunity for sending new prophets and new revelations, in this way continuing the growth process of humanity, raising them the way you raise a child. A good teacher does not control everything the student can do, and does not prevent all possibilities for making mistakes.

God continued to send new prophets to the Jews for a thousand years, yet during all of this time they continued to persecute their prophets, reject them and at times stone them to death.

God then sent Jesus, , a Jewish prophet meant to be a witness against the Jews, and meant to be the starter of a world-wide movement that would forever change history.

To continue this story, God sent Prophet Muhammad, , as an answer to a prayer that Prophet Ibrahim made 2500 years before Prophet Muhammad was born:

127. As Abraham raises the foundations of the House, together with Ishmael, “Our Lord, accept it from us, You are the Hearer, the Knower.

128. Our Lord, and make us submissive to You, and from our descendants a community submissive to You. And show us our rites, and accept our repentance. You are the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful.

129. Our Lord, and raise up among them a messenger, of themselves, who will recite to them Your revelations, and teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Almighty, the Wise.” (The Quran, verses 2:127-129)

The sending of Prophet Muhammad was an insult and punishment to the Jews by God, because while he is descended from Ibrahim (as the Jews were promised their final prophet would be), he was not a Jew. All Jews are descended from Ibrahim, so they thought their final prophet would be too. But God instead raised the final prophet from Ismail’s descendants (the Arabs of Hijaz), who, while being descended from Ibrahim as promised, was not Jewish.

87. We gave Moses the Scripture, and sent a succession of messengers after him. And We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear proofs, and We supported him with the Holy Spirit. Is it that whenever a messenger comes to you with anything your souls do not desire, you grew arrogant, calling some impostors, and killing others?

90. Miserable is what they sold their souls for—rejecting what God has revealed, out of resentment that God would send down His grace upon whomever He chooses from among His servants. Thus they incurred wrath upon wrath. And there is a demeaning punishment for the disbelievers.

93. And We made a covenant with you, and raised the Mount above you: “Take what We have given you firmly, and listen.” They said, “We hear and disobey.” And their hearts became filled with the love of the calf because of their disbelief. Say, “Wretched is what your faith commands you to do, if you are believers.”

94. Say, “If the Final Home with God is yours alone, to the exclusion of all other people, then wish for death if you are sincere.”

95. But they will never wish for it, because of what their hands have forwarded. God is aware of the evildoers. (The Quran, verses 2:87, 2:90, 2:93-95)

The reason why God allowed His scriptures to be corrupted is that it was useful in the raising of mankind, that it made a good lesson for those who came after, and that it was a test to those who did it. It could have served many other purposes that we will never know about. God decided to protect His final message from corruption because the corruption of scripture had already served its purpose, and God had a new purpose in the Quran.

We are like ants who are being managed from above, being turned this way and that, as God wishes, for His own purposes. But we are free-willed, we can disobey Him and rebel against Him. Regardless of whether we are good or evil, at the end of the day He continues to be All-Powerful above us all, so that we can never escape Him or corrupt the story, the plot line, He has devised for humanity. We can choose what role we play in His story, whether as good people or evil people, but the story is always His story.

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. (From verse 13:11 of the Quran)

As the above verse and many other verses of the Quran teaches, it is God Who manages world history. If we are good and kind, God will respond by changing our conditions for the better, and if we are not, He can send us hardships. We have zero power to ensure our own good, it is all from God. All that we can do is be good internally, and encourage others to be good, and use common sense in our dealing with the world, and the rest is up to God. No matter how hard we try to get something, if God does not want us to have it, we will never get it, which is why it is so important to not be attached to this world, but to God, knowing that all things come from Him, and that nothing can ensure our good other than His decree.

The complexity of this world, the corrupted scriptures, the various religious movements, the knowledge we have and the knowledge we lack, all of these provide an ideal testing ground for humans, separating the truly good and faithful from the average believers, and these from the lost and the evildoers.

Did God intend for Satan to not bow down to Adam? Why did He let it happen?

Since we are talking about evil and it's origins, do you feel that God had intended iblis to not bow to adam? And did evil exist before happening of that event? And if god did intend him to not bow, why did he let it happen?

