IslamQA

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

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.

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 Egyptian 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-influenced 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 say. But slowly, generation by generation, the society re-analyzed its beliefs and realized that Islam and women’s education are compatible once the cultural baggage of Arab culture is abandoned. By 2006, 46% of Egyptian women of university age 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).

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?

Sorry that you had to go through that. Here are some Quranic verses on oppression:

Do not ever think that God is unaware of what the wrongdoers (or oppressors) do. He only defers them until a Day when the sights stare. (Verse 14:42)

If those who did wrong (or committed oppression) owned everything on earth, and the like of it with it, they would redeem themselves with it from the terrible suffering on the Day of Resurrection. But there will appear to them from God what they never anticipated. (Verse 39:47)

Had every soul which had done wrong (or committed oppression) possessed everything on earth, it would offer it as a ransom. They will hide the remorse when they witness the suffering, and it will be judged between them equitably, and they will not be wronged. (Verse 10:54)

Whether God punishes the person 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. In the story of Prophet Yusuf, his brothers oppress him by throwing him in a well and causing him to be sold into slavery. But God rescues him and makes him greatly superior to those who oppressed them. He is oppressed again by the elite women of his society who unjustly cause him to be thrown into prison, but God causes this to become a cause for him to be promoted into a very high position in the government. God is in charge of this world and He is capable of turning any oppression we suffer into something good for us down the road.

Muslim woman going to a mixed university

I'm starting uni this year Inshallah and I it will be mixed. I've haven't interacted with guys much unless it is necessary bec I was mostly at an all girls schools. How should I deal with guys knowing that I don't like it when they approach me and they mostly do it to befriend and not for necessary stuff?

That depends on your personality and culture, some women are self-confident and can easily end unwanted interactions. In general just being professional and polite is going to be good enough for most situations. If you wear the hijab, then that in itself is a big signal that you do not want to be approached the way other women are. Something that could help prevent unwanted interactions outside the classroom is to wear sunglasses. People will be a lot more hesitant to approach you if they cannot see your eyes. Another thing would be to wear headphones.

If you get persistently approached or harassed, performing a regular spiritual practice such as tahajjud is going to help greatly in remaining calm and undisturbed in difficult situations.

Giving up an addiction to “sexting” apps

I've been addicted to apps like kik and snapchat for sexting . Even when I delete them I install it back and find girls calling me .how do i quit this crap ? May Allah help me.

The solution I believe is the same as that for avoiding pornography, which is to have a regular, daily spiritual practice that turns you into the kind of person who can naturally avoid sinful things without even trying. The practice I recommend for Muslims is tahajjud, please see this new essay for more about it: Mysticism without Sufism: A Guide to Tahajjud, Islam’s Meditation Practice

Porn is destroying my life, I’m not able to control the urges

Porn is destroying my life, I'm not able to control the urges. It has lead me to do things that I can't even say. My life is being destroyed and I'm just not able to control myself in those moments. Slowly I feel like I'm falling into an abyss of depression likes the one I've never felt. I've don't know what to do anymore. I know Allah SWT is with me and he'll forgive me if I sincerely repent and stop doing this but that's the problem and I just can't control myself when the urges hit me.

The best way to avoid sin is to develop a close relationship with God. The closer you are to God, the easier it is to stay away from sinful things. Start praying tahajjud for an hour every night before bed. This is not difficult if you are eager to improve yourself. For more on tahajjud please see the section on the avoidance of sin in my new article: Mysticism without Sufism: A Guide to Tahajjud, Islam’s Meditation Practice

If you are young, then as you get older avoiding pornography will become easier for you. The brain does not fully mature until the age of 25, it is only at this age that we get good control over our impulses. And from this age onwards sexual desire slowly subsides (if you are male), so that the attraction of pornography becomes weaker.

You may also benefit from the discussion of pornography in this article: Is reading erotica permitted in Islam?

Parents will not let him marry his chosen

Please can you advice me. There is a guy who wants to wants to marry me and my parents are OK with it but his parents are forcing him to marry his cousin instead. He already tried to talk to his parents many times, to convince to at least meet my family (his parents don’t know me), but they won’t listen to him. We both don’t know what to do, we don’t want to marry without his parents blessing.

The best thing to do might be to just wait patiently. Eventually his parents might become convinced that he is not going to marry the cousin, and may make it more likely for them to consider the possibility of his marrying you. In the meantime the cousin could get other suitors and may get engaged to one of them. It could take the parents many months or a year or more to come around, and I know it is difficult to wait when you are eager to marry, but sometimes there is no way to speed things along.

