IslamQA

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

On kind-hearted non-Muslims being better than evil Muslims

Is it wrong that I think that a kind hearted non-muslims is better than an evil Muslim? It's more logical to be that a good soul is better than a guided soul who choose evil.

That is correct. Satan, too, believed in God and worshiped Him, like any Muslim does, yet despite his knowledge of the truth, he decided to disobey God. A Muslim who knowingly does evil, not out of overwhelming desire but out rebelliousness, arrogance and greed, is doing something similar.

Can Muslims keep dogs as pets? (Yes, according to some scholars)

Is it okay for a Muslim to have a dog as a pet? Not just as a guard dog, but as a companion. Bring them inside the house, play with them, take a walk, etc. I've read somewhere that if there's a dog in the house, angels will not come inside our house. Is it true? Thank you

This is a highly controversial topic among the scholars. The opinion of the Mālikī school is that dogs are pure (i.e. not ritually unclean), and that it is permissible to touch them and play with them as long as they are not diseased. This is also the opinion of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī , al-Zuharī , Sufyān al-Thawrī, al-Shawkānī, Ibn Mundhir al-Shāfiʿī and Ibn Ḥazm.

The Egyptian scholar Maḥmūd Shaltūt (1893 – 1963 CE), who was Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar (Egypt’s highest authority on Sunni Islam), ruled that keeping a dog as a pet and letting it in the house is permissible as long as it is not diseased. However, he says that if the dog eats or drinks from a utensil, it must be washed thoroughly before it is used by a human.

The rest of the scholars, the Ḥanafīs, Shāfiʿīs and Ḥanbalīs say that a dog is either unclean or that it is forbidden to keep as a pet, that it must only be kept if it is a hunting, shepherding or guard dog.

So there is sufficient support within the Islamic scholarship community for a person to keep a dog as a pet. But the majority of scholars are against it, and so are the majority of Muslim cultures.

If an American who already has a dog converts to Islam, there is sufficient evidence within Islam for them to continue keeping it as a pet. But they shouldn’t be surprised if the Muslims around them strongly frown upon their doing so.

The Islamic View of Sex Education and Adolescent Exposure to Sexual Scenes in Novels and Films

My child loves to read books. Some of the books she wants to read mention sex. She is 13 years old and I don't know when to allow her to read those books or even when to tell her about sex. I need help with this. Thank you!

When a child reaches puberty (and I assume your daughter has), in Islam they are considered mukallaf (responsible for their actions, i.e. legally adults). This means that parents should start to treat them like adult humans, respecting their intelligence and freedom of choice as humans. Parents should no longer treat them like children whose lives they control and dictate.

At that age, they have the right to demand honest answers from their parents regarding sex, and they have the right to be educated about the Islamic rules and etiquette regarding sex and marriage. In Islam there is no difference between the rights and responsibilities of an adolescent 13-year-old and a 25-year-old, legally they have the same status, although developmentally they are not exactly the same.

It is natural to be wary of letting an adolescent learn about sex because of the vague potential for harm that we perceive, but we should also take into account the even greater potential for harm that comes from belittling them and restricting them for no obvious reason. There is no Islamic or scientific reason to prevent an adolescent from learning about sex, and the great scholars of the past, such as Ibn al-Jawzi, would have memorized thousands of hadith narrations, some of them explicitly dealing with sex, before the age of 10.

If she has reached puberty, then it is your duty to teach her all of the Islamic rules that surround menstruation, such as by getting her a book on this matter. You do not have to give it to her specifically if this would be too embarrassing, it can be somewhere in your house where she can look at it when she wants. It will be largely your failing if she prays in a way that is invalid because no one told her any better.

You probably know much about sex, but your appreciation for Islamic principles enables you to stay devout and to put sex in its proper context. An adolescent can do the same if the parents have done their duty of giving them an Islamic upbringing, and if inside the home they maintain Islamic manners and standards. Trying to control a child’s knowledge about sex is a futile effort, especially today when they can easily find out everything they want on the internet. There is no way you can take away all possible opportunities for them to learn about it. The logical thing to do is to be moderate, letting them learn about sex and read books that you yourself would read, while not letting them have unmonitored access to the internet and not letting them read erotic books that you yourself wouldn’t read.

There is No Conflict Between Islam and Sex Education

Is a 13-year-old who knows much about sex from books less likely to be religious and devout than a 13-year-old who has been forbidden to learn anything about it?

I would hazard a guess that the one whose intelligence and dignity has been respected to the degree that he or she is allowed to read books on sex is going to be more religious and devout, because they are not made to feel that Islam is against human nature, that there is something wrong with them when they think about sex or want to learn about it.

Devoutness has nothing to do with how much a person knows about sex. Regardless of whether an adolescent knows nearly everything or nearly nothing about sex, they will have the same level of desire for the opposite sex. This desire is not about knowledge, it is about hormones and the human brain. To be able to resist this desire, what is needed is an understanding of Islamic principles and internalization of Islamic values, so that the adolescent knows that there is a good reason why they should resist their sexual desire, instead of feeling like they are being prevented from sexual pleasure for no good reason (like some adolescents brought up in extremely strict Muslim and Christian homes feel).

For an adolescent, learning about sex is like learning about any other topic, such as physics. There mere knowledge of sex is not going to push them into sinful behaviors, the same way that a divorced 30-year-old is not going to be more likely to sin just because they know very much about sex. Their knowledge of sex and their knowledge of Islam are two separate things.

Once a child reaches puberty, their sex hormones make it certain that they will have highly detailed and explicit daydreams and nighttime dreams about sex, and that sex will be on their minds often. Muslim adolescents generally spend ten years thinking about sex, whether they want to or not, before they get married, and reading or hearing a story or anecdote about sex, whether in an Islamic book or non-Islamic book, is going to be little more than a drop in the ocean of sexual thoughts that is in their heads.

As for books that are designed to be read for sexual pleasure (erotic and explicit romance books), then neither you nor your child should reach such books, because it is against Islamic manners to seek sexual pleasure outside of marriage, and no one who reads such books can honestly claim to be reading them without sexual intent.

The Developmental Concern

The one serious concern regarding exposing an adolescent to information about sexuality is that with their as-of-yet undeveloped minds, and their heightened sexual desire, they may be more likely to fall into sinful behaviors.

Isn’t it better to let them grow some more, garner more experiences, before they are exposed to such things?

It is true that the human is not fully developed until the late twenties, that is when a person’s impulse control matures. It is for this reason that insurance companies charge higher rates to people under the age of 25, because such people are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and cause accidents.

The problem is that, their lack of wisdom and development also means that will be unable to understand why information about sex is being kept from them, and their impulsiveness means that they will be extremely unlikely to be content when a parent says they are too young. They will probably jump on any chance to learn about sex from friends, from the internet, from libraries, from anywhere they can.

Preventing an adolescent from learning about sex is in fact telling them, “You are too impulsive and not enough of an adult to learn about sex, but you must act like an adult and control your impulses when you desire to learn about it.” It is placing a contradictory demand on them. If they are too impulsive to safely read about sex, they are too impulsive to be prevented from reading about sex out of your sight.

Therefore the argument that they are too young to learn about sex is false. If they are treated like they are too immature and foolish to be allowed to learn about sex from proper sources, they will only be right to act immature and foolish by seeking information from harmful sources, they are acting exactly the way we say they will act, and they are likely to do it just out of spite. If we belittle them and make them feel they are not proper members of society, they will naturally feel like outcasts, and they will be right to act like outcasts, ignoring customs and people’s expectations. If they are not allowed to enjoy the privileges of being full members of society, why should they suffer its restrictions?

It is best to treat them the Islamic way, to acknowledge their status as full members of society, while also acknowledging the fact that they are not fully developed yet. This is the best way to prepare them for adulthood; by treating them like adults. Treating them like children is not going to do any good, they are going to resent it.

