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Some personal questions for Ikram Hawramani

Did you have any mentors growing up? Also, who do you look up to?

I had an uncle who introduced me to Said Nursī and who encouraged me to learn English. I took up English-learning from 7th grade and possibly my main mentors in life were Victorian novels.

Do you have any siblings?

I have a brother and two sisters.

Are you a hafiz?

No I am not.

What are some things you have had to unlearn?

I cannot really think of anything I have had to unlearn.

What inspires you?

The Quran, praying at the mosque, all beautiful things.

What book impacted you most?

Probably Ibn al-Jawzī’s Ṣayd al-Khāṭir (Quarry of the Mind) which completely renewed my Islam and changed the direction of my life. I have selected the most inspiring parts of this book and published them in my books The Sayings of Ibn al-Jawzi and The Way of the Spiritual Muslim.

What are the main lessons you have learned?

Please see my blog post: Advice to my younger self

What is shirk (idolatry) in Islam?

What is shirk and how do you know that you have committed shirk?

Shirk is the sin of associating partners with God. It is often translated as paganism or polytheism, but the meaning is actually much wider. The Quran says:

And do not eat from that over which the Name of God was not pronounced, for it is abomination. The devils inspire their followers to argue with you; but if you obey them, you would be committers of shirk.

The Quran, verse 6:121.

According to this verse, whenever someone prefers Satan’s inspirations and opinions to God’s, that is shirk.

Shirk is any instance of the rejection of God’s authority in favor of another authority. If God tells you to do something and you refuse, preferring your own opinions and desires (which may have been inspired by Satan), then that is shirk.

All sins can be considered shirk because when committing sins we reject God’s authority. But there is minor shirk and major shirk. Minor shirk is the committing of any sin. We have all committed this whenever we have sinned, but God’s repentance and forgiveness are always open to us, so whenever we repent and God accepts our repentance, then our guilt for our shirk is erased.

Major shirk is to believe in an authority other than God and act according to it when you know that this is in contradiction to God’s authority. For example it is major shirk to believe that there are other deities beside God, or to believe that God is powerless over Satan, or that any of God’s attributes are false. For example if a person believes that God is powerless to help them, then that is major shirk, because they are preferring their own opinion (or Satan’s inspiration) over God’s clear statements.

The door of repentance is also open to majir shirk, so a person who has committed it is always welcome to repent and seek to submit to God again.

What is the one right way to pray (perform salah)?

Asalam Walikum, I was still wondering what would be the right way to pray? Ik different scholars have different opinions but in a ONE answer, what would be the right way to pray?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is sufficient to learn to pray from a source you like and respect, which is how most Muslims learn to pray. After that as your knowledge increases, you may choose to make small changes.

You may want to check out Being Muslim: A Practical Guide. It teaches how to pray in the Maliki way. The Maliki pratice of Islam is often the easiest for beginners, and since the Maliki school relies on three sources (the Quran, hadith and Medinan amal), it is often more reliable than the other schools which often only rely on the Quran and hadith.

I am not actually a Maliki so please do not consider this propaganda for that school. For my views on the different schools please see: On deciding which madhhab to follow and the multi-madhhab approach

Is it permitted for a Muslim to translate mangas?

Assalamu'alaikum, I wanted to ask is it wrong to translate Mangas? It's theme is reincarnation. Also I have put ads on my site where I post it, so the money that comes from it, is it halal or not?

I am the Anon from before, I am reading a manga where the girl goes back in time and meets Pharaoh Remisis ii, it’s a love story. Is it bad if I like those characters? I am so confused. Thanks.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The short answer is that many scholars would consider all of that permissible if the contents do not contain anything obscene. Please see the following pages on our site (especially the one on erotica) which should answer your question:

The Islamic view of watching anime and reading manga

Is reading erotica permitted in Islam?

Drawings, paintings and statues in Islam

Is it permitted in Islam for male doctors to deliver babies?

