IslamQA

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

Wiping over socks to avoid frostbite from ablution

Brother, I get frost bite on my toes in winters so I have not been washing my feet while performing ablution since grade 9 (Only In winters). Is my act right or wrong? Also I miss prayers cux of cold weather nowadays so tell me how can I get motivation to offer prayer regularly in winters.

You can do what is known as al-masḥ ʿala al-khuffayn, which is to use your hands to wipe the top parts of your socks during ablution without taking them off. This, however, can only be done if you perform an ordinary ablution, then put on the socks. Afterwards, you can use the bathroom, then when performing ablution again, you can wash your face and hands like normal while keeping your socks on. Instead of taking the socks off, you may simply wipe your hands over the top part of your feet, starting with the toes.

This can only be done for 24 hours, after which the person has to take the socks off and perform an ordinary ablution for the next prayer. In this way, you can perform ablution at home, put your socks on, then keep the socks on all day and only wipe your hand over them when performing ablution.

Now there are differences of opinion on whether the above is permissible or not. According to Shaykh Yusur al-Qaradawi nine Companions of the Prophet said it is permissible, along with numerous Successors, therefore it is a safe option according to him.1

As for having motivation to pray, I recommend reading a regular amount of Quran everyday so that you may feel a closer connection with God. And the best way to do this is to read Quran during tahajjud, as I explain in this essay.

On becoming an Islamic scholar

I'm just wondering since you possess a lot of knowledge on Islam why can't you become an Islamic scholar?

There is no official authority determining who is a scholar (ʿālim) and who is not. You are a scholar when others, especially other scholars, think you are. For now I am a student of Islamic studies, and if I spend multiple hours every day studying Islam for the next ten to fifteen years, then some people may start to consider me a scholar.

In classical Islam, one had to write a taʿlīqa to be considered a true scholar, this was similar to a PhD dissertation. The person had to present in it the results of many years of independent research. According to the (non-Muslim) scholar of Islam George Makdisi, the origin of the PhD dissertation in medieval Western academia was Islam’s taʿlīqa system. Today it is becoming common for Islamic scholars to get PhD degrees, so that is one of the things I hope to be able to do.

Is Saudi Arabia an Islamic country?

Why do you call Islamic countries imaginary? KSA, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia (and many more) are ideal Islamic countries with Sharia court and all.

There are many reasons to doubt the extent to which Islam is followed in so-called Muslim countries. For example, in the Quran, God says that He is at war with usurers (those who charge interest on money). The Saudi government earns billions of dollars every year through usury by lending its oil earnings to the United States government and earning interest on this money. This is interest paid by American taxpayers to the Saudi government. This arrangement is known as the petrodollar system and it is one of the main reasons why the United States can spend trillions of dollars destroying Middle Eastern countries without facing any serious repercussions: the Saudis bankroll the United States’ military, and through only selling their oil for US dollars, they keep the price of the US dollar high, in this way enabling the US government to print hundreds of billions of dollars of money every year and forcing the rest of the world to accept it. (See the scholarly book The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets by David E. Spiro, published by Cornell University Press). Any country that has tried to escape the US-Saudi dollar system has been bombed and destroyed: Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan. Syria was to be next. Iran and Russia are the remaining two countries that are trying to escape the US-Saudi dollar system and if you read the news, you can see that they are high on the US agenda for countries that have to be bombed.

Saudi Arabia follows many of the commandments of the Quran (such as cutting the hands of thieves), while stealing money by the billions of dollars through usury (since usury is legalized stealing as any Islamic economist and classical Christian thinker will tell you).

Saudi Arabia enforces zakat (one of the most important parts of Islamic law) but allows usury (one of the most important prohibitions in Islamic law, banning it in name, allowing it through all kinds of loopholes, and as mentioned, the government itself is one of the world’s biggest usurers). This is like giving charity with one hand while stealing with another. Saudi Arabia is like the example of a rich man who prays at the mosque and gives charity but who is also completely corrupt in his private life. It is true that Saudi Arabia spends billions of dollars on beneficial Islamic projects to convince millions of shallow and uninformed Muslims inside and outside the country that it represents authentic, true Islam.

Yemen does not enforce zakat nor does it ban usury. Its legal system is a mixture of Islamic, Egyptian and Napoleonic.

In general, a country that does not ban usury but cuts the hands of thieves allows the biggest thieves to thrive while only going after the smallest ones. That’s the type of “Islamic government” we have today; it is largely a show designed to appease the uneducated masses.

The Malaysian and Indonesian governments might be the closest in following Islam, but I have not studied them deeply so I cannot speak about them.

What happens if a Muslim girl gets caught with a boyfriend?

If a girl is having a relation with a boy secretly (as a bf and gf) and get caught by her family, then what should be her family's reaction towards her and if she realized her mistake and apologizes with her true heart? Please tell me about both of these situations According to Islamic point of view. Thank you

If we imagine this happening in a middle class Muslim family living in a Western country, then she is forgiven and life goes on like normal, regardless of whether the relationship involved sexual intimacy or not. Islamic law has nothing more to say on this situation beyond the fact that a family should not allow a daughter or son to have casual sexual relationships with others while living under the parents’ roof (it is part of the parents’ duty to prevent such a situation from coming about).

If they were living in an imaginary country where Islamic law is followed in a modern and civilized manner, then when she says she has had a relationship with a man, whether it involved sexual intimacy or not, then again she is forgiven and life goes on like normal, because in Imam Malik’s hadith collection al-Muwaṭṭaʾ the Prophet recommends that people involved with such sins should repent and keep it secret rather than publicizing their sin.1

The only case where should would suffer punishment is if she is living in that imaginary Islamic country and has sexual intimacy with a man in such a public manner that four people see it and go on to report it to the authorities. The Islamic laws punishing sexual misconduct are there to prevent this level of breakdown in sexual morality. In such a case her punishment would be public flogging.

It should be noted that in a modern and civilized Islamic state there would be a constitution that applies to everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, and Islamic law would only apply to Muslims (as is the case in Malaysia). People should also have the right to leave Islam. In such a civilized Islamic state, Islamic law would only apply to people by their own choice, since they have the right to leave Islam. So the Islamic punishment of flogging would be the Muslim community’s internal business. An atheist who does not like this punishment would be free to leave Islam so that Islamic law no longer applies to them. I believe this way the Quranic ideal of not forcing religion on anyone can be achieved, while Islamic law can be followed by those who believe in it and appreciate its internal logic.

However, if were to talk about today’s actual Muslim societies, then the way such a situation is dealt changes greatly from place to place and from one class of society to another. The upper and middle class in most places would act the way I described (letting the matter go). But uneducated and lower class Muslims, who often know very little about Islam, judge things by their cultural norms (rather than religious beliefs), and such people may punish her severely, lock her up or in the worst cases kill her (an act that would be considered murder in a civilized Islamic state). While today it is highly fashionable to blame Islam for this type of killing (an “honor killing”), people who blame Islam for honor killings are merely showcasing their prejudice. Honor killings also happen among India’s Hindus and the Catholic Christians of India and Pakistan, for example. Until recently fathers and husbands in China had the right to kill daughters who were deemed to have dishonored the family.

An issue that complicates the matter is that many traditionalist Muslim scholars today continue to support the Jewish punishment, not found in the Quran, of stoning married adulterers who are caught by four witnesses during the act of copulation. Even though almost no living Muslim today has seen this punishment carried out against anyone (due to the extremely stringent evidence requirements, the fact that silence is encouraged, and the fact that most Muslim countries do not have a legal system that recognizes the punishment), theoretically it could be carried out in some imaginary Muslim land. The highly respected 20th century Egyptian scholar Muḥammad Abū Zahra rejected it based on a number of strong legal and historical arguments (I will write a separate article on his views one day inshaAllah), and the mainstream Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi spoke of Abū Zahra’s opinion as a valid alternative opinion to the traditional one although he himself has not so far declared that he agrees with it personally.

Getting emotional when thinking about God

Whenever I think of Allah I get tears in my eyes. I just always get so emotional without really thinking of anything specific, it’s just like an automatic reflex of my body to react like that. I don’t know what to ask you, I guess I’m just curious about why you would think that happens or just your thoughts on this matter. Thank you.

We all go through periods when we feel more emotional than other times. During such periods when we think about someone we love we can get the type of emotion you described, so this means you have a good relationship with God, which is great. Enjoy it while it lasts. It is however important to keep in mind that we should try to be the Muslims we can be whether are feeling emotional or not, whether we feel a connection with God or not. Life’s conditions changes the way we feel, but this does not change our duties and our relationship with God, so the best believers do what they know to be good and right even when they do not feel particularly spiritual or uplifted.

Is “halal” nail polish really halal?

I’ve recently came across ‘halal nail polish’ that is apparently water permeable and therefore we can perform our prayers as usual. What are your thoughts on this? (Since we cannot pray with normal nail polish on) I hope you can answer my question

Proper wuḍūʾ (ablution) requires that the nails should be washed. From what I understand, water-permeability is not sufficient to make the nail polish suited to ablution, because it might simply be like ordinary nail polish but with microscopic holes that allow water to seep through, meaning that on a microscopic level part of the nails will be completely blocked by the material from being touched by the water and other parts not blocked off. It might be like using ordinary nail polish but using a microscopic needle to put millions of holes in it, it does not change the fact that there are still many areas that will not get any water touching them.  If the material was fully water-permeable then one would expect it to fall off as water gets under it. But since it does not fall off, it suggests that part of the substance gets firmly stuck to the nails, preventing water from touching those parts.

Besides that, there is also another issue. According to the Qatari Islamic website IslamWeb, a niqab-wearing woman’s ablution is not valid if she washes her face over her niqab without taking it off.1 Since both the face and the hands are treated equally in ablution (they both have to be washed, meaning water has to run over them directly), then according to this fatwa even having woolen gloves on would make ablution invalid, even though a woolen glove is perfectly water-permeable the way a niqab is. So if this fatwa’s thinking is valid (I cannot find any others that say the same thing), then water-permeability might be completely irrelevant; regardless of how water-permeable it is, at best it is like having a piece of water-permeable cloth over the nails, which still nullifies the ablution.

Pakistan’s behind-the-times Islam

I am a Muslim woman and I don't psychologically feel ready for marriage. But my mother who is Pakistani is telling me that what I'm doing is haram. She told me that apparently Bin-Baz said that every woman should get married regardless of their doubts. But Islam itself tells us that marriage isn't obligatory. How do I gently tell her to, you know stop being persistent? My parents even told me that I will become a fitnah for other men...

Majority of Pakistani ulama are pretty sexist. They make it haram for women to study rather than get married. That her parents have the right to get her married even if she doesn't feel ready, and their main excuse "you'll be safe from a haram reltionship" when in Islam, forced marriages are haram, and marriage itself isn't fard. I told my parents I don't feel ready to get married and my mom especially tells that I need to get out of my comfort zone, because she trusts sexist ulamas.

My mom says that it is haram for women to go and pray at the masjid when the Prophet (Sallilahu Alaihi Wasalam) said to not prevent women from going to the masjid. I tell my mom this all the time, but she tells me that I'm wrong.

It appears that your mother has been influenced by Saudi-exported Wahhabi propaganda, which is the ideology that drives extremists like the Taliban. Due to the close relationship between the Pakistani and Saudi governments, the Saudi government has been able to export many Wahhabi ideologues to Pakistan who pretend that their version of Islam is the only true version and that everyone who disagrees with them is worse than an animal. I discuss Wahhabism and why the majority of Muslims reject it in this essay.

The way that you could influence her is to learn about the Islam of more moderate scholars like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Mohammed al-Ghazali (an Egyptain scholar who died in 1996, not to be confused with the medieval Persian Ghazali), Abdullah b. Bayyah, Ali Gomaa and Mohamed Said Ramadan Al-Bouti. There might be moderate Pakistani scholars that you could introduce her to (maybe they have lectures on YouTube).