Once an adolescent is given the freedoms and privileges of an adult, they will stop thinking of themselves as children who selfishly think of their own needs the whole time, and will instead start to think of themselves as respected members of their families and societies. This is very important for their growth. By being treated like a growing adult, being given both rights and responsibilities, they will try to live up to this expectation.

If a parent is too strict, this can cause the child to feel oppressed and controlled, and this can cause them to dislike the parent and the religious motivations for the parent’s choices. It is better to give the child sufficient freedom to not feel oppressed, but not so much freedom that they can do whatever they want in private. Since they live under your roof, you can set standards of behavior and etiquette that must be observed by them and any other adult living with you.

I have rarely seen children brought up in strict families grow into sincerely devout adults. They generally consider Islam a burden that’s placed on them, rather than something they love and follow by choice. They sometimes have a child’s mentality, thinking that their families and societies are against them, that what is good and fulfilling in life is one thing and society’s expectations another thing, because they do not feel like full members of Islamic society.

The Islamic Way of Bringing Up Devout Children: Balancing Conservativeness and Liberality

The best Muslims I have known in my life have been brought up in families that mixed conservativeness and liberality, conservative in the most important things, liberal in the rest. This means that the children are taught to carry out all their obligatory duties like prayer and fasting. It is not accepted of them to abandon these like some misguided liberal Muslim families allow. They are taught the Quran and encouraged to read beneficial Islamic books, most importantly the life of the Prophet and the lives of his companions. If the child is female, she should have access to at least 10 books dedicated to famous Muslim women in history and encouraged to read them (but not forced).

What are Islam’s priorities? It is to believe in God and the Day of Judgment and the rest of the Islamic items of faith (aqeedah). The entire family must act and live by these beliefs. The next priorities are the obligatory deeds, the entire family must carry them out (except for children who cannot), it should be an unspoken assumption in the family that abandoning the Islamic obligatory acts of worship is entirely unacceptable.

The next thing after the above is abandoning sinful behaviors. It should be unacceptable for anyone in the family to engage in anything clearly sinful, such as drinking alcohol. It is the job of the parents to ensure that Islamic standards are maintained in the family, that no one engages in anything sinful.

The above is the core of Islam. A child brought up in a loving family to believe in the Islamic items of faith, to carry out the obligatory deeds and to follow Islamic manners is guaranteed to grow into a devout Muslim, unless at some point they make a conscious choice to abandon Islam. Humans have free will, which means that regardless of their upbringing, they will forever have the choice to abandon Islam, this ability cannot be taken away from them.

A family that focuses on the above and gets it right can then be liberal in everything else. This liberality is very important. Islam must feel small and simple to a child, it must not feel like something that controls and burdens them. This means that filling one’s home entirely with Islamic books, always having Islamic channels on TV, allowing the children to visit the mosque and no other venue, forcing them to go to Quran schools instead of learning about other things they are interested in, are all exactly the correct way to make a child hate Islam. There is only so much religion a person can take. Religion is a tool to help us develop a spiritual connection with God and to guide our manners as we go about in the world living our lives. Once a person has the correct aqeedah, performs the obligatory deeds, loves the Quran and fears God’s punishment, religion’s goal has been accomplished in them. Religion is not there to dominate them and take their humanity away from them, it is to guide them to be better humans, as they continue to be humans, doing and enjoying human things.

This means that once the core of Islam has been actualized in a family’s life, from then on everyone should be free what they do with their time. Islam does not forbid children from playing video games, women from enjoying shopping or men from playing soccer, even if none of these things serve a productive purpose. The clearest proof of this is that in Islam it is acknowledged that people have sex for pleasure, unlike among some Christians who think that sex must always be done with the intention of procreation. Sex that is done for pleasure does not serve an obvious productive purpose, except for the fact that it improves the relationship between the husband and wife and makes them have a more positive view of life.

And the above reason is also why many other enjoyable acts that strict Muslims may scoff at are actually lawful and even encouraged. A child who is allowed to play the video games he or she likes, while also being expected to follow Islamic manners and carry out their Islamic duties, is going to grow up knowing that Islam is not against human nature and the enjoyment of life, that Islam is there to help them live better lives that they define themselves, instead of being there to force them to live a narrowed down life defined by ancient texts and society.

On Books that Mention Sex

As for your original question, there is no clear Islamic text that deals with her reading books that mention sex, but if you yourself would read that book and think that it is permissible for you, then she too can read it.

Since Islam is vague on this topic, one should act based on maslahah (“what is in the best interest of the person, family and society”) with regards to it. Allowing her to read a book she likes is a good thing, because it reaffirms her dignity and freedom, and reaffirms the fact that she can enjoy what she likes while also being a devout Muslim, that Islam is not her enemy like some teenagers mistakenly think. If the book contains casual mentions of sex but is not dedicated to arousing sexual desire in the reader like erotic books are, then I see little harm in it. Adolescents are perfectly capable of imagining sexual scenes in their heads, reading about one more sexual scene is not going to be anything significant.

Philosophically, there is no difference between an Islamic book that describes a sexual act and a random non-Islamic book that does the same, since in both cases, the reader is made to imagine a sexual scene in their heads. If reading about a sexual scene is sinful, then this means reading many hadith narrations and Quranic commentaries is sinful, since they too describe sexual scenes.

Your child has the right to read the Quran, books of interpretation of the Quran (tafseer), and books of hadith, and you should encourage her to do so, and if she does, then there is no avoiding the topic of sex, since the Quran, its interpretations and books of hadith cover various sexual topics in detail. Some scholars, in fact, consider it highly recommended that the child should be taught all of these things, meaning that to them sex education is part and parcel of Islam.

A person may say that the sexual acts described in a novel might be sinful acts (they might be between unmarried people), and that this makes it forbidden to read them. But this is logically a false argument. The Quran describes various sinful acts of previous nations, if reading the description of a sinful act is sinful, then reading the Quran would be sinful. And if reading the description of a sinful sexual act is sinful, then reading various books of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) would be sinful, since they are full of mentions sinful sexual acts. The reader is expected to understand that it is sinful, and to have their core of Islamic belief prevent them from engaging in similar acts.

A person may go on to say that novels would describe sinful sexual acts in a context that approves of them, while Islamic books do not. This too is an invalid argument. The Quran mentions in detail the arguments of Islam’s detractors, arguments which support disbelief if they are read out of context:

But the notables of his people, who disbelieved, said, “This is nothing but a human like you, who wants to gain superiority over you. Had God willed, He would have sent down angels. We never heard of this from our forefathers of old. He is nothing but a man possessed. Just ignore him for a while.” (The Quran, verses 23:24-25)

If you obey a human being like yourselves, then you will be losers. Does he promise you that when you have died and become dust and bones, you will be brought out? Farfetched, farfetched is what you are promised. There is nothing but our life in this world. We die, and we live, and we are not resurrected. He is nothing but a man, making up lies about God. We have no faith in him.” (The Quran, verses 23:34-38)

Since the person is reading the Quran, we assume that they will also know about counter-arguments the Quran offers. There is nothing sinful in relating a sinful behavior as long as the person is educated sufficiently to put it in context. The above verses relate the sin of shirk (denying God’s oneness), which is a far greater sin than any sexual crime, because it is the one sin that God says He will not forgive.

Someone who reads about a sinful sexual act is not going to be led into sin by it when they also read the Quran constantly, when they have had an Islamic upbringing and have internalized Islam’s values. Any novel a devout Muslim reads is already in proper context, because the context is their own minds, which is already firm on the belief in God and the Islamic principles. Reading a random sexual scene in a novel is only the feeblest challenge to someone’s faith.

I do not recommend letting adolescents read just about everything they want. Reading a book that is designed to be read for sexual pleasure is going to be an insult to the maintenance of Islamic manners in your home, and this should not be allowed. But as for the average Western-written novel, whether you let your daughter read it should rely on what you consider to be in her best interest. Preventing her from reading a book or a category of books she likes is going to harm her faith, because her freedom is restricted in something that is not clearly harmful, and her own interpretation of Islam is discounted and your interpretation imposed upon her, which always has a psychological cost on her and on her relationship with you.