I believe that God set it all up knowing what was going to happen, as a way of bringing out Satan’s arrogance and showing His own greatness.

Satan had free will and was not forced to act the way he did. But God knew of his latent arrogance and pride, and knew that setting up that scene would bring it out. God does this to humans as well, a person who sins in private, for example, will suffer situations in public life that disgrace them and make people dislike them, as Ibn al-Jawzi points out many times. Humans have free will, but God can always set up situations where their true nature shows through.

We do not know what existed before that event. It is possible that there are billions of other universes, each with its own story and history, and that our universe and its story may be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of all existence.

Adam, , also had free will, and was given some knowledge by God. But God placed him in a situation where he could be tricked by Satan and did not prevent this from happening. Why? Because God wanted a story in which His qualities would show, and in which He would gain millions of true friends, friends who are tested and tempted all their lives yet continue to be sincere and devout toward Him.

If you think about it, there is no other way for God to have true friends. A true friend is the one who is not forced to believe in Him or obey Him, but that despite this, of his own choice, he seeks Him, loves Him and obeys Him until he dies, and with this he earns eternal closeness to Him as a true and proven friend.

We can wonder whether the way God set up everything was fair and just. But the truth is that we do not have sufficient knowledge to make a judgment in this regard, God is infinitely wiser and more knowledgeable about us and about everything else than we are. What matters is that the end result of this universe is the creation of millions or billions of pious, kind and good people who love God and want to be with Him, and who prove their sincerity throughout their lifetimes. The creation of these humans, in my opinion, is more than sufficient justification for everything that happened at the beginning of the human story.

What is Tawbah Nasoohah?

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Do you know what is "taubat nasuha" ?

The literal meaning is “sincere and pure repentance”. It means to repent from a sin with the sincere desire to abandon it, acknowledging that you have done wrong and sincerely planning in God’s presence to find ways of avoiding that sin in the future.

The opposite is to sin then ask for forgiveness knowing that you will probably do that sin again and not sincerely planning to find every possible way to avoid that sin, and to not re-apply oneself in worship, which is the biggest protection a believer has from sinning.

Islam and dealing with PTSD from sexual abuse

Salaam, greetings from Malaysia. I am 21yrs old. I need help. I just feel like i need to let this out before i go crazy and do something i might regret. Not many people know of this but im dealing with PTSD. I was assaulted by my uncles at the age of 5,13 and 16. It happened long time ago, but lately i've been getting flashbacks of what had happened and there are times i feel like im a dirty girl as i've been touched by men before.. and it sometimes make me wanna commit suicide.

Continuing from above, i really dont know what to do. As i know committing suicide is haram. I started reading Quran, after years… and i feel at peace. but the flashbacks wont stop and it scares me everytime. What should i do?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

May God ease your condition. The best thing you could might be to seek medical help, it is possible that there are treatments that will work for you. The second thing to do is to read all of the books you can on PTSD. If you type PTSD on Amazon.com, many highly-rated books come up.

If you are looking for an Islamic solution, then it is to do sufficient worship so that you feel close to God, and so that the world stops feeling important to you. Pray the duha prayer (8 rakats done in the morning in units of 2, they can be done any time from 15 minutes after sunrise to 15 minutes before the duhr prayer) and also pray tahajjud (8 rakats done after isha and before fajr, in units of 2). It is good that you are reading Quran, you can start memorizing it and reciting what you memorize during your prayers. Spend 5-10 minutes after the duha and tahajjud prayers in supplication, asking for God’s help and guidance.

Do the above and everything else necessary to feel really close to God. You have a mission in life, similar to the way the Prophet, , had a mission. Your mission is to apply the Quran’s teachings as if the Quran was sent down specifically to you. Once you start to feel that you are an agent on a mission, then perhaps your PTSD will stop affecting you as severely as now. There were Muslims who were held in prison, suffering torture for years. Instead of losing hope, they used this as an opportunity to become closer to God.

Think of yourself as a prisoner and the PTSD as a form of torture. Instead of letting it control and own you, consider it a break in your day that will soon pass so that you can go back to your mission of living the Quran.

The above is of course easier said than done, and I do not know if they will help in your case, but it might be worth a try.