In the mean time, the best thing you can do is to do extra worship. By seeking to be close to God, God will make things easier for us and guide us to what is best for us. Please check out this new essay on the type of worship I recommend: Mysticism without Sufism: A Guide to Tahajjud, Islam’s Meditation Practice

Best wishes.

A father who refuses to approve his daughter’s marriage with a person from a different culture

Can you please give me advice? My sister wants to marry a (Muslim) man that belongs to a different culture. Our mother has accepted the idea but my father is still angry about it- he says he's always had trouble with members of this culture in the past, and he will not give his daughter to a man that is not of the same culture as us. My father is a religious man & I feel his reaction isn't Islamic. In this situation, what should my sister do? Isn't my father in the wrong here?

That is a difficult situation. The best solution is probably to be patient. Wait and perhaps with time his heart will soften. If he is a pious man, then it is going to be very difficult for him to harden his heart permanently against the marriage. I know that waiting is extremely difficult for young people eager to marry, but it might be the best course, because efforts to force a change in your father’s opinion may only antagonize him further.

I do not know your exact situation but your father’s concerns about his daughter marrying into a different culture are not necessarily baseless even if they are not fully justified. You can ask people who have married people from different cultures and while you will find many who are happy and fulfilled, there are also many who admit the difficulties, misunderstandings and hardships involved with trying to unite two families of different cultures. Culture is a human creation built over centuries, designed to facilitate communication and interaction between the people that belong to it. When marrying someone from a different culture, the benefits of culture disappear and a lot of extra work is needed to build some basis for understanding between the two cultures. It can be done and some people are willing to do this extra work, while others want to continue enjoying the comfort of uniting with a family that shares the same cultural background.

Personally I am all for intermarriage between different Muslim races and cultures and I find it very inspiring when I hear about successful marriages between different races and cultures, but I respect the right of people not to engage in it if they do not want to.

For more on dealing with parents in Islam, please see the answers on this page: Dealing with parents in Islam

 

The types of touching between spouses or strangers that nullify wudu

I recently went to a Mastura group and was told that women’s wudu is invalidated if she so much so touches her husband but when you sleep it isn’t invalidated. So if you go to Makkah again if you touch a non Mahram it’s not invalidated because of the crowds and circumstances. Things like this make me question the logic behind the rulings. Why is it so inconvenient for us? I genuinely struggle with believing it’s so rigid. My husband constantly asks for massages so I need to retake wudu 24/7?

There are many differing opinions on this issue. According to the Ḥanbalī school touching a spouse or a stranger does not nullify wuḍuʾ because they interpret the relevant Quranic verse (4:43) as referring to sexual intercourse (Ibn Taymīya, d. 1328 CE) (Ibn Bāz, d. 1999 CE) or erotic touching (al-Mardāwī, d. c. 1480 CE).

Ibn Nujaym (d. c. 1562 CE), representing the Ḥanafī school, says that mere skin contact does not nullify wuḍuʾ regardless of whether the contact is accidental or intentional, and regardless of whether it is done with erotic intent or not, and regardless of whether it is with one’s spouse or a stranger.

Al-Nawawī (d. 1277 CE), representing the Shāfiʿī school, says that any form of contact between members of the opposite sex who have reached puberty nullifies wuḍuʾ, regardless of whether the two persons are married or not. It is probable that what you heard was from a Shāfiʿī source.

The Egyptian jurist Muhammad ʿIllīsh (d. 1882 CE), representing the Mālikī school, says that the only type of touching that nullifies wuḍuʾ is that which is done with erotic intent (i.e. with the intention of obtaining sexual pleasure), regardless of whether the person obtains the pleasure they sought. It is also nullifies wuḍuʾ if a person obtains sexual pleasure from touching even though they did not intend to obtain pleasure.

The main matter at issue here is the interpretation of lāmastum in verse 4:43. The Shāfiʿīs interpret it as “if you touch”, while the Ḥanafī and Ḥanbalī scholars appear to interpret it as “if you have sexual intercourse with”. Both of these interpretations involve taking an extreme position that is not implied by the verse. The phrase lāmastum literally means “if you caress”, it suggests prolonged contact and has a sexual connotation to it. The Mālikī opinion in my understanding best represents the intent of this verse. Touching a person of the opposite sex only breaks wuḍuʾ if the touching is done with erotic intent or if the touching leads to erotic pleasure without intent. This would apply whether the touching involves a stranger, relative or spouse. The Mālikī opinion represents a middle road between the extremely strict Shāfiʿī view and the extremely lax Ḥanafī/Ḥanbalī views.