Is it haram to have a male doctor deliver a woman's baby?

The generally accepted opinion is that while it is forbidden for a male doctor to see a woman’s ʿawra (the parts of her body that should be covered by the hijab), this is overruled in cases where it is absolutely necessary. So if there are no female midwives or doctors available, and if there is a fear that the woman or the baby’s health and safety may be affected without the help of a male doctor, then it is permitted for the male doctor to deliver the baby.

Source

Is it shirk (idolatry) to watch videos about ghosts, ouija and seances?

Assalamu'alaikum I discovered that it is shirk to go to a mediator. I never did it, but I watched YouTube vids of people telling stories of when they were "haunted"/using ouija boards/visiting haunted places/doing a seance. Although I know that these aren't ghosts & watched it for intrigue does this count as shirk? In one of the videos they talked about consulting a mediator. What he told them matched the Islamic perspective of the unseen. So I just thought that I already knew that from islam

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

If you do it merely out of curiosity without believing that there are other supernatural powers besides God, then it is not shirk and it is not sinful.

Summoning human spirits is considered impossible in Islam and it is considered forbidden to try to summon human spirits or jinns. But merely learning about it out of curiosity is not sinful as far as I am aware.

Source on the ruling on summoning:

Is the fajr prayer valid if the sun rises while performing it?

Assalamualaikum, if someone intends to pray Fajr but they wake up 5minutes before sunrise and then whilst they are praying it goes past sunrise, is their prayer invalid? Because when I first searched this online all the answers says just to wake up and pray immediately even if you're late. So I assumed you didn't have to make intention of qaza? Jzk

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The Prophet PBUH says:

"Whoever could get one rak`a (of the Fajr prayer) before sunrise, he has accomplished the (morning) prayer and whoever could get one rak`a of the `Asr prayer before sunset, he has accomplished the (`Asr) prayer."

Sahih al-Bukhari 579; a version is also in Sahih Muslim 608 a

So if you start the prayer, finish one rakʿa, then if the sun rises, then you have performed it correctly and there is no need to redo it. But if the sun rises during the first rakʿa, there are different opinions on whether the prayer is valid or not. According to some scholars, if the sun rises during the first rakʿa, then the prayer becomes a qaḍāʾ prayer, meaning the person has missed fajr (but they should still continue the prayer, considering it a qaḍāʾ prayer for fajr). According to others, if a person performs the takbirat al-iḥrām (the first “Allahu akbar” at the beginning of the prayer) before sunrise, then they have accomplished fajr and it is not qaḍāʾ.

Source:

Is a shower the same as ghusl? Is wudu necessary after ghusl?

selam My question is if I had intercourse and I take shower and then wudu is my prayer valid? Olso is Gusul considered under shower or are they any other steps involved thanks

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

As discussed in this previous answer, taking a shower is ghusl provided that you take the shower with the intention of ghusl and provided that the water reaches your entire hair, head, face and body. So taking a shower with the intention of ghusl is sufficient to be able to pray afterwards.

Most scholars also agree that there is no need to perform ablution (wudu) after ghusl, as ghusl brings you into a state of purity that includes the state of ablution. However, after the water reaches the parts of the body that are washed during wudu, if a person does something after that that nullifies wudu (such as touching the private parts), then they should make wudu afterwards in order to pray.

Source:

The biography of Ibn al-Jawzi

Assalamualaikum, I wanted to ask about the biography of ibn al-jawzi.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

If you Google “Ibn al-Jawzi”, you will find many articles about him. Unfortunately I could not find any comprehensive articles that I could link to. Below is also a lecture on Ibn al-Jawzi that you may find helpful.

How does one leave Islam?

In order to convert, there is the shahada, but what if some has left Islam, how do you leave Islam? I am not thinking to leave Islam but I was just wondering how can someone go about leaving Islam? Is there something you say?

