IslamQA

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

On sexism and misogyny in hadith narrations and the books of scholars

Salam. This thing has bugged me for a while and I try to not care but it's an important topic . Basically many scholars, many ahadith, are very sexist. The work of bukhari, ibn abbas, alkatherr , it feels like I can't escape it and no matter how much I try to think that woman have rights in Islam I still feel as if my being is worth noting. I genuinely feel bad. I already deal with misogynism on daily basis in the country im from It's like being a woman is a bad thing.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is true that since the beginning of Islam until modern times most men had a low opinion of women. The same is true of non-Muslims throughout history. Women generally had less access to education and fewer interactions with other people, so that they appeared naive and unintelligent to men. Therefore when a historical personality says women are inferior or foolish, for them this seemed to be the truth, since they rarely met intelligent women who could think on the same level as men. For them it was an obvious fact of life that women are unintelligent, and anyone who doubted that could simply go and talk to some women in their society and verify that this was true.

Things only began changing in the past few centuries, when women in both Europe and the Middle East started to be more involved with their societies and started to get an education. Even in the United States, the universities only started admitting female students in the latter part of the 19th century. Cornell admitted its first female student in 1870, and its alumni, who were some of the best educated men in the country, strongly opposed letting in females.1

When it comes to sexism in hadith narrations, you should keep in mind that only a very small subset of hadith narrations reach the authenticity of the Quran. The overwhelming majority belong to a spectrum of authenticity. Some have a 99% likelihood authenticity, some 95%, and so on. Even highly authentic narrations can be rejected if the case can be made that they describe an earlier policy of the Prophet that may have been superseded by his later practice or by a Quranic revelation. For Imam Malik’s rejection of authentic narrations despite admitting their authenticity see Wymann-Landgraf, Mālik and Medina. For the issues surrounding hadith authenticity, see Brown, The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim and idem, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy, London, 2014.2

The Quran is our only 100% reliable source for God’s opinions, therefore you should base your thinking on it. It nowhere teaches that women are unintelligent and foolish, it rather stresses the equality of the worth of men and women, guarding their dignity and prohibiting various abuses that were common in the pre-Islamic era (such as forced marriages, selling them as slaves, not letting them get a share of inheritance). If you find a hadith or scholarly opinion that teaches to view women as inferior, instead of thinking that this is Islam, you should think the opposite, that this is not Islam, and you should do the research necessary to find out the truth. If one hadith teaches a negative thing about women, you will find others that teach positive things. If one scholar voices a sexist opinion, you will find others who reject it, and in fact there are scholars who can be described as feminist in that they think women are better and more moral humans than men.

Islam is simply a tool for you to know God better and to worship Him in the possible way. This is the purpose of this religion, everything else is a side issue complicated by the vagueness of the Quran, the unreliability of hadith narrations and the sexist cultures of the past. Rather than letting these things color your understanding of Islam, make your own understanding out of the Quran and the best opinions of the people of the past and present.

Is it forbidden for Muslims to befriend non-Muslims?

Is it true that it's haram for Muslims and non Muslims to be friends. I didn't know this until I read the Qur'an because no one told me about it. It says that the believers can't take non-believers as awliyaa and in my Qur'an the translation says friends. I asked my friend and she told me it means political ally but in 9:71 Allah describes believers that are friends with eachother and there is no political notation there.

As a Muslim you should get into the habit of reading the whole Quran and judging one part in the context of the rest, instead of giving all attention to one verse and forgetting the rest. Verse 60:8 of the Quran says:

As for those who have not fought against you for your religion, nor expelled you from your homes, God does not prohibit you from dealing with them kindly and equitably. God loves the equitable.

This verse was sent to balance out the verse you mentioned, and also to balance out the verse at the beginning of its own chapter:

O you who believe! Do not take My enemies and your enemies for supporters, offering them affection, when they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the Truth. They have expelled the Messenger, and you, because you believed in God, your Lord. If you have mobilized to strive for My cause, seeking My approval, how can you secretly love them? I know what you conceal and what you reveal. Whoever among you does that has strayed from the right way.

Reading the whole Quran, we get the conclusion that we are forbidden from becoming friends with those who harbor resentment against Muslims and who plan and plot against them. An example of such a forbidden friendship would be a Muslim businessman becoming friends with Israeli settler businessmen who have unjustly expelled other Muslims from the lands they live in.

As for those who have not fought us because of our religion and who have not expelled us from our homes, we are allowed to treat them in whatever way is culturally and humanly appropriate.

By being Muslim the Quran does not ask you to stop being a human. It merely tries to reform you and prevent you from doing evil and foolish things (like befriending those who would happily kill you and your family for gain if they got the chance). There is nothing wrong with befriending a good and kind non-Muslim who wishes you no harm; this is what your conscience tells you and this is what the Quran tells you.

I have read the Quran dozens of times in multiple languages and have not found a single thing that goes against my conscience. If you find such a thing in it, it means you haven’t understood it fully, or that you are reading one interpretation of a particular verse or passage when various interpretations are possible.

Dealing with cruelty from one’s own family

I was born Muslim into a non practising family. When I came back to the deen Alhamdulillah, my family suddenly turned on me. Suddenly everything I do is wrong, they gossip, my siblings have been jabbing me about not doing enough for my parents. I try what I can, I make doa for them but I can’t help being angry inside and it’s killing me. I know it’s my family, but despite me being their source of income, they just put me down. I feel like a convert. How do I be filial to an unkind family?

You just have to be as kind and patient as you can be. Islam does not ask you to have superhuman kindness and patience toward others. You are asked to be the best you can be with the abilities you have. It is natural to feel resentment toward such treatment, and there is probably no quick solution for it.

The clan of Prophet Muhammad instead of supporting him were among his harshest critics. They would mock him and make up lies about him. God asked him to be patient and lenient, and asked him to pray and recite the Quran as much as he could (sura 73). Eventually most of them came to respect him.

Another thing to keep in mind is that being too outwardly religious can be disconcerting for those who are not. It is similar to being a vegan. Some people think that being a vegan makes them a superior type of human who have the right to judge everyone else; they become a nuisance by constantly talking about their veganism and criticizing others for eating meat. As a Muslim, try not to be like that. Do not talk about religion with them and do not do obviously religious things in front of them (reading Quran, etc.). Keep Islam to yourself. If you can build a good relationship with them without reference to Islam, then they will be more likely to accept your religiosity. But if they feel that your religiosity makes you judge them as inferior, then they will be likely to feel threatened and to criticized you in order to make themselves feel better about not being religious like you.

Ask yourself what you would be doing toward your family if you were still irreligious. Do not let your religiosity separate you from them. If they have certain hobbies or things they do that they enjoy, be with them. If you have a sibling who is interested in something (say football), buy them a high-quality football as a gift. If you have sisters, a good gift would be a gift card to a clothing store. Do everything you can to assure them you are still with them and that you honor them and consider them proper humans, and avoid everything that may make them feel you consider yourself different or superior for being religious. Reassure them that you still love them, and the best way to do this is to continue treating them as if nothing has changed since you became religious.

On God’s judgement regarding primitive humans (Amala and Kamala)

Salam! That might be a hard question to answer... But in philosophy class earlier we learned about Amala and Kamala, two girls who were abandoned in the forest when they were babies and therefore were raised by wolves and acted like wolves. They didn't know they were humans. I wanted to know, in that case, how do you think Allah judges them? As humans, or as animals? Because they're like primitive.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are various answers on that. One theory is that humans have the intrinsic ability to know God and believe in Him, meaning that God can judge them.