Living the Quran does not mean to dedicate every second to worship. It means to feel close to God and to feel that you are on a mission. You can still enjoy your hobbies and have fun, but you must do sufficient worship daily so that you never feel distant from God.

Reading Islamic books, such as biographies of great Muslims and other inspiring books may also help. It is not sufficient to worship, one must also always seek knowledge, through lectures or books. Maybe once you have learned much more about Islam you will be able to find a solution that works very well for you. There is no reason why you should let others know more about Islam than you do, seek knowledge until you have your own deep understanding of Islam.

Being a Muslim and a tomboy

Assalamualaikum! if you dont mind me say this, well im a female but since i was a little kid i was never into any girly thing. i dont like girl's outfits, girl's style and pretty much everything what a girl should be into. i have never had long hair too. i have always known as a tomboy in my big family. however, i have never hangout with boys or have a group of male friends, i always wear hijab and appropriate casual outfits(big hoodies,slacks,etc) and i never have a desire to become a trans man. i just dont like either? until now (i am reaching 20) i still dont feel any different. i cant get myself to be like the girls in my family, i dont want to be boys as well. but like i said, i cover up just fine though! people see me as a normal non-girly female on the outside. and i never leave my prayer. so im not sure if this is okay or not. my family is very religious too, they do try to help me find my way.

Human masculinity and femininity comes in a spectrum, and it does not always fit a person’s assigned gender, thus there are highly masculine women and highly feminine men. This is part of the natural variation that exists among humans and has to do with levels of estrogen, testosterone and the sensitivity of your cells to these two hormones, probably among other things. There is nothing wrong or sinful about being this way, as it comes from factors outside of your control, as long as it doesn’t cause one to do unlawful things.

As far as I know Islam does not offer any specific advice on this matter other than the usual advice of staying close to God through worship and seeking His support. You’d have to find your own way, like you said, and inshaAllah you will find success and fulfillment in this life and hereafter.

Did the Prophet marry a 9-year-old girl? (She may have actually been close to 18)

So, I am someone who likes using logic and I have defended Islam and my Muslim-ness many times from criticisms, some well-founded, others not so much. How can I defend Mohammad's marriage to a young girl? He was old at the time. I can't imagine being a child and being given away to an older man. Why did he think that was okay? How do you defend that without sounding like a pedophile apologist? -It is an honest question. How do other Muslims deal with this and remain moral?

The matter at issue with Aisha’s age is the validity of the hadith literature. An admission that Aisha’s age at marriage may have been different from 9 would shake the foundations of hadith science since it would imply that there are false statements in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim, therefore the majority of traditionalist scholars are unwilling to go that route. From what I have seen, using traditional methodology, the evidence in support of Aisha being 9 stronger than the evidence against it. Unfortunately I cannot find any source that researches this issue in an unbiased manner; they are either angrily defending the “honor” of al-Bukhari and Muslim (the traditionalist sources), or they mix weak and strong arguments, bad research and a disrespectful attitude toward the scholarly community in supporting a different age.

A minority of prominent modern scholars, such as Ali Gomaa (Egypt’s Grand Mufti from 2003 to 2013) and Taha Jabir Alalwani (an Iraqi scholar who teaches in the United States) believe that Aisha was “in her late teens” at the time of the consummation of her marriage (mentioned in Misquoting Muhammad by Jonathan Brown). So the matter is not very cut-and-dry. The most prominent authority for Aisha’s age is Hisham bin Urwa (her nephew). But this same person is quoted in al-Dhahabi’s Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalāʾ as saying that Aisha died at the age of 67 in the year 672, which would logically mean she was born around the year 605. Since her marriage was consummated in or around 622, that would make her 17 at the time of consummation.

Before her marriage to the Prophet, there is mention in authentic sources of Abu Bakr having promised to marry off Aisha to a pagan man (Jubayr bin Mutam bin Adi). This promise must have been made before Islam, because it is highly unlikely that Abu Bakr would promise a pagan his daughter after he became Muslim himself. This means that, even if the promise was made when Aisha was an infant, it would have been made on or before 610 CE (the year of revelation), making her at least 12 in 622 CE when her marriage with the Prophet was consummated. 12 is not much “better” than 9, but the point is that this conflict with the official narrative is sufficient to throw doubt on the whole story. And if we assume she was bigger than an infant, perhaps 3, at the time of the promise, then that would make her 15 in 622 CE at the time of the consummation of her marriage with the Prophet .