There is no specific ritual for leaving Islam. Uttering anything that implies disbelief in God, the Hereafter, the angels, the Scriptures or the Prophets would imply leaving Islam if the person utters it solemnly, that is if the person really expresses disbelief in their heart.

He can’t stop using “goddess” as a compliment

Is it haram to say goddess to someone you find beautiful? I can't stop saying that and it's becoming chronic. What should I do?

As discussed in this previous answer, it is unclear whether that is halal or haram, but it is clear that it is not a good thing to do. So do your best to avoid it, and maybe tell the person that you are worried that this is displeasing to God and tell them to ask you to stop using it whenever you use it. Maybe they can help you stop.

Is swearing by God permitted in Islam? The ruling on breaking an oath or promise

Are you allowed to swear by God?

Yes, swearing by God is permitted in Islam. However, there are two types of oaths (swearing) which have different rules. The first one is a casual, rather than solemn, oath. For example many Muslims say “Wallahi (by Allah) this” or “Wallahi that” in casual conversation. This type of swear is not solemn, therefore breaking it has no legal consequences. For example if someone casually says “Wallahi I will do that tomorrow” and they do not do it, if their swear was casual, then even if they do not do the thing, there is no blame upon them.

God does not hold you responsible for your unintentional oaths, but He holds you responsible for your intentions. God is Forgiving and Forbearing.

The Quran, verse 2:225.

The other type of oath is the solemn oath or vow. When you clearly state something and swear by Allah, and in your heart you mean this oath to be solemn, then breaking it will be sinful unless you make atonement (kafāra) for it.

God does not hold you accountable for your unintended oaths, but He holds you accountable for your binding oaths. The atonement for it is by feeding ten needy people from the average of what you feed your families, or by clothing them, or by freeing a slave. Anyone who lacks the means shall fast for three days. That is the atonement for breaking your oaths when you have sworn them. So keep your oaths. Thus God makes clear His Revelations to you, that you may be grateful.

The Quran, verse 5:89.

If you make a binding oath to do something harmful, or if you later regret the oath and find a better alternative, it is recommended to break the oath and make the atonement for it.

Narrated Aisha: That her father (Abu Bakr) never broke his oath till Allah revealed the order of the legal expiation for oath. Abu Bakr said, "If I ever take an oath (to do something) and later find that to do something else is better, then I accept Allah's permission and do that which is better, (and do the legal expiation for my oath ) ".

Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 138

However, if you vowed by God to someone (if you made a promise to them) and later you wish to break it, it is considered bad manners to do so. Therefore besides making atonement for it, you must try to get that person’s permission and forgiveness. But there is no legal ruling on breaking promises to a person, this is just a matter of etiquette.

Source on breaking promises:

The ruling on swearing by the Quran

What does the Quran say about swearing upon it? Is one allowed to swear on the Quran if you are telling the truth?

The Quran itself does not mention a ruling on swearing by the Quran. However, since in Islamic theology the Words of God are attributes of Him, swearing by the Quran is the same as swearing by God and the same rules apply to it.

Sources:

Dealing with the meanness of people in Islam

Salam Aleyckoum, what to do when people act badly with me and what to do when people without even speaking to them come to distribute wickedness about me ? I always try to act nicely and never say anything but i always cry about that.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The best thing to do is to forgive them and ignore what they do. The Quran says:

Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with good, and the person who was your enemy becomes like an intimate friend.

But none will attain it except those who persevere, and none will attain it except the very fortunate.

(The Quran, verses 41:34-35)

Every time they do something wrong toward you, if you patiently endure it, then you can consider that a good deed written for you by God. And perhaps their good deeds will also be given to you by the amount of wrong that they do. Try to think of them as an opportunity for you to increase your good deeds, even though I know this will not always be much consolation.

A powerful way to build patience is to develop a close relationship with God. When you fully submit to Him and rely on Him then the difficulties of this life will start to appear small and insignificant. Please check out the page Guides on Becoming a Better Muslim for more information on this.

