Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

What is the meaning of Sheenam?

Assalamu alikum, My daughter name is Sheenam. I was told that it is a persian name meaning Light. Sheen is mentioned in Quran also. Can you confirm it?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The meaning of that name depends on the way it is formed. There is no standard Persian word that sounds like Sheenam. But in the Māzandarānī dialect of Persian shī means “morning dew”, while in standard Persian shabnam means “morning dew”. It is possible that shīnam is a dialect word that combines shī and shabnam. If that is true, then Sheenam means “morning dew”.

Also, shī in the Māzandarānī dialect also means “soft, gentle rain”, while nam means “raindrop”. So shīnam can also mean “raindrop that falls from a soft, gentle rain.”

Also, in the Māzandarānī shī also means “spouse”, while nam means “name”. Therefore shīnam can also mean “spouse-name”.

There is no word in the Quran that sounds like shīn.

Is the truth relative or absolute?

Is the truth relative or absolute? Which kind of truth should I go for?

Truth is absolute. In God’s perspective, for example, humans have no right to deny His existence and His signs. God’s view is that all rational and open-hearted humans will believe in Him; it is only arrogance that prevents this belief, as discussed here: A Quranic Phenomenology of Atheism.

However, while truth in itself is absolute (Truth is one of the names of God), our own knowledge and understanding of truth in most cases is only approximate and probabilistic. According to Abū Ḥanīfa faith (imān) is absolute. When a person attains faith, their faith in God is just as “perfect” as an angel’s faith in God. If we accept this, then everything other than faith is approximate. For example our understanding of God’s revelations can only by probabilistic; it continues to improve as way study His words and discusses them and debate about them with others.

Naturally, whenever something can be improved, this suggested that it is not perfect or absolute.

As for what kind of truth you should “go for”, if I understood you correctly, then you should go for God. There is no guidance possible without God. Even if you spend years seeking truth from other sources, even if you read hundreds of great books, you can never attain guidance without God’s help. But if you seek it sincerely and humbly through God, He can give it to you better than anyone else can. So seek God, rely on Him, and realize that there is no truth higher than Him or independent from Him. He created this universe, He created our brains and our rationality. We can never be superior to Him or reach beyond Him.

A born Muslim who does not want to follow any religion

Salaam. I'm in a state where I'm a born Muslim, but thinks that I don't want to commit to Islam or a certain religion. What do you call this? And what should I do? I feel wrong, but somehow it is liberating to imagine if I were to bound by no religion. Does only believing the existence of God suffice?

I understand the desire to want to be part of a “larger” truth instead of restricting yourself to one religion. Unfortunately this does not work for the simple reason that God does not approve of it. As a Muslim, you have inherited the legacy of Islam and God accepts no religion other than Islam from you. The Quran says:

Whoever [among the Muslims] seeks other than Islam as a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.

How will God guide a people who disbelieved after having believed, and had witnessed that the Messenger is true, and the clear proofs had come to them? God does not guide the unjust people.

Those—their penalty is that upon them falls the curse of God, and of the angels, and of all mankind.

Remaining in it eternally, without their punishment being eased from them, and without being reprieved.

The Quran, verses 3:85-88.

From God’s perspective Islam is a truth that no Muslim has a right to deny. Breaking away from Islam means breaking away from the truth, and this is a sin that God does not forgive.

There is no higher moral law in our universe to justify your leaving Islam for the sake of believing in God without religion. If you believe in God, you must be willing to seek Him out and seek out His revelations and sincerely ask Him for guidance. You cannot just say that you believe in God and expect this to suffice you. God has plans for you and makes demands on you. You either humbly submit to this or you arrogantly think that you are above God’s wishes.

For more on understanding God’s perspective, please see my essay A Quranic Phenomenology of Atheism. I know that you do not wish to be an atheist, but the topics discussed in there are relevant.

Is witr like maghrib or not?

I have read somewhere that Witr salah has to differ from the Maghrib Salah. So can I pray two rakhat and do Salam and after that do one more separate rakhat.

There are different opinions among the schools on how witr should be done. You can pray it like maghrib, or like maghrib but without sitting in the second rak`a for tashahhud, or you can pray two rak`at, say salam, then pray a single rak`a. 

All of the above are acceptable ways of doing it unless you wish to strictly follow a particular school.


What is the meaning of the name “Arafat”?