Another opinion is that God’s guidance (through one of His religions) is necessary for someone to become responsible in God’s sight. The Quran does not provide us with a conclusive answer. There are verses like the following which seem to suggest that one should receive the message from one of God’s messengers before they are held responsible for their actions:

Whoever is guided—is guided for his own good. And whoever goes astray—goes astray to his detriment. No burdened soul carries the burdens of another, nor do We ever punish until We have sent a messenger.1

But there are also verses like the following which seem to suggest that merely by being human we acquire responsibility:

And do not occupy yourself with what you have no knowledge of. The hearing, and the sight, and the conscience—all these one will be held responsible for.2

The one thing we know for certain is that God is just and that He does not place a burden on someone except according to their knowledge and ability, as expressed in the following verse:

The wealthy shall spend according to his means; and he whose resources are restricted shall spend according to what God has given him. God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it. God will bring ease after hardship.3

Therefore even though we not know how God judges most humans, we can say that God will judge them according to what is fair. Only those who have the power and knowledge (intrinsic or otherwise) to believe in God will be held responsible.

There are some preachers who give definite statements about who goes to Hell and who doesn’t. But the Quran leaves wide room for interpretation, therefore if anyone says something about God’s judgment that sounds unfair and unjust, this merely means that the person has misunderstood God and is saying things about God that God Himself has not said.

Can you do a khatm (complete reading) of the Quran with a translation?

Salaam 🙂 I had a question. I was wondering since I am currently finishing trying to complete the Quran inshAllah, would I be able to read a translated version in English instead? So I can understand each Surah. Would reading the translation version be considered as completing the Quran? Thank you so much for you input, I highly appreciate it. JazakAllah khair

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The common opinion among scholars (al-Nawawi, Ibn Baaz) is that there is something special about the Arabic Quran. They believe that it is forbidden to recite the Quran during the prayer (ṣalāh) in a different language, and believe that reading the Quran as an act of worship is only permissible in Arabic. As for translations, they only consider them useful as an educational tool.

The best thing to do would be to read a side-by-side Arabic and English book of Quran, reading each verse in Arabic then in English.

If your goal is to understand God’s words and wishes better by reading a translation, then He will reward you for your effort and you will benefit from it even if this does not constitute a formal qirāʾah (recitation) of the Quran. Therefore you can do what works best for you until your Arabic is good enough to easily understand the Arabic.

On proposing to a man as a Muslim woman

Salam Alaikum, I have a question, I want your opinion on it. There is a guy, he seems very nice conservative and holds good deal of manners and deen. He is single, I really would like to have a future with him. I'm not sure if he is looking for marriage now or if he's interested in me. He is a family friend. How can I approach him without looking so unmodest. He does not have any family around and only our friends. Any tips on how to address that situation. Thanks and jazak Allah

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The best thing would be to tell someone who is respected by both of you and ask them to introduce the topic to him. This would be less awkward for both of you.

What is acceptable in one culture may not be in another, therefore it is the people around you who will have the best ideas on how to deal with this matter.

There is nothing in Islam to forbid you from talking to him directly, although this can be very awkward for most people, especially if he is not planning to marry. Having an intermediary gently introduce the topic to him would be much better.

Writing him (such as through email) is not a good option because it can send the wrong impression and because it puts you at his mercy. Even  if he is a good person and you expect no harm from him, you never know how people may change in the future, therefore it is always best to act cautiously (and get other people’s approval and involvement) in this matter.

Why doesn’t Islam have paintings and music?

Why doesn’t Islam have historical paintings/art like other religions? For example, Christians have that painting of Jesus at Last Supper. Also, why are there modern Christian songs in pop and rock but no such thing as Muslim songs? Is music seen as distracting or misguiding you from your path?

It does. All that you need to do is search “Islamic painting” to find thousands of examples. Below is an example from the 16th century:

There was a belief among religious scholars that painting living things is not allowed by God, although this is being challenged today. Despite that, Muslims developed a form of painting known as miniature paintings. Unlike in European paintings, there wasn’t a focus on realism until the past century, for this reason the paintings look very different from European art.

As for Islamic music, again, simply Google “Islamic music” to find thousands of examples. Below is an example:

Enduring the difficulties of having an abusive mother

So i gave in thinking that maybe she had undrestood herself and that she could not treat me and my sibling like that. Well I was wrong, every time she gets mad she wants me out and calls me crazy and maniac because of my mental illness. She is still bitter because of my father and i don't like it when she brings him and his family in our arguments (when they divorced she used us as a weapon and made dad leave us children because of the problems she was causing problems and manipulated us to hate

him. Anyways few years ago he came back in our live (this was again because of an argument between me and her and for some reason she called dads family) anyways she always calls him names and took it the point where she calls my late grand mom awful names. She made always makes bad duas to me and my sibling and calls my sister fat (she's overweight) and all. Our dad lives overseas so I can't move there. I'm really sick and tired of this and in Islam says that we always have to bare it all with

I appreciate the difficulty of your situation. Do you not have any relatives you could ask for your help or advice? They may be able to help you in some way.

Islam teaches us how to deal with life’s problems, it does not solve them for us. Muslims and non-Muslims both suffer from such problems. Sometimes you just have to endure, to read the Quran and to pray. If you are patient, your difficulties will help build your character and make you a wiser and better person than others of your own age. Some years from now you may be rewarded with a great life for your present difficulties. Prophet Yusuf and Prophet Muhammad both suffered through many difficulties, but eventually God gave them all that they desired. Always remember this sura 93 of the Quran:

1. By the morning light.

2. And the night as it settles.

3. Your Lord did not abandon you, nor did He forget.

4. The Hereafter is better for you than the First.

5. And your Lord will give you, and you will be satisfied.

6. Did He not find you orphaned, and sheltered you?

7. And found you wandering, and guided you?

8. And found you in need, and enriched you?

9. Therefore, do not mistreat the orphan.

10. Nor rebuff the seeker.

11. But proclaim the blessings of your Lord.

On not speaking to someone for more than three days

Salam, Is it true that according to hadith ones prayer or supplication becomes invalid when you don't speak to a person for more than three days. Many times I have neglected my prayers because I thought that there was no point of continuing. But I don't also understand why my prayers have to be affected to the point of validity if people are immature and don't solve issues by sitting down and communicating.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is a narration in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim in which the Prophet ﷺ says it is not permissible (halal) for a Muslim to stop talking to another for more than three days. The Maliki jurist Ibn Abd al-Barr says:

أجمعوا على أنه يجوز الهجر فوق ثلاث، لمن كانت ‏مكالمته تجلب نقصاً على المخاطب في دينه، أو مضرة تحصل عليه في نفسه، أو دنياه. فرب ‏هجر جميل خير من مخالطة مؤذية .‏

They [i.e. the scholars] have agreed that it is permissible to stop talking to someone for over three days with a person who, if one was to talk to them, this would bring a deficiency in one's faith or a harm in their psyche or their material well-being, therefore perhaps a good avoidance of someone [i.e. avoidance with good intentions] would be better than a mixing that brings harm.1

In other words, what the Prophet meant is that it is not acceptable to intentionally inflict suffering on someone by not talking to them. But if there is a good reason for not talking to them, then that might be fine.

You should not let others affect your relationship with God. If someone tells you something about Islam that sounds like nonsense to you, instead of thinking that God is illogical, you should think that that person has misunderstood Islam, taken something out of context or is following an extremist or literal interpretation that more intelligent scholars do not support.

Dealing with a family who want to marry off a daughter without her consent

Kindly forgive me if what I'm about to ask is uncomfortable in anyway. But I am stricken with grief and anger in my heart. I am aware this is wrong for my soul. But its when things take non-islamically that I feel most stricken with disappointment. My father has without my consent promised me to a family. I am already in love with a muslim man who I believe will help my deen and faith. How can I help myself and my cause. Any dua or insight?