Best wishes.

How do you know the person is the one you should marry?

How do you know the person is the one you should marry? It’s just that there are so many options and I don’t want to regret this major decision that is going to change my life.

There is no criterion that you can use to know with absolute certainty who the right person is. So the way I would go about it would be half intellectual and half based on my heart.

The intellectual part is to think clearly about the person’s attributes, his family and his life condition and to speak with your own family and friends and ask about their judgment of the person. This can help you form an idea of the men that are better fits for you than others.

Once you do this, you will likely still have multiple men that may be eligible and that you cannot easily decide between. This is where the heart’s part comes in. Pray, read the Quran, and try to get the person better, and see where your heart takes you. It may take many months of this before you are able to form a clear idea about the man you prefer.

If you eventually settle your mind on a particular man but remain unsure if that is the right man for you, you could consider going forward with an engagement (nikāḥ) without a wedding. This would enable you to date the man in a ḥalāl way without becoming his wife (as discussed here). Some Muslim cultures practice this form of dating, but others have no concept of it. But from an Islamic law perspective it is perfectly wholesome and permissible.

After that you can take things slowly. Create occasions for your family to meet the man and interact with him (for example by setting a particular day or two of the week for him to come to your parents’ home and have dinner there). You can also go out with him on dates with your family’s permission. Since you have performed the nikāḥ, spending time alone with him is permitted in Islam. This will help you gain an idea of what marriage to him would be like.

At some point you will likely feel content in your heart that this is the person for you and you can then plan the wedding. And if you discover that you do not like the man, you can break off the engagement. In such a case Islamic law only requires the man to pay half the alimony that is promised during the engagement if it is broken off before the wedding (i.e. before consummation of the marriage, i.e. sexual intimacy), but the Quran strongly recommends that the woman’s family should take no alimony from the man in such a case.

I hope you find this helpful. Best wishes.

The chronology of the Quran

Salamalaikum, in regards to the ayahs and surahs of the Quran, is there a known and agreed upon chronology?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

We do not have enough information to build a complete chronology. But we have evidence here and there that tells us which verse or sura came before which. For example we know Surat al-Muzzamil is one of the earliest suras, while we also know that the Medinan suras all came afterwards. But sometimes a Medinan sura contains a verse or more from the Mekkan period, so just because a sura is considered Medinan is not sufficient to tell us that all of it is Medinan.

Check out this page for a list of the suras and their chronological order.

Books I recommend

You have mentioned some books like In the footsteps of the prophet, and the Quran by Abdul Haleem, are there any other Islamic books you would like to recommend?

Please take a look at the new page on our site The Modern Islamic Studies Curriculum. These are books that I strongly recommend to all Muslim intellectuals and students of Islamic studies.

[Updated April 8, 2019]

Why should we ask God for guidance and purification if it makes our lives difficult?

Salamalaikum Brother, Have you ever asked god to guide you to the right path? And have you purified yourself? I did and it was the most difficult time of my life. I never want to do that again.Why do muslims need to purify themselves? It ruins your life by getting more problems.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray for those things everyday. The reason one prays for them is that they prefer the the eternal life of the Hereafter over the present life. Why should I care if I spend an extremely difficult year or two if it ensures that I will have a very high place in Paradise for eternity?

The brave and intelligent thing to do is to prefer guidance and purification, accept the hardships that come with it, and keep your hope alive in the bliss of the Hereafter. It is not brave or intelligent to prefer ease in this life and throw away your high station in the afterlife.

It is also wrong to think that it makes your life difficult permanently. In fact once the purification is over your life can become easier than ever before. When you walk with God’s guidance and remembrance in your heart then you get a sense of peace and confidence that makes you not fear any hardship or difficulty, and that makes you feel good and happy inwards regardless of what happens in the outside world.

My favorite book

What’s your favourite book?

There are four books that are my favorites, I do not really prefer one over another:

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Evelina by Frances Burney
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen