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Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

Are Muslims permitted to work in Sharia-compliant banks?

Are Muslims allowed to work in a bank, even if it's labeled as sharia bank?

As discussed in this previous answer, working at usurious banks (banks that profit through interest) is forbidden.

As for Sharia-compliant banks, working for them is permitted if they are truly Sharia-compliant. Some banks are only Sharia-compliant in name, or they offer Sharia-compliant services alongside usurious services. So before working at such a place a person should do their own research and find out if the bank is truly Sharia-compliant. Even if the bank claims to have a fatwa from a scholar that rules their services to be Sharia-compliant, a person should look at the bank critically. If you are unable to decide whether a particular bank is really Sharia-compliant or not, ask a knowledgeable person to do some research on the bank.

The Islamic way to spend wealth: are luxuries permissible?

Aslamalaikum brother, I was wondering about the islamic principles on how to spend money. For example if someone had a good job and made good money and therefore lived lavishly but still followed the 5 pillars of islam and gave charity, would their religious deeds be deemed hypocritical due to their lifestyle. I feel very guilty when buying 'unnecessary' things when some people struggle to buy necessities and I struggle to understand why Allah created such a rich/poor gap in the world

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Scholars like Ibn al-Jawzī recommend viewing your body and its desires and pleasures similar to viewing a steed (a horse or other animal that you need for a journey). You should try to keep the steed in good health and to give it some of the pleasures it requires so that it can serve you effectively.

So we should seek moderation when treating yourselves, neither spoiling ourselves with too much spending, or being cruel to ourselves by denying ourselves all pleasures.

I do not see anything wrong with a rich person occasionally treating themselves with pleasures and luxuries that are denied to others. But ideally this should represent only a small amount of their wealth. Every time you spend your money on a luxury, you can make it rule to spend the same amount on charity. And a person especially eager to please God can choose to spend twice as much on charity as on luxuries, and so on.

Personally if I had a large income I would choose a certain percentage (such as 10%) to give to charity. So if my income with $5000 a month, I would give $500 to charity every month. But if my income was much greater, I would choose a larger percentage, even half, to give to charity every month.

The wealth that God gives us is something entrusted to us by Him. So we should view it in this way and try to always keep in mind that we should use it to please Him.

As for why God created the rich/poor gap, it is because it makes this world an effective testing hall. If there we were all equally wealthy we would have much fewer chances to be patient or generous than the present system. I discuss this in detail in my essay: Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

She needs ten hours of sleep every night

Assallamualeykum! I find it very hard to sleep less since my very childhood. If I don't get enough sleep, I get annoyed easily. The perfect amount for me is 10 hours. And I think, more than affecting my success in life, this much sleep takes me away from prayers from time to time. I've tried some tips, but nothing helped so far. do u have any suggestions? and could everyone please pray for me to overcome this issue? jazakallahu khayran.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sleeping that long could be a sign of a medical condition, depression or loneliness. When I lived alone due to work for 3 months, I would often sleep for 12 hours a night. But now that I am back with my wife and children I am back to sleeping 8 hours a night.

So try to see a medical professional if possible, maybe they can help you. And if you think you are lonely try to do something about it if possible.

According to my understanding, loneliness and depression raise systemic inflammation, and this makes the body seek “healing” by making you sleep longer. Once the cause of the inflammation is removed (for example by no longer being lonely), then the need for extra sleep is removed.

Best wishes.

Skepticism and critical thinking in Islam

Salaam. Brother, as a young person in her mid 20's, I wanted to ask for your advice. I've grown up in a way that my parents never taught me lessons about life and I got to experience it myself at first-hand. It made me a quiet person, but observant. Somewhere at my early 20's, I got to experience depression due to my past life away from home. I came back a different person. I used to held a strong personal value, but now I feel like I need to see each and every side of things to understand the bigger picture of what's going on. At first, it was frustrating, but as time goes by and I'm slowly healing from my depression, I'm starting to understand why, but have so little grasp of what is exactly true or false. Is this what you called growing up? And if I see many sides of things, which side should I take or which one should I take to be held as my personal value? Thank you very much for taking your time reading and answering my question. I need a grown-up to understand my situation and I can't count on my parents, for they are not the right people for me to talk about this and because I have grown apart from them since childhood.