Arafat (transliteration: ʿArafāt) is the name of a mountain 12 miles from Mecca where the pilgrims stand in supplication during the pilgrimage. ʿArafāt is the plural of ʿarafa which means “well-known”, “recognized” according to Ibn Sīda al-Mursī’s dictionary Al-Muḥkam wa-l-Muḥīṭ al-Aʿẓam (d. 1066 CE).

According to Habib Anthony Salmone’s An Advanced Learner’s Arabic-English Dictionary (1889) ʿarafa also means “patient”.

Is it permissible to use the name “Wahhab” without “Abdul”?

Asalamalaikum It is permissible to use Wahab/Wahhab name without Abdul or a similar prefix.

According to a fatwa by the website IslamOnline (which is overseen by the respected scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi), using the name Wahhab without “Abdul” is not permissible because it is specific to God.

The fatwa refers to the opinion of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah that names that are specific to God’s greatness should not be used without “Abdul”.


Does God forgive sins if you keep repeating them?

Saalam Aleyckum, does Allah forgive everytime i make sins ? Even if i repeat thousand times the same ? And do you know how can we know that Allah loves us ? I feel like i don't deserve Allah mercy.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no limit to God’s forgiveness. If you are able to to sincerely ask for forgiveness, then that in itself means that God is willing to forgive you. When God decides that a person no longer deserves forgiveness then they become the type of person who never ask for forgiveness. This is what the Quran means by “sealing” the hearts of those who sin so much and do so many evil deeds that God decides to seal their fate and prevent them from seeking His forgiveness (as in the case of the Pharaoh in the story of Prophet Moses PBUH).

If you feel inspired to ask for forgiveness, if you are not happy with yourself and wish to be better, then that means God loves you and is there to help you. When God does not love someone He lets them become happy in their own state so that they never feel inspired to seek guidance or forgiveness and in this way their life goes to waste while thinking they are doing really well.

How to stop feeling jealousy and envy

I don't know if you received this or not, but I asked if there were any surahs which stop making you jealous, or any dikhr. Thanks.

Sorry I don’t think I received it. I don’t know of any surahs or dhikrs to do for jealously. This is a character problem that would require commitment to changing yourself. Please see the articles on the page Guides on Getting Closer to God for guidance on bettering yourself. If you dedicate yourself to reading the Quran for an hour a day then I am pretty sure that will solve your problem.

Best wishes.

Is “Mumtahina” a good Islamic name?

I named my niece Mumtahina but people say it is not good for the baby. Please guide us more if it is an appropriate name for the baby or not.

First, note that the sura of the Quran is named Mumtahana, not Mumtahina. Mumtahana means “the woman who was tested” while Mumtahina means “a woman who tests [others].”

If you knowingly chose Mumtahina, then the meaning of “one who tests”, “tester” is not a bad meaning. It means the person is wise and discerning.

But if you chose it thinking it was in the Quran, then this is wrong, since the Quranic name is Mumtahana. But you can still keep Mumtahina since it does not have a bad meaning.

Is it sinful to not have a beard or to do other makruh actions?

If a Muslim does a makruh action, like if they trim their beard short (according to the shafi school) is it haram that they enjoy the look of it or if someone copies their sheikh's style of beard (while knowing a longer beard is better and closer to the sunnah). What is the remedy for waswasa on fear of "being pleased with sin" / "approval of sin" or waswasa on"fear of istihlal". Any advice for someone who gets waswasa about intentions and obsessively thinks about permissibility and compulsively researches about matters.

The issues of makrūh (disliked) and mustaḥabb (recommended) are not commandments but things that are on an equal footing with a person’s cultural and personal context, meaning that if they have a reason to do otherwise, this is not a sin. It is left to their own logic and preferences to determine what to do. If these things were meant to be commands and prohibitions, they would have been expressed as such. But they are not.

The solution to your waswasa could be to dedicate yourself to the Quran and its commandments, making it the constitution of your life. As for the makrūh and mustaḥabb things, by considering them equals to your own choices and preferences (rather than considering them orders meant to control you), you can perhaps convince yourself not to be bothered by them. Of course there are different levels of makrūh, so I am not recommending just ignoring them all.

You should study each issue and decide what you should do about it. If you can accomplish a Quranic character in yourself then perhaps you will feel confident in your Islamic identity without being bothered by such issues as beards.

At least, that is my approach. I am dedicated to following every letter of the Quran and every proven command and prohibition of the Prophet PBUH. This is the constitution of my Islam and enables me to feel fully “Islamic” in my identity despite the fact that I do not have a long beard.