The Syrian hadith scholar Dr. Salah al-Din al-Idlibi, he has taught as a professor at al-Qarawiyyin University in Morocco, Imam Muhammad bin Saud University in Riyadh, College of Islamic and Arabic Studies in Dubai and al-Makkah al-Maftuha University in Jeddah.

Professor Salah al-Din al-Idlibi is the fairest-minded voice on this issue that I have found. He is a not a liberal Muslim who dismisses tradition, he is a hadith expert who works within the tradition and concludes in a 2018 paper that it is most likely Aisha was born about 4 years before the Revelation, making her close to 18 at the time of the consummation of her marriage near the end of the first year of the hijra.1 Maybe I will translate his paper one of these days, he has discovered three new clues apparently not examined by others.

Another aspect of Aisha’s age is that, due to the Hypocrites in Medina, and later some of Shia, claiming that she was unchaste, there was a strong incentive for Muslims to give preference to any evidence that suggested she was extremely young at the time of her marriage while dismissing evidence against it. They did not necessarily fabricate evidence, but it is possible that there were authentic hadith narrations that supported a different age but that were not written down by the hadith scholars in their hadith collections because they preferred the age of 9. We know that hadith scholars refused to write down narrations they considered “absurd”, even if their chain was authentic. (See Jonathan A.C. Brown, “The Rules of Matn Criticism: There Are No Rules.”)

Islamic Strategies for Escaping a Sinful Life

19 year old boy here. It's a serious issue but I'll keep it short. I was exposed to pornography at a very young age and I still haven't been able to get over it. And then came the time when I could mingle with the opposite sex and actually do things and since then I haven't been able to stop myself from committing zina. I've barely started to learn Islam but my imaan was a little stable in a few days and I did not do it in a long time. But it ate me from inside. Please help me

Continuing from above, I fear Allah swt but it does not remain constant to me. I’m very helpless and I do not know what to do. I keep doing it. My sexual desire overcomes it and I feel guilty then as usual. I know I’m doing a very horrible sin but I’m really in a position of a porn addict. And if I haven’t asked you the previous thing anonymously then please don’t answer to that? I’m in deep trouble and want my sins to be discreet obviously. Please help me. Jazakallahu khair

I cannot look at myself in the mirror. I desired to be a very influential Muslim and truth in my heart but this major sin inside me is eating me. I’m very frustrated and unable to do anything and I feel horribly ashamed to offer my namaz. Please help me. I’ve asked you around three questions cuz there was a word limit and I hope I get help from Allah swt through you!

No matter how great your sins are, God’s mercy is greater. The greatest sin of all is to lose hope in His mercy and to stop offering the obligatory prayers and performing other obligatory deeds. Regardless of how you feel, this is a duty you cannot ignore. Continue asking for His forgiveness. Even if you fail ten thousand times, He has the power to forgive you more times than that.

At the age of 19 your brain development is not complete. It only completes after the age of 25. What this means is that you have poor impulse control, because of no fault of your own, because the prefrontal cortex of the brain has not completed developing, which is the part of the brain that enables us to control our emotions and impulses.

Trying to make yourself stop engaging in those sins while they are easily available, and while your brain development has not completed, might be asking the impossible. It is like putting a child in a room full of candy and asking them not to eat any. It is an unfair test, because they haven’t developed the ability to control their impulses yet. The same may apply to you.

Think of your desires as an enemy. You cannot defeat it directly, because you do not have the power yet. You must defeat it indirectly. Instead of putting yourself in a test that you are unable to pass, you must avoid the test altogether. This is done by making it impossible to engage in those sins. If you live somewhere where you have easy access to women to sleep with, move somewhere else. Move to a different country if you have to.