Sorry to hear of that. Have you told him that you do not wish to marry that person? Perhaps talk to your mother and ask her to explain things to your father if you do not want to talk directly to him. If he does not listen to your wishes then you could ask the help of any male relatives you have. And if that does not help, if you live in a Western country there are various agencies who can help, although escalating things this far can seriously damage your relationship with him.

You should seek out all the help you can get from family and friends if necessary and perhaps you will find a peaceful solution. If absolutely necessary, you could even reach out to that family if at all possible and tell them you do not want to marry their son, maybe they will take your wish seriously even if your own family does not. You could ask for a private talk with the man, and during that talk you could tell him you do not want to marry him.

Dealing with betrayal and slander from friends

So I've shared a secret to a friend and said to her she shouldnt tell anyone especially not to person xy.. so what she did was exposing me infront of this person and told him/her everything what I said (the secret wasn't about the person I just wanted to make sure she don't tell it anyone).. she also told other person about it who weren't involved in it.. she blocked me on social media etc.. all this people are talking behind my back and everyone ignores me and possibly hates me for it..

These people are Muslims.. I’m so depressed these days.. can you say what should I do and is this a sign in form of punishment by Allah swt say because of my sins? I’m so confused and sad about it. They won’t listen to me.. I even apologized but they ignores me.. please help me!

All of God’s prophets were lied about, ignored and attacked by their societies, just because it is happening does not mean that it is a punishment. Perhaps it is preparation for something better that will come. Perhaps it is there to help you see who your real friends are and who the shallow and selfish ones are.

God is your protector. Always remember this verse:

That is because God is the protector of the faithful, while the evildoers have no protector. (The Quran, verse 47:11)

If God is your protector, then nothing that happens around you can possibly harm you, even if from appearances the thing is hurtful and upsetting. God is your protector, seek to please Him and forgive and forget those who wish to hurt you.

Getting over an impossible love

I don’t know if this is gonna sound ridiculous/stupid... but I’ve been having feelings for someone for the past 3 years and I can’t seem to get over it, I make dua Everyday asking Allah to strengthen my heart and remove these feelings, I try to keep myself busy with work and worship but at the end of the day I still come back to this , the worst part is that this person is married. I will never act on this feelings but it hurts a lot that I can’t do anything

Everyone’s life seems to contain some unsolvable problems. It can be a chronic illness, poverty, having a disabled child, having an elderly parent that one is forced to take care of, having a grown child who constantly causes problems, having an uncaring spouse, not being able to find someone to marry, etc. Your unsolvable problem appears to be your love for that person.

The main thing to do regarding life’s unsolvable problems is to accept them, to humbly submit to God’s decree and be thankful that things are not worse, and to realize that God could be saving us from many other problems that others suffer from. If our problem is solved, it is quite possible that a new problem may arise in our lives that is just as serious and painful as the one before, and most people’s lives appears to be a story of going from one unsolvable problem to another. This is how this world works, there is no way to achieve permanent peace in it. This world always promises us utopia but never delivers. Regardless of what we accomplish, in a few days or weeks we are always back to square one, always with new problems, worries and discomforts ruining things for us.

The thing to do is to sit back and understand that this is how the world works. We want to create heaven on Earth, but we can never achieve it. It is far better to keep in mind that this world will soon pass and that the comfort and peace we desire can only be achieved in a different world.

One thing you could do that might help you move on is to read a lot of books (50 or more). As you read more and more, your thinking and understanding will change and this can make it easier to get over the past and look forward to the future. You can check out this page on my my site for a list of books to read.

Do Muslims need to make up prayers intentionally missed for years?

I have a question to ask and i don't really know where and whom to ask about it. So, I’ve been neglecting salah for 24 years of my life, I’ve started to pray fully 5x times a day and I’ve been wondering how do i replace all the salah that I’ve been neglecting before. How do i know the numbers to replace, and what should i do? From what i heard, even if you seek for His forgiveness, you still have to pay back all the salah that you’ve missed out. Same goes to fasting.