I am glad that you are recovering from your depression. It is a sign of maturity and intelligence that you are seeing things from multiple sides and questioning things. I myself am what I call a consummate skeptic and I never take any authority’s words for granted. I always try to do my own research and come to my own conclusions. So the best way forward for you is to seek knowledge. Read as many books as you can and in this way you will be able to start distinguishing right from wrong.

I strongly recommend reading the Quran daily. This should be the foundation of your thought and behavior. If you hold tight to it and always seek God’s guidance, inshaAllah He will give you a guided and blessed life.

I also recommend reading my book The Way of the Spiritual Muslim. This book can provide with a beautiful spiritual foundation for you to build upon. I will send the ebook version of this book for free to anyone who asks for it, so just send me an email at contact@hawramani.com if you are interested.

For ideas about books to read, please check out the page The Modern Islamic Studies Curriculum. These are books that I have read (or am reading) and I strongly recommend all of them to all growing Muslim intellectuals.

If you are interested in taking your learning to the next level, please consider joining us at the Hawramani Institute. I and other members will give you all the support you need to become the most capable Muslim thinker you can be inshaAllah.

Best wishes.

Feeling down and unable to do tasks

I feel down very frequently when I am not able to carry something out,like I have tried to do it but I sometimes cannot find myself the energy and spirit to do it,any advice?

Sorry about your condition. That is likely due to depression or chronic fatigue. I strongly recommend that you seek medical help. The right drugs can give you all the energy you need to start becoming productive again, and once you no longer need them you can always stop using them.

Islam, politics and political parties

Salaam. What is your take on Islam and politics? Do you think Islam has a politic system that matches the teachings of Islam or is it free to us to decide which politic system to use to regulate our nations and country? I remember that 1400 years ago, Prophet Muhammad used to rule an Islamic State (Daar al-Islam) and does that count as a stance for us to also establish an Islamic State? I'm not talking about ISIS and such here, because that's a different matter. Thank you for your time. May Allah Bless you and your family.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I lay out my views on Islam and politics in my essays The Muslim Plan for Western Civilization: There is No Plan and The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan (And a Critique of Political Islam).

I do not think there is one right political system for Muslim to follow. What I believe is that if most of the citizens of a country freely choose to implement Islamic principles in their government, then that is a good thing and they are free to do so, provided that they do not transgress on the rights of those who are not Muslim or who disagree with them on governance.

So if a Muslim government comes about organically and naturally, because of the will of the people, then I support that. But if it comes about becomes a small group of people desire it and try to force it on others, then I am against that. The Prophet PBUH was democratically elected as the ruler of Medina, he never sought power for himself or his group. He is the example we should follow in politics.

I am completely against Islamist political parties, where a group of Muslims self-elect themselves to be the representatives of Islam. This always leads to more harm than good. I believe all Muslim organizations should be non-political and they should all have as their main principle the non-seeking of political power.

However, I am in favor of individual Muslims getting involved in politics under their own name rather than claiming to represent all Muslims. So I support the US congresswoman Ilhan Omar and I am proud of her brave positions.

Quantum theory and time travel in Islam

What do you think about quantum theory? Do you think humans can time-travel?

I have read a number of books on quantum theory but I do not know enough about it to express a general opinion. As for time-travel, forward time-travel seems to be possible and unproblematic (if you are on a spaceship that flies near the speed of light, time would travel much slower inside the ship relative to the outside).

But as for backward time-travel, I believe most scientists consider it impossible. From the religious perspective it is problematic because by going back in time everyone else’s free-willed decisions up to that time would be canceled out, since they would have to make them all over again. I believe in a real-time universe as I discuss in this essay, which means that backward time-travel is nonsensical since it would require bypassing God.

Time is merely the fact that some of God’s actions happen after some of His other actions. Traveling backward would literally mean controlling God and making Him undo His own actions, which is naturally absurd.

Is seeking knowledge better than worship?

Assalam brother, Islam encourages us to seek knowledge and in one of the hadith said it is better to seek knowledge than to perform the daily spiritual activities (e.g. zikr, reads quran, perform sunnah), my question is what kind of knowledge do we need to seek according to the hadith? I think I'm lacking in those knowledge seeking, thank you in advance for your kind answer.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I have read it in multiple sources that seeking knowledge is better than worship. My own view is that for a Muslim who wishes to be extraordinary, a minimum amount of daily worship is always necessary. Seeking knowledge does not take away this requirement. In my own case I spend an hour every day listening to the Quran. This is the minimum amount of worship that I believe to be acceptable.

Without performing that worship, seeking knowledge alone can lead to many kinds of evils. A person can become arrogant and proud, or suffer from envy. It is absolutely essential that we do what is needed to keep our egos in check daily. Merely seeking knowledge without subduing the ego can easily lead to a bad character.

As for seeking knowledge, what is normally meant is to seek religious knowledge, especially to do your best to understand the Quran and to read the important books of hadith.

Once you have done that, you can go on to study other aspects of Islam. Ideally we should seek all essential beneficial knowledge, therefore for the extraordinary Muslim I believe the study of some literature and philosophy is also necessary. Please check out the page The Modern Islamic Studies Curriculum on our site which contains a list of books that I believe all capable Muslims should attempt to read.

She caught her divorced sister cheating with a married man

Asalam Alaikum. My sister is a divorced. I have sadly found out my sister has a haram relationship with a married man. The mans wife is both my sisters and I very good friend so I could not believe my sister would do this to her. I’m so sad. What should I do? Tell my parents, tell my friend or confront my sister (she doesn’t know I know)?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry about your situation. It would be best to confront her privately without any threats of letting others know about it. Maybe this will make her agree to end the relationship. If she does not, then you can tell her that you will tell your parents and your friend who is being cheated on.

It is best to try to solve such matters as privately as possible, since this is best for everyone involved.

Even if your sister promises to break the relationship, there is of course still the fact of your friend being married to such a man. I cannot say what should be done about this, for example if children are involved then that would complicate matters. If there is a chance that the man may repent and go on with his life like normal then it might be best if your friend does not find out about his cheating. If you are unsure what to do in this regard, it may be best to leave it to God to decide what He wishes. But if you get a clear sense that it is your duty to tell your friend, then perhaps consult a knowledgeable person you trust who knows you and knows that family and maybe a solution would suggest itself.

Best wishes.

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Is showering (ghusl) necessary after masturbation? (male and female)

Can you still pray after you masturbate? Or do you need to take a shower?

If the masturbation involves ejaculation (whether you are male or female), then performing ghusl becomes obligatory. You cannot pray until you perform ghusl.

But if there is no ejaculation, then a person can pray without performing ghusl.

Follow-up question: for the females (yes there are females who masturbate), does reaching climax or orgasm the same as ejaculating? Like, if one reaching climax, but no ejaculation, does she has to perform ghusl afterwards? Thank you.

Thank you for your question. According to the Qatari Fatwa Authority, orgasm itself does not necessitate ghusl if no manī is ejaculated by the man or woman. For more on a woman’s manī please see this previous answer.

There is, however, something called retrograde ejaculation, where the ejaculation takes place but does not come out immediately. For example if an hour or more later the person urinates and finds some ejaculate in their urine, then the ejaculation has taken place. In such a case, I believe that ghusl is necessary even though no ejaculation took place during the orgasm.

Source on ghusl not being necessary if a woman orgasms without ejaculation during masturbation:

Finding meaning in life when the most precious thing is taken away from you

You know when the most precious thing is taken away from you, there is nothing that can replace it. I can't seem to find meaning in anything else and now everything seems bleak to me. How do I go about just living life? Nothing matters. I can't seem to find the importance of anything else.

