IslamQA

Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

Is it blasphemous to imagine God not being male or female?

assalamu aleikum, is it blasphemous or am i wrong for imagining God as neither male or female?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

That is actually the correct view. The Quran says:

There is nothing like Him. (The Quran, verse 42:11)

Things like gender do not apply to God since God is above such categories.

Are Mahdi and Dajjal authentic concepts?

Is the hadith about the mahdi and dajjal authentic? What will come after the other?

The Mahdi is likely a fabricated addition to Islam. This is the opinion of the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi (as I discuss here).

As for the Dajjal, there are many authentic narrations that mention it, and many narrations of questionable authenticity that add details about it. It seems well-established that there will come a being named Dajjal at the end times due to the number of narrations from multiple Companions that mention it. But the details about the miracles he performs are of doubtful authenticity. Since it is not mentioned in the Quran, I consider it not worth worrying about. But since it is mentioned in many authentic narrations, we cannot reject it entirely until a respected scholar conducts a thorough study and comes up with the conclusion that it is partly or mostly false. For now, we just have to accept things as they are. If the Prophet really said these things then we have no choice but to accept them. There also hadith narrations like the following that take away from Dajjal’s importance:

No one asked Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) more about Dajjil than I asked him. He said: He should not be a source of worry to you for he would not be able to do any harm to you. I said: Allah's Messenger, it is alleged that he would have along with him (abundance of) food and water. Thereupon he said: He would be more insignificant in the eye of Allah than that. (Sahih Muslim 2939 a)

The epic narratives that people mention about the end of the world are not mentioned in the Quran, which to me means they are unimportant and not worth concerning ourselves with.

Are women permitted to live on their own in Islam?

Asalam Walikum, I was wondering if it is haram for women to live by their own. Some people say, women can only live in a house with her brother, father, or husband. Same as with travelling.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

According to a fatwa on IslamWeb (run by Qatar’s Islamic Affairs Ministry), it is permitted for women to live alone on their own. They add the condition that she must be safe from fitna (anything that may harm her spiritually).

Source:

The simplest way to do a nikah according to Islamic law

According to a fatwa on IslamWeb (run by Qatar’s Islamic Affairs Ministry), the nikāḥ ceremony is simply this: the man, woman, her guardian and two witnesses should gather together (this can be done over a video call if some of these people are not living close to each other). The witnesses must be respected members of the community and known to be good Muslims. The woman’s guardian says: “[woman’s name] is your wife.” The man then says: “I accept her as a wife.” That is it. They are now Islamically engaged.

From Islamic law’s perspective there is no need for anything else. But many countries pass laws that require marriages to be registered with the government, so the imams who usually oversee these ceremonies fill out forms and submit them to the government, or ask the couple to first get a civil marriage certificate before accepting to perform the ceremony. But the ceremony does not require an imam, it is just traditional to have an imam since it makes it feel official and proper. Some Muslim cultures have no conception of a nikāḥ that does not include an imam.

Sources:

Can a Muslim woman show her hair and body before a non-Muslim woman?

Salam. Brother, what do you think of some scholars having an opinion which says that muslim women's awrah cannot be seen by those of non-muslim women, and that when they visit us home and if we're having a night over with them, we should cover ourselves like when we go outside? Jazakallah.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are different opinions on that due to the fact that there are no clear Quranic verses or hadith narrations that apply to it. According to the Ḥanbalī scholar al-Mardāwī (d. 1480 CE) it is permissible and has the same ruling as Muslim women before other Muslim women. The contemporary Azhar-educated Egyptian scholar Saʿd al-Dīn al-Hilālī also prefers this opinion.

However, scholars from the Ḥanafī, Shāfiʿī and Mālikī have all expressed the opinion that Muslim women should treat non-Muslim women similar to men in regards to dress code, meaning that they should wear the hijab before them.

Umar forbad non-Muslim women from entering the bath houses used by Muslim women. The Companion Ibn ʿAbbās says that a Muslim woman should not show her ʿawra to Jewish or Christian women since they may go on to describe the Muslim woman to their husbands (since they are under no religious obligation not to do that). So the problem many scholars have with Muslim women showing their ʿawra to non-Muslims is that they believe it will cause private information about a woman’s appearance to be made public by the non-Muslims.