Unfortunately it is going to be very difficult to convince her that her view of Islam is narrow and that Islam is far greater and more sophisticated than she imagines. If she has friends and family who think like her, and if she attends mosques with Wahhabi preachers then she is going to think she is on the right path and she will not take her child’s opinions seriously. There is generally no way to convince people that they are wrong in their religious ideas, so generally the best we can do is be patient, kind and forgiving toward them, understanding that within their limited views and their limited education, that is the best they can come up with.

It often takes many generations for cultural change to take place. In 1800, almost every religious scholar would have declared that women’s education is harmful and corruptive and that they should stay at home, just like today’s Wahhabis. But slowly, generation by generation, the society re-analyzed its beliefs and realized that Islam and women’s educations are compatible once the cultural baggage of Arab culture is abandoned. By 2006, 46% of Egyptian women were attending university, despite Egypt remaining a conservative Muslim country. Pakistan is generations behind Egypt, so we cannot expect it change any time soon. But it will change, especially as the Internet spreads and enables moderate Pakistanis to connect and exchange ideas.

As for now, the best you might be able to do is patiently put up with your parents. Maybe if they see you reading many Islamic books they will start to trust your knowledge of Islam, so this is something you could do.

Best wishes.

Why did Imam Malik forbid living in non-Muslim countries?

Question in response to The Problem with the IslamQA.info Website:

I'm wondering why did Imam Malik Say we can't live in non Muslim country? SubbhanAllah I thought that imam Malik had balanced views. isn't it the fact that westerns are converting due to the fact that we Muslims live in the West and that there are masajids etc in the west. If they are isolated from us how can they get the message? (I follow Maliki madhab)

At the time of Imam Malik the Islamic world used to be viewed as one country. A Muslim could travel from Spain to Afghanistan without needing a passport because, just by being Muslim, he was considered a citizen of the whole of the Islamic lands. Due to the fact that at the time there were no lasting international treaties or constitutions in the non-Islamic lands, living in them was often very dangerous for Muslims. Even if the present ruler of a non-Islamic country like Byzantium had a friendly attitude toward Muslims, protected them and allowed them to practice their religion, the next ruler could choose to forbid the practice of Islam, in this way forcing the Muslims to either abandon Islam or lose everything they had by making them leave the country.

Another issue was that due to the lack of a stable international order, the borders of the Islamic lands were the scenes of constant battles. A Muslim who left the land of Islam to live somewhere else could have been forced by the non-Islamic country to wage war against the Islamic lands.

It is possible those circumstances made Imam Malik prefer a certain interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah (such as verses 4:97-99) that considers it a duty to migrate to the Land of Islam (Dār al-Islām, literally “Abode of Islam”). There is, however, no conclusive evidence in favor of that view. There is nothing in the Quran or the Sunnah that forces us to adopt it. There is an authentic narration in the collection of Ibn Ḥibbān in which a recent convert to Islam comes to the Prophet saying that some people are telling him he is doomed if he does not migrate to the land of Islam, while the land he currently lives in is populated by non-Muslims who promise him that he will be safe and free to practice Islam. The Prophet tells him to stay with his people, advising him to pray and to avoid evil deeds, and to live among his own people wherever he likes.1

Today, when it comes to this issue, those who have a tribalist way of thinking continue to take the Abode of Islam vs. Abode of Unbelief idea seriously, while the majority have moved on to recognizing that that concept is outdated and that it was a human invention to begin with (neither the Quran nor authentic narrations teach us to think in such black and white terms). The sensible position, which is the position of most scholars, is that if a country guarantees a Muslim’s right to freedom of religion and certain other human rights that most countries guarantee, then a Muslim can live there without issue. Some scholars have the opinion that every Muslim should ideally do their best to move to an “Islamic” country. This is a highly debatable issue; it is not at all obvious that it is morally and spiritually superior for an Irish convert to Islam to abandon their land and culture to live in a Muslim country where they have half the human rights, safety and economic security they would have back home. It also shows a distinct lack of respect for a person’s family, culture and heritage to think that a person should just throw all that away and have no sense of duty toward them to want to sustain and reform them with their newfound spirituality. But as I explained about Wahhabis in my essay, it is a distinct feature of their type of thinking that they have no respect for human relationships and cultures, in their view it is their ideology that is supposed to replace human nature and culture (hence their famous destruction of so much of Arabia’s architectural heritage in the name of Islam).

The Problem with the IslamQA.info Website

I'm going to study in university abroad and found on islamQA that we muslims are not allowed to live in non muslim countries. Please let me know, as I've applied already but I still haven't left.

The Internet is overwhelmed with Saudi-funded websites and activists that promote the Wahhabi worldview. It is easy for uneducated people to mistakenly conclude that this fringe ideology is representative of Islam since it comes out of Saudi Arabia. They do not know that the scholars of Mecca and Medina rejected this ideology until it was forced on them by sword and gun in 1925 by the Saudis. Winston Churchill described their leader Ibn Saud and his followers as follows: “they hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahhabi villages for simply appearing in the streets. It is a penal offence to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette.” (Churchill was also responsible for paying Ibn Saud a stipend of £100,000 a year from the British government, or six million US dollars in today’s money).

The IslamQA.info website follows the Wahhabi ideology of the Saudi government. It might be the wealthiest Islamic website on the Internet thanks to Saudi funding, and because of their wealth they have been able to dominate both the Arabic-speaking and English-speaking Internet when it comes to questions about Islam.

The problem with Wahhabism is that it is merely a rebranding of the Bedouin tribalist mindset that Islam came to abolish. In the Bedouin creed, only tribe members are considered true humans. A Bedouin who meets someone in the desert who does not belong to the tribe can kill them without giving it a second thought because anyone who is not in the tribe is automatically a non-human; they can spare the person’s life if they think they will make money out of them, or if there is some alliance that prevents them from killing them, but outside of these material concerns, they do not recognize in any way the intrinsic worth of human life. In a tribal society it is blood dies that determine who belongs to the tribe and who does not. Wahhabism takes all of these concepts and creates a new tribe, the Wahhabi tribe, that is not defined by blood ties but by submitting to the Wahhabi creed. Everyone who follows Wahhabism is a human, everyone who does not is subhuman and can be killed at will unless there is a material reason to preserve their lives.

Wahhabis believe that out of 1.8 billion Muslims only they and no one else really and truly believes in God, that somehow, miraculously, only they and no other group of Muslim possesses the real truth, and that by the virtue of being the only possessors of the truth, they have the right wipe out all other versions of Islam and to become the unchallenged and unquestioned rulers of the Islamic world, telling everyone else what to think.

In the early Islamic period, as is described in Sheikh Umar F. Abd-Allah’s Mālik and Medina: Islamic Legal Reasoning in the Formative Period, it was quite normal for Muslims to disagree with one another on most things and continue to live peacefully together and respect one another. Each scholar had the right of independent reasoning and the right of challenging the opinions of others. Wahhabis pretend that, thanks to possessing the real truth, they have the right to abolish all free thought among Muslims so that they do the thinking for everyone else. Since they define the Wahhabi tribe in terms of agreeing with Wahhabism, anyone who disagrees with it is outside the tribe, which means they are not really humans, which means their opinions do not count. In this way they ignore the opinions of almost every major scholar of Islamic history. They also attack and demonize with the most vicious hatred every respected living scholar of today who does not submit to their tribalist version of Islam.