If you are sincere in wanting to win this battle, you must do what it takes, even if it requires much work and hardship. Consider it your hijrah. You do not yet have full control over your desires, therefore you must not put your hopes in learning a magical way of overcoming them. You must instead use your intelligence and planning ability to find ways of making it impossible to engage in those sins. Since I do not know your exact situation, I cannot tell you what the best plan for you is. Any plan that requires you to have significant control over your impulses will most likely fail. The plan must take impulse out of the equation by making the sins impossible. For example, if you could join an Islamic educational establishment in a faraway country or area that does not have internet or cell phone coverage, then in that situation avoiding sinning would probably become very easy for you, and you would be able to focus on worshiping God and getting yourself educated about Islam.

Part of the solution could be to get married, even if your family think you are too young, since avoiding major sins is more important. Ibn Masud (companion of the Prophet, ) says that even if he had ten days to live in this world, if he was afraid his sexual desire would cause him to sin, he would do his best to get married. You may be able to find a woman who understands your problem and helps you find ways of overcoming it.

You could also go to a pious person at a local mosque, perhaps the imam, and share with them your problem. Maybe they will be able to help you by getting you involved in certain activities, or helping you move somewhere where you can fight your desires more easily. Sharing your problem with others is difficult, since it will go against your pride and self-respect. But you must give more value to avoiding your sinful life, even if this requires that you expose yourself to highly uncomfortable situations.

If you are unable to find a successful plan for making it impossible for yourself to sin, then know that as you grow older your ability to control your impulses will grow. After 25 it will become much easier for you to avoid sins related to sexual desire. Therefore this should be your back-up plan; if everything else fails, hold on to your faith until it becomes easier to resist your sins. Continue to read as much Quran as you can, try to memorize it, perform all the voluntary prayers including tahajjud, constantly read Islamic books, and if you sin, repent, purify yourself and go back to worship as soon as you can, thinking of it as a temporary interruption in your life of worship, until God helps you completely avoid it.

Continue planning against your desires and praying day and night for God’s help, until He gives you a solution sooner or later. If you sincerely ask of Him and seek Him with everything you have, then He will forgive you and answer you.

Satan will constantly tell you that you are worthless and that you should give up hope. You must fight his whispers and know that there is no solution for you in this world except to seek God, regardless of how sinful and worthless you feel. It is only He who forgives sins.

There is no safety from [God’s punishment] except through taking refuge in Him. (The Quran, verse 9:118)

God knows you better than yourself, and He understands what you go through. If you are sincere in seeking a solution, then He will reward your sincerity and forgive you your past and future sins as you continue to seek His pleasure.

You must consider it your duty to perform sufficient worship and Quran-reading on a daily basis that the afterlife starts to feel as important as the present life to you. This seems to require about an hour of extra voluntary deeds a day, whether it is Quran-reading, supplication, praying at the mosque or performing extra prayers. Once you achieve this state and maintain it for weeks and months, it becomes far easier to resist sins.

You already believe in God and the afterlife. This is only an intellectual belief. Through worship, you can turn it into an emotional belief as well, so that God and the afterlife feel real to you. Once your faith is not just an intellectual belief, but an emotional state, then this will have a powerful effect on your state of mind and on your actions. This is the state that every Muslim must seek to achieve, and it is the state of the prophets and the greatest believers.

The best help I have found toward maintaining such an emotional state has been to perform every prayer at the mosque, to perform dhikr and supplication after every one of them, and to perform all the related voluntary prayers. If there is a mosque near you, then this should be one of the first things you try. Even if it is 10 or 15 minutes away, consider it part of your war against your sins to go there, and God will reward you for your time and effort.

Consider going to the mosque part of your job, as if you earn an hourly wage for it. It is just another job, perform it, and you will get its rewards.

Planning against your sins and doing the work necessary to avoid and overcome them is not going to be easy. It is going to require difficult and perhaps boring and repetitive work. But for this you will be greatly rewarded.

If you want to have a successful career in this life and the next, if you want to be a leader like you said, then do the daily work needed for this. A career requires work, your work is to do worship and to go to the mosque. No matter how unrewarding you find this work, if you do it, you will get its fruits. Worshiping and obeying God is not meant to be fun. It is work, sometimes hard work, sometimes boring work, we do it because we want His rewards. If you do not get any uplifting feeling from your worship or mosque attendance at first, continue doing it for weeks and months, and you will eventually feel it inshaAllah.

