IslamQA

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

Will my past sins count against me after having returned to Islam?

I was born in a Muslim Asian family and wasn’t brought up with much islam and I left my religion as I never understood anything and now that I’m 19 I took my shahada again and I’m more on my deen now, will it be counted as a sin, I mean my past?

Not at all. In fact, the Quran says that those who repent and come back to faithfully worshiping God will have their past sins written as good deeds for them.

Except for those who repent, and believe, and do good deeds. These—God will replace their bad deeds with good deeds. God is ever Forgiving and Merciful. (The Quran, verse 25:70)

How and why does God seal people’s hearts?

How and why does Allah seal people's hearts?

From the Quran it appears that once a person crosses a certain line of evil, God blocks them from coming back to the good side.

When a person dies, their fate is sealed, they can no longer repent and do good deeds to change their fate. It appears that when a person commits certain acts of evil, it is as if they have died. One such act is premeditated murder, which “rips the soul apart” (as it is described by some people) so that it cannot be made whole again, and the person who commits it becomes irreparably evil and broken.

This does not happen by accident. A person has to make evil choices day in and day out for years on end, until the point of no return is reached. Murder is not an ordinary crime, a person has to be already really evil to commit it, and committing it puts them beyond the point of no return so that their hearts are sealed and they are not allowed to return to the good side again.

“Will the Sunni and Shia killing ever stop?”

Will the Sunni and Shia killing ever stop? I don't understand why we Muslims cant accept each sects differences. You can choose to not agree with what they say but I don't understand the killing between these sects. Beside that nothing historical will change. We Muslims today are so quite on this subject, the only time someone brings it up is when they want to slander the other.

Sunni and Shia Muslims generally live peacefully together throughout the world, there is actually very little violence, and the cases of violence are almost always due to foreign influence. US, Israeli and Saudi intelligence arm and train Sunni terrorists in Iraq in order to weaken their political rival (Iran), and Iran does the same for the Shiite in Iraq in order to fight back against its enemies. It is nearly always about politics, not religion.

Religion is one of the favorite tools used by intelligence agencies when they want to attack their enemies. The United States funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Sunni jihadists in Afghanistan in order to weaken the Soviet Union, as I explain in my essay Why Most Terrorists are Muslim.

In my experience most educated Shia and Sunni Muslims do not care about sectarian differences and are quite happy to live peacefully together. I grew up in Iran and speak Farsi so I am familiar with Iranian Shia Muslims and their culture.

Why Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims

Why are Muslim men allowed to marry a non-Muslim but Muslim women are not allowed?

One theory is due to genetic and psychological differences between men and women, Muslim men will be better able to  remain practicing Muslims and to bring up devout Muslim children even if their wives are Christian or Jewish, while Muslim women will be less likely to accomplish these.

Scientific studies are needed to prove whether the above is true, but it seems to be true from anecdotal evidence. It is probably true that some Muslim women will be perfectly capable of remaining practicing Muslims and bringing up practicing Muslim children when married to non-Muslims, but these will be the exceptions, not the rule. It is similar to drinking wine; some people are able to enjoy it without becoming drunkards, but Islam forbids it to all Muslims since this is better for everyone. So that fact that I or you can drink wine without it causing us noticeable harm does not mean that it is halal for us and haram for others. It is haram for everyone.

If Muslim women who are married to non-Muslims are twice as likely to stop practicing Islam compared to Muslim women married to Muslim husbands, and/or if their children are twice as likely to abandon Islam, then these can be considered sufficient justification for prohibiting it.

So in this case, as in the case of wine-drinking, a person has to refrain from it for the sake of the greater good.

There might be many other reasons for forbidding such marriages, I’m mentioning only two potential explanations.