Sorry about your situation. I have been in similar situations and I believe the best thing to do is to consider yourself on break from ordinary life. You are in an in-between state until God creates a new life for you. Focus on doing your duties, and constantly ask God for guidance, forgiveness and ease, and through Him seek a satisfactory solution. It may take months or years; your job is to struggle through it, stay patient, and leave it to Him to create a meaningful life for you anew. Nothing is impossible for God, so even if you see no way out, even if you see no alternative to what you have lost, trust Him, stay patient, and leave it to Him give your life a new meaning.

I also recommend that you seek medical help if you are severely depressed. The right drugs can make this period of life more bearable and productive, and once you no longer need them you can stop using them.

Is there a difference between wearing hijab and abaya or loose shirts and pants?

Is there any difference if one wears hijab and casual clothing (long sleeve loose shirt and loose pants) to the one who wears hijab and an abaya?

Different scholars will likely have different opinions on that. My view is that as long as the purpose of the hijab is achieved and the hair and body are covered (save for the face, hands and according to some scholars, the feet), then type of dress does not matter. The point is for a Muslim woman to dress in a way that prevents lecherous men from having anything erotically satisfying to look at, and this can be achieved through all kinds of costumes.

Should Muslims just stay away from manga and anime?

Everyone should just stay away from manga and anime. So much, if not absolutely most of it is immoral filth. Juvenile stories told with immoral themes and aimed at teenagers. Fantranslations make the stories impossible to regulate and many children are subjected to stories they should never have seen, let alone anyone of any age should see. They are not only ugly in appearance and telling, but ugly in their morals and intent. I pray that the whole phenomenon dies away insha'Allah.

I have no interest in them myself but I think that if Muslims get invovled with the genre and contribute wholesome alternatives to it, then it can be reformed. For example I grew up watching Arabic-dubbed anime on the popular SpaceToon channel and there was nothing in that except good moral teachings, besides the entertainment and fantasy.

If just leave the genre alone then that would just increase the chances of our teenagers going to the unwholesome versions of it. So I believe the first step toward a solution would be an English-language alternative to SpaceToon that only presents the wholesome animes.


Islam and vegan extremists

Assalamu'alaykum. Brother, what are your thoughts on vegans who condemn and look down on people who consume meat? I find few vegan persons who seem to justify their belief in only consume greens and fruits and view that other people who are not vegan as a low-life. Thank you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

You can just ignore such people, they are similar to religious extremists who dehumanize those who disagree with them. If you are interested, you can check out Roger Scruton’s book Animal Rights and Wrongs. I have not actually read it (but I have it and plan to), but I trust his opinions on most things. Maybe his book will clarify the matter to you.

Are virtual credit cards halal?

Salaam. I was planning to create a PayPal account, but I'm unemployed, have no credit card, and thought of creating a VCC or Virtual Credit Card to get a full access to PayPal and to make overseas online payment or transfer. Unfortunately, the VCC service asks their users to take up 1,9% to 4,5% from users' account balance. Does this count as usury? If so, I will undo this.

Since it is called a credit card and since a percentage is mentioned, it seems likely that it involves usury. Try to find services that offer debit cards rather than credit cards. Debit cards do not involve usury. You can go to a bank that offers VISA or MasterCard payment cards and open a checking (rather than savings, which involves usury) bank account with them, and first make sure their cards will work online.

Another way to pay with PayPal without having a bank account is to use prepaid gift cards (here is the PayPal page about it). You can buy a prepaid gift card at most Western supermarkets. Make sure they have a MasterCard, VISA, American Express or Discover logo on them. You can them use the prepaid gift card during checkout in PayPal. But I do not know if you can use them to transfer money to others.

If you ever have an urgent need for money in your PayPal account, let me know and I will try to help you.

Growing out of a person

What do you do when you grow out of a person? I no longer have that love for someone I loved so much.

I would say that is a natural part of life. We change and other change, and these changes sometimes lead to having different opinions about the person, or no longer enjoying their company, or no longer liking them.

I don’t know if there is anything you should do about it. Just continue being polite toward them, and if they expect love and kindness from you, try to show it to them even if you do not feel it. As discussed in this previous answer, being compassionate when you do not feel like it is actually greater in virtue than being compassionate when you feel like it.