When we try to seek God and renew our allegiance to Him, He may withhold His help until we prove our sincerity. If we try to worship Him ardently for a week, then give up hope when nothing happens and we feel no difference, it shows that we do not truly have faith in Him, that we are not sincere in our servitude. We prove our sincerity by constantly working toward Him whether we feel good or bad, whether we feel appreciated or abandoned. This is true worship of God, that we love Him regardless of what He decrees for us. Everything else is mostly self-worship.

 

Dealing with an eating disorder (and other mental conditions) as a Muslim

i wanted to bring this topic up since its not really spoken that much in the Muslim community. I've had an eating disorder for a year now and its honestly changed me as a person. I've prayed many times but i still feel regret after eating and it doesn't help with a family who don't understand. They have this view that whenever you have a mental problem its because you've 'strayed from god'. i kinda want some religious help because i feel so lost and numb.

Unfortunately it is common for people, and not just Muslims, to treat mental disorders as a weakness of the person’s character instead of a real condition.

The Islamic way to think of your disorder is to think of it as any other illness, such as type I diabetes. There are many devout Muslims who have this condition, and they are dependent on injections and drugs for the rest of their lives. There is no guarantee in Islam that prayer will take the condition away.

And a Muslim born without legs due to a genetic issue is most likely not going to grow new legs regardless of their prayers and worship. But God can turn their condition into a blessing for them in various ways. For example they could receive a good income from the government that enables them to dedicate themselves to studying what they like instead of having to waste their time working to earn a living.

The first step to defeating your condition is to accept it, the way the people mentioned above accept their conditions. God does not promise us perfect lives, and He does not promise that we will be free from suffering the various illnesses and conditions that befall all humans. If we are among the “unlucky” few to suffer a condition, we must accept it and realize that God had complete power to prevent us from getting that condition, and that He has complete power to perform a miracle to cure us. Yet He allowed us to get the condition, and He has not decided to cure it.

There is an important lesson in this. Your condition is not meaningless. God, with all of His power and watchfulness, has allowed you to have it. It is His decision. He is the one in charge, you are not in charge. If He wants, He can take it away at any moment. But while you have it, you must accept it, knowing that it is by His decree and permission. When you suffer, this is a chance to practice patience and earn its rewards. One cannot earn the rewards of patience unless one has something to be patient about.

Most of the hardships we suffer in life are sent to bring us closer to God, as they force us to see our weakness and fragility and our dependence on Him. We must stay close to God at all times, we must keep His remembrance alive, and we must always ensure that He and the afterlife always feel as important to us as the present life. Once we achieve that state, and we prove our loyalty to Him by maintaining that state instead of abandoning it after a few days or weeks, He either removes the hardship, or turns it into a blessing, or gives us something else that makes up for it, so that even though we continue to suffer from the hardship (a chronic condition, for example), we are given sources of happiness and joy that more than make up for it.

Forgive your family for not understanding, do sufficient Quran-reading, prayers and supplication to feel close to God every single day, then patiently wait for His judgment. He will either bring about a cure eventually (months from now He may lead you into reading an article that mentions some treatment strategy that works for you), or He will do something else that makes up for it one way or another.

Think of your condition as any other medical condition, such as diabetes. Your part is to seek closeness to God and seek help through research and medical professionals, in this way taking care of both your spiritual duty and your material duty. What happens next is up to God. He may give you a cure or He may not. What matters is that you do your part, stay patient and do not lose hope, knowing that He will do what is kind and just toward you when He wants, and what He will do may be something you never expected.

God does not ask you to do more than you are able. Sometimes we are in so much pain, physically or mentally, that the most we can do is prevent ourselves from complaining or thinking unthankful thoughts. If this is the most we can do, then God will understand and will not ask more of us. If people speak of God as if He is harsh, unjust or demanding, then know that what they say is false. God is kinder than we can imagine, and He will never hurt us just to hurt us, or demand more from us than we are able to give.

53. [The angels] said, “Do not fear; we bring you good news of a boy endowed with knowledge.”

54. [Prophet Ibrahim] said, “Do you bring me good news, when old age has overtaken me [when I am too old to have children]? What good news do you bring?”