If the Prophet PBUH was among us, I would have done whatever he commanded. But since I consider him a gentle and friendly mentor, when he makes a recommendation (rather than command), I believe he would respect my own choices in the matter.

The Islamic ruling on donating corpses for scientific research

This is a matter of difference among scholars and some prohibit the use corposes for scientific research. But According to a fatwa by the Qatari Fatwa Authority, donating one’s body to be used for scientific research is permitted since it fulfills a good purpose and is not opposed to any of the fundamental precepts of the Sharia.

The scholar Gad al-Haq Ali (of al-Azhar University) permitted using the bodies of certain corpses (those who are found dead by government agencies and their identity cannot be established, and those whose identity is known but have no known relatives) for scientific research as it is practiced by some countries.

However, as mentioned here a different ruling prohibits donating the organs of dead people without their having expressed their consent while alive, therefore the person must have expressed their to consent to the use of their body in this way while alive.


The Islamic ruling on cremation

According to the Qatari Fatwa Authority, the human body possesses dignity even after death, therefore burning the body is not permitted. An authentic hadith tells us that breaking a corpse’s bones is similar to breaking a living person’s bones.

However, the Fatwa goes on to say that if burning human bodies is medically justified (for example when there is a large number of bodies and burying them is not an option, and the spread of disease may be feared because of the decaying bodies), then it is permitted.


Listening to the Quran

You mentioned that you listen to the Quran everyday, what website do you use to listen to the Quran?

I don’t use a website. I have the Quran recitation on my phone and use the Listen Audiobook Player app to play it.

Is celebrating 15 of Shaban (Barat) a bida?

What is your opinion on Shab e Barat? Some say it is bidah some say it's not

Regarding all supposedly bidʿa acts of worship I believe Ibn Taymiyyah has the most sensible opinion (unfortunately most of those who claim to follow him do not take the trouble to read him carefully). His opinion is this:

  1. Those who sincerely perform the act of worship, believing that they are doing a good deed, may be greatly rewarded by God for it.
  2. Those who are not convinced that the act of worship is legitimate should avoid it.

Personally I am in the second camp; I am not a fan of most of these forms of worship and avoid them. But I do not criticize those take pleasure and satisfaction in them. It is their business and God may reward them for their effort and sincerity.

For more on Ibn Taymiyya see my essay Ibn Taymiyya and His Times.

What do Muslims think of non-Muslims?

As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah. Would you kindly explain to me how the religious Muslims think that people other than them are apostates or infidels? I'm a Muslim, but I find this rather rude and unpleasing. If Muslims were given some kind of ability to shift perspective with them, I doubt the Muslims would want to learn to understand their viewpoints. This is something that I cannot fathom.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

Please see the articles on the page Non-Muslims in Islam where I answer your questions in detail. If you have further questions please feel free to submit a new one.

Who decides if a hadith is authentic or not?

Salamalaikum, could you please give a layperson like me an understanding of how the hadiths are classed. I see terms like sahih for Bukhari and Muslim, but then there are others that are also considered sahih but are not listed in Bukhari and Muslim. What is hasan? what is daeef(sp?)? and who determines the lesser known hadiths are sahih or hasan? Is that a majority opinion? Jazakallah khairun

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim are simply two handbooks written for legal scholars. They bring together authentic hadiths that are useful for a legal scholar to know. They are not meant to be complete encyclopedias of hadith. All hadith scholars are qualified to determine the authenticity of hadiths. Al-Bukhari and Muslim are just better known than the others. Each hadith scholar can make their own sahih collection, for example there is Sahih Ibn Hibban.

The word ṣaḥīḥ refers to a hadith that has a good enough quality (text and chain of narrators) to be considered very likely to be truly from the Prophet PBUH. 

The word ḥasan refers to a hadith that is not good enough to be considered ṣaḥīḥ (it may have some half-trustworthy transmitters), but it is considered good enough to be considered possibly authentic.

ḍaʿīf (”weak”) hadith is one that comes from untrustworthy transmitters so it is considered likely to be false/fabricated.

Should you visit a friend who suffered a loss if you fear it will burden them?

