IslamQA

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

Islamic rulings on ear, nose and tongue piercings

The contemporary Azhar-educated Egyptian scholar Dr. Khālid ʿAbd al-Munʿim al-Rifāʿī says in a fatwa1 that the four schools agree that piercing the ear is permissible due to the fact that it serves a common need among women, and that there is no clear evidence against it. He quotes the Ḥanbalī scholar Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 1350 CE) saying in his Tuḥfat al-Mawdūd:

ويكْفِي في جوازه عِلْمُ الله ورسولِه بفعل الناس له وإقرارهم على ذلك فلو كان مما ينهى عنه لنهى القرآن أو السنة

It is sufficient [evidence] for making it permissible the fact God and His Prophet had knowledge of people doing it and authorized their act. If it was something to be forbidden, the Quran or the Sunnah would have forbidden it.

Regarding the issue of nose piercings, he quotes the Saudi scholar Ibn ʿUthaymīn saying that if it is a common practice among women in a place to do so then there is no issue with it, while he himself apparently dislikes it.

The Saudi Ḥanbalī scholar ʿAbdul Muḥsin al-ʿAbbād has the same opinion regarding both ear and nose piercings, that they are both permissible.2

Tongue piercings

 

The scholarly view appears to be that if a certain type of piercing is a common cultural practice and has no harms to one’s health then it is permissible. The issue of tongue piercings is complicated by the fact that it has negative health effects. From a 2012 study:

Within the limitations of this study, this case control study has demonstrated the adverse long-term effects of tongue piercing. A significant correlation between wearing a tongue piercing and an increased incidence of enamel fissures, enamel fractures and gingival recessions (especially in the lingual region of mandibular incisors) was revealed.

Based on this and other data available and the numerous dental complications which have been reported, individuals should be advised against having a tongue piercing. Subjects who already have a piercing object inserted should be informed with conviction about the risks they are facing.3

Another study from 2015 concluded:

Both lip and tongue piercings are highly associated with the risk of gingival recession, and tongue piercings are also associated with tooth injuries.4

Since tongue piercings seem to have a greater potential for harm, it appears to me that it would be more in accordance with Islamic law to consider them forbidden than allowed.

On rejoining Islam after a sinful life

I am a Muslim but in my past, I have done terrible things. I have sex with multiple women, went to clubs, did drugs and drank alcohol. I have always wanted to repent and now I think I have found my calling. But, I don't know if I am still considered a Muslim after what I've done. What should I do?

In the Quran, God promises that He forgives all sins, as in the following passage which applies directly to your situation:

53. 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.”

54. And turn to your Lord, and submit to Him, before the retribution comes upon you. Then you will not be helped.

55. And follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord, before the punishment comes upon you suddenly, while you are unaware.

56. So that a soul may not say, “How sorry I am, for having neglected my duty to God, and for having been of the scoffers.”

57. Or say, “Had God guided me; I would have been of the pious.”

58. Or say, when it sees the penalty, “If only I had another chance, I would be of the virtuous.”

59. Yes indeed! My Verses did come to you, but you called them lies, turned arrogant, and were of the faithless.1

Start to read the Quran as if it was sent to you personally, as the Pakistani poet Muhammad Iqbal says his father taught him, and you will find everything you need in it.

If you renew your allegiance to God by accepting to obey His commandments from now on, then you are a Muslim. Repentance is sufficient to erase the sins of the past:

70. Except for those who repent, and believe, and do good deeds. These—God will replace their [past] bad deeds with good deeds. God is ever Forgiving and Merciful.

71. Whoever repents and acts righteously—has inclined towards God with repentance.

72. And those who do not bear false witness; and when they come across indecencies, they pass by with dignity.

73. And those who, when reminded of the revelations of their Lord, do not fall before them deaf and blind.

74. And those who say, “Our Lord, grant us delight in our spouses and our children, and make us a good example for the righteous.”2

Also see:

How to repent from zina (sex outside of marriage)

God has not abandoned you

On the ritual purity of cats in Islam

Does cat fur invalidate our prayers?

Regarding cats, the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying:

إنها ليست بنجس، إنها من الطوافين عليكم

It is not impure. It is allowed to be a tawwāf (that which freely moves around) upon you (in your homes).1

The purity extends to its hair according to the Yemeni scholar al-Ṣanʿānī (1687 – 1768 CE).2, meaning that there is no issue with praying with cat hairs on you while praying.

A man who refuses to marry the woman he had premarital sex with

I’ve committed zina with this one guy and we promised to get married in future. Suddenly one day he told me that he wants to stop seeing me, and he wants to perform umrah. He said he wants to repent but never to be responsible for marrying me. Somehow i feel like i’m being cheated on, why don’t we repent, got married, and perform umrah. Why he seems to just leave me alone? Hope you can give me some good advise to calm my heart. Thank you.

The reason he is not eager to marry you is something that humans have probably known for thousands of years, which is that men are extremely eager to marry the woman they desire as long as she refuses to sleep with them, but if she gives in to their desires before marriage, they lose interest in marrying her. It is only men who have a strong sense of honor, in other words a small minority of men, who do not act like that and who consider themselves responsible for the woman’s welfare after sleeping with her.

I cannot tell you what is going through his mind. Perhaps if he has sincerely repented, the fact that the relationship was sinful may make him want to selfishly end it and start a new one without the negative associations. Perhaps he just wants to wait.

The best and most honorable thing for you to do would be to sincerely repent then go on with your life, maintaining only a formal relationship with him and leaving it to him to propose if he wants. If he does not have sufficient honor and maturity to take responsibility for his actions, he is probably not worth marrying. I know it will probably require superhuman strength to end the relationship and make things formal. You are in a difficult situation and there is no easy solution for it, and there is no way to guarantee what the outcome will be. The only solution is patience; leave it to God to take care of you while doing your best to improve yourself. See my essay The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems for a guide on dealing with such situations.

You may also be interested in these other answers on sinful relationships.

Distinguishing between trustworthy and untrustworthy Muslim scholars and intellectuals

How can we distinguish an honest and good scholar from a bad and misleading. I used to think before that they are all honest so I didn't understand why Islam was telling me to be so evil. It also makes me confused because why would someone dedicate so much time for the sake of Allah to be a scholar and then be misleading?

Scholars are humans and are subject to all the forces and temptations that cause humans to be unjust at times. Sometimes out of anger or a personal dislike for someone, a person may feel strongly tempted to say or do something unjust.

As for finding who the best scholars and thinkers are, even the pagans of Mecca recognized the good and honorable character of Prophet Muhammad even though they rejected his mission. The reason they could do that was that they saw that the Prophet never lied, had impeccable manners, never broke promises and never betrayed anyone’s trust. Truthfulness and honorableness are characteristics that are relatively easy to discover in people.

Judge Muslim scholars and intellectuals according to their manners and character and how much they are like the best people mentioned in the Quran. Trustworthy Muslims do not scoop down to personal attacks. They are polite, even toward the rudest of people. They do not get angry. They admit the limits of the evidence instead of trying to convince you that their opinion is correct. If a Muslim is desperate to convince you of something so that you start to feel uncomfortable, as if they are trying to convince you to make a leap of faith and to submit to their opinion, that is a very strong red flag that that person is not trustworthy.

Trustworthy Muslims respect the fact that you are an honored human in the sight of God whose dignity and conscience are inviolable, they consider you a respected human whether you agree or disagree with them, while untrustworthy Muslims consider you an instrument; if you agree with them and submit to them, they will be nice and kind, and if you refuse to do that, they become rude. They are tribalists who only consider you a proper human if you belong to their “tribe” (sect, madhhab, etc.), and if you do not belong to it they treat you as if you were subhuman.

Above I have described the extreme examples of trustworthy and untrustworthy people. Most people fall somewhere between the two extremes since no human is perfect, so how much you trust someone should depend on how close they are to the trustworthy or untrustworthy side.

If you are sincere in your faith and you have the Quran to guide you, it would be easy for you to distinguish between those who are most trustworthy and those who are least. Those who fall victim to misguided and harmful doctrines generally do so because of flaws in their faith; they follow a person who offers them a lax version of Islam that helps them continue sinful lifestyles or one that offers them wealth, connections or glory, and they choose to follow them despite the warnings of their intellect and conscience. In Islam, since you have been blessed with an intellect and conscience, you are considered responsible for who you choose to follow. Saying “I followed the wrong person” is not a valid excuse, because you are considered sufficiently intelligent and capable to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy people yourself (there might of course be rare exceptions). 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.

On raising the hands during salah as a Hanafi

As a Hanafi would it be wrong for me to raise my hands during salah?

The Hanafi opinion is that you shouldn’t do that, so if you respect the Hanafi school and try to follow their opinions then you shouldn’t raise your hand.

You may also research the topic yourself and follow the opinion that sounds best to you. In the past, the schools of jurisprudence (madhhabs) were like guilds. Those who belonged to a school had to act according to the scholars of that school in order to be accepted by the community around the school, and the scholars themselves had to strictly adhere to the school, otherwise would have lost their jobs as teachers in the madrasas and imams in school-associated mosques. But the guild-like nature of the schools has today disappeared in many parts of the world today, especially in large, cosmopolitan cities. People instead follow the opinions of the scholars they respect most without caring very much about the scholar’s school, and the scholars themselves often combine opinions from multiple schools.

Ideally, Muslims should follow the opinions that have the most reliable evidence behind them regardless of what school the opinion comes from. But we cannot all research each and every topic as that would take most of our time, so in general it is reasonable to follow the opinions of scholars you know and respect.

On the Shia and their fate according to Sunni Islam

What are your views on Shia and their beliefs? And are they among the 70+ sects that are doomed?

First, the notion of the “72 doomed sects” is false, as I explain here. It is based on fabricated evidence.

As for the Shia, I believe that anyone who believes in God and His Books and does their best to follow Him, sincerely and in good faith, will be rewarded by Him, as the Quran promises:

Those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and does what is right—they have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve.1

The above verse and those like it have been interpreted in various ways. The fate of ‘others’ in Islam, whether non-Muslims or Muslims belonging to sects considered non-orthodox, is a contentious issue that lends itself to many interpretations. Those interested can read professor Mohammad Hassan Khalil’s book Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question, which is a study that shows that there is sufficient room within Islam for what I mentioned above.

While it is common for Muslims to complain about Islamophobia in the West and the fact that people refuse to try to understand Islam, they themselves unfortunately act in very much the same way toward other Muslims. I have talked to some Sunni Muslims who have never met a Shia Muslim in their lives and who have the most absurd misconceptions and prejudices about the lives and thinking of the Shias. The Iranian government, in the name of Shia Islam, has committed a great deal of injustice and oppression against the Sunnis (a glaring example being that Sunni Muslims are not allowed to pray the Friday prayers in cities like Tehran, in their sectarian chauvinistic view only Shia mosques should have the right to hold Friday prayers). But many Iranian Shias do not support the actions of the government, or are simply busy making a living and not having the time to worry about what their government is doing, similar to the attitude of many Americans toward their government’s mass-murder of innocent people overseas. Among the Shia there are those who do their best to hold onto the Quran and to follow it in their lives, and God is generous and intelligent enough to understand and appreciate the efforts of such people even if they have beliefs and attitude that Sunnis would consider wrong. The Quran says the following about Jews and Christians, and I believe the same applies to the Shia:

113. They are not all alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.

115. Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.2

So my view is that God holds each soul according to the knowledge He has given it:

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.3

God will not hold a Shia Muslim responsible for what Sunnis consider wrong beliefs if they really think what they believe is true, if they follow the Quran in good faith, and if they do not knowingly do evil.

By saying that, I do not mean to say that Sunni and Shia Islam are equally good religions. Religions are tools toward understanding and worshiping God, and the best tool is the one that helps the most people worship God in the best way possible. We can judge a religion by the number of pious, self-less and devout people it can produce, and I believe Sunni Islam comes out on top according to this measure.

On unanswered prayers, and is it normal for a Muslim to doubt God’s existence?

As a Muslim is it normal to ever doubt Allah's existence? I pray 5x daily and have completed Umrah, but i feel like my prayers have never been answered.

That’s normal, and that is why faith is rewarded. We are supposed to believe in God without having physical proof of His existence. Believing in God while having physical proof is like believing that the sun or the moon exist. There is no virtue in that. This world is designed to test our faith by making us feel abandoned, or making us think that good and bad things happen randomly, or that it is evildoers who are rewarded with the best life. These are very much part and parcel of the design of the universe, seeing these things around us is as normal as seeing furniture in a house.

It is normal to doubt God’s existence when you feel your prayers are not being answered. The question is whether you will keep your faith in Him despite this, whether you will continue to put your hope and trust in Him, or whether this world’s difficulties overpower you so that you turn your back on Him, doubt His existence and abandon serving Him. The Quran says:

Do you expect to enter Paradise before God has distinguished those among you who strive, and before He has distinguished the steadfast?1

God will intentionally make us go through periods of suffering and abandonment to bring out our true nature. Instead of letting us stroll into Paradise while we continue to be selfish, greedy and disloyal toward Him, He will make us suffer exactly the type of circumstances that brings out the best and the worst in us. And this way He distinguishes between His servants:

  • These are those who continue to love him and work to please Him despite the worst suffering.
  • There are those who are on the whole patient and faithful but whose faith is almost overwhelmed every time difficulty and abandonment hits them.
  • There are God’s fair-weather friends who are faithful during times of ease and abandon Him when their faith is tested.
  • There are the ex-believers who, after suffering a number of tragedies, turn their backs on Him, refusing to submit to His decree, thinking the worst of Him and even fighting against Him and His believers.

The Quran has this important passage on the issue of unanswered prayers:

47. To Him is referred the knowledge of the Hour. No fruit emerges from its sheath, and no female conceives or delivers, except with His knowledge. And on the Day when He calls out to them, “Where are My associates?” They will say, “We admit to you, none of us is a witness.”

48. What they used to pray to before will forsake them, and they will realize that they have no escape.

49. The human being never tires of praying for good things; but when adversity afflicts him, he despairs and loses hope.

50. And when We let him taste a mercy from Us, after the adversity that had afflicted him, he will say, “This is mine, and I do not think that the Hour is coming; and even if I am returned to my Lord, I will have the very best with Him.” We will inform those who disbelieve of what they did, and We will make them taste an awful punishment.

51. When We provide comfort for the human being, he withdraws and distances himself; but when adversity befalls him, he starts lengthy prayers.

52. Say, “Have you considered? If it is from God and you reject it—who is further astray than he who is cutoff and alienated?”

53. We will show them Our proofs on the horizons, and in their very souls, until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness over everything?

54. Surely they are in doubt about the encounter with their Lord. Surely He comprehends everything.2

As believers, it is normal for this world to continuously challenge our faith and tempt us to abandon God. The question is whether we remain faithful despite these challenges, whether we continue to humbly submit and say “It is all from God, we belong to God and He can do anything He wants with us”, or whether we arrogantly reject His decree, become enamored of this world and start to disbelieve in Him.

The principle of Plausible Deniability (which I discussed in a previous answer) means that God will never, or almost never, answer our prayers in a clearly miraculous way. You may wish to get high marks on an exam, pray ardently for this and work hard, and once you do get the high marks, you will look back and wonder whether God had anything to do with it or whether it was all your own hard work.

That is how God answers our prayers; subtly, always keeping Himself hidden, and always leaving us room for doubt. He will not miraculously answer our prayers, because that would be physical proof of His existence.

If you wish for your prayers to be answered, become the type of person who deserves such a favor. Do you deserve having your prayers answered? Even if we pray ardently for something and worship God, if we regularly disobey Him, or selfishly ignore His commandments (such as those regarding giving charity to one’s relatives, etc.), or are involved in something sinful (such as having an interest-bearing savings or retirement account), then we are in effect asking for God’s help while also insulting Him by our disobedience. Such a person will have a very low status in God’s eyes.

Therefore we must first work on ourselves. We must purify ourselves, rededicate ourselves to God, give up all sin and disobedience, do everything we can to raise our rank in God’s eye, then we should expect Him to give us what we wish for.

The majority of people are only half-dedicated to God, so it is no surprise that God does not elevate their ranks. They serve Him with one hand while insulting Him with the other. God, out of His generosity and kindness, still protects such people and blesses them in countless ways that they cannot see:

That is because God is the mawlā (Protecting Friend) of those who believe, while the disbelievers have no protecting friend.3

There are millions of Muslims who have worse lives than we do. Why should we expect to be treated any better by God than those Muslims? What is so special about us that our prayers should be answered? Unless we have attained a special status in God’s eyes, we should not expect special treatment. God takes care of the faithful and ensures that they will have a generally good life, as the Quran promises:

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.4

But if we want more than that, if we want a life that has special blessings that we desire, than we should turn ourselves into the type of believer who deserves those special blessings.

On giving up a sinful relationship

I was and still am in a “friends with benefit” relationship with a senior in my uni, it wasn’t intimate one but making out and I fell in love with him but he doesn’t love me back. I’m a revert and he happens to be a Qatari. I know we both have sinned but we couldn’t stop each other. I’m attached and each time I want to say no, he kinda blackmails and I give in. It is damaging me and my soul because, he became my strength and I just can’t give up. I deeply love him. Please help

Your situation is similar to any addiction situation, where a person wishes to give up something but does not have the strength to do so. Continuing to be in contact with him would be similar to an alcoholic who wishes to give up alcohol but continues to regularly take a sip of alcohol every now and then, which makes it impossible for them to have the strength to give it up.

The best way to escape that situation would be to cut all contact with him difficult as it would be, telling him that he should either marry you or stop talking to you.

If you are too much in love to consider that, you should try finding a job in a different city or state.

When you are addicted to something sinful, it means it is impossible for you to control your impulses, therefore if you truly want to give up the sin, instead of trying to control your impulses, you should plan against the sinful behavior. By planning I mean coming up with creative ways of making it difficult or impossible for you to engage in the sin. Perhaps you can honestly tell God that you tried to stop sinning but as long as the sin was available you could not stop. But you are still responsible for staying in that situation when there might be alternatives, such as moving to a different town, state or country, which would put an end to the sin.

The Quran says:

Say, “If your parents, and your children, and your siblings, and your spouses, and your relatives, and the wealth you have acquired, and a business you worry about, and homes you love, are more dear to you than God, and His Messenger, and the struggle in His cause, then wait until God executes His judgment.” God does not guide the sinful people.1

Now, God does not ask us for more than we are able to give. Therefore if you truly cannot escape that situation, then complain of your weakness to God, and ask Him sincerely to help you and find a solution for you, and His help will come to you sooner or later inshaAllah. Also see these essays of mine:

A Muslim who cannot escape the guilt of a sinful life

I’m a revert, I lost my path again. I don’t really pray much now but still on deen. I have some confessions to be made cause these are eating me away. I tried to tell it all in a prayer (while making dua) but these things they still haunt me and I’m still in touch with it cause I’m bonded with it. I can’t let it go. It is a part of my life. I regret but I have no other option. Sometimes it gets suicidal but there’s no point in self harm. I can’t sleep and function properly.

Humbly ask God for His help and guidance. Talk to Him and tell Him that you are weak and that you do not know what to do. If you sincerely call for His help, He will help you. It might take time, but if you sincerely ask Him every day then your life will slowly improve, so that a year from now your situation may have greatly improved.

Do not give up hope. Prophet Ibrahim says:

“And who despairs of his Lord’s mercy but those who are truly lost?”1

And do not expect too much improvement immediately. Leave it to God to fix your life. If at the moment you feel so weak and exhausted that there is nothing you can do, then let it be so. God does not ask you for more than you are able.

Also see: On giving up a sinful relationship

Why is seeking knowledge important in Islam?

Why is seeking knowledge important in Islam and how does seeking knowledge not only religiously brings us closer to Allah swt?

The Quran says:

25. If they disbelieve you, those before them also disbelieved. Their messengers came to them with the clear proofs, with the Psalms, and with the Enlightening Scripture. 26. Then I seized those who disbelieved—so how was My rejection? 27. Have you not seen that God sends down water from the sky? With it We produce fruits of various colors. And in the mountains are streaks of white and red—varying in their hue—and pitch-black. 28. Likewise, human beings, animals, and livestock come in various colors. From among His servants, it is the learned who (truly) fear God. God is Almighty, Oft-Forgiving. 29. Those who recite the Book of God, and perform the prayer, and spend of what We have provided for them, secretly and publicly, expect a trade that will not fail.1

Exalted is God, the True King. Do not be hasty with the Quran before its inspiration to you is concluded, and say, “My Lord, increase me in knowledge.”2

In fact, it is clear signs in the hearts of those given knowledge. No one renounce Our signs except the unjust.3

And in another place it says, regarding the uneducated Bedouins:

The Desert-Arabs are the most steeped in disbelief and hypocrisy, and the most likely to ignore the limits that God revealed to His Messenger. God is Knowing and Wise.4

The Desert-Arabs say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not believed; but say, ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered into your hearts. But if you obey God and His Messenger, He will not diminish any of your deeds. God is Forgiving and Merciful.”5

The picture that the Quran draws is that those who lack knowledge are more likely to fall into error and sinful behaviors, and that increased knowledge helps a person become better and more pious.

As for non-religious knowledge, it helps us appreciate the Creator’s greatness to know more about His creations.

190. In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, are signs for people of understanding. 191. Those who remember God while standing, and sitting, and on their sides; and they reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth: “Our Lord, You did not create this in vain, glory to You, so protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”6

Do they not consider that God, Who created the heavens and the earth, is Able to create the likes of them? He has assigned for them a term, in which there is no doubt. But the wrongdoers persist in denying the truth.7

In verse 21:30, the Quran refers to two facts of the physical world, one from physics, the other from biology:

Do the disbelievers not see that the heavens and the earth were one mass, and We tore them apart? And that We made from water every living thing? Will they then not believe?

For a person who believes in God, the above verse seems to refer to the Big Bang hypothesis, which is the accepted theory for how the universe started. The Quran even refers to the expansion of the universe that was discovered in the last century:

We constructed the universe with power, and We are expanding it.8

While these facts of physics, biology, etc. are not sufficient to constitute proof, they are sufficient to constitute āyāt (“signs”, “pointers”). They are not proofs of God’s existence and greatness, by the point to Him and His power, they suggest it, and for the person who humbles his or her heart to God, they act as strengtheners for their faith and their appreciation of God’s presence and greatness.

The Egyptian scholar Muhammad al-Ghazali (1917-1996) says:

The Quran, in pointing to God's existence, is a universe that speaks, the same way that this universe is a silent Quran.

For those of us who have submitted to God and love Him, the more we learn about the universe the closer we feel to Him, because we know it is all His creation, and that He is in charge of it.

Secular knowledge helps us know God better and also helps improve our lives in various ways (you can read a scientific book about food and in this way make better diet choices). It is quite obvious that more knowledge is better than less knowledge.

And as for religious knowledge, it helps us avoid errors and know the best ways of pleasing God, which is the purpose of our lives.

For a discussion of Islam and science see my essay: God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species

Is it forbidden for a Muslim to fall in love with a Christian?

Is falling in love with a Christian is haram?

Falling in love is an involuntary thing and Islam has no rules regarding it. Muslim men are permitted to marry Christian women, while Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men. Therefore if a Muslim woman falls in love with a Christian man, the falling in love in itself is not a sin, but she is not permitted to marry the man if she wants to remain a pious Muslim. Her case would be similar to a man falling in love with a woman who is already married.

On sharing a room with a homosexual person of one’s own sex

I wanted to ask that, my friend (female) was in a hotel with her friend who is also a female, for a convention. my friend knew that the other is a bisexual and she asked me if it's OK for Muslim girls to share a room with homosexual girls. when i was in middle school i asked the same thing to my teachers and they said we cannot. also that friend of mine and her friend are both Muslims. thank you!

I expect that those teachers who said that it is prohibited considered the situation similar to one of sharing a room with a person of the opposite sex. But that is not an exact comparison because your friend herself is not a homosexual, so there is no likelihood of sexual desire by her toward the homosexual girl, even if the homosexual girl may plausibly have it or develop it toward her.

For that reason, while it would be a good thing to avoid such a situation, it is not exactly the same as a woman sharing a room with a man. Whether one should accept to be in such a situation or not depends on the homosexual person’s character. If they are well-known to the person and are known to be self-respecting and trustworthy, then there is little danger in the situation. But if they are known to be unreliable and flirtatious, or are strangers or little-known, then one should avoid sharing a room with them.

By living a homosexual lifestyle, a person has broken religious laws, but they may still follow various social protocols and customs that makes it harmless to interact with them. It is probably not correct to assume that all rules applying to the opposite sex would also automatically apply to homosexual people of one’s own sex. I am not a mufti and cannot find relevant opinions on this matter from respected scholars. The above is just my opinion.

On responding to criticisms of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad

What do I say to people who claim Muhammad commanded us in the Quran to kill?

I suppose you refer to claims about Islam being a violent religion. It depends on the type of person. There are two kinds of people who might say negative things about Islam or the Prophet . A small number of them are honest and decent people who really think what they say is true. You can respond to such people by referring them to a good biography of the Prophet Muhammad, such as Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong or In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan. Or, even better, you can educate yourself by reading many books so that you can intelligently discuss the issues those people bring up.

The larger group of people who mention negative facts about Islam are those who for whatever reason have a deep dislike and prejudice against Muslims and Islam and who like to mention falsehoods and half-truths in order to propagandize against Islam. It is generally useless to talk to such people. Even if you refute everything they say and defeat them in argument, the next day you will find them repeating the exact same falsehoods again. They cannot be educated or swayed by reasoned argument. It is their hatred that drives them, the criticisms they mention are merely tools they use for propaganda purposes.

The only reason one may respond to anti-Islam propagandists is if there are honest and fair-minded people present who may be swayed by the propaganda. In such a case you should politely point out the falsehoods without expecting to convince the propagandists themselves. The aim of the propagandists is to show Islam and Muslims in a negative light, and if you lose your temper and behave rudely toward them that will only help them prove their point.

When you see someone criticize Islam, your first thought should be to ask yourself whether this person is being honest or whether they are merely expressing hatred and prejudice. If they are honest and decent people, you can talk to them. But most of those who criticize Islam are in the second category and are not worth bothering about, they should be ignored as the Quran recommends in various places:

So turn away from them, and wait. They too are waiting.1

So avoid him who has turned away from Our remembrance, and desires nothing but the present life.2

Be tolerant, and command decency, and turn away from the ignorant.3

It is a sign of the lack of knowledge and immaturity when a Muslim loses his or her temper with someone who criticizes Islam. Leave Islam’s detractors alone and do something productive with your time.

On praying (making dua) during salah and whether one can do it in English

What is the correct way to make dua during salah? For example if I wanted to make dua for someone or ask Allah for something how and when would i do that? I've been told saying it in English invalidates salah

There isn’t sufficient evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah to make a conclusive judgment about the issue of making dua in a non-Arabic language during salah.1 It doesn’t seem to me that there would be any harm in it. This only applies to additional duas a person adds to the salah, the salah’s required parts should be conducted in Arabic.

As for when to make dua during salah, it can be done during prostrations (rukūʿ and sujūd) after saying the required words. For example, when you are making sujūd, say the required part (subḥāna rabbī al-aʿlā or any variant you have been taught) then make any dua you want before getting up. You can also do it when get up after the first sujūd and before the second one. You can also do it after getting up from rukūʿ and saying samiʿa llāhu li-man ḥamida but before going down to sujūd. Another time is before saying the salām at the very end of the prayer.

Balancing materialism and fatalism

Do we as Muslims count on what is written/ decreed by Allah for us, and not worry about anything? Or do we ourselves need to take action due to the free will granted to us by Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala, even if that might involve risk? My question is, to what extent do we take matters in our own hands or leave it to Allah in order for them to happen? What if you've waited a long time for something to happen and it didn't? Is it because it wasn't decreed or because we didn't take action?

Many have blamed Islam for being fatalistic, meaning that Muslims are supposedly made intellectually lazy and inactive due to their belief that whatever happens happens because of God. This is generally said by people who take a few verses of the Quran out of context and do not take the trouble of appreciating the message of the book as a whole. It is true that many Muslim cultures until the past few centuries were fatalistic, but that was a cultural belief that was given an Islamic justification. As the beliefs and practices of modern cosmopolitan Muslim societies shows, fatalism has nothing to do with the realities of Muslim life and thought today.

Islam teaches us a balanced creed between fatalism and materialism (self-reliance). The Quran, for example, says:

Then after the setback, He sent down security upon you. Slumber overcame some of you, while others cared only for themselves, thinking of God thoughts that were untrue—thoughts of ignorance—saying, “Is anything up to us?” Say, “Everything is up to God.” They conceal within themselves what they do not reveal to you. And they say, “If it was up to us, none of us would have been killed here.” Say, “Even if you Had stayed in your homes, those destined to be killed would have marched into their death beds.” God thus tests what is in your minds, and purifies what is in your hearts. God knows what the hearts contain.1

This verse sounds completely fatalistic; it says that life and death is in the hands of God and that regardless of human actions, those destined to die at a certain hour will die in that hour.

Yet the Quran also says things like this:

The Hajj is during specific months. Whoever decides to perform the Hajj—there shall be no sexual relations, nor misconduct, nor quarreling during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, God knows it. And take provisions, but the best provision is righteousness. And be mindful of Me, O people of understanding.2

In the above verse, the Quran asks Muslims to “take provisions” when going on the Hajj, instead of saying “everything is in the hands of God, so even if you take no provisions God will provide for you.”

It also says:

And do not keep your hand tied to your neck, nor spread it out fully, lest you end up liable and regretful.3

The Quran, instead of saying “give away all your wealth, God will replace it”, tells us not to give away too much wealth and bring poverty on ourselves. The Quran teaches us to be sensible and pragmatic on the one hand, and to keep in mind that God is always in charge and has complete power over everything.

The reason for these two seemingly contradictory teachings is what I call the Principle of Plausible Deniability. God does not want His existence to be proven beyond doubt, because that would make faith needless. The Quran says:

Are they waiting for God Himself to come to them in the shadows of the clouds, together with the angels, and thus the matter is settled? All things are returned to God.4

If God showed Himself to us, “the matter” would be settled, meaning there would be no purpose for the existence of this universe anymore. The purpose of the universe is to be a testing ground of faith, in which humans, without being given physical proof of God’s existence, obey Him faithfully and deserve great rewards in the process.

In other place the Quran says:

Are they waiting for anything but for the angels to come to them, or for your Lord to arrive, or for some of your Lord’s signs to come? On the Day when some of your Lord’s signs come, no soul will benefit from its faith unless it had believed previously, or had earned goodness through its faith. Say, “Wait, we too are waiting.”5

Atheists may say that they will wait for physical proof for God’s existence before believing in Him. The Quran tells them “then keep waiting, the faithful will wait too.” If God performed miracles for our benefit, that would be physical proof of God’s existence and it would change the nature of our relationship with Him. This is what happens to the Disciples of Jesus when they request that God send down a feast from heaven:

112. “And when the disciples said, 'O Jesus son of Mary, is your Lord able to bring down for us a feast from heaven?' He said, 'Fear God, if you are believers.'“

113. They said, “We wish to eat from it, so that our hearts may be reassured, and know that you have told us the truth, and be among those who witness it.”

114. Jesus son of Mary said, “O God, our Lord, send down for us a table from heaven, to be a festival for us, for the first of us, and the last of us, and a sign from You; and provide for us; You are the Best of providers.”

115. God said, “I will send it down to you. But whoever among you disbelieves thereafter, I will punish him with a punishment the like of which I never punish any other being."6

God agrees to show them a miracle, a physical proof that He exists, but in return He says that anyone who disbelieves after that will be punished in a way so horrible that no other being will be punished.

If a Muslim goes on top of a mountain and throws himself off it, saying God will save them, God will not reveal Himself for the sake of that person and perform a miracle to save them. He will instead let them plunge to their death. While the Quran teaches us that God has the power to do anything, it also teaches us not to try to force God’s hand. We should never put ourselves in a situation where a miracle would be needed to save us. God has made it a rule of this universe that His existence should be hidden; asking Him to do a miracle is asking Him to break His own rule.

There is no virtue in obeying God if He and His power was visible to us. We would be forced to obey Him. What God wants from us is to obey Him out of our own free will, without seeing Him or having physical proof of His existence. That is the whole point of this universe, producing true believers in God, worthy people who love Him and serve Him although they cannot physically affirm His existence.

As Muslims, we should do our best but know that God is ultimately in charge. If you are in charge of a business, you should be as shrewd and practical as an atheist in managing it, while keeping in mind that your success or failure is in God’s hands; He can inspire you to do something you would have never thought of otherwise that make you very successful. Or He may protect you from various calamities that other businesses suffer from.

Our relationship with God is dynamic. We make decisions and we act, and God makes decisions and He acts. He is totally in charge of our world, but He gives us the freedom to act and watches what we will do, then He may respond to our actions by decreeing good or bad things for us and watching us what we will do next. We are like actors in film that is directed by God. As actors we are free what we do, but the Director is in charge and can do anything He wants to us or those around us.

It is also like being in a ship. Inside it, we are free what we do. But the ship itself and the ocean in which it sails are both controlled by God. We may do everything in our power to get something we want, but God may decree something else for us. Others may do everything they can to prevent us from getting something we want, but if God decrees that we should get it, no one can get in the way of His decree.

The Quran teaches us to neither be proud of our accomplishments nor sad about our failures:

22. No calamity occurs on earth, or in your souls, but it is in a Book, even before We make it happen. That is easy for God.

23. That you may not sorrow over what eludes you, nor exult over what He has given you. God does not love the proud.7

Anything good we accomplish was accomplished through God’s support, and any calamity we suffer, God had complete power to prevent it but did not. The Quran wants us to reach a state of true submission to God’s decrees. While we act intelligently and pragmatically, our hearts rely on God and submit to His decrees, knowing that it is He who is really in charge. We are not attached to the worldly life like materialists are, who are so eager for success that some of them start to almost worship money and power. We are attached to God, knowing that all good things come from Him and that if He protects us no one can harm us. But we do not ask Him to do miracles for us; we respect His decree that He should be hidden from us until the Day of Judgment.

For more on this topic please see: Islam’s theory of free will versus physical determinism: Why humans are responsible for their actions even though God operates the universe

Wanting to get married as a Muslim woman but having no suitors

I'm referring to the article on your personal website about the most desirable women for marriage -- well, as it happens, I am in my early twenties, a follower of Islam, fairly intelligent, and decent-looking, but I don't have Muslim men asking for my hand in marriage.. I mean, I am interested in marriage, but how do I go about finding potential suitors?

Setting up a marriage is something that each culture does in its own way. In most Muslim societies each family has hundreds of relatives and acquaintances. Marriages are set up through networking between mothers, sisters and friends (a woman may have a friend who wants to get married and know just the right man for them and try to set things up for them).

Due to the spread of university education in Muslim countries there is today also an increase in marriages between classmates whose families do not know each other. In such cases each family may do things its own way. A man and woman may come to know each other relatively well through being in the same class or working in the same place, and at some point the man may politely mention to the woman his interest in marriage, and she may tell her family, and in this way they may set up an appointment for the man to visit the family. Once their families visit one another multiple times and find that they are comfortable with their son/daughter marrying into the other family, the engagement ceremony may take place.

For Muslim immigrants, the networks that make marriage possible in the home country are often no longer be available to them, and I expect this is how it is in your case. To make up for this, you can build your own networks in the new country, for example by being involved in the mosque/halaqa/charity scene in your town so that you get to know other people. The more people you know the more likely it is that you will find the right person or that someone may refer someone to you.

Getting married is similar to setting up a successful business. A thousand books can be written on it. For some people everything works out for them with little effort, while for others it can be extremely difficult and can take many years. A devout Muslim should do what they can to have a successful marriage then leave the matter to God, knowing that He can do anything He wants and that nothing is impossible with Him. If this year your prospects of marriage seem very low, next year things may completely change.

Solution for a person who due to illness cannot make up missed fasts

I’m girl and I started fasting in 2010. The problem is, i’m not a healthy problem i have been dealing with too many issues and couldn’t fast the days where i ate during Ramadan (period time) We re in 2017 now and i have a debt of 50 days What should i do ?

For someone who cannot make up missed fasts due to health issues and does not expect to one day get better, it is sufficient for them to pay the fidya, which the Fiqh Council of North America calculated at $10 per day1 for each missed day of fasting. There is no need for such a person to make up the fasts if the illness continues to prevent them.23 This is the Mālikī, Shāfiʿī and Ḥanafī opinion.4 According to this latter source, if a person misses the fast due to chronic illness and cannot make it up and pays the fidya, then that is sufficient, and even if later they are cured and are able to fast again, they will not have to redo the fasts for which they paid the fidya, this being the Ḥanbalī opinion. But if they are cured before they have paid the fidya, they will have to make up the fasts and also pay the fidya.

Not feeling at ease when reading the Quran

Whenever I read the Quran I don't feel ease at all. Especially the verses about punishment , war etc

The Quran is written to help the faithful deal with all of this life and the afterlife’s primary issues, which includes war in this life and God’s punishments in the afterlife. Certain chapters of the Quran, such as chapter 9 (al-Tawbah) are designed to be grim because they are dealing with certain extremely difficult situations that the Muslims faced.

What you can do is find which chapters you find inspiring and enjoyable and read those. Some chapters, like Maryam/Mary, are heart-touching without being grim.

Hope for someone desiring suicide

I want to KILL myself But im not cuz its haram But idk what to do help me Give me hope

Think back to the past and remember all the difficulties that you once suffered from and that have disappeared from your life. Sooner or later, your present difficulty will also be part of the past and will stop influencing you. No matter how difficult the day or week is, it will pass. To kill yourself is to say that you do not believe that God can put a stop to your situation. Do you think God is that powerless? Ask God for help and He can help you in ways you never expected.

Please see these two articles I wrote a while ago:

The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely and meaningless

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