55. They said, “We bring you good news in truth, so do not despair.”

56. He said, “And who despairs of his Lord’s mercy but those who are lost?” (The Quran, verses 15:53-56)

It is permissible for Muslim women to pluck their eyebrows (with conditions)

Is it permissible for a woman to pluck her eyebrows? Being a woman with unsymmetrical and thick eyebrows I always feel the need to clean them up so they look normal and symmetrical. But as far as I know the prophet sallalahu alaihi wasalim said, woman who pluck their own or other womens eyebrows are cursed. Does that still apply to today or was that meant in a different context? Thank you.

Imam Abu Dawood says that what is meant by the forbidden type of plucking is when a woman distorts its shape by making it very thin, like some women do, meaning that other forms of plucking that do not make the eyebrows look unnatural are not forbidden.

The opinion of the Hanbali school is that plucking the eyebrows is allowed after agreement with the woman’s husband, if it is not overdone, and done for correction rather than for creating a new appearance.

The Maliki scholar Shaykh al-Nafrawi and the Hanafi scholar Ibn Abidain al-Hanafi also agree with the above.

Dr. Ali Jum`ah of Al-Azhar University and former chief Islamic jurist of Egypt says that what the Prophet, , meant by plucking the eyebrows is removing the whole of them then using makeup to draw them. He says that there is no issue with a woman correcting and beautifying the shape of the eyebrows if it is not overdone.

As for Salafi scholars like Ibn Baaz, Ibn Uthaymeen al-Albani, they all say it is forbidden, some Salafis make an exception for correcting a clear and obvious issue that severely reduces a woman’s beauty.

Most of the Muslim world follows the Azhari opinion, which is that correcting and beautifying the eyebrows is allowed if it is not overdone.

On the Rohingya Muslims

/ No Comments on On the Rohingya Muslims

Would you like to share about your opinion of Rohingya Muslim genocide in Myanmar?

Different Muslim races and nations have suffered similar fates throughout history, and this will continue.

We will certainly test you with some fear and hunger, and some loss of possessions and lives and crops. But give good news to the steadfast. Those who, when a calamity afflicts them, say, “To God we belong, and to Him we will return.” (The Quran, verse 2:155-156)

If a wound afflicts you, a similar wound has afflicted the others. Such days We alternate between the people, that God may know those who believe, and take martyrs from among you. God does not love the evildoers. (The Quran, verse 3:140)

The Quran teaches us that suffering is a part of life, although it also teaches that suffering will not continue indefinitely. All Muslim nations have gone through periods of intense suffering followed by periods of ease and prosperity, followed by periods of suffering.

Those who stay close to God will gather the rewards of good deeds during times of ease and the rewards of patience during times of suffering, so that regardless of which phase their nation is going through, they continue to gain God’s rewards.

Regarding the Rohingya, we can continue to spread awareness and support charities like CAIR which are trying to gather support in the US to encourage US politicians to put pressure on the Myanmar government to put an end to the crisis.

The Islamic way to getting over a breakup

I have issues regarding relationship. Well I broke up with my boyfriend few months ago. Usually when this happened lovers will not contact each other. Unfortunately, we have the same group of friends. I am trying so hard not to feel mad or sad every time I see him yet I still cant control my expressions. Do you have any advice on this?. I still want to keep our relationship as good friends. What should I do?

The Islamic view of watching anime and reading manga

Salaam. I am a Muslim and I like watching anime and reading manga. I usually watch action, adventure types and block tags that contain mature content. I wanted to ask if I am allowed to do so? Another question I have is about drawing. What has been said about drawing cartoons and such? Jazakullah Khair.

There is nothing wrong with anime and manga inherently. It is however against Islamic manners to seek sexual pleasure outside of marriage, therefore if those “mature” blocks you describe are there for the reader’s sexual enjoyment, then it is not acceptable for you to peruse them. You can skip those pages and scenes that are designed to be sexually suggestive and enjoy the rest.

Since we can never be sure if God will be pleased with us if we seek sexual enjoyment outside of marriage in any form, no one who truly loves and fears God will risk disrespecting and angering Him through such things, even if it is in a seemingly unimportant matter.

The Azhari scholars (from al-Azhar University in Cairo) Gad al-Haq Ali and Yusuf al-Qaradhawi and the Saudi Islamic studies professor Khalid bin Abdullah al-Qasim say that drawing (including drawing living things) is permissible. You will find others who will say that drawing living things is not permissible. The people of Egypt and most of the Muslim world follow the Azhari opinion.