Selam! I wanted to ask something. A family member of my friend died and i dont know if i should immediatly go to her and visit or let her get trough it for a little while? I few friends of mine are going to her right now but i just think i should let her sort things with her family instead of burging in right after she lost someone. But im scared that i'll look like a horible friend. I dont know if its like a norm to do go or not. What should i do?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I think the best thing to do is consult your family and friends about what to do. While it is good that you do not want to impose on her, it may be taken the wrong way by her and by others. So it may be best to go with your friends even if you personally think that leaving her alone for a while might be better. Visiting her with your friends cannot do any great harm, and later you can always tell her that you thought about not going in order to avoid burdening her and she may like you more for that.

On wanting to make someone convert to Islam

Slam alicome my brother I really like your page and because of Allah and then you, I feel I become good and strong believer in Allah. My question actually is not a question : I know a woman who works in subway restaurant and we like talking about religions sometimes and It’s one of my dreams is to be the reason for making someone Muslim. Can you please help me how to make her Muslim how should I start with what should I say? Thank you

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is natural to wish to share the blessing of Islam with people we like. But I don’t think we should make it a goal to convert specific people to Islam. Wanting to “make” anyone Muslim is the wrong attitude to have. The Quran constantly reminds the Prophet PBUH that he cannot guide to Islam whomever he wishes and that it is up to God to guide the ones He wants:

You cannot guide whom you love, but God guides whom He wills, and He knows best those who are guided. (The Quran, verse 28:56)

Converting to a religion is a very personal experience. Trying to force this experience on someone never works. Rather than attaching your heart to the possibility of her converting to Islam, you should leave the choice completely to her. You can sincerely answer her questions and show her by your good manners that Islam is a good way of life. But you should always remind yourself that even if all of the people in the world tried to convert, if she does not want it, it will not work.

Humans have been honored by God to be able to independently choose their own religion. We do not have the right to interfere with this by attaching our heart to the idea of converting someone to Islam and making them our “project”. Our task is only what the Quran calls balāgh; to clearly and sincerely represent Islam (most importantly by our manners and conduct) and to transmit it to those who want to know about it.

But if they turn away—We did not send you as a guardian over them. Your only duty is only balāgh (communication). Whenever We let man taste mercy from Us, he rejoices in it; but when misfortune befalls them, as a consequence of what their hands have perpetrated, man turns blasphemous. (The Quran, verse 42:48)

Please also see the following articles:

Is dawah obligatory when it is awkward and rude?

What is there to do if you suffer because someone you love is far away from God?

Does it matter to God what religion we embrace?

Does it matter to God what religion we embrace? And is it important to us to know which of all the religion that exists on earth is the true one?

It matters because God has His own plans about how history should unfold. A person born in Islam is part of Islam’s historical timeline, inheriting the history and duties that come with Islam.

We cannot help what timeline we are born into (whether Islam’s, Christianity’s, Judaism’s or some other entity’s timeline). But by being born into it, we become part of a certain historical timeline that we must embrace then work toward self-discovery and truth-seeking. The Quran says, speaking of all the Abrahamic religions:

To every community is a direction towards which it turns. Therefore, race towards goodness. Wherever you may be, God will bring you all together. God is capable of everything.

The Quran, verse 2:148.

So our communal duty as part of our timeline is to race with the other communities in goodness.

But by being human, we all also inherit a personal timeline that includes all of humanity. This is known as the Covenant of Alast (Alast is Arabic for “Am I not?”):

And when Your Lord summoned the descendants of Adam, and made them testify about themselves. “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we testify.” Thus you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, “We were unaware of this.”

The Quran, verse 7:172.

All of humanity has therefore agreed to be part of this Covenant. We have all testified to God’s Lordship over us even before being born. So each human inherits the duties that come with this Covenant: the duty of seeking God and seeking the best way to serve Him.

As for studying other religions to know which one is true, I believe that the human soul has a natural tendency to know when it is acting truthfully and sincerely by the Covenant of Alast, so different humans have different levels of duty toward discovering the Lord. A Muslim whose heart is already settled with Islam has no duty to study all other religions to find out which one is true because their soul has an intrinsic feeling and knowledge of the truth of their path.

But a human who has not adopted a religion that affirms God’s lordship is going to have a soul that feels uncertain and in need of seeking God. Such a person therefore has a duty to study the religions, but most importantly to seek God’s guidance sincerely so that He may guide them to the truth.

It is the duty of all humans to seek God’s guidance, but the duty to study different religions is depends on whether a person’s heart is already settled in the knowledge that they live the truth or whether their heart is unsettled and desiring something better.