On this issue I prefer the Mālikī view, which is that touching between spouses or strangers does not nullify wuḍuʾ unless the person does it with erotic intent or gains erotic pleasure from it. Giving your husband a massage wouldn’t nullify wuḍuʾ if there is no erotic intent or pleasure involved. The Ḥanbalī scholar al-Mardāwī also appears to share a similar opinion.

Source for the opinions of the scholars mentioned above: IslamWeb, fatwa 41160 [archived link], Ibn Baz’s website, fatwa 2961 [archived link].

Suicide and self-harm in Islam

This is a sensitive but also important topic. I remember at my lowest and my worst, needing to connect myself to Allah. It was during college . I was dealing with clinical depression, I also had PTSD. I was extremely suicidal, and I had been self-harming since years. I knew little about Islam, so I searched what islam says about being suicidal, self-harm, etc to be comforted, but instead I saw verses of Quran condemning suicide& threatening with harsh punishment.

I saw ahadith mentioning how the ones who commit suicide will repetitively kill themselves in such a way in the hereafter. many Islamic websites saying it’s a sin to self-harm. On top of my struggles I was dealing with, I felt like I was carrying a heavy burden on the religious side .I tried to numb my depression and to stop my self-harm behavior and suppress my suicidal thoughts,but it got worse. I thought I was a bad person. Then it hit me, why would The Creator of heavens not understand

Since then I’ve struggled with my faith. I realize that I needed Allah’s comfort and not fear. Since its taboo, I can never speak about this. I have no sense of directions, but just guilt of so many years thinking I indulged in sinful behavior by being sick. I don’t think common people understand self-harm and the mechanism of it , Which I can understand. But Allah? It’s a dark place to be mentally ill & ive crossed many sisters who are told they don’t have enough faith and they too feel bad.

I appreciate the difficulty of your situation. The problem is that you have read a few verses of the Quran without taking the rest into consideration, which always leads to an unbalanced view of God. And you should never let other people color your understanding of Him. Regarding suicide, the Quran has only this to say:

And spend in the cause of God, and do not throw yourselves with your own hands into ruin, and be charitable. God loves the charitable.1

The Quran also says:

O you who believe! Do not consume each other’s wealth illicitly, but trade by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves, for God is Merciful towards you.2

But this second verse is actually referring to one Muslim killing another, as can be seen from the fact that first part of the verse is talking about interactions between Muslims, and from the fact that in verse 2:54, the same wording regarding killing is used to refer to a certain group of Jews killing another group, rather than their committing suicide. Another piece of evidence is that the same wording is used in the same chapter, in verse 4:66, in reference to God commanding a group of people to fight another. Interpreting 4:29 as referring to suicide is a bit far-fetched for someone who is familiar with the Quran, although the literal wording of the verse can be thought to mean that.

In Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim there is the story of a man who commits suicide but who is assumed by the Prophet to be forgiven by God, and he himself prays for him. Imam al-Nawawī, in his commentary on the narration, says that this means that God judges each case of suicide individually, deciding whether it deserves punishment or not.3

Back to the Quran, regards those who have sinned:

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves: do not despair of God’s mercy, for God forgives all sins. He is indeed the Forgiver, the Clement.”4

It also says:

God does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives anything other than that to whomever He wills. Whoever associates anything with God has devised a monstrous sin.5

If you rely on the understanding of other people of the Quran, you get a skewed picture that reflects the person’s biases. But if you read the Quran itself, all of it, you get a balanced picture. You recognize that God is far more intelligent, kinder and wiser than any human. It is due to relying on other people’s interpretations that we end up questioning God’s wisdom and kindness. If we read the Quran itself, we see that it nearly always keeps things vague, showing us that for every rule there nearly always are exceptions, and that it is God who ultimately judges things. It is illogical to assume that God, who created humans, is less wise and kind than humans, or that His justice may contain faults.

God understands us perfectly. He does not want us to become lax in our faith, saying that He will forgive us regardless of what we do. It is for this reason that the Quran continuously reminds us to fear God. But that is only part of the picture. The Quran also continuously reminds us of God’s kindness and mercy, and the fact the He does not expect us to be super-human in our resolve and self-control:

God does not burden any soul beyond its capacity. To its credit is what it earns, and against it is what it commits. “Our Lord, do not condemn us if we forget or make a mistake. Our Lord, do not burden us as You have burdened those before us. Our Lord, do not burden us with more than we have strength to bear; and pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy on us. You are our Lord and Master, so help us against the disbelieving people.”6

And do not come near the property of the orphan, except with the best intentions, until he reaches maturity. And give full weight and full measure, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its capacity. And when you speak, be fair, even if it concerns a close relative. And fulfill your covenant with God. All this He has enjoined upon you, so that you may take heed.7

As for those who believe and do righteous works—We never burden any soul beyond its capacity—these are the inhabitants of the Garden; abiding therein eternally.8

We never burden any soul beyond its capacity. And with Us is a record that tells the truth, and they will not be wronged.9

The wealthy shall spend according to his means; and he whose resources are restricted shall spend according to what God has given him. God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it. God will bring ease after hardship.10

The God of the Quran is utterly just and kind. He never asks us to do the impossible, and He is always willing to forgive, and He understands us better than we understand ourselves. There is no human on earth as kind or understanding as God. God does not accept laxity in us, He always wants us to be better, for this reason He constantly commands us to strive to be better. He is not like a spoiling mother who will let us go to ruin by accepting our negative and selfish behaviors; He shows our true natures to us, like a good teacher and mentor. But He is always willing to forgive if we go back to Him with humility and submission.

If other Muslims do not understand you and quote random verses and narrations that make you feel misunderstood, this shows you the limits of human kindness and empathy rather than God. I recommend that you read the Quran many times (if you do not speak Arabic, a good translation would be Abdel Haleem’s), so that when someone quotes to you a random verse out of context you would be able to remember other verses that counterbalance it. There is no excuse for letting other people become middlemen between us and God when God has sent us the best book ever written.

Best wishes inshaAllah.

Living as a Muslim and a homosexual

I wanted to ask a q about being gay. I’m a gay Muslim that has never been intimate with another man, I love Islam & want to get into jannah inshallah, But I don’t know how one can live a life without being able to love, what should I do in this life? I did fall in love with another gay Muslim however we both are religious & made it clear that nothing could happen for the sake of Allah swt. This is too much of a burden on me & I’m tired of having to explain that I did not choose to be this way

You have probably been taught that one can only fall in love with a person they find sexually attractive, and since you only find men sexually attractive, you can only love men. For a young person this might sound very true, since for them sex is one of the most important things in life. The truth is that love is a feeling of admiration, trust and reliance that develops between two people who become emotionally close to one another. You find cases of a husband and wife both of whom are over 70 years of age and who are deeply in love with one another despite the fact that at that age most people have lost their ability to feel sexual desire, and neither of them probably finds the appearance of the other sexually attractive. Love does not need sexual intimacy to make it real.

Being gay is merely a label one chooses for a far more complex physiological reality. Human sexual desire is on a spectrum; most gay men are probably capable of enjoying sexual intimacy with a woman even if they find other men far more sexually attractive. I have also read cases of gay men, who say they only sexually desire other men, who fell in love with a woman. Rather than accepting today’s highly-politicized Western ideas about gender and sexuality, judge things for yourself. You might be perfectly capable of falling in love with the right woman and enjoying sexual intimacy with her, even if you feel a strong preference for men. If I am not mistaken, in the past homosexuality was recognized as merely a strong preference for one sex over the other, rather than a defining part of a person’s identity. It is only today that it has become an identity, and there is no reason why you should submit to this, letting others tell you what you are and how you should live your life. Just because you have a strong preference for men does not mean that you are incapable of loving and enjoying sexual intimacy with a woman.

Even if women are not your first choice, you may be able to enjoy a married life with the right woman that is as happy and pleasurable as most other people’s. Most marriages are not an erotic romance story; marriage is about two people agreeing to create a single enterprise, similar to two co-founders of a business. While sexual intimacy is very important for young married couples, it continually loses its importance as they age. This is not a tragedy; sexual desire requires hormones whose levels continue to fall as we age. One’s weakening appetite for sex does not mean that one also loses their love for their spouse. The opposite actually happens often, where a young married couple have little respect for each other in the beginning while after a decade or two of marriage they start to truly love and appreciate each other, even thought they are older and may rarely have sexual intercourse.

If you think it would be unfair to marry a woman while identifying as gay, you can share the fact with her and let her decide. People marry for many different reasons, and there may be women who will prefer you to the other men available to them because of your personality and other qualities even after you tell them you have a preference for men.

At the present, your case is similar to that of a man who is in love with an already-married woman. There might be no immediate solution, although I believe that as you mature and your sex drive quiets down your ideas may change with it. For now, you will have to accept your fate and appreciate that others have worse fates. Being born gay is probably better than being born blind. There are millions of men in India who desire women but who will never be able to marry simply because the country has millions more men than women. We all suffer from conditions that are outside our control, be it illness, family problems or poverty, and your case is no different.

For now, what you should do is endure patiently and always work to improve yourself and your knowledge. And always remember Prophet Ibrahim’s saying:

And who despairs of his Lord’s mercy except those who are truly lost?1

Life occasionally places us in situations where we lose our patience and want to simply give up rather than go on suffering. It is during those moments that we can prove our loyalty to God.

Best wishes inshaAllah.

Is reading erotica permitted in Islam?

I wanted to know if it’s haram to read smut and if so what are the punishments for it.

The seeking of any form of sexual pleasure outside the context of erotic love between married couples is either forbidden or in a gray area in Islamic law. The Quran says, in its description of pious people:

29. And those who guard their chastity.

30. Except from their spouses or those whose right hands possess, for then they are free of blame.

31. But whoever seeks to go beyond that—these are the transgressors.1

For a person who seeks to please God to the utmost, “whoever seeks to go beyond that” would be sufficient to make them stay away from all forms of sexual pleasure that is not within the context of marriage. However, it could be argued that reading erotica is merely a pleasure of the mind and has no connection with one’s chastity.

The Quran also contains many admonishments regarding the avoidance of fāḥshāʾ (as in verses 7:28, 16:90 and 24:21), which is translated as “indecency” by Arberry, “all that is shameful” by Muhammad Asad and “lewdness” by Pickthall. Personally I prefer to translate it as “engaging in obscenity”. To engage in obscenity, according to the British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton in his Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation, is to engage in any act in which humans are not treated as persons, but as bodies. Pornography is obscene, and watching it is an obscene act, because in it we see humans not as honored persons, but as mere bodies that one looks at for pleasure. Pornography reduces humans to zoo animals that we enjoy looking at; their humanity is taken away from them.

Humans know naturally that pornography is obscene, they also know that obscenity is harmful and repulsive. Even the most irreligious and progressive families would not find it acceptable to sit down as a family to watch a pornographic film, even if every member of the family is an adult. There is something “gross” about a family doing that even if no one is harmed in production of the film (if it is an animation) and even if they all get sexual pleasure from watching it. The grossness comes from the fact that we humans are subjects, rather than objects, and we have a natural tendency to find it repulsive when other humans, even imaginary ones, are treated as mere bodies, commodities to be enjoyed rather than persons to be interacted with and respected.

Sexual pleasure is only wholesome when it is between two subjects who continue to respect each other as persons during the act, with neither person using the other as a merely instrument of pleasure. Wholesome sexual pleasure is interpersonal, it is between two persons who respect one another. Enjoying pornography is not interpersonal, it is lust aimed at an object that cannot answer back.

If it can be agreed that something constitutes fāḥisha, then this would make it one of those things forbidden by the Quran. In Scruton’s view voyeurism (taking pleasure in watching others engage in sexual intimacy) is obscene, because it does not involve the interpersonal, social aspect that is present in sexual intimacy between a married couple. Reading an erotic novel or story is voyeurism through text, one takes pleasure in imagining others engage in sexual intimacy.

In the example of the family that sits down to watch pornography, what they are engaging in is voyeurism. They are subjects who take pleasure in something that does not look back at them. The all-important interpersonal element is taken out of the sexual act. The result is that the family members cannot respect each other anymore. When they all, together, take sexual pleasure in dehumanized human bodies, in humans treated like animals used for pleasure, it is only a very small leap of the imagination to transfer this way of thinking to each other. The son will no longer respect his father, his attitude toward him will be, “Why should I consider myself bound by an duty toward you when you and I treat other humans as mere bodies? You too are merely a body. For me to respect you, prove to me that you are more than a body. But you yourself treat other humans as mere bodies, therefore you cannot prove that to me.” Such thoughts would of course take time to develop. The family’s feeling at first would be that they are only keeping up a pretense by respecting each other like before. Slowly the respect will break down. This does not only apply to sexual morality but to all forms of morality; a family involved in any form of crime that objectifies and dehumanizes people (say a kidnapping business) is going to suffer an equal break down in respect for one another. Many Hollywood films glorify that lives of criminals, telling us that they are really good people on the inside. That has nothing to do with reality. A person who commits crimes against people is dehumanizing them, and by extension dehumanizes everyone around him. A mugger is much more likely to also be a rapist, as statistics show, because the two crimes come from the same mindset: the mindset of seeing other humans as instruments for gain and pleasure, rather than as honored persons. A mugger who dehumanizes a man by forcibly taking his wallet from him is equally capable of dehumanizing a woman by violating her sexually. In both cases, he is simply treating other humans not as subjects to be honored, but as objects that can be acted upon.

The problem with obscene pleasures is that they degrade us, taking us from the world of humans to the world of animals, from the warm world of wholesome society to the cold, harsh underworld of the criminal. A person who has been watching a pornographic film or reading an erotic novel for 30 minutes will feel out of place, like a stranger, if they were to go sit down in a social gathering. Obscene pleasures always involve dehumanizing others, while in society we are supposed to treat others as humans. There is a deep conflict between these two modes of interaction. That person who has been enjoying humans as objects for the past 30 minutes is now going to feel like he is only maintaining a pretense by treating the humans around him as subjects.

It will require a long essay to fully clarify the conflict between high human society and the underworld of obscenity. Those interested can read Scruton’s book. Back to the question of erotic writings, personally I consider it an obscene pleasure. It contains an element of fāḥshāʾ (obscenity), meaning that the general Quranic prohibition on engaging in fāḥshāʾ applies to it. The point of an erotic book is to help you gain sexual gratification by imagining that you are looking at other humans having sex. It is pornography without pictures, and everything that applies to pornography applies to it. Taking pleasure in erotica is a disguised form of voyeurism.

Voyeurism is evil because it is a violation of the sanctity of the human. In voyeurism a person takes pleasure in only part of a human; a full human is a subject who can look back at you, who is free and who is honored by God. But the human that is the object of voyeurism is a human that is cut apart; we are no longer interested in their souls but only in their bodies and their physical sensations. The sanctity of human life requires that we treat them as subjects and only take pleasure in them with their consent. In voyeurism, this sanctity is violated, the human is taken pleasure in without their opinion being asked, without their involvement as free-willed partakers in the act of the voyeur’s sexual gratification. The voyeur looks at a woman and takes sexual pleasure in her without caring whether she is a murderer or a good person, that part of her is destroyed by voyeurism, she is no longer really a human. And she cannot look back at the voyeur, for the voyeur she is an object. Now in production of erotica no one is harmed. The harm is to the reader alone, because by engaging in fantasy voyeurism, he sinks more and more into the underworld of obscenity where humans are mere objects and where all morality and respect and duty are mere pretenses.

You meet many such people on the Internet. They have no respect for their families because to them each family member is like an animal in human form. They do not consider their father or mother intrinsically worthy of respect; they have to earn that respect by titillating this sunken person’s ego and desires. They do not believe in duties, they believe that they should do anything they can get away with to get the maximum pleasure they can get. I believe that the whole culture of the West is experiencing this sunken-ness to some degree. You cannot mention social duties and responsibilities to most people without them becoming almost violently hostile. To a sunken person society is just an ATM to take resources from and has no rights of its own. For them society is just a collection of objects who should be used for the maximum pleasure and profits. It is not a collection of subjects who have to be honored as sacred and inviolable persons.

There is no punishment specified for engaging in voyeurism as far as I am aware. A person who engages in it is doing something degrading to himself, and he is harming his relationship with God by doing something He disapproves of. The enjoyment of any form of obscene pleasure goes against true piety and fear of God. But if someone is overcome by desire (as in the case of someone who cannot avoid masturbation) into doing it, then it is not a big deal. They can repent and go on with their lives. God does not ask us to be have super-human self-control. But those who have sufficient self-control to avoid an obscene pleasure, and who know full well that it is something God disapproves of, then if they do engage in it, they degrade themselves greatly in the sight of God.

There is no obvious “harm” in a man admiring a woman’s picture, or in a person reading a sexually suggestive story. The harm is not in the act in itself, but in its effects on the person’s relationship with the humans around him/her and with God. It is a slippery slope whose harms can take years to become appreciable. The more we engage in obscenity, the more anti-social we become, the more we feel as if we are merely pretending to be moral and upright in society, and even worse, we start to believe everyone around us is also just pretending. For a person seeking a meaningful life, engaging in obscenity leads to a sense of loneliness and disengagement with those around them. The warmth of human society leaves their lives; sex in its physicality becomes paramount, they start to see the humans around them as objects rather than persons. It becomes difficult to respect even their own parents when they start to see them as mere animals with sex organs rather than seeing them as honored persons. Obscenity forces an animalistic, sunken worldview that is directly in conflict with maintaining a human society in which people are honored.

Reading one or five erotic novels may have no appreciable harm on a person. But they shouldn’t be surprised if this makes them less honoring and respectful towards those around them, and if those around them start to develop a dislike for them in return. And they shouldn’t be surprised if they start to feel as if they are living a lie, as if they are only pretending to be moral. It is impossible to maintain one’s inner sense of moral dignity while engaging in obscenity in private, because the two things contradict one another.

On Islamic prayers for fertility

I have been married for 1.5years. There are some issues with fertility. Is there any help/duas that can help? Sometimes i lack faith, but i remember this is a test from Allah swt of sabr and imaan. Please could you help in terms of duas? Jzk.

I do not believe in the superior power of specific prayer words as opposed to others. I believe what matters is one’s level of piety and submission to God. A person who is involved in a sinful activity (such as having a savings or retirement account that earns interest, or owning bank stocks) should not expect their prayers to be answered, since they are insulting God with one hand while praying with the other.

One thing you can try is what is known as nadhr, which is to ask God to give you something (in your case, a child) and promise to give something in return. For example you can promise God to give a specific amount of money or jewels in charity if God answers your prayer. You may also do a nadhr with an act of worship, such as promising God to fast every Monday and Thursday for a certain period of time (6 months, etc.) if God answers your prayer, or promising to read a certain amount of Quran every day or week for a year. Keep in mind that the nadhr promise cannot be broken once it is made; it would be highly sinful to ignore the promise after God has answered your prayer.

Best wishes inshaAllah.

Is adopting preferred to having one’s own child in Islam?

Is having ones own biological children preferred over adopting, or is it equal?

I cannot find any scholarly opinions on whether one is better than the other. From a biological perspective not having your own children means that your genes will be lost, which can have what is known as a dysgenic effect on society, reducing society’s overall fitness by reducing genetic diversity. A single person choosing not to have children is not going to have a noticeable effect in this regard, therefore it is not something to worry about unless too many people try it. Therefore as it stands, it appears to be entirely a matter of personal choice.

Is kosher meat and meat from Christian Orthodox countries halal?

Can we eat kosher meat? Also, i have heard from a few Islamic teachers that we can eat meat from Christian Orthodox countries like KFC in Poland. Is this true?

Anything certified kosher is automatically halal. Kosher certification for slaughterhouses requires the presence of a person from a Jewish religious institution who oversees the slaughter to make sure it is carried out according to Jewish religious law, which is compatible with Islamic law.

We are technically allowed to eat food from Christians, provided that there are no other issues with the food. We cannot eat pork even if it is from a Christian country, since pork is forbidden regardless of its source. In the same way, animals that are dead at the time of slaughter are impermissible to eat regardless of the source, and since a significant portion of the meat and poultry coming from Western non-kosher slaughterhouses is from dead animals/birds (as much as 10%, as was discovered by the European Fatwa Council), we cannot eat it. The meat you buy from a supermarket and the meat in a typical burger chain’s offerings could be from an animal or bird that was dead before slaughter for all that you know, for this reason Muslims have to avoid it.

If you know Christians who slaughter their animals and birds properly and allow the blood to leave the carcass, you are allowed to eat the meat they sell. But if it is slaughterhouse meat, or if it is from Christian farmers who do not bleed the carcass, or who perform the slaughter in other ways not compatible with Islamic law, you are not allowed to eat it.

In general, Christians have no religious standards regarding slaughter, therefore one should consider meat provided by them automatically haram unless one knows the source well and knows that they conduct the slaughter and bleeding properly. As for meat from Jewish kosher-certified sources, one can automatically assume it is halal since the slaughtering involves the presence of a religious representative.

On Muslims working for companies that deal with interest

I just wanted to ask you since my major is economy and some jobs involves working with the interest rate especially if it's a firm that works with lending money. Can I still work with them? There's a lot of competition here in this country regarding this major so saying no to a job means it's very difficult to find any other job.

Working for a lender who charges interest is similar to working for a company that you know systematically steals money from people, or working for a company that runs brothels. It is not an honorable thing to do, and by helping them, you share a part of their sin. The same applies to for-profit insurance companies. It is far better to lose a job opportunity and find a lower paying job than find a great job and have a cursed life.

If you are completely desperate for a job, you might make an exception for yourself, saying that you have no choice, and it is even possible that God will accept your excuse. However, you can never be sure that God is pleased with you, and true love and fear of God requires that one should avoid all questionable things (not only forbidden things, but those things that are in a gray area).

If I were you, I would refuse to accept jobs in usurious lending and for-profit insurance the way I would refuse to work for any other evil and unethical company. Many times in your life you will be offered the choice between something ethical and something unethical that promises greater rewards. People fall into the trap of making the unethical choice today, thinking that down the road they can make up for it. Reality it does not work like that. A person who finds it to make the ethical choice today and instead goes for the unethical choice will find it just as difficult to make the ethical choice tomorrow. It never gets easier. If you accept that job, thinking that down the road you will find an equally good but ethical job, in reality such a job may never appear, and you may never be able to leave the current job without making a big sacrifice for it.

Humans like to think “I will be a good person when it becomes easy for me to be good,” and in this way they can spend their whole lives as corrupt and lowly servants of God waiting for the day when they can be pure and angelic servants of God without having to sacrifice anything, a day that will never come. The tests that God throws at us are designed specifically for us, to bring out our true natures and show Him our level of dedication to Him.

Unethical companies would go out of business if no one accepted to work for them. By working for them, we become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Best wishes inshaAllah.

I just read your answer on the banking job. I got the work as a financial officer in the bank. I feel confused about your answer, because applying that logic it means that Muslims can't work in banks but how is that possible when banks are everywhere even in Muslim countries. After doing some research I found that it is even haram to be security guard for a bank. But then how come we use credit cards from the banks? we are still their customers even if we don't take interest

We cannot use credit cards unless there is a desperate financial need for it since they charge interest. I guess you meant how we can have bank accounts and debit cards. The reason is that using a service from an unethical company when you don’t have a good alternative is very different from working for them. Ideally we should have our bank accounts and debit cards with Islamic banks that do not deal in usury, but there are no reliable and respected banks of that kind in the United States, though your country might have them.

Muslims can work in banks, as long as the banks do not deal with usury. There is a whole field of Islamic finance that can do everything an ordinary bank does without usury.

When we Muslims use debit cards from a bank, we are simply using a halal service offered by a company that deals in both halal and haram. It is similar to buying groceries from someone who also owns an unethical business. Ideally we wouldn’t buy from such a person, but sometimes we don’t have alternatives.

Which Islamic school of thought should we be following?

Out of the schools of Islamic thought which one is the most popular and which one should we be following?

The division of Islamic thought into “schools” was a product of historical circumstances. Before the development of the schools, there was a period, known academically as the “formative period”, in which each respected scholar was considered his own “school”. During the time of Imam Mālik (d. 795 CE), who saw the end of the Umayyad Empire and the rise of the Abbasid one in his lifetime, there were many respected scholars in the city of Medina, none of whom belonged to a specific school. They respected each other’s opinions and when they disagreed, instead of attacking one another, they would consider the conflicting opinions as potentially valid alternatives. For the details of this period of Islam, see professor Yasin Dutton’s The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qur’an, the Muwatta’ and Madinan Amal and professor Umar Abdallah Wymann-Landgraf’s important work Malik and Medina: Islamic Legal Reasoning in the Formative Period.

I believe that the schools answered a specific need during the historical period from the 9th century to the 20th century, but that there is no longer a need for Muslims to limit themselves to a school. They should instead follow the scholars they know to be the most honorable and knowledgeable, which also studying the evidence for themselves when it comes to important and controversial issues.

One important issue today in the West is that of halal meat. Is supermarket meat from non-Muslims halal or not? Rather than following a specific school’s opinion, I studied the opinions of the respected scholars I found; the European Fatwa Council had done a study in which they discovered that slaughterhouses often killed the animals or birds before slaughtering them, meaning that there is no guarantee that the meat bought at a supermarket is not from an animal that was dead at the time of slaughter. This means that all meat from Western supermarkets is haram (except for kosher or halal-certified products). A Shāfiʿī scholar ruled that Western red meat is not halal while poultry is. A Ḥanafī scholar said that both should be considered haram.

In such issues, instead of “submitting” to any school, thinking that that takes away one’s responsibility if their opinion is wrong, one should find the opinion that is most reasonable and that is most likely to please God. While eating supermarket meat would make my life easier (since I wouldn’t have to go out of my way to find halal stores), and while I can find scholarly opinions permitting me to buy chicken and turkey from non-halal places, I have to follow the opinion I know to be right and reasonable, which is that all Western-produced meat is haram except for that which is certified kosher or halal.

As I mentioned in a previous answer, saying “I followed the wrong person” is not a valid excuse for Muslims when it comes to the scholars and opinions they follow, because you are considered sufficiently intelligent and capable to distinguish between good and evil yourself. In two passages (2:165-167 and 34:31-33) the Quran mentions God rejecting the excuses of people on the Day of Judgment who say they were only following others.

By the above I do not mean that every Muslim should become a fiqh scholar in order to judge everything for themselves. When it comes to most things, it is safe to follow the opinions of well-known and respected scholars. As long as you do not find in their opinions something that conflicts with your reason and conscience, or that conflicts with a Quranic verse or hadith narration you know of, then it is safe to follow the mainstream opinion. But when it comes to issues of controversy, such as halal meat or interest, that is when you are obligated to look deeper instead of following the opinion that fits your desires.

Page 6 of 15
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15