In Islam, everything is allowed unless explicitly forbidden. In the matter of sex, however, the Quran reverses matters; everything is forbidden, as numerous verses say, unless explicitly allowed. The Quran commands the believers to “guard their privates” (abstain from sex) in five places (23:5, 24:30, 24:31, 33:35, 70:29), then in the contexts of two of these verses it makes exceptions for cases of lawful relationships (23:6, 70:30). The picture that the Quran draws is that all sexual activity is forbidden, except when it is expressly allowed. Since the Quran expressly allows men to marry non-Muslim women belonging to God’s other religions, while it does not expressly allow women to do its counterpart, this can be considered strong evidence for considering the latter forbidden.

Those who want to legalize marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men say that such marriages are in a gray area, even though they are not expressly allowed, they are not expressly forbidden either. The reasoning offered by such people is that it is in the best interests of Muslim women to be allowed to marry outside the faith, that this is more likely to ensure their long-term good, and that the prohibition may have made sense in certain societies, but does not make sense in Western-style diverse and multi-religious societies.

But as I mentioned above, if such women and their potential children are more likely to abandon Islam, then that is a very good reason for prohibiting such marriages, and it is a weak argument to say that it is materially better for women to marry outside the faith if their spiritual and eternal life is harmed by this.

Islam is not forced on people, so a Muslim woman should be free to marry outside the faith from a civic law perspective, so it is ultimately a matter between the woman and God. Marriage is one of the most important decisions in life, and a Muslim woman who truly fears God and wishes to please Him will never base her marriage on what is at best in a gray area, since she cannot be sure if God will be pleased with her.

Daughter wants to distance herself from her abusive parents

What has made my emaan weaker is that I became traumatisied from a bad childhood. My parents played part in this. Sometimes they used islam against me to manipullate me. Also I wasn't allowed to get help, and my mom labelled my depression as kufr, which made me feel bad and try to suppress the despair . All scholars and everything I've read is about parental rights, and that it is a huge sin (akbar kabair) to cut family ties. I am not an adult and much better but I still want distance from them

Do not let other people’s mistakes affect your relationship with God. Read the Quran as if it was sent down to you personally, and follow its teachings and philosophy wherever you can in your life. If people misuse Islam to attack you, ignore it, knowing that God is better than them.

Regarding cutting family ties, that refers to treating family members as strangers, i.e. permanent estrangement where a child treats their disliked parent as if there is no relationship between them.

If your parents mistreat you, you have the right to keep your distance. What you do not have the right to do is cut off your relationship with them completely. Remain in their lives, help them where necessary, and be dutiful as much as you can, Islam doesn’t ask you to do more than this, it does not ask you to subject yourself to them if they constantly mistreat and humiliate you. Both you and your parents have your human rights, and if they neglect your human rights, they have sinned.

Salam . I'm the one who wrote that I'm traumatized and that I need to distance myself from my parents. I made a typo last time, its supposed to be I am now* an adult. You said that I will still have to stay with them. But I told you I am traumatised and I'm not allowed to get any help. Having PTSD has been beyond hell, and I don't understand why Allah wants me to stay in touch with them. Its easier said than done that my relationship with God shouldn't be affected. Even Quran is triggering

Even when I pray Its a struggle, because It feels like I am giving up to something evil. Being abused through religion is not easy. I won’t cut ties with them permanently, maybe few years until I recover fully and can find myself again. Every sensible person has told me to do it. I don’t understand the reason for keeping in touch with them, I feel as if death is much easier than keeping conntact with people who ruined me

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

At its root, this is a matter of conscience between you and God. Can you in good conscience cut off ties with them for this bad things they have done? Isn’t it a higher ideal, more admirable, more honorable, to be kind and forgiving toward them?

Islam does not ask you to do more than you can bear. If today the pain of contact with them is unbearable, and you decide to avoid contact, then that’s forgivable. But what about tomorrow, or next year? What matters above all is to not harden your heart against people. If you maintain a soft heart, if you are aware of the Quran’s teachings, and you reexamine your decision to avoid contact ever day, and you keep reaching the same conclusion that avoiding contact is best, then perhaps you are right. But there is always also the great danger of being harder on people and less kind than we can be. So you would be walking a fine line.

The reason why God wants us to not cut ties with our relatives is the same reason why God prohibits us from lying. Maintaining relations and telling the truth ensure that society functions well. Cutting ties and lying causes breakdown. In exceptional circumstances one can justify lying, for example to save their lives or the life of someone they love. And in exceptional circumstances, one can justify cutting ties.

So it is part of your social responsibility to tell the truth and to maintain ties. Doing the opposite requires great justification, and it is for this reason that scholars speak strongly against cutting ties. You would be doing something that goes against your social responsibility. Is it justifiable? No one can answer this question except yourself. It is something between you and God. And if it is justifiable today, it may not be next week or next year.

In the West people will simplify your decision for you by saying that you can do whatever you want, since it is how you feel that matters. Social responsibility is something that very few people worry about. So I understand that people will be telling you to do it, to cut ties, since you need it and your parents deserve it. Islam doesn’t say this is necessarily wrong. It however says to take your social responsibility seriously.

Reply from a reader:

I thought you were more rational but when you told that anon to accept to stay with her parents although she clarified that she's traumatisized you're not so far from the salaf you condemn. How far do we have to go with social responsibility? Isn't emotional trauma enough? Or sexual trauma? What about a woman who's abused by her husband? Does she have to have a social responsibility to stay? How do we make sure that children can grow up functioning with the idea of social responsibility?

If you read the answer again you will see that I did not tell her to stay with her parents, but to make up her own mind. You have your own human rights, and you have social responsibility. The two concerns must be balanced. You shouldn’t let people abuse you, but you shouldn’t neglect your responsibilities toward them either.

People, using their intellect and conscience, and guided by the Quran’s moral philosophy, can decide what is the best course of action in each situation.

The idea of social responsibility simply means that one shouldn’t selfishly focus on their own rights to the exclusion of other people’s rights. “Don’t be selfish” is something that all good parents teach their children. But they should also teach them to resist abuse and injustice.

Are men allowed to show their emotions in Islam?

Can a man according to Islam show his emotions?

Prophet Yaqoub cried when he lost both his sons. Prophet Muhammad cried when his son Ibrahim died. There is no general prohibition on showing emotions. Harmful shows of emotion, such as breaking things out of anger or sadness, are forbidden, but you don’t need religion to tell you that. Islam teaches us to aim for the greatest good and avoid things that are harmful to ourselves and humanity, using this principle, you can determine which shows of emotion are acceptable, which ones are disliked and which ones are clearly forbidden.

Can prayer change your destiny in Islam?

Is that true that dua has so much power that it can also change what's written in your destiny (I read it somewhere).

The Quran says that if Prophet Yunus, , had not been among the musabbiheen (those who make it a habit to perform God’s remembrance), God would have not have saved him from the belly of the whale (verses 37:142-144 of the Quran).

This story suggests that what you do now can affect what destiny God chooses for you. If you do good, God will cause more good to come to you, and if you do evil, God can punish you with bad things happening in your life:

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

But whoever turns away from My Remembrance, for him is a constricted life. And We will raise him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” (The Quran, verse 20:124)

The Quran mentions that God helped prophet Musa (Moses) acquire knowledge and wisdom as a reward for being a virtuous person, meaning that if he had not been virtuous, he would not have had this reward:

And when he reached his maturity, and became established, We gave him wisdom and knowledge. Thus do We reward the virtuous. (The Quran, verse 28:14)

The same would apply to dua/supplication in its ability to change what future God enables us to have. If you pray for knowledge, God can arrange the circumstances for you to acquire it, but if you had not prayed, perhaps you wouldn’t have acquired that knowledge.

There are various schools of thought on these issues and you will get very different answers depending on who you ask. There is the Ash’ari creed, the Maturidi creed, the Mutazilite creed, the Hanbali literalist creed (traditionalist Salafis), each has its own theory of free will and destiny.

Did God destroy the People of Lot for rape instead of homosexuality?

According to science human sexuality is on a spectrum and same can be said about gender identity. As you answered someone's question here and advised them to read the Quran . You said that we have different psychology. I wonder then why Allah said in the Qur'an that people of Lot were approaching men instead of woman (if they are wired differently, then it makes sense that they would approach men). I find many Muslim blogs giving really simplistic answers and many of them have no background in gender studies. My second question about the topic is why do everyone interpret it as same-sex what lot’s people did? It’s obvious that’s it’s rape, because the angels were hiding at his house ? Why did he tell them to approach woman or the fact that he wanted to give his daughter in marriage. Rape is wrong regardless if it’s same or opposite sex. Tbh I feel very confused. What I’ve noticed here on Tumblr is that the only ones who sees it for what it is (rape) are Muslim lgbt

The understanding that the People of Lot’s chief sin was homosexuality comes from the Quran. In the places where their sins are mentioned, the main one is clearly stated as homosexual acts:

54. And Lot, when he said to his people, “Do you commit vile obscenity in full awareness?

55. Do you approach men sexually instead of women? You are truly ignorant people.”

56. But the only response of his people was to say, “Expel the family of Lot from your town. They are purist people.” (The Quran, verses 27:54-56)

And in other chapter:

80. And Lot, when he said to his people, “Do you commit vile obscenity no people anywhere have ever committed before you?”

81. “You approach men sexually rather than women. You are an excessive people.”

82. And his people’s only answer was to say, “Expel them from your town; they are purist people.” (The Quran, verses 7:80-82)

The above two passages do not mention anything about rape or other crimes they may have committed. Prophet Lot’s main criticism of them them is that they “approach men sexually”.

This third passage expands on their sins:

28. And Lot, when he said to his people, “You are committing a vile obscenity not perpetrated before you by anyone in the whole world.

29. You approach men sexually, and cut off the way, and commit vile obscenity in your gatherings.” But the only response from his people was to say, “Bring upon us God’s punishment, if you are truthful.” (The Quran, verses 29:28-29)

If you do a fair-minded reading of the Quran, you cannot escape the conclusion that the vile obscenity referred to is the fact that they were men who had sex with other men. A strong piece of evidence in this regard is the verse you referred to:

And his people came rushing towards him—they were in the habit of committing sins. He said, “O my people, these are my daughters; they are purer for you. So fear God, and do not embarrass me before my guests. Is there not one reasonable man among you?” (The Quran, verse 11:78)

Most interpreters give this verse and similar ones a polite reading, saying that Lot is offering to marry his daughters to them. The Quran mentions that it was the people of the town who had come to rape the men in his house, so even if he had 10 daughters, they would likely not have sufficed for the town men. What Lot is actually saying is that if you are going to violate us, do it to my daughters, since this is less evil than doing it to my male guests.

This will naturally sound shocking to a modern reader, since our thinking is based on the rights of individuals. Lot’s thinking, however, is that ordinary male-female rape is one type of crime, and sex between males is a different, and far more serious crime, because it is a premeditated insult against God (not just against the rights of other people), it is similar to defacing a sacred place (such as a mosque or church).

In other words, Lot is not thinking of this issue from the point of view of humans. He is thinking of it from God’s point of view. He thinks that God may forgive rape, but that He may not forgive being insulted.

Note that the angels tell Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim) that they have been commanded to destroy Lot’s people before they actually enter Lot’s city. So their destruction is not something decided on the spur of the moment by God for trying to rape these male-like angels, their destruction had been decreed before the angels enter the city (The Quran, verses 51:32 and after). It is true that Lot’s people are rapists, but since the Quran’s main criticism of these people centers around the fact that “they approach men sexually instead of women”, it is natural to conclude that they were destroyed for this, rather than for rape alone.

The obvious conclusion is that they were destroyed for consensual homosexual sex, rather than for rape. I know that there is a strong desire to interpret these verses as saying the destruction was due to rape, but this is a very far-fetched interpretation, especially if you take into account the fact that Lot offers his daughters to these rapists. He gives preference to this crime against his daughters over what he considers to be the far more serious crime against God and His honor.

I am aware that gender identity issues exist and I have every sympathy for a person who feels they were born into the wrong sex or who feel that they do not fit into the traditionally accepted roles that society determines for them. Islam does not say that these issues do not exist; it says that one should give preference to God’s laws as opposed to their own personal fulfillment, because God has the best interests of humanity at heart. It is true that psychology and genetics plays a part in making a person homosexual, but this does not make it OK. I explain the reasons why in detail in my essay On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims.

Dealing with sexist hadith narrations as a woman

There are endless of hadiths that ridicules us woman. That says that we aren't rational, intellectual etc. Many of them are of sahih. For instance the hadith in which asmaa bint Yazid was talking to the prophet sws and he and his companions were amazed that a woman could express herself as she did (which means that they normally doubt woman's intellect). Then you got the straightforward ones that says woman are stupid, inferior etc...

Our conceptualization of Islam comes from the Quran. The Quran is our program and our guide in life, and it doesn’t contain any of the things you describe.

As for hadith, hadith exists on a second tier, it is there to provide us with an example of the Prophet’s efforts to follow the Quran. Everything in hadith is considered z̧anni, meaning of doubtful certitude. Imam Malik and Abu Hanifa recommend skepticism toward hadith, including authentic ones, whenever they deviate from the Quran or from well-established practices of the Sunna. Therefore, for example, Imam Malik refuses to act by various hadith narrations even though they were considered authentic, because the narrations go against the well-established practices of the people of Medina (see The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qur’an, the Muwatta’ and Madinan Amal by Yasin Dutton).

Imam al-Bukhari himself rejects an authentic hadith because it contains a prophesy that does not come true (the Prophet says this thing will happen, but 200 years have passed and it has not happened, so al-Bukhari concludes the hadith is false). For more examples of scholars rejecting authentic narrations see the (freely available) paper How We Know Early Ḥadīth Critics Did Matn Criticism and Why It’s So Hard to Find by Jonathan Brown.

There is an authentic narration (in Sahih Muslim) that says if a woman, black dog or donkey passes in front of a person praying, their prayer is invalidated. In a different narration, also in Sahih Muslim, it is recorded that when Aisha (wife of the Prophet ), may God have mercy on her, hears this hadith (this is after the Prophet’s death), she angrily retorts “You have compared us to dogs!” Instead of sitting quietly and accepting the hadith, she challenges it because she finds it ridiculous and insulting.

You can do the same. Instead of submitting to other people’s visions about what Islam should be, do your own research and build your own vision of Islam based on a wide variety of sources. If someone uses some random hadith to belittle you, challenge them using the Quran’s principles, or research the hadith and you will usually find that there are other hadith narrations that contradict it.

It is permissible to celebrate Mawlid of the Prophet ﷺ

Neither rasool Allah pbuh, nor the companions, nooooor the predecessors congratulated for Mawlid ! Bidaaaaah bro, bidaah

What you are saying is based on the idea (mostly propounded by Wahhabis) that any type of worship or Islamic celebration that was not performed by the early Muslims is automatically an evil and forbidden thing. People who disagree with the Wahhabis and believe that celebrating the Mawlid is acceptable include: Yusuf al-Qaradawi (al-Azhar scholar), Imam al-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, al-Suyuti, Muhammad al-Hadhrami (Shafi`i jurist), Sadr al-Din al-Jazari (Shafi`i jurist).

I don’t celebrate the Prophet’s birthday myself ﷺ, but since some people enjoy it and get something out of it, I have no problem with them doing it. They have a desire to feel close to the Prophet and the mawlid celebrations fulfill that desire for them, and as the above list of scholars should show, there is no consensus on forbidding such celebrations. You are free to not celebrate it yourself, but you have no right to ruin it for others. If someone says mawlid mubarak, it is politeness to reply to them in the same kind.

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