We all want to bring up devout children, and our policies toward them should be geared toward this. If being strict in the Islamic matters of priority mentioned above while being liberal in everything else enables us to bring up children who are more devout and more likely to love Islam, then that is what we should do.

In general, arbitrarily forbidding children things because of a vague potential for harm is going to do more harm than good. I know someone who started to steal from his relatives in his childhood in order to be able to go to an arcade to play video games, because his strict father refused to buy him a video game console to play with at home, since according to him it was harmful. The child was forced to engage in a clearly sinful behavior due to the father’s misguided apprehension of the possible harms of video games.

Whenever you think of forbidding your child something that you consider potentially harmful, always keep in mind that the act of forbidding itself is also always potentially harmful. You must balance between these two concerns. Being too strict is always harmful, and being too lax is also always harmful. One must find a balance. The best balance I have seen is for the parents to focus on the core Islamic principles, manners and acts of worship, then be liberal in most other things, respecting their children’s right to make their own choices even if we are not always perfectly comfortable with their choice. It is in their best interest to feel free and to be treated like respected adults whose choices are respected, it is also in their best interest to follow Islam devoutly. These two interests must be balanced, neither of them should be neglected.

I would never forbid an adolescent from reading a book I would read myself, because there is no Islamic basis for creating such a rule, and it is disrespectful and belittling toward them, and they can probably find ways of reading it out of my sight.

If your child has not read the Quran, books of tafseer, books of hadith and Islamic biographies, then this should be corrected as soon as possible. They should have sufficient appreciation for Islam to follow it in public and in private of their own desire, and if they read or hear anything that challenges their Islamic belief, they should be able to counter it themselves.

If you worry about the influence of the non-Islamic books she reads, you can ask her to read one Islamic book for every few non-Islamic books she reads, or find some other arrangement.

I would have a library in my house filled with all kinds of books, and I would give the adolescent the right to read what they want. As long as they have had a proper Islamic upbringing, as long as they have been encouraged to read the Quran, hadith, Islamic biographies and other beneficial books, then there is no danger in this. I would never forbid my daughters from reading any of the hundreds of books I have in my house even though I may have the authority to do this. What right do I have to decide for her what she can and cannot read? If I give myself the right to read something, it feels highly hypocritical to me to forbid others from reading it.

Saying that she shouldn’t read a book she wants to read will make her feel insulted and belittled. I want to treat her like an adult, like a dignified and respected human, doing that will show her that I am not really honest in that treatment, that I still consider her a child even if I say otherwise.

Is it worth it to do this? Does it improve our relationship and her love for Islam or does it harm it?

My philosophy is that influences should be countered by influences. It is true that most of the West’s media and publishing contain harmful influences.The right way to counter this is to expose my children to good influences, such as from Islamic books and TV shows like the beautiful series The Companions of the Cave, instead of following the futile strategy of forbidding them from all potentially harmful influences, which would cause them to feel restricted and belittled, and which would reduce their love for their family and for Islam. As long as my children practice the core of Islam with understanding, this by itself is a strong influence helping them counter bad influences. And this understanding can only come from being educated in Islam, learning about the purposes of the acts of worship, the meanings of the verses of the Quran they recite, and biographies of the great Muslims of history.

Out of the fear of God, if a reader starts to feel sexually aroused by a sexual scene in a book, they can skip it. What is sinful is intentionally seeking sexual pleasure outside of marriage, and a person can use an Islamic book or non-Islamic book for this purpose if they want, and they can do it even without a book using their imagination. This is a small matter between a person and God, and it is not sufficient justification for forbidding someone from reading a book.

Films are a different matter, because it is impossible to watch a sex scene without becoming aroused by it, especially when the watcher is a young and healthy person. Since a person who fears God can never be sure that God approves of this, they will not engage in it. Parents should make sure that no one under their roof, child or adult, watches sex scenes under their roof, as a matter of maintaining Islamic standards. They, however, should not make a big deal out of this, keeping an authoritarian watch over everyone’s activities. They should put it in its proper context, which is that compared to the important matters of Islamic belief and practice, it is a relatively unimportant matter and no one should be condemned and harassed for it, the same way that if a man sees his son admiring an attractive woman on the street, instead of beating him up or shouting at him, he should gently tell him it is not polite to do that, and that should be the end of it, he should immediately go back to treating him like normal, with love and kindness. The son is treated like an equal, with dignity and respect, not like a piece of property to be beaten into shape.

Summary

In summary, what we allow our children to engage in should be decided based on their best interests. An important part of their interests is to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be given freedom instead of being made to feel oppressed and controlled. Another part of their interests is to ensure that they are not given so much freedom that they develop sinful habits and engage in them without restriction. Good Muslim parents will find a balance between these two concerns, neither being too strict nor too lax, but being strict in the Islamic matters of priority and liberal in everything else, while also ensuring that many good influences are available to counter bad influences, including Islamic books and TV shows.

Adolescents have the right to sex education. There is no conflict between Islam and learning about sex. And just because a book contains mentions of sex is not sufficient reason to forbid adolescents from reading it. Any book we think we can read ourselves, they too should be allowed to read. We should not approve of their reading erotic books or watching sex scenes in films. But we should also not turn these into a great matter of concern. We should instead treat it the same way we treat a son admiring an attractive woman, with politeness and gentleness, without condemnation, respecting them as our friends and equals.

Adolescents have poor impulse control due to a not-fully-developed prefrontal cortex. This means that even if they love Islam and want to follow it, they are more likely to fall into sinful behaviors without parental guidance. They should not be allowed to spend long periods of time in privacy, and they should not be allowed to have private access to the internet or television. They should be treated like good friends who are more likely to engage in minor sins if they are not watched, they should not be held to the same standards as older adults, and if they make mistakes, they should be quickly forgiven and not condemned, acknowledging that they are good people who do not have very good impulse control at the moment, but who will one day have it.

Follow-up Question

So if the child reads a book and the book contains just one scene of sex and there is some love triangles in the book, she can read it, right?

The general rule is that anything you can read, she can read too. As long as her life is filled with good influences, one book is a minor influence and of little concern. It will become a cause for concern if someone constantly seeks that type of book to the exclusion of other books. But if a person reads such books because they are famous or classics, then there is no issue with it.

It is about intentions. A person can peruse a medical textbook with the intention of learning. Another person can peruse it for the pictures of naked people it contains. Since adolescents have low impulse control, you cannot just let them read every romance novel they want, since it can become a habit like it becomes in some people in the West, who use romantic novels as a more refined alternative to pornography. The sexual arousal that comes from reading such books can make a person want to seek more of it.

But if I have a large library and some of the novels are romance novels, and the child likes to read every type of novel, then I will not prevent them from reading what they like. The context and the child’s reading habits matter.

The most important point is that, as a matter of maintaining Islamic manners, no one in the household should make it a habit to seek sexual arousal and pleasure in a non-marriage context. Your son should not be allowed to watch erotic music videos and your daughter should not be allowed to read books designed to be read for their erotic content. But a parent who harasses them by trying to control everything they can see and read is going to do more harm than good.

For the child’s own spiritual good, they should be given enough freedom of choice and privacy not to feel oppressed and controlled, but not so much that they develop sinful habits.

What to do if you make a mistake during salah (formal prayer)?

What would one do if they make a mistake during salah. For example I think I forgot to read a surah so I stopped praying and started my salah again. I know you're not meant to stop but I though my prayer would be invalid, have I committed a sin by doing that?

Will one’s prayers be valid if they unknowingly make an error in them for a long period of time?

In the first rakah of fajr I have been saying the tashahhud and for the 2nd rakah. I didn't realise this mistake and now know it's only meant to be said in the 2nd. Will my prayers still be valid as I'm fairly new to praying

According to Ibn Qudamah (12th century CE Hanbali jurist) doing something additional in the prayer that is part of the prayer (such as tashahhud) does not nullify it if it is not intentional, but only requires that one perform two extra prostrations at the end of the prayer to make up for the mistake. These extra prostrations are known as sajdat al-sahwu, and they are considered voluntary, rather than obligatory, by the Shafi`ite and Malikite schools.