Short answer: No, you do not need to make up those missed prayers.

The opinion of the founders of the four schools (Malik, al-Shafi`i, Ahmad and Abu Hanifah) is that a Muslim should make up any prayers missed after puberty even if this amounts to decades worth of missed prayers. Their reasoning is that since the prayer is obligatory on every Muslim, a missed prayer is like debt that one has to pay back.

Comparing a missed prayer to debt is known as qiyas (‘analogy’). The Islamic texts do not give us any clear pointers toward whether a person who habitually abandons the prayer should make them all up or not, this is an issue that is never mentioned in the Quran or hadith.

Ibn Taymiyyah rejects the debt analogy and provides a better analogy, that of intentionally missing the Friday prayer. People who intentionally delay the Friday prayer by not performing it in its proper time are not allowed to hold the Friday prayer later on to make up for it. The Friday prayer has a set time and it is only valid during that time.

As for making up missed prayers, according to Ibn Taymiyyah this only applies to cases when one’s daily life is interrupted by something that prevents them from praying in its proper time. Those who intentionally abandon the prayer cannot make it up; they have sinned, and once they repent, they should simply resume a Muslim’s life.

If you miss the Friday prayer intentionally by praying at home, there is no way to make it up, you cannot go to extra Friday prayers since there is no such thing as extra Friday prayers. I think this might be Ibn Taymiyyah’s point regarding the Friday prayer analogy. It appears that in Ibn Taymiyyah’s view the prayer is like a train that you either catch or miss. If you miss it by performing it defectively (such as by praying the Friday prayer at home) or by simply abandoning it, then you miss the train and there is no way to get back on it, since the prayer for each time period belongs to that time period and cannot be prayed outside of it. The noon prayer for March 5, 2018 belongs to a set period in time (say 12:30 PM to 4:00 PM), if one intentionally misses the prayer belonging to this period of history, then there is no way for them to make it up (unless they get on a time machine).

 

Ibn Taymiyyah’s view seems more like common sense and is, of course, far more humane, therefore I prefer it.

Ibn Taymiyyah’s view regarding missed fasts is similar; if the fast is intentionally abandoned, one is not required to make it up.

Can a Muslim woman marry an uncircumcised man?

How if I marry a converted man & he haven't circumcised yet. I mean, I've read it somewhere that u can't get married before circumcised first. Like, can we do the Ijab qabul first & few days after that the husband will be circumcised. Well, people who get circumcised need other people to look after them right? So what I try to say is I want to look after him during the recovery but obv it's haram before the marriage. That's why I want we get married first so I can look after him

Male circumcision is a matter of difference among scholars. The Hanafi and later Maliki opinion, and the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basri, is that it is recommended but not obligatory, while the Shafi`i and Hanbali view is that it is obligatory. According to the modern Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, there is no conclusive evidence in Islam to make it obligatory, but that it is close to being obligatory and that it should not be abandoned by a society as a whole.

In your case, you can do whatever is most convenient. Here is an answer from a Mufti in Trinidad and Tobago saying:

Being Uncircumcised does not prevent you from becoming married. There is absolutely no statement that it is haram for a Muslim woman to marry a non circumcised man. When you intend to marry, it is good to tell your spouse that you are not circumcised, so that this does not create problems in your marital relationship.

Avoiding the West’s culture of usury as a Muslim

I figured you'd be the best person to ask about this. I'm a young Muslim adult who's been wondering how to navigate through a usury based society. Unless you end up earning ample amounts of money, it feels like getting mortgages and credit cards are pre-requisites to living a comfortable (or decently comfortable) life here. What can I do to avoid partaking in the usury system while allowing me to live a decent life quality? Any advice or readings on this would be a great help.

We should try to avoid interest (and for-profit insurance) as much as we are able. This is a challenge that each person has to face for themselves; one should do as much as they can, but I wouldn’t say that one should absolutely avoid it all, since that can be too difficult for some people’s faith.