Due to these considerations it is best to try to wear the hijab before non-Muslim women, but a person can use their own judgment and social intelligence. If a Muslim woman has a close and trustworthy non-Muslim female friend then that is different from her showing her ʿawra before just any non-Muslim woman. Some scholars such as al-Qurṭubī made exceptions for a woman’s non-Muslim maidservant, who was allowed to see what other Muslim women.

I cannot say what you should do regarding your specific question, but the above are the scholarly opinions on it.

Sources:

The hadith on the re-establishment of the Caliphate is unauthentic

There is a hadith in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (no. 18596) that is used by Islamist parties and terrorist groups to justify their ideologies:

Prophethood will remain amongst you as long as God wills that it remain and then he will remove it when He intends to remove it. Then there will be the Caliphate upon the way of the Prophethood and it will continue as long as Allah wills it to continue and then he will remove it when He intends to remove it. Then there will be a harsh rule and it will continue as long as Allah wills it to continue and then he will remove it when He intends to remove it. And then there will be a coercive rule and it will continue as long as Allah wills it to continue and then he will remove it when He intends to remove it. Then there will be the Caliphate upon the way of the Prophethood and [the Prophet ﷺ] kept silent.

While there are multiple versions of this hadith and some of them are authentic, only one of them has the final part that says “Then there will be the Caliphate upon the way of the Prophethood…”. This final part is narrated by only one person (Ibrāhīm al-Wāsiṭī) whose narrations are matrūk (”abandoned”) meaning they are so unreliable as to be unworthy of being cited. Please see the study (Arabic PDF) on this by the hadith scholar Dr. Salah al-Din al-Idlibi.

Since the final part of the hadith is from an unreliable source, we should consider it a fabrication added onto the hadith to change its meaning. The hadith should never be used as the basis for our thinking about Islam’s future. I saw an article on the website of the Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir that says belief in the return of the Caliphate is an “obligation” on Muslims. This is just self-serving propaganda that has no basis in the Quran or Sunna.

Another example of someone adding something to a hadith to change its meaning is the hadith that says the Muslims will divide into 73 sects. Someone added “And all of them will enter the Hellfire save one” to its end, in this way completely changing its meaning. See this article for more on that hadith.

Have I ever doubted parts of Islam?

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Salaam I hope you don't mind me asking this but have you ever had doubts about Islam or disagreed with certain aspects of it? How strong would you say your faith is.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The strength of one’s faith goes up and down daily. Personally I do not remember ever having strong doubts about God’s existence. But some things at times have caused doubt in my mind, such as why evil people are allowed to be powerful for so long if God is really in charge.

Merely to exist in this universe and experience it constantly presses God’s presence upon us. So for me it is impossible to doubt God’s existence, it would be like doubting the existence of the sun.

As for Islam, I have had a close relationship with the Quran for much of my life. The Quran defines the shape and color of Islam for me, everything outside of the Quran is secondary. So when preachers say absurd and illogical things (often based on weak hadith narrations), this has no effect on my love for Islam since those things are all outside the Quran.

People often take their Islam mostly from the preachers, their families and other Muslims, who sometimes say absurd and superstitious-sounding things and say these things are parts of Islam. Due to this some people conclude that Islam is an outdated and illogical religion. Their mistake is that they do not take the time to understand the Quran and do not appreciate its status within Islam. The Quran is Islam’s center and defines its program and philosophy. We must develop our understanding of Islam not from what other people say but from the Quran, making it the foundation (as Imam al-Ghazali does).

Whenever I read or hear something strange or unsettling that people say about Islam, my thinking is this: it is not in the Quran, so it is not worth worrying about. The Quran defines our program in life. We should never let anything outside of it affect our love for it and for God. Everything else in Islam (hadith narrations, biographical and other scholarly works) are merely tools meant to help us apply the Quranic program better in our lives. When these helper tools malfunction, that should have no effect on our love for the the Quran.