From these it appears that your prayers are valid and that there might be nothing more you should do, unless you follow a different school of thought. But I recommend that you ask your local imam, since I couldn’t find any rulings that apply exactly to your situation (adding something extra to a prayer and repeating this mistake long-term).

How long can you delay the isha prayer?

When does maghrib and isha prayer become qaza? and when should they be prayed when missed

Maghrib’s time is until the Isha athan. There is difference regarding when the time for Isha ends. The four schools recommend that it should be prayed in the first third of the night (with “night” defined as the time between the isha athan and the fajr athan), but that the prayer is not missed as long as it is prayed before the fajr athan, while others (like Ibn Baaz) say that it is sinful to delay it beyond the middle of the night.

A missed prayer should be performed as soon as one is able, it is considered highly sinful to delay performing a missed prayer when one is able to do it.

Raising and lowering the finger during salah (formal prayer)

I want to ask about when should you raise your finger during salah and when should it be lowered?

The Hanafi method is to lift the index finger when you reach “la ilaha” during tashahhud and to lower it once one reaches “illallah”.

The Shafi`i method is to lift it when one reaches “illallah” until the end of the tashahhud (until one finishes saying “rasulullah”).

The Hanbali method is to lift the finger then lower it again every time the word “Allah” is mentioned (thus doing it twice, ashhadu an la ilaha illallah wa ashahu anna muhammadan rasul allah) (al-Albani recommends this method too and says this has the most evidence behind it).

These three methods are the most common. From what I have read, none of these three schools recommend moving the finger repeatedly, one only lifts it then lowers it.

The Maliki method is to move the finger left and right (not up and down) repeatedly from the beginning of the tashahhud to its end. Some Malikis however say to lift it up and down.

How soon are the sunnah prayers performed after the fard prayers?

I have a question regarding sunnah prayers. How are they preformed? For example, maghrib you pray 3 fard do you then stand up straight away and pray the two rakat or are you meant to wait?

You do not need to perform the sunnah prayer immediately after the fard prayer. Each fard prayer can be followed by voluntary dhikr, and this is recommended to be performed before the sunnah prayer.

The most recommended form of dhikr is to say subhanAllah 33 times, alhamdulillah 33 times, and allahu akbar 33 times after every fard prayer.

As for supplication, it is recommended to be performed during the final sujood, and it can also be performed before the end of the prayer (before you say salam). One can also perform supplication after the prayer, although some modern Saudi scholars discourage lifting the hands up in supplication after the fard prayers, saying it is a bid`ah (”innovation”), while Ibn Baaz (a Saudi scholar) says it is permitted but not recommended. To be safe from criticism, it is best to not do this form of supplication until after the sunnah prayer.

It is recommended that you do not speak to anyone or do anything non-worship-related between the two prayers.

How to increase iman (piety and mindfulness of God)

Can a Muslim woman have male friends? The Islamic view of having friends of the opposite sex

Salam. I have a question over boy friends? Is it okay to have friends who are boys and you know that they won't do anything with you or take your guys friendship over the line? Or should we Muslim girls have no friends who are boys?

What is permissible for a Muslim woman to wear in front of her husband, and what are they allowed to do in private?

I have a question over husbands. What can you wear or do with your husband in private? What is allowed in Islam?

The rule regarding both clothing and sexual enjoyment is that everything is allowed unless it is specifically forbidden.

She can wear anything and nothing. Spouses are permitted to see each other naked.

Women are strongly discouraged from wearing male clothing, that’s the only important limitation I can think of regarding what she can wear in front of her husband.

As for what they can do, they can do all that’s customarily done between a husband and wife throughout the world, except for three things: Anal sex, sex when the woman is menstruating, and anything that causes harm to either person.

Sources: Dr. Khalid Abdul Mun`im al-Rifa`i (Azhar-educated scholar), UAE Fatwa Authority, Dr. Muhammad Sa`eed Ramadan al-Buti (Syrian Islamic studies professor).

What is permissible for a Muslim woman to wear in front of her father, other close male relatives, and other women?

Why do different Muslims (such as Hanafis) follow different prayer timings?

I have a confusion brother ! Please clear my mind of it. Im born in a hanafi family. Living in dubai, i see different kind of muslims praying differently, which gets me so confused that i think iam on the wrong way . Just wanna ask u why these hanafi shaifee hanbali and all others firqa's were not in the time of Prophet (pbuh) and the sahabas?? Why do we even have these

A hundred years after the Prophet’s death , the number of narrations claiming to be from him multiplied, going from a few thousand to close to a hundred thousand. At this time, Imam Malik started the process of verifying the authenticity of narrations claiming to be from the Prophet and created his collection al-Muwatta’. The Persian scholars Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah continued this work.

What we are left with are tens of thousands of narrations. Unlike the Quran, these narrations always contain an element of doubt, they are not guaranteed to be true, especially since we have “authentic” narrations the clearly contradict one another.

The times of the prayers is one of those matters where authentic narrations exist supporting different opinions, that is, different timings for the asr and isha’ prayers. Which timings one goes with depends on which narrations they prefer over the rest.

We believe that God could have made all matters, like prayer times, perfectly clear to us, but He didn’t out of His wisdom, as tests and lessons. The most important matters in Islam are all clarified in the Quran and well-established narrations. What remains are technical details that do not deserve fussing over. Staying united as a community is a Quranic principle, while the differences in prayer timings are matters of technical detail within hadith narrations, so the Quranic principle takes precedence. It is best to pray with the rest of the community instead of separating oneself, as long as the community is not doing something entirely unsupported by evidence.

When living in a cosmopolitan place like Dubai with many different Islamic groups living there, at home you could continue praying according to the Hanafi school. The Hanafi timings are compatible with mainstream timings, so anyone can pray at the Hanafi times without issue.

The difference is that Hanafis reject the mainstream timings, saying they are too early for asr and isha’, so that they refuse to pray at a mosque that performs these two prayers too early in their opinion. This means that you would only have an issue if you wanted to pray asr or isha’ at the mosque and the mosque holds these prayers too early.

Large mosques sometimes hold the same prayer multiple times as different groups of people arrive, so if the first time it is too early, you could pray with a second group. And sometimes while the athan is early, the iqama time is late, so that the prayer is actually held at a time that fits Hanafi opinions.

How to make up multiple missed prayers (salah)

Can you please explain Qaza Namaz? And when it can be read. For example today I missed asr, magrib and Isha so when would I be able to make them up?

You should make them up as soon as you are able, and perform them in the order they would have been performed normally (asr, then maghrib, then isha). The majority opinion is that it is obligatory to pray missed prayers in order, while Imam al-Shafi`ee considers it recommended.

Imam Malik and Abu Hanifah are of the opinion that if more than five prayers are missed, then it is not necessary to pray them in order.

Origin of Darood Sharif

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Is Darood Sharief the word of Allah (swt) or words of Propphet Mohammed (saw) or someone else?

On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims

You don't have to answer this because its a very complex question but do you think you can be Muslim and gay? And how should we as Muslims feel about gays? How shall we treat them? How do you reconcile Islam (in the sense it is a religion that discourages/disagrees with homosexuality) with homosexuality? Is there even anything to reconcile? How should Islam (or I guess Muslims) move about in this world that supports homosexuality? Is there a compromise that can be made in such a pluralistic world?

There is nothing wrong with having homosexual feelings, the same way there is nothing wrong with a man having sexual attraction toward another man’s wife. The attraction exists, what Islam forbids is acting upon it.

We can speculate about the reason why God forbids these things, for example it appears that any society that approves of sex outside of marriage and homosexuality quickly dies out due to low fertility rates. There isn’t a single civilization on Earth today that has tolerated homosexuality for centuries on end and survived.

I don’t doubt that some people can have highly fulfilling homosexual relationships, the same way that people can have highly fulfilling relationships outside of marriage. What matters is that God considers these harmful, and so He forbids them.