Speaking for myself, for mortgages, I would use an Islamic provider like Guidance Residential if it all possible. For insurance, I would only get insurance that I am legally required to get (such as car insurance). I would avoid using credit cards unless absolutely necessary (for example if I can’t pay rent and can’t get help in other ways).

In my new book A Skeptic’s Quick Guide to Modern Economics I explain how today’s usurious system works. You can also check out Usury in Christendom: The Mortal Sin that Was and Now is Not.

And if you ever have money to invest, you should avoid bonds, including “Islamic” ones that give a fixed rate. One should also ideally avoid all companies that borrow money on interest, which basically means all US public corporations. What remains is to invest in private businesses that do not deal in usury and that give their employees living wages. As far as I know there is no easy way to do this other than finding a business and reaching a private deal with them (giving them $10,000, for example, for a certain share of their profits). There are “Islamic” mutual funds like Azzad and AMANA, but both of these either invest in usurious corporations or in fixed-rate “Islamic” bonds that are not so Islamic after all. What is needed is a mutual fund that invests solely in non-usurious businesses or truly Islamic bonds (backed by real assets and with fluctuating returns). Perhaps as the number of Muslims in the US and Europe increases, such funds will be created. At the moment, if I were wealthy, I would have nothing to do with the utterly corrupt and usurious corporate culture of the West and would do everything possible to create new companies that act more ethically.

Can one read or listen to Quran online without wudu?

Do we have to get ba-wudu even if we reciting or listening Quran online?

There seems to be general agreement that qira’ah (reading/listening to/reciting aloud the Quran) can be done without wudu. The only thing that most agree should not be done without wudu is touching a book of Quran (i.e. a mushaf) (however, the highly respected Shafi`i jurist and hadith scholar al-Hakim al-Nisaburi says that touching a book of Quran without wudu is permissible).

Reading/listening online seems to me to fall under the first category, so I wouldn’t worry about wudu.

Source for first paragraph: Islamweb.net, fatwa #12540.

How do Azhar-educated Muslims end up as terrorists?

I'm just wondering how come some people who graduated from Al-Azhar ended up terrorists? Many of them have founded organisations such as Islamic brotherhood. I thought terrorism breeds as result of ignorance and incorrect knowledge, but since they receive proper ilm, on a scholarly level , then why this result? I can't find neutral books on the topic, either its by an islamophobe or a Muslim who gives one perspective

It is similar to the way that people brought up in Western universities ended up as Marxist terrorists. People who look at the problems suffered by their societies (such as Americans constantly killing good leaders and replacing them with US-approved dictators) end up having intense hatred and resentment for these injustices. In this way they may end up justifying terrorist acts in the name of justice.

The State of Israel was created through various acts of terrorism, such as the massacre of Deir-Yassinthe ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians, and the King David Hotel bombing.

The terrorism carried out by certain Muslims belongs to the same genre of violent political activism. They believe that the end justifies the means, similar to the way millions of Israelis today believe that having turned Gaza into an open-air concentration camp is justified as long as they themselves stay safe. When it comes to educated Muslims, it does not take any stretch of the imagination to understand that when they see all the injustice and oppression around them, one out of a million may be hot-headed and unhinged enough to end up having a desire for violence in order to put things right. Anyone who blames this on Islam has to explain why the remaining 999,999 Muslims are not terrorists. For more on this see The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists.

Humans have free will, regardless of our knowledge and education, we can always act in ways that go against our background. Just because you know something is wrong or sinful does not necessarily prevent you from doing it, if you desire it enough, or if you are possessed with enough passion (such as anger and hatred against an oppressor), you can do things that go against your education and conscience and that you may later regret.

Most of today’s terrorism does not belong to the above. It is, rather, funded by foreign powers. The United States funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the 1980′s in order to weaken the Soviet Union, and for all we know they may continue to do so since their terrorist acts justifies the American presence on Russia’s and China’s borders, very useful from a geopolitical perspective. See America’s Wars for the Greater Middle East by Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations. The same applies to the Philippines, the only Southeast Asian country that has a major terrorism problem (due to a terrorist organization founded by, unsurprisingly, a former CIA recruit). The Philippines has a major US military presence, as the US considers it crucial to have its bases in that area to threaten China, and terrorism helps justify their presence, as the US military act as helpers and trainers for the Philippines army.

Also see Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer.

The enlightened Americans have a fine old tradition of supporting terrorists and mass-murderers when it suits their interests. Islamic terrorism therefore falls into two categories. There is organized terrorism, which is invariably associated with foreign intelligence agencies to get funding, arms and training, and there is the much rarer individual terrorists who justify violence to themselves by thinking that they are fighting against oppression.

The Middle East’s murder rates are much lower than those of Latin America, so anyone who thinks Islam promotes violence has to explain why Egypt’s homicide rate is 1.4 per 100,000, while Brazil’s is 27 and Mexico’s 18. If we compare Muslim countries to non-Muslim countries of equal affluence and development, the Muslim countries are always more peaceful. The exceptions, which are given all the attention, are cases like Afghanistan and Syria where the peaceful people of the West have poured billions of dollars funding, arming and training terrorists who are called “freedom fighters” while they serve Western interests (as the Taliban was called in the 1980’s, and as various al-Qaeda-affiliated but US and Saudi-funded groups in Syria are called today).

Is it forbidden in Islam to be friends with a transgender person?

Is it haram to be friends with transgender person? One of my best friends is one and my mom does not approve this even tho I've known this person since childhood. My mom already made me quit friendship with someone else because they did not believe in God. I live in western country and it feels like being friends with anyone is haram. I don't have many friends, only few close ones

You shouldn’t think in terms of halal/haram, but in terms of whether such a friendship is beneficial or harmful to you, to that person, to your families and to the rest of society. If after balancing all of these concerns you believe that more good can be done than harm, then perhaps it is good to continue it. However, you must also take your mother’s wishes into account, Islam recommends that we take our parents’ wishes seriously even if what they ask is ridiculous (i.e. to “humor” them, the way parents humor their children’s wishes).

Very few things in life are haram or halal, most things have a mix of good and bad in them. When it comes to most things in life, Islam only provides general guidance rather than strict instructions. It asks you to be kind, generous, forgiving and dutiful toward your parents and everyone else around you. These mean different things in different situations. People who try to simplify life by calling this and that halal or haram are basically trying to paint life in crayons and have little understanding for the depth and sophistication of the Quran’s teachings.

On stopping having infatuation for a person

How do I stop having infatuation for someone?

People have been asking that for thousands of years and as far as I know no cure has yet been discovered. The best thing to do is to wait patiently, to read the Quran, to read other books, and to try to live life as best as you can until things slowly change for you. Five years from now you may be a completely different person who has moved on to a new and better life.

On avoiding looking at inappropriate images on the internet

I am a 20 year old lady, and I have this problem of constantly clicking on 'inappropriate images' and when I'm done, I feel bad and ask for Forgiveness, but it's become so repetitive! How do I remove sexual desire from within (just until marriage)? I don't even talk to the opposite sex, but what I'm doing is still not good.

There is no way to remove sexual desire. Fasting might help reduce it. The best solution is to reduce your opportunities for engaging in that, such as by only using your computer (if that is what you are using) in a public place, or not spending time alone at home.

At 20 years of age your brain has not fully developed and your power to control your impulses is weak compared to a 25-year-old. There are millions of others like you who wish to stop looking at such things but cannot because of their low impulse control until they get older. For now, don’t lose hope and make sure to carry out all of the obligatory acts Islam asks of you, and ask for God’s forgiveness every time you pray. Meanwhile, try to always come up with new ways of reducing your opportunities for engaging in that, by socializing, finding work outside, etc, and inshaAllah as you mature, it will become easier for you to control your impulses.

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