Some people unfortunately lose sight of the Quran in their obsession with the non-Quranic materials and this sometimes leads to corruptions of the Islamic message. They hear a hadith whose meaning is unacceptable to them and form this conclude that there is a problem with Islam when the problem might be only with that hadith.

There have certainly been things in the Quran that were problematic to me, for example the famous wife-beating verse (4:34). I read many interpretations and justifications for it but nothing satisfied me. I have had a similar experience with some other issues. As for the wife-beating verse, it wasn’t until this year that I finally found a satisfactory solution for it (as I discuss in the essay: A new approach to the Quran’s “Wife-Beating Verse” (al-Nisa 4:34)). Before that I also had a problem with the existence of evil and why God allowed certain things to happen, this essay discusses my solution to it.

However, even though some verses have troubled me, I was always too aware of the beauty, uniqueness and intelligence of the Quran to ever doubt the whole book. For this reason I kept the problematic verses in the back of my mind, constantly coming back to them and trying to find solutions for them until eventually God enabled me to find a solution (another problem was Islam and Darwinian evolution, which I solved here). The problematic issues were never important enough to overshadow the rest of the Quran, which has always been so beautiful and powerful to me that reading a few pages is all it takes to take away all doubts that it is truly from God.

As far as I am aware, there is nothing left in the Quran that gives me any trouble.

As for the hadith literature, that is a completely different story. But since I place the Quran above hadith, problems that arise from hadith are only secondary to me. Solving these problems is like the icing on the cake. The important issues, the Quranic ones, are solved for me.

Why Muslims becoming secularized is not a big problem

I am so sad and disappointed that many more people are turning into liberals. Even when I'm living in a muslim country i feel like Islam is looked down on. I am glad we still use the law tht the prophet taught us but more and more people wants to separate religion from everything. I'm not ready to live in the future where atheists are right and religious people are wrong 🙁

[Edit: Some people are thinking I am speaking against Muslims being politically liberal or democratic. That has nothing to do with this answer. I am speaking of Muslims who abandon parts of Islam, regardless of their political leanings.]

If you think of one person abandoning conservative Islam for the sake of a secular ideology (I mean Muslims who do not pray regularly and think the hijab is not obligatory, I do not mean liberal in a political sense), that can seem like a tragedy. But if you think of whole populations, then there is actually nothing to fear. Muslim conservatives have higher fertility rates than secular Muslims, which means that the conservative population continues to grow even though many people leave it to become liberal.

We see that in the example of Turkey. In the 20th century, millions of people abandoned traditional Islam and became secularized. Despite that, the number of conservative Muslims did not go down, it actually increased by tens of millions over the century. The same is true in Egypt and every other Muslim-majority country I can think of. People constantly become secularized, but since secular Muslims have fewer children on average, the conservative Muslim population remains stable or grows. Egypt may have never had so many secularized Muslims as it has today–but it also has never had so many conservative Muslims as it has today. And since the secularized Muslims have fewer children, the religiosity of the population as a whole remains stable: with each generation, the conservatives easily replace every Muslim lost to secularization.

In the short-term, it may appear that secularization is a problem. But in the long-term, if you think in terms of generations and centuries, then there is no problem at all. Nowhere in the world is there a trend of the number of conservative Muslims going down.

The Islamic ruling on reconstructing the hymen (hymenoplasty)

According to a study by the Egyptian scholar ʿAbdallāh al-Najjār, who belongs to Al-Azhar University, hymen reconstruction surgery (hymenorrhaphy or hymenoplasty) is permissible in Islam. He says at the end of his study:

We conclude from our study that there is nothing in comparative Islamic jurisprudence that implies reconstructing the hymen is impermissible. This is the case whether the hymen was broken due to an immoral act or a moral cause that excuses the girl. It is permissible to perform the surgery in call cases.

According to the Saudi scholar Dr. Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā al-Nujaymī (member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy in Jeddah), reconstructing the hymen is permissible if it was due to a factor outside the girl’s control, such as rape. The Kuwaiti mufti Dr. Aḥmad al-Ḥajī al-Kurdī has a similar opinion.