We do not need to be convinced of the harms of these things to avoid them. God forbids that we eat bacon, although by all accounts it is an extremely tasty thing to eat. We do not need to be convinced that bacon is bad for our health, God forbids it, therefore we avoid it. God forbids that we eat during the daytime in Ramadan, even though the food and water in the Ramadan daytime are just as nourishing as they are at night. The food and drink don’t turn into poison during the day, yet God forbids that we consume them.

The Quran gives a certain structure to our lives that we have to implement, even if we do not fully appreciate the wisdom behind it. The matter all boils down to the Quran, one reads it, becomes convinced that it is truly from the Creator, and decides of their own free will to follow it, which means they will follow all of it, including the parts of it that they do not fully understand, because, since they are convinced that it is from the Creator, they trust Him to know what is best for them.

Part of the structure that the Quran gives to our lives is to not have sex outside of marriage, and to not engage in homosexual relationships, despite whatever fulfillment that exists in these things. As God’s lowly servants, we can only say “We hear and we obey.” (The Quran, verse 24:51).

Reconciling Islam with homosexuality is similar to reconciling Islam with the desires of a man who is not satisfied with having sex within marriage only but constantly desires other women. While there might be scientific reasons for their desires, and while carrying out their desires might give them extreme fulfillment, Islam requires that they do not act on their desires for the greater good, therefore there can be no reconciliation.

A person who has homosexual desires might wonder, “What is so wrong with desiring a person of the same sex? We don’t mean harm to anyone, and our relationship is consensual.” What’s wrong with it is that it goes against the structure that God wants to give to our lives. It is similar to eating in the daytime during Ramadan. You can do it without meaning harm to anyone, and it can give you pleasure, but it goes against the rules that God has placed.

If one thinks God’s rules are silly and not worth following, then this is not about homosexuality, it is about their not believing in the Quran. And if they believe in the Quran but feel that it is unjustly discriminating against them, this is similar to a person feeling it is unjustly discriminating against their desire for alcohol, or for sex outside of marriage. It might feel unjust and oppressive, but it is for the greater good.

If a person feels that giving up the fulfillment of a homosexual relationship for the greater good is not worth it, then they are choosing the present life at the expense of the hereafter. Millions of people have taken this choice in various ways, choosing fulfillment in the present life instead of being content with God’s commandments, to their ultimate loss.

Homosexuality is just another condition that prevents a Muslim from having satisfactory intimate relationships. There are thousands of such conditions, and there is nothing special about homosexuality that makes one deserve to break God’s laws so that one can attain fulfillment.

A Muslim engaging in homosexual sex saying there is no other way for them to receive fulfillment is like a poor Muslim man of 60 who really desires women but who has never had sex saying that he deserves to sleep with a prostitute in order to receive fulfillment, since God has prevented him from getting fulfillment the acceptable way, or like a crippled Muslim woman who thinks she can never get married saying that she is allowed to get sex outside of marriage since there is no other way for her.

There are many people living with horrible conditions that prevent them from enjoying life and cause them great suffering, or that prevent them from ever having intimate relationships. Being homosexual and not being able to enjoy heterosexual relationships is just one of those thousands of conditions. Many Muslims patiently suffer through such conditions, and they do not justify breaking God’s laws in order to attain fulfillment.

Millions of Muslim men and women desire marriage but live their lives without enjoying an intimate relationship even once because they are too poor or too unattractive to marry, or they are attractive but there is no one they can marry, and in this way they get old and die without marrying.

For a homosexual Muslim, the matter is entirely between themselves and God. They should read the Quran and use their conscience to decide the best course of action, and they should reject the 24/7 propaganda in the West that constantly tells them they should act on their desires.

As for dealing with a Muslim who has homosexual desires but who does not act on them, then they should be treated like any other Muslim, since they haven’t broken any Islamic laws.

And as for dealing with Muslims who do engage in homosexual acts, they should be dealt with like other sinners, for example those who engage in heterosexual sex outside of marriage, or those who drink alcohol. We should treat them in public with politeness like we treat all people. If we have a close friend who is a sinner, we can admonish them with kind words if they are close enough to not be offended by our words. As for distant friends and acquaintances; we will not cause a Muslim alcoholic to suddenly come back to the Straight Path by calling them sinners or sending them articles about how people like them will go to hell. In such cases, it is best to avoid them, or if we have to interact with them, to be as polite and generous as we always are.

If such a person seeks our friendship or help, we should not reject them automatically. The Prophet, , says: “For God to guide another person through you is greater in worth than red camels.” Red camels were considered the most valuable commodity in Arabia at that time. (Bukhari and Muslim)

But he also says: “The similitude of good company and that of bad company is that of the owner of musk and of the one blowing the bellows. The owner of musk would either offer you some free of charge, or you would buy it from him, or you smell its pleasant fragrance; and as for the one who blows the bellows (i.e., the blacksmith), he either burns your clothes or you smell a repugnant smell.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Associating with any type of sinner can be good for both of you; they may be encouraged to become better people, and you could earn the rewards of being a cause for them to come back to the Straight Path. But it could also be harmful for both of you, in that you could become involved with their sin, and in this way both of you could earn punishment, you for falling into sin, and they for being a cause for it. What one should do is not a clear matter, it is a conscience call, and one should decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no single rule that fits all cases.

To reiterate regarding your main question (whether there is something to reconcile), there isn’t. Homosexual sex is like sex outside of marriage, drinking alcohol or engaging in usury. There is nothing to reconcile. Regardless of how common it is, or the billions of dollars that leftist billionaires spend promoting it, we must judge things according to how God judges them, even if this makes us unfashionable. Fashions come and go, but God’s words remain the same. Today it is fashionable to legally steal money from the poor through usury, and every rich celebrity engages in it by “investing” their money into various financial institutions that lend money at usury. Just because fashionable people do this does not mean we should follow their example or approve of it or try to reconcile Islam with their desires. They may all have a mental condition that makes them really like stealing money from the poor. Islam, however, asks them to not carry out their desires for the greater good even if what they do is perfectly acceptable according to today’s fashions.

200 years ago in the West usurers were treated like the most disgusting wretches of society by Christians. Today almost every single Christian engages in usury through mortgages and various investments, and even the Vatican lends money at usury through the Vatican Bank. Have they gained anything by this other than God’s wrath and the hollowing out and demise of their culture and civilization?

Question:

I'm not Muslim but I've been looking into the religion lately. I'm just wondering why don't Muslims stand up for the ways LGBT are treated in Muslim countries? I understand that the Koran is against homosexual acts but I don't understand why they are OK with gays and lesbians being alienated, beaten and killed in Muslim countries. It scares me that Muslims have so much hatred for them. If I can understand this part then maybe I can understand the rest of the religion.

It first be noted that Islam is not forced upon people. People are free to embrace it or leave it as they see fit. Classical Islam ignores this right and considers leaving Islam a punishable offense, which is against the Quran.

Ideally, Islamic law is enacted by democratic choose. If the majority of the people in a state are Muslim, they can elect to have Islamic law as the basis of their legal system. While if Muslims are a minority and are not in charge of the country, as in the West, then they do not have the right to use force to make others follow Islam, therefore they must either tolerate what the law allows or leave the country. They can take part in the democratic process, like the various different religious and political groups in the United States do, in order to affect the legal system.

In Islamic law, engaging in homosexual acts is a punishable crime, meaning that a Muslim majority country can use the democratic process to enact a law that punishes homosexual acts.

Punishing sexual acts is something that is done throughout the world, but different countries have different ideas about what is acceptable. In the United States, for example, pedophilia is punishable by law and the police is allowed to use extreme violence against people wanting to engage in it, or to even watch videos of people engaging in it. The reason for this is that the people of the United States agree that pedophilia is harmful to the child involved and to the rest of society. Regardless of how much fulfillment pedophilia brings to a pedophile, they are required to keep themselves in check and to neither engage in it, or even watch videos of others engaging in it. They are required to stay put and act as if they are not pedophiles, for the sake of society’s greater good.

Homosexual acts are of course not like the acts of pedophiles, since it involves consenting adults. So why would a society punish consenting adults for doing what brings them fulfillment and which seemingly harms no one?

The reason is that, according to the Islamic view, tolerating homosexuality has long-term harms to society. Even if in the short-term it brings great fulfillment to the people involved, in the long-term, thinking in terms of generations and centuries, it brings great harm. A plague is still a plague whether it takes one year to cause a civilization to go extinct, or whether it takes two centuries.

There isn’t a single civilization existing today that has tolerated homosexuality for multiple centuries and survived. The civilization always experiences declining fertility rates and either collapses, is conquered, or its entire population is slowly replaced by a section of its population that does not tolerate homosexuality.

The harms of homosexuality are similar to the harms of usury (the charging of interest). You can get a credit card, a mortgage and invest in bonds without seemingly doing any harm to anyone, and without suffering harm. But on a macro level (looking at the entire economy), usury always leads to exponentially increasing wealth inequality, a soulless corporate economy that is controlled by the banks, a corrupt corporate media that is fully in bed with the banks and the political elite, and a defense-military-intelligence complex that constantly seeks to get into new wars, because new wars require the issuance of bonds, and the super-rich earn hundreds of billions of dollars every single year on their bond investments, so the more bonds, the better, and if they get the country into a war that costs trillions, that means tens of billions of extra annual interest income for them.

Islam, since it is a religion from God, takes society’s long-term interest into account, its interest over generations and centuries, and for this reason it requires them to avoid short-term fulfillment (sex outside of marriage, credit cards, cars bought on loan) for the sake of the long-term good of themselves and their civilization.

You can argue that since homosexuality is between consenting adults, it is unlikely to do any short-term or long-term harm to society. But you do not know that. Every society on earth that tolerates homosexuality has a below-replacement fertility rate as far as I know, and this means that the society is slowly, but surely, going extinct. Since this process takes many generations, most people couldn’t care less about it. But Islam cares, because Islam has a very-long-term view, it is a religion that thinks in terms of generations and centuries.

For these same reasons, Islam forbids sex outside of marriage, even though it is perfectly natural for people to have sexual desire toward each other and want to be intimate.

The central mission of Islam is to follow the Straight Path, and the Straight Path is made up of two things:

  • Ensuring humanity’s long-term survival
  • Preserving humanity’s short-term moral integrity (never justifying evil for utilitarian purposes)

So a society of intelligent and devout Muslims living on an isolated planet have both of these things assured. Their civilization will not die out like so many other civilizations do. And their civilization never justifies evil (such as killing innocent people when there is something to be gained by it, like the CIA and every intelligence organization in the world does) for the sake of some gain. Even if doing an evil act will ensure great gain for the civilization (such as the US funding various terrorist groups because it advances its geopolitical goals), the civilization instead chooses to lose out on that opportunity, because to it, its mortal integrity is more important than material gain.

Islam’s punishment for all sex outside of marriage is flogging, and this includes homosexual acts. Homosexual acts are just a subcategory of “sex outside of marriage”.

As for killing homosexuals, it is similar to killing adulterers, both of which are against Quranic law, although most classical Islamic scholars support both of them, because they ignore the Quran in favor of less reliable historical texts (hadith).

Any punishment homosexuals receive should be after due process. There is no such thing in Islam as individuals taking the law into their own hands. This is similar to honor killings, which in Islam would be considered murder, but which is carried out in the Middle East and Southeast Asia by many cultures, Muslim and non-Muslim. Classical Islamic scholars have been party to this crime (of killing people without due process) by being silent about it, and by accepting the corruption of the Quran’s place as Islam’s central authority, preferring less reliable hadith narrations over its principles and teachings.

As I mentioned in the earlier part of this essay, a homosexual who doesn’t engage in homosexual acts is not a sinner and Islamic law has nothing against them they are similar to anyone else wanting to have sex outside of marriage but not doing it.

The reason that in Muslim countries few people stand up for the “rights” of homosexuals is the same reason that few people in the United States stand up for the “rights” of pedophiles. Homosexuality is taboo and practicing it is forbidden and considered harmful in Muslim countries. Pedophilia is taboo and practicing it is forbidden and considered harmful in the United States.

Very few people in the United States stand up for the “rights” of pedophiles, even if it is a pedophile who has a genetic preference for children and who promises to never touch a child, because standing up for their rights causes one to be associated with them, and very few people want that. In the same way, in Muslim countries standing up for the “rights” of homosexuals is similarly taboo and few people want to be associated with it.

As the world progresses, Muslim countries will hopefully adopt the Quranic attitude toward homosexuality, which is that there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is not acted upon, and that if acted upon and proven after due process, the punishment is not execution but the Quranic punishment of 100 lashes.

As for what “hope” there might be for homosexual rights in Muslim-majority countries, it is similar to what “hope” there is for pedophiles in the United States. They are required to stay put and not to engage in their desires for the greater good.

Again, I am aware that homosexuality and pedophilia are extremely different, but it is useful to compare them since both of them involve sexual acts that are violently suppressed by society. While the Western view of “sexual acts that must be violently suppressed” only includes pedophilia and rape, the Islamic view expands this definition to also include sex outside of marriage, which automatically includes all homosexual acts.

A homosexual is treated with hatred in Muslim countries for the same reason that a pedophile is treated with hatred in the United States. Both of them threaten to do harm to society, it is just that the Islamic view takes very-long-term harm into account, while the Western view is short-sighted and only cares about immediate or short-term (single-generation) harm.

What happened to Islamic civilization? Why did Muslims fall behind in science and technology?

I wanted your in depth opinion on a particular observation. Muslims, historically speaking, have been responsible for hundreds and thousands of scientific discoveries. What happened to us? Why are we in the stage we are?

Only 100 years ago, which is just a little more than one human lifetime, the Ottoman Empire was a sovereign Muslim nation that could stand up to any Western power. No Jewish colonizer would have dared to terrorize and massacre Palestinians when the Ottoman Empire was there to protect its citizens.

While many Muslims, including scholars, think that Muslims were always powerful, capable and thriving throughout history until modern times, this is mostly a romantic fairy tale told to console and encourage.

The Crusaders were able to take Jerusalem and other parts of the Levant from the Muslims in 1099 CE and ruled it for nearly 100 years. Where were the great Muslim powers in this time that they couldn’t take it back? The Middle East was a mix of weak and fractured “Muslim” powers, who were only Muslim in name but in general acted like any modern power, using religion to justify their actions while being under the influence and sometimes control of foreign non-Muslim powers.

The current weakness and powerlessness of Muslims is similar to their state during the Mongol invasions. Some Muslims thought the end of the world had arrived, thinking the Mongols were the promised Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj (Gog and Magog) mentioned in the Quran. The Mongols utterly destroyed the Sunni Muslim Khwarezmian Empire which controlled nearly all of Modern Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and parts of Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, and which had existed for 150 years, through the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children. After that, they went on to destroy Baghdad and Damascus, although the Abbasid Empire had been in decline for centuries before the Mongols arrived.

On the other side of the Medieval world, Muslims ruled nearly half of Spain for nearly 800 years, until 1492 CE (which is also the year the Americas were discovered). Just as they threw Muslims out of Spain, Christians went on to conquer two continents, spread Christian rule all over them, and eventually built the world’s most powerful nation there.

The Myth of Continuous Power Increase

There is a myth among Muslims that since they belong to God’s chosen religion, they should have been able to establish a globally dominant power that ruled the world forever. But God doesn’t promise us that. He promises that we will be tested:

You will be tested through your possessions and your persons; and you will hear from those who received the Scripture before you, and from the idol worshipers, much abuse. But if you persevere and lead a righteous life—that indeed is a mark of great determination.1

God also threatens us with His ability to remove us from power and replace us with others if we do not follow His guidance:

131. To God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. We have instructed those who were given the Book before you, and you, to be conscious of God. But if you refuse—to God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. God is in no need, Praiseworthy.

132. To God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. God suffices as Manager.

133. If He wills, He can do away with you, O people, and bring others. God is Able to do that. 2

Verse 131 above mention’s God’s warning to the People of the Book. The Old Testament contains many promises by God that if His people disobey, He will abandon them to whatever that may happen to them, and that He will make others dominant over them. In the Book of Deuteronomy (part of the Old Testament, and part of the Torah), prophet Musa (Moses) says:

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger:

26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.3

The Quran, too, mentions prophet Musa saying similar things:

6. Moses said to his people, “Remember God’s blessings upon you, as He delivered you from the people of Pharaoh, who inflicted on you terrible suffering, slaughtering your sons while sparing your daughters. In that was a serious trial from your Lord.”

7. And when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks, I will grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”

8. And Moses said, “Even if you are ungrateful, together with everyone on earth—God is in no need, Worthy of Praise.” 4

Our relationship with God is not one where He constantly supports us just because we say we are His nation, unlike some Muslims and many Jews think. Here is the Jewish feminist author Naomi Wolf expressing her surprise at finding out (by reading the Hebrew Bible) that unlike what many Jews think, God does not promise them never-ending support just because they are “His chosen people”:

He never says: "I will give you, ethnic Israelites, the land of Israel." Rather He says something far more radical - far more subversive -- far more Godlike in my view. He says: IF you visit those imprisoned...act mercifully to the widow and the orphan...welcome the stranger in your midst...tend the sick...do justice and love mercy ....and perform various other tasks...THEN YOU WILL BE MY PEOPLE AND THIS LAND WILL BE YOUR LAND. So "my people" is not ethnic -- it is transactional. We are God's people not by birth but by a way of behaving, that is ethical, kind and just. And we STOP being "God's people" when we are not ethical, kind and just.5

She is not quite correct when she says “my people” is not ethnic. Jews are God’s chosen, but being chosen does not necessarily mean one is chosen for a good thing. Jews are God’s chosen in that He gave them many scriptures and throughout the centuries continuously sent them new prophets to guide them back to the Straight Path. He chose them for a specific test. Their being chosen is not just a privilege, it is both a privilege and a heavy burden. If they reject God despite being chosen, God sends the most terrible punishments on them, like He has done many times throughout history. Many Jews forget the burden and choose to enjoy the privilege of thinking of themselves as God’s chosen elite.

Our relationship with God is contractual. If we obey, He supports us. If we disobey, He stops supporting us and subjects us to unfriendly powers.

The story of the Jews is a good lesson for us. Many times in their history they were extremely powerful. After they left Egypt, they entered Canaan around 1446 BCE. They disobeyed God when they were about to overtake a city and live in it, so God punished them by having them wander in the desert for 40 years. They finally entered Canaan in 1406 BCE and completely conquered it by 1399 BCE. Once they become a sovereign power, they soon start to do evil, abandoning God, worshiping Baal or the Calf, practicing usury or allying themselves with irreligious foreign powers like Egypt. For this reason, as they rejected and sometimes even killed their prophets, every few generations God would send a powerful foreign power to destroy many of their cities and slaughter many of their people.

When they continued to reject God, He sent Babylon to conquer their lands and sent them into exile for 70 years. After that the Persian emperor, whose empire had conquered Babylon, allowed the Jews to return to their lands and reestablish themselves there. Their story continued the same as before, with them doing evil and being punished for it. In 70 AD, a few decades after they rejected Jesus and tried to kill him, they tried to escape the rule of the Roman empire. In return they had their city of Jerusalem utterly destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Jews killed.

The Arch of Titus, which commemorates the Roman victory over the Jews, among other things, still stands in Rome.

Titus, the Roman commander who was in charge of the Roman victory over the Jews, is supposed to have refused to wear a wreath after the victory, saying that he was only acting as a tool of God’s wrath over the Jews. Perhaps this was God’s punishment on them for their rejecting God’s prophet Jesus.

In Jewish history there is an important historical lesson; that just because a nation associates itself with God and claims to be His people does not mean they will always have God’s support.

Muslim nations have had a history similar to that of the Jews. Many powerful Muslim states have risen and fallen throughout history, and this process is not going to end. If we establish a caliphate like some Muslims dream about, and even if it rules the world for 1000 years, if most of the population abandons Islamic values and Islam becomes largely culture and tradition and not faith, then that caliphate too will fail. God will enable another Mongol invasion, or another invasion by the British and the French, to come and divide their caliphate and do with it as they please.

Christianity’s Place in Islamic History

Just as Islam faded in the Middle East and became little more than cultural tradition and ceremony, Christianity rose in the West. The Christians who conquered the Americas thought they were doing it for God’s sake. They read the Bible daily, they established Biblical law in their colonies, and they braved many dangers in order to establish families, villages and cities in empty and hostile lands.

God’s promise in the Quran came true for them for their deeds:

65. Had the People of the Scripture believed and been righteous, We would have remitted their sins, and admitted them into the Gardens of Bliss.

66. Had they observed/enforced the Torah, and the Gospel, and what was revealed to them from their Lord, they would have consumed amply from above them, and from beneath their feet. Among them is a moderate community, but evil is what many of them are doing.6

While it is common for many Muslims to think of Christians as nothing but heathens who should magically disappear now that Islam has come, Christians are as much God’s people as Muslims are, that is, they too have a contract with God, and if they uphold their contract with God, God will uphold His contract with them. If a Christian nation is more faithful, more eager to serve God, and more observant of God’s laws, then we shouldn’t be surprised if God gives them His full support.

This was the case in the Americas and much of Western Europe until 1900 CE. With all of the corruption present, the average person’s actions and thinking were still largely controlled by Christian ideals.

Today, things are different. The West has finally abandoned the religion that made it great. The only reason the West is great today is the momentum of the past. A Muslim may lose hope when they look at the United States and see its immense capacity to dominate and do evil throughout the world. But the United States is already past its prime. It is desperately trying to hold onto its past power, constantly threatening Russia, China and Iran, but incapable of doing anything about them as they continue to rise.

The United States has had a below-replacement fertility rate since the 1970’s. If it wasn’t for their continuous importation of immigrants, their population would have been shrinking by now. A decades-long below-replacement fertility rate is all that is needed to illustrate that a nation is failing.

It is a country’s population that gives a nation its economic, technological and military power, and once the population starts to shrink, its power will decrease, because there will be fewer people to innovate, and fewer people to consume the fruits of these innovations and in this way pay for further innovations. Today the United States can afford to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on military spending every year, and it is this spending that enables various military companies to continue innovating. But as the American tax base and economy both shrink, with this its power to spend will shrink. America is on a trajectory to become the next Portugal, once a global superpower, now almost a complete non-entity (unless it continues to import immigrants, but this cannot go on forever).

One illustration of the continuing fall of the United States is that of the world’s top 15 skyscrapers (those higher than 350 meters) finished in the past 3 years, 10 are in China, and only one in the United States. China continues to rise, the United States continues to stagnate and fall. America’s failing economy has no need for new office buildings, hotels and restaurants, since it already has more than its shrinking economy needs.

The answer to the question of why Muslims are so powerless compared to the West these days is that Islamic history ran into Christian history. Christian power was still rising when it clashed with an Ottoman Empire that was already past its prime, so the Ottomans didn’t stand a chance.

Today, Christian powers too are past their prime, and great change is coming.

The United States is unlikely to become a Portugal any time soon, and if Islam continues to spread, it might change into a new type of superpower without becoming irrelevant.

It should be noted that while China’s rise will probably be a good thing in the short-term, as its rise to power will probably prevent further significant US excesses for the next few decades, once it is firmly established as the world’s most powerful country, it could start acting like the US, forcing every other country to either become a de facto client state or get turned into a war zone.

The Long View of History

Even if Muslims establish a new global superpower that lasts for hundreds of years, it too can eventually fail and get conquered by non-Muslim powers. Imagine if this world continues to exist for the next 100,000 years. The story of Muslims being powerful then weak then powerful again might play out fifty or a hundred times more.

We humans want safety and security. We want to establish Paradise on Earth once and for all and then go on living in it. But that is not the purpose of this world, and dreams of establishing a Paradise on Earth are naive and futile. We are taught over and over again in the Quran that this world is worthless, that it will soon be over, that none of our deeds done in this world will last. The Quranic character Dhul Qarnain shows his appreciation for God’s message when he says the following right after completing building a structure for God’s sake:

He said, “This is a mercy from my Lord. But when the promise of my Lord comes true, He will turn it into rubble, and the promise of my Lord is always true.”7

For us Muslims, it is always about the journey, not the destination. It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in this world, because nothing we do will last. Everything we think we can accomplish, if God is really all-powerful, God can accomplish it in an instant if He wants. The point is not accomplishment in itself, the point is to follow God. What matters is the record of our deeds. No matter what we build, no matter how much power we have, we could see it all destroyed tomorrow. This has happened over and over again in history, though sadly we continue to fail to learn the lesson.

Why did God let the Mongols destroy Baghdad and Damascus if our purpose was to continue to gain power, wealth and fame in this world? Why did He let the Ottoman Empire, the last truly sovereign Muslim power, be invaded and destroyed? Why did He not allow the Arab powers to defeat Israel during their multiple wars?

Because this world is a test. It is not our purpose to build Paradise on Earth. Our purpose is khilafah, literally “to be stewards”. We are stewards of the earth. Our purpose is to take care of it by enjoining good and admonishing against evil, so that humanity continues, and so that the the earth does not become entirely corrupted.

A steward takes care of a farm until the owner returns, continuing the running of the farm as best as they can. It is the owner’s business what they do with the farm. In the same way, our job in this world is to continue be God’s stewards, God’s agents for good in this world, but it is His business what He does with this world, and whether He gives us power or takes it away from us. All that we can say is, “We hear and we obey.”

We are not seekers after power. The Prophet did not seek power, it was given to him. Neither did any of the righteous Rashidun caliphs. We do not seek to establish global dominance, or to carry out global war. Our job is to be God’s stewards, to walk on the Straight Path.

Being on the Straight Path does not require gaining power, and in fact the seeking of power is directly opposed to it, for the seeking of power always requires that one abandon one’s moral integrity. This is the story of every political party that starts out with high moral ideals only to become a nest of corruption and evil.

It is God who gives us power if we deserve it, and if the time is right, for His own purposes, and as long as it pleases Him, until He takes it away from us. As for us, we must be thankful and content throughout all of this:

No, but worship God, and be among the thankful ones.8

It is God who manages history for us. We are not in charge, God is.

No calamity strikes except by God’s permission. Whoever believes in God, He guides his heart. God is Aware of everything.9

No calamity occurs on earth, or in your souls, but it is in a Book, even before We make it happen. That is easy for God. That you may not sorrow over what eludes you, nor exult over what He has given you. God does not love the proud snob.10

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.11

God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds, that He will make them successors on earth, as He made those before them successors, and He will establish for them their religion—which He has approved for them—and He will substitute security in place of their fear. They worship Me, never associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that—these are the sinners. 12

Our job is to do good wherever we find ourselves, to worship God, to be kind and just, to follow His commandments as best as we can, and it is God who will establish us on Earth when He pleases:

God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds, that He will make them stewards on Earth, as He made those before them stewards, and He will establish for them their religion—which He has approved for them—and He will substitute security in place of their fear. They worship Me, never associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that—these are the sinners.13

We can, of course, be political activists and social critics. We can constantly work toward social justice and the lifting of poverty. But instead of doing these by seeking power first, we do them without seeking power. We do what is right and just and kind toward everyone, and God, if He wishes, can give us power any time He wants.

Ibn al-Jawzi says in his Sayd al-Khaatir (“Quarry of the Mind”):

I reflected upon the envy that exists among scholars, and saw that its source is the love of the worldly life, because the scholars of the afterlife engage in love and do not envy others. What separates the two groups is that the scholars of the worldly life seek power and leadership in it, and they love to accumulate wealth and praise, while the scholars of the afterlife live in seclusion from these things, they fear them and have mercy toward those who are being tested by them.

Truly good and kind people, who fear God and take the afterlife seriously, do not seek power in my experience. Sometimes the right situation arises for a good person to rise and become powerful, as it happened with Saladin. Saladin wasn’t a revolutionary who grabbed power or a politician. He became powerful as part of his job as a military commander, and one thing led to another until he became a powerful ruler.

The writer Frank Herbert says the following in Chapterhouse: Dune, and I find them true from all that I have seen:

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological
personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the
corruptible.

Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect all who seek it.

Scientific vs. Divine Explanations for Islam’s Decline: Islam, Christianity and Indo-European Genes

A mistake many people make, both religious and irreligious, is that when they discover a scientific explanation for something, they start to think that it means that thing is not from God. But it is a principle of God that He will never allow us to have direct evidence of His existence, therefore when God does something, it is always through scientific means, or He makes it appear to be that way. God will not carry out miracles that can be recorded and published on YouTube. The only time that we will have direct proof of the existence of God and the rest of the Unseen is at the end of the world. When the pagans requested that they see an angel before they believe in God, God’s reply was this:

Had We sent down an angel, the matter would have been settled, and they would not have been reprieved.14

If we ever had direct evidence of God’s existence, then there would be no need for faith in God. God does not want that to happen, therefore everything that happens to us must have logical scientific explanations. We can examine Islamic history to find out where things went wrong. But even if we discover every single cause and try to cure it, our success is not guaranteed.

The divine reason for the fall of Muslims is that they abandoned Islam in their hearts, while the scientific reason might be the demographic collapse of the Persian population after the endless flood of Turkic and Mongol attacks that devastated the great Persian-speaking cities of Central Asia (over 90% of Islam’s greatest scholars, thinkers and scientists came from these cities). The divine reasons precede the scientific reasons. If we disobey God, God will bring about logical and scientifically-explainable reasons for our destruction. And if we obey God, and carry out our stewardship in the best manner possible, God will inspire us toward whatever will give us success and power in this world.

Conclusion

As Muslims, our goal in life is not to acquire power, glory or supremacy in this world. Our goal is not to establish Paradise on Earth. We can appreciate technological and scientific accomplishments, and we can work toward them as part of our stewardship on Earth, but we must never lose sight of the fact that ultimately, everything we do is meant to serve God, and that a day will come when all of our worldly works will be destroyed as if they never existed.

In this world, we are stewards of a temporary farm, a farm whose Owner has promised to destroy in the end. We must never get attached to this farm, or seek its improvement or power over it as a goal in itself. We must never get attached to the idea of establishing a global power. Even if we establish one, it too can come and go like every other Muslim power in history. History will continue going in cycles, Muslims will rise to power, fall, and rise again. The only people who achieve success are those who fear God and serve Him in the best way possible. It is only the record of our deeds which lasts forever, everything else is temporary.

If Muslims are weak today, look again in 500 years, and they may be the strongest and most technologically advanced power on Earth. Look again in 1500 years, and they may again be weak,  oppressed and backward. It is God who gives and God who takes. If we are thankful and obedient, He will increase us and improve our station in life, and if we are ungrateful, He can always take it all away from us and subjugate us to others.

Note that I am not saying that Muslims should turn their backs on science and progress. I love science and technology and eager follow its news, and I look forward to Muslim societies catching up to Western ones. Last year Muslim-majority Malaysia overtook Japan in its scientific research output per capita, as the graph below shows, and that is a very hopeful sign for the growth of scientific knowledge among Muslims:

The graph shows the number of scientific research papers published by each country divided by its citizens in millions. In 2017 Malaysia produced 936 papers per million citizen, while Japan produced 892.

Other Muslim nations are shown tremendous growth in scientific research as well. Egypt today produces five times more scientific and scholarly research compared to a mere 15 years ago. Iran is on track to catch up with European countries before 2030. These are things to look forward to, but we should not lose sight of the bigger picture.

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