IslamQA.info is a Wahhabi mouthpiece. When it comes to matters of jurisprudence (things like performing ablution), they often give sensible and balanced answers based on the opinions of the Ḥanbalī school. Scholars like Ibn Bāz, al-Albānī and Ibn ʿUthaymīn who are revered and often quoted by the Wahhabis are also highly respected by other Muslims. So on these issues they can sound quite normal, since they largely follow traditional Islam when it comes to the parts of Islam that have to do with day to day life among Muslims. But when it comes to issues having to do with interactions between Wahhabis and non-Wahhabis, that is where their creepy tribalism comes out. Since to them non-Wahhabis are not humans but something more like demons or animals, Wahhabis are not allowed to befriend them, treat them like humans, have sympathy for them, live alongside them, or follow any of the Quran’s ethics in relation to them. In their highly twisted interpretation of Islam, everything the Quran says about being kind, forgiving and just toward others only applies to tribe members, i.e. fellow Wahhabis. When it comes to outsiders, they are treated not according to the Islamic creed, but according to the Bedouin creed. Since the Bedouin creed requires that all humans outside the tribe should be treated as non-humans and should be enslaved or killed unless there is something to be gained by not doing these things to them, that is exactly how they think the normal Muslim relationship to those around them should be. Here I am speaking of the thinking of Saudi-taught Wahhabi ideologues, not necessarily the scholars they claim to respect and quote.

In Wahhabism, the Bedouin creed is above the Quran and the Prophet’s teachings and determines the framework within which they follow Islam. For more on Wahhabism see my essay: The Difference Between “Salafism” and “Wahhabism” and Why I Belong to Neither Group. On mainstream Islam’s views and how extremely different they are from Wahhabism and other authoritarian versions of Islam see my essay Consensual Communities and the Sanctity of Human Life.

As for your question regarding living in a non-Muslim country, you can get sensible answers from almost any mainstream scholar coming from any of the schools of Islamic thought outside the Wahhabi tribalist insanity. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the world’s most renowned mainstream scholars, says Muslims may live in non-Muslim lands if they are allowed to practice Islam there within reasonable criteria. Wahbah al-Zuhayli (d. 2015), a Syrian scholar and professor, has the same opinion.1 This is also the opinion of Dr. Shawki Allam, Egypt’s Grand Mufti.2

According to the Mauritanian Mālikī scholar Abdallah Bin Bayyah (professor of Islamic studies at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah), the Shāfiʿī, Ḥanbalī and Ḥanafī all permit residing in non-Muslim countries (with some internal disagreement among their scholars). Imam Mālik (founder of the Mālikī school which professor Bin Bayyah follows) was of the opinion that Muslims are not permitted to live in non-Muslim countries. But Abdallah Bin Bayyah, himself a Mālikī, has a softer Mālikī position and says that if a Muslim suffers injustice in the Muslim lands then he/she has the right of living in non-Muslim lands provided that they can practice Islam freely and bring up their children according to Islamic principles.3

The sensible answer is that there is no issue with living in a non-Muslim-majority country. Regardless of where we live, the country will be involved with certain unethical things. There is no such thing as a perfectly or even entirely Islamic government or legal system, and there is no conclusive evidence that we cannot live in a country that guarantees our rights and religious freedoms in return for obeying its constitution. I would much rather live in a Western country whose constitution guarantees my life and freedom rather than a “Muslim” country ruled by tyrants, war criminals and princes who think they have the right to imprison and kill anyone who gets in their way. A Western country that respects human rights and religious freedom can be argued to be far more Islamic in spirit than a “Muslim” country that has no respect for the lives and freedoms of its citizens.

How will God punish the person who wronged me?

I recently have been greatly wronged, mistreated and oppressed by someone very close to me, and i was just wondering..how will allah punish them?

That depends on whether you will eventually forgive them or not, and whether they will seek forgiveness or not, and whether God has a certain plan for making something good come out of the wrong they have done you. We can never predict what God is going to do next, since we do not know His wisdom and His plans. Something bad that happens now may have the greatest benefit for us ten years down the road, and a person who wrongs us now may do us a great favor in the future out of their feeling of guilt. And if they never repent and you patiently wait for God’s judgment without doing any evil toward them in return, then God can give you a great reward in this life and the next for your patience.

I recommend that you read the Quran, it has many verses that clarify these matters.

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