The Palestinian Fatwa Authority has a similar opinion, but goes on to say that the surgery can be permissible even if the girl lost it due to an intentional act if it can be judged that the harm of not performing the surgery would be greater than the harm of performing of it. The harm of not performing the surgery is that it would affect the girl’s marriageability, while the harm of performing it, according to the fatwa, is that it is a form of deception.

Many Saudi fatwas forbid hymen reconstruction, but Egyptian and Palestinian opinions mentioned above are more mainstream.

Sources:

Is not praying worse than adultery?

is neglecting to pray salat a worse sin than zina?

Some scholars, such as Ibn al-Qayyim, have said that. But there is no explicit evidence on this from the Quran or hadith. The reason they say that is because intentionally avoiding the prayer is out of arrogance and rebelliousness, while committing adultery is out of desire, and rebelliousness is considered a greater sin due to it being more intentional and cold-blooded.

But personally I recommend not speculating about which sin is greater. It is God’s business, and the judgment may differ with each specific case.

Reader question:

Selam aleykum! About the question if neglecting prayer is worse than zina - Praying is one of the five pillars of Islam, so shouldn't it be seen as a worse sin than adultery?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is not a simple comparison because adultery has more serious and long-lasting consequences, while a person may neglect the prayer due to suffering depression. Since human thought and motivation are so complex, we should leave it to God to judge each case according to all the relevant factors.

What to do if certain Quranic verses and hadith narrations sound harsh or illogical to you

Hi! i'm trying to read the quran in my language to understand and apply to my life. but it comes harsh to me. i don't want to be disrespectful to Quran but some things even look ridiculous. same goes for the hadidths and so. the more I try to learn I get distanced. I already believe and I wanna keep believing Allah fully. But I feel like I'm tricking myself to believe because sometimes I'm not persuaded with explanations I find. But I still accept them afraiding that I'm gonna lose my Imaan.

pt.2: and this feels like I’m not a true believer. I act as one on the outside. But I can’t make good decisions according to my Islamic knowledge. I feel so lost. What can I do for understanding and loving Islam more. Without getting distanced?

It is true that some verses sound ridiculous in some Quran translations. Some translations are better than others. Since you speak English, I recommend that you check out Abdel Haleem’s translation which is better than many others. You can also check out the translation at ClearQuran.net, I use this most of the time when I need to quote verses in English because it is simple and modern.

As for hadith narrations, they should be treated with caution. If they say something that sounds illogical or that seems to go against the Quran, then most of the time you can safely ignore them even if they are supposed to be authentic. There is an authentic narration that says women are a “bad omen”. There is another authentic narration in which Aisha (may God be pleased with her) refutes this hadith and says the Prophet was actually saying that the pre-Islamic Arabs used to believe that women are a bad omen. You should never take a hadith at face value without researching further.

So I understand the difficulty of trying to remain a good Muslim when there is so much that sounds ridiculous and absurd that is attributed to Islam. In reality once you understand the verses and hadiths in context, then everything makes sense. The Islamic world’s solution to this problem is simple: find intelligent and reasonable scholars and listen to their opinions and read their books. They do the hard work of reading the original sources and making sense of them. A person who speaks Arabic has a great range of intelligent and sensible scholars to choose from, people like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Muhammad al-Ghazali, Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda and many others.

Unfortunately most of their works are not available in English, and the English-speaking Muslim intellectuals have not yet created a definitive set of works that we can comfortably point people to. But there are still many good books out there which you can check out, by people like Timothy Winter (also known as Shaykh Abd al-Hakeem Murad) and Jonathan Brown. You can also check out lectures on YouTube by Timothy Winter, Hamza Yusuf and Yasir Qadhi. The more you learn about Islam from the available modern sources, the more you will be able to make sense of it.

Start by trying to understand the Quran as best as you can, then use its philosophy to judge everything else that you hear about Islam. If you hear something that sounds ridiculous and that is not in the Quran, you can be skeptical toward it and ignore it even if you cannot say with certainty that it is false.

And remember that Islam is merely a tool that helps us know the best way to understand God and worship Him. The point is God, not Islam. So even if something in Islam does not seem to make sense, this should not affect your relationship with God. You should hold onto God and the Quran and when you hear something that is strange or unsettling, wait patiently until you learn more and can make sense of it.

The ruling on watching uncovered women on television

In answer to questions regarding whether it is permissible to watch people on television or in public not dressed according to the Islamic dress code, for example watching a female television presenter who does not wear the hijab

While the Quran prescribes what Muslims should wear on public, there are no Quranic verses or hadith narrations to help us formulate a clear policy regarding watching people not dressed according to the Islamic dress code. Many scholars have issued fatwas prohibiting watching non-hijabi women on television, or watching soccer matches where the men wear athletic shorts that end above the knee. But their prohibitions are not based on any clear evidence–they are extending the logic of the Islamic dress code into a different domain. Due to the lack of clear evidence regarding this issue, it is best to follow the common sense policy that the majority of Muslims already follow, which is to avoid watching sexually suggestive material while considering everything else neutral (such as watching non-hijabi television presenters and actresses).

Each person should judge the matter for themselves and according to each circumstance. When watching TV, it is sufficient to look away when sexually suggestive material is shown (for a example certain scenes of a film).

The Saudi scholar Dr. al-Sharīf al-ʿAwnī says regarding watching non-hijabi women on TV:

I cannot say with certainty that it is forbidden. I rather lean towards considering it a disliked thing. And if a Muslim can avoid it then it is better.

The Saudi scholar ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Suḥaym says there is no issue with watching non-hijabi females on television if there is no sexual desire involved.

Source:

How to begin practicing Islam

Hello. I write to you because I don't know what else to do. I come from a Christian family, in a very much Christian country where Islam is never regarded, not even discussed or insulted. Just ignored. Yes, people know about it but when I speak about my love for the Quran or my wishes to become a Muslim, they laugh it me. There aren't any mosques where I can pray. If there where I feel I would spent the better part of the day there. I don't care what people think of me. That's not the issue... the thing is I'm not sure how to practice Islam. I read what I can from the Quran online. But I don't feel close enough. What do you recommend? I have no one to guide me through it. But I can't help how I feel about Islam. I want to be close to Him and do as much as to serve Him well.

Hello,

I recommend reading a book intended for beginners to Islam, such as Being Muslim: A Practical Guide by Asad Tarsin (it is available on Amazon.com). All you need to do to start practicing Islam is to say the shahada (”I bear witness that there is no deity besides God and that Muhammad is his servant and messenger.”). That makes you officially a Muslim. Then you would have to start praying the five daily prayers and fast when it is Ramadan. The daily prayers have their own requirements which you can easily find out more about by searching online for “how to pray”, or by reading books for beginners to Islam.

To improve your knowledge of Islam you can also watch lectures on YouTube by respected English-speaking scholars like Yasir Qadhi, Hamza Yusuf and Abdal Hakim Murad.

Sleeping on the stomach is not clearly forbidden or disliked in Islam

Assallamualeykum! Why is it bad to sleep face down? Are the hadiths about it reliable?

There appears are two narrations that mention the Prophet disliking sleeping on the stomach, one in the collection of al-Tirmidhī and one in the collection of Ibn Māja. The imams al-Bukhāri, al-Dāraquṭnī, Ibn Abī Ḥātim and Ibn Rajab consider these narrations unreliable, while al-Albānī considers them reliable. So it is not firmly established that it is disliked or forbidden to sleep on the stomach. Scholars like Ibn al-Qayyim mention that it is harmful to one’s health to sleep on the stomach.

A fatwa by the Jordanian fatwa authority considers it disliked (makrūh), meaning that it is not forbidden (ḥarām). The fatwa also says that if a person has to sleep in that way for health reasons, or if they turn onto their stomachs while asleep (without intending it), then it is not disliked.

According to many English-language health sites children younger than 12 months should not sleep on the stomach due to the increased danger of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Sources:

Is it permitted to use the student loan interest deduction?

salamu alaykom, i know that student loans are haram but i have one that I’m paying off from when I didn’t really know it wasn’t okay. my question; on taxes in the U.S. you can put down the interest you paid on student loans as a deductible on your tax return filing and get some of it back, is this also haram? even though id be getting back interest that i paid? or is it okay to do? thank you in advance.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The student loan deduction is the government paying back some of the interest, which actually makes the loan less “evil” since it reduces the interest. I see nothing wrong with benefiting from the deduction, it is like any other government-paid benefit (such as certain university scholarships).

Having friends who make fun of Islam

I have friends who are not muslims. Sometimes they make fun of islam and we go into discussions but i feel like sometimes they just want to insult muslims. 2 of them are atheists and another one is a christian. They ask the same questions/claims repeatedly but always jump from one question to another before i can fully answer. Maybe they dont really care about the answer. It hurts when they make claims about the prophet and allah and other muslims. Are they wrong to do this or am I just lacking?

Your friends lack good manners and it would be best to find more civilized friends even if it was not a religious issue.

The Quran says:

He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear God’s revelations being rejected, or ridiculed, do not sit with them until they engage in some other subject… (From the Quran, verse 4:140)

The Quran therefore recommends that you avoid such people. Make it clear to them that you will avoid them if they bring up Islam with the aim of making fun of it, and if they continue, then stop befriending them.

Eating with the left hand is permitted in Islam

Is it okay for the Muslim lefties to eat with their left hand rather than their right hand? Because their dominant hand is left and is not adept at using their right hand. Thank you.

There are authentic narrations in which the Prophet commands that a person should eat with the right hand, but the majority of the scholars from the Ḥanafī, Mālikī, Shāfiʿī and Ḥanbalī schools agree that it is a recommendation rather than an obligation.

This is also the opinion of Ali Gomaa (Egypt’s Grand Mufti from 2003 to 2013).

Source:

Is it permitted for a Muslim woman to shave her head?

Can I shave my head clean so that it will grow evenly long? I'm a girl.

According to a fatwa on IslamOnline, most scholars permit it if there is a need for it. Also, Shāfiʿite and Ḥanbalite opinion is that women cutting their hair is disliked (makrūh), not forbidden (ḥarām).

See also the related answer: Having short hair as a Muslim woman

Is it permitted to pray for death in Islam?

Is it haram to pray for death?

The Prophet says:

"Let none of you wish for death on account of an affliction that befalls him. If he has no alternative, let him pray: O God, grant me life so long as it is good for me to be alive, and take my life if death is good for me." [Bukhari and Muslim, quoted in Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn Book 1, Hadith 586)

Since praying for death is an expression of hopeless in God’s ability to make our life better, the following saying of Prophet Ibrāhīm also applies to it:

He said, “And who despairs of his Lord’s mercy but those who are misguided?” (The Quran, 15:56)

Therefore it does not befit a believer to pray for death. They should instead leave the matter in God’s hands and let Him decide their fate. Rather than praying for death, wait patiently until God changes your circumstances. Also please check out the following essay: Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide.

 

The Islamic ruling on blowing on food to cool it

Is it true that it be haram to blow on ones good before eatin even tho it be hot to eat?

According to a fatwa from Egypt’s fatwa authority, it is not a prohibition, it is just good manners not do it since it can cause the food or saliva to fly off, and it is for this reason that the Prophet disliked it. It is therefore considered disliked (makrūh), not forbidden (ḥarām).

According to the the important legal theorist Shams al-Dīn al-Āmidī it is permitted to blow air on hot food to cool it (apparently he thought that the disliked aspect was if it was done unnecessarily). According to the Mālikite scholar Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī the issue has to do with communal eating etiquette. If a person is eating alone then it is not disliked, but if they are eating in company, since it may gross people out, they should avoid it. This is also the opinion of al-Muhallab b. Abī Ṣufra, mentioned in his commentary on Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and quoted by Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqālānī.

The important Ḥanafī scholar Abū Yūsuf said it is permitted as long as it is not done so forcefully as to make a sound.

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