What to do if all the negative coverage of Islam and online Islam-bashing affects you

I'm from India and I see a lot of negativity towards Islam and it saddens me very much. Filthy comments made about Islam and people who practice Islam. I usually do not indulge in such arguments/comments because there is no point but it effects me. Please help Jazakallah khair

That is a promise of the Quran come true:

You will be tested through your possessions and your persons; and you will hear from those who received the Scripture before you, and from those who do not acknowledge the oneness of God, much abuse. But if you persevere and lead a righteous life—that indeed is a mark of great determination. (The Quran, verse 3:186)

The best thing to do is go on with your life like normal. It is not our job to guide people, and especially not those who say nasty things about Islam. Our job is to practice Islam, which means to stay close to God, to obey His commandments, to be kind and generous.

The Quran’s command regarding dealing with such people is to ignore them (instead of engaging them and trying to change their minds),

So turn away from them, and wait. They too are waiting. (Verse 32:30)

So avoid him who has turned away from Our remembrance, and desires nothing but the present life. That is the extent of their knowledge. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who has accepted guidance. (Verses 53:29-30)

The servants of the Merciful are those who walk the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace.” (Verse 25:63)

When you encounter those who mockingly gossip about Our revelations, turn away from them, until they engage in another topic. (Verse 6:68)

So leave alone those who take their religion for play and pastime, and whom the worldly life has deceived. (Verse 6:70)

While some of what we hear and read can be very upsetting, this is nothing new. All of the prophets have suffered similar treatment. This is not a problem that can be solved, it is a fact of life, like bad weather. We have to accept that it exists and move on with your lives. Our focus, when dealing with non-Muslims, should be that the good and open-hearted among them should have an accurate view of Islam. As for those who dislike us, it is not our business to change them, they have already made up their minds.

The Prophet, , used to wish to have miraculous powers to be able to guide more people to Islam. The Quran’s answer was this:

Even if there were a Quran by which mountains could be set in motion, or by which the earth could be shattered, or by which the dead could be made to speak… In fact, every decision rests with God. Did the believers not give up and realize that had God willed, He would have guided all humanity? Disasters will continue to strike those who disbelieve, because of their deeds, or they fall near their homes, until God’s promise comes true. God never breaks a promise. (Verse 13:31)

The Quran teaches us that it is God who guides people. Even the Prophet could not guide people unless God willed it:

You cannot guide whom you love, but God guides whom He wills, and He knows best those who are guided.

For these reasons, we must not think it our duty to guide people. Our duty is to practice Islam, and to present an accurate view of Islam. What people do in response is their business, we cannot control their thinking, and we cannot force them to be guided.

Is the Deathly Hallows sign related to the “Illuminati”?

Is the Deathly Hallows sign illuminati or a sinful sign?? I know that the peace sign and all is signs of the devil, but is the deathly hollows simbol illuminati or the devils sign??

The Illuminati and other conspiracy theories are promoted on the internet so that people like you are distracted from the real problems that face this world, such as: Why do the banks have so much control over the world’s economy? Why does the US force every country in the world to use the US dollar in trade and bomb every country that tries to break away from the US financial system (Iraq, Libya, Syria)? Why does the Israeli lobby have such immense control over the US congress so that every politician must bow down to them to be elected? Why do Jews support Muslim immigration to the US and Europe while also supporting the Israel ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Palestine? Why do they support Mexican immigration to the US yet fight against African immigration to Israel?

Difference Between Sunnah Muakkadah and Ghair Muakkadah

Salaam could you please explain what is sunnah mu'akkadah and sunnah ghair mu'akkadah?

Sunnah mu’akkadah refers to any voluntary act of worship (such as the Eid prayer, or the two rakat after the maghrib prayer) which the Prophet continuously performed and almost never abandoned. These are not obligatory, but a person who abandons them is considered blameworthy.

As for the ghair mu’akkadah ones, they are those which the Prophet sometimes performed and sometimes abandoned, such as two rakat before the Isha prayer.

The different schools of thought have different terminology and rulings regarding the precise nature of these acts of worship.

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