How to be kinder and more polite to family members

I keep being rude to my mother. How do I stop this habit? She always says things that make me angry even though I know she’s right. I’ve apologised to her so many times and I ask God for help but nothing is changing.

It is natural to be rude and impatient with people close to us when they do not act in the way we expect or make us feel unworthy and unappreciated. What you are trying to do is go against the course of nature by being kind and polite even when she gives you cause to be angry. This is not a state that can be maintained without work, because it is not natural. What is natural is to act the way people act toward us.

The only way to maintain your kindness and politeness toward your mother is to maintain an unnatural state of open-heartedness and selflessness. This can be done through reading the Quran for 30 minutes every day, performing all the voluntary prayers and sincerely praying for God’s help and forgiveness during every sujūd (prostration).

It is the ego that causes us to be rude when its interests are threatened (such as when someone makes us feel unimportant and useless). The way to break this cycle is to take the ego out of the equation. The Quran helps with this because it constantly reminds us about the fact that this world is not important and will end soon, and the fact that we were created to worship God rather than worship ourselves. The Quran’s teachings and reminders soften the heart and weaken the ego’s hold on us so that we end up as calmer, more polite and less self-centered people. And maintaining this state requires dedication. It is not something we can achieve then take for granted. The ego will always reassert itself if we do not fight it.

The fate of atheists in Islam

Are all atheists going to hell?It seems unfair to me for anyone to spend an eternity of suffering because they didn't believe in God, specially if beside that they are nice people. Its been really hard for my iman. In the past it was draining. I spent pretty much all day thinking about the billion of people and all their suffering. I couldn't even watch movies to keep my mind occupied as i would start thinking how all these people were doomed.

I try to read the quran but then i get to the part where they describe hell in details and i just cant finish reading. The only way to stop feeling the stress and anxiety was to read them in a meta a terrifying reality? Sorry for the long askphorical sense but im not sure if its permissible. If atheist are indeed all going to hell in your opinion, how to deal which such

The truth is that we do not for certain. One theory says that all humans have the power to know God and believe in Him. According to this theory, anyone who does not believe in God is automatically punishable by God.

Another theory is that God will only hold people responsible for going against their conscience, and that the only type of disbelief in God is the one where the person has acquired all of the knowledge necessary to believe in God and believes in God in his heart, but who rejects this belief and lives in a state of denial. The kufr (“disbelief”) literally means “to deny (a blessing)” or “to cover up (a truth)”. According to this latter theory, atheists are only punished if they actually believe in God but wish to deny Him for one reason or another (for example because they dislike submitting to a higher power). This means that an atheist who honestly believes that God does not exist and that religion is a human invention will not be punished for this.

What we know for certain is that God is just, and that:

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.1

From the above verse we can conclude that there will be no unjust punishment of humans. God will only hold humans responsible for the knowledge and powers He has given them. A person who grows up in a secular family and who never learns much about religion may not be punishable by God.

God is the inventor of the concepts of fairness and justice. So it is extremely misguided to think that God can be unjust, that we humans can come up with a fairer system than God has created. God is kinder and more just than any human, therefore it is a falsehood to think that He can punish anyone unjustly. While we do not know the exact fate of atheists, what we do know is that their fate will be fair and just, because it is God who is in charge of them.

The people that we know for certain deserve the Hellfire are those who believe in God, who know right from wrong, yet who engage in the worst evil out of their desire for gain. An example is a rich person who pays a killer to go kill a good man because by killing him his own wealth and power will increase. The world is full of such people, and they deserve God’s punishment.

If you fear that good and innocent people will end up in the Hellfire, then you misunderstand God. God invented your brain; do you think He is incapable of understanding issues that you can understand? Read the Quran and you will never hear about an innocent person being punished (hadith narrations are a different story). If God says He will punish kāfirs, the meaning of the word is not exactly defined for us; it could mean someone who believes in God and His Scriptures but who does evil regardless of their belief. In the past it was common to think that all non-Muslims are kāfirs, but this is not at all what the Quran says. The Quran, for example, refers to “the kāfirs among Jews and Christians”, which logically means that there are Jews and Christians who are kāfirs, and there are Jews and Christians who are not kāfirs. The Quran says, when speaking of Jews and Christians:

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

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

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

I recommend that you continue to read the Quran so that you get a better understanding of God and His thinking. God is not unjust, so if for some reason you imagine Him being unjust or someone mentions something about Him that implies He is unjust, you should think the best of Him and tell yourself that you or someone has misunderstood Him.

On which scholar’s opinions to follow and scholarly consensus (ijmāʿ)

I don't mean to offend you in any way but I just want to know (because I find other Islamic sources different from your answers sometimes). But I'm wondering when people ask you a certain thing on your blog , do you go after the scholars who give the fatwas/explanations that sounds most logic or do you go after the consensus of the scholars (إجماع) ? Example of this is the issue of apostasy which you disagreed with. Also that kuffar isn't just non-muslims. Could you please clear this up. Thanks.

There is no consensus among the scholars about the concept of ijmāʿ (“consensus”), making it little more than a rhetorical tool used to make one’s own opinion appear stronger despite the existence of disagreement from other scholars. According to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the only true ijmāʿ is consensus among the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad on some matter as recorded in the books of hadith. While I do not belong to Ibn Hanbal’s school, this is perhaps the best opinion on this matter. If all of the Companions of the Prophet agreed that the prayer should be done a certain way, then we have to follow their opinion (in reality, there was also great disagreement among the Companions regarding various issues within Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad).1

There is no such thing as consensus among the Muslims on most things unless you intentionally cut out those who disagree. When it comes to most matters, the general opinion of the ʿulemāʾ is good enough to follow, since we cannot research every single issue within Islam to find out the best opinions about it. The ʿulemāʾ have done this hard work for us and if they think something should be a certain way, then what they is generally safe to follow.

However, there is nothing in Islam that asks us to shut down our critical thinking ability. The Quran constantly asks us to use our reasoning ability, to question things, to find out things for ourselves. Islam is not supposed to have a priesthood who do the religious thinking for everyone else (although this is what some of the ʿulemāʾ claim to be their place in Islamic societies). We Muslims are one community and there are no class distinctions between us. The ʿulemāʾ help the community as repositories of knowledge, but they are not rulers, politically or intellectually, who tell everyone else what to think. The Quran never denies a person’s right to think for themselves and to use their reasoning ability. There is nothing in the Quran to give a small number of Muslims (the self-elected ʿulemāʾ) to become the brains of everyone else by claiming to agree with another.

If the ʿulemāʾ say there is agreement on a subject, all it takes is to find one single disagreeing scholar to prove what they say false; that there is no agreement. In the early Islamic period, in the era of Imam Malik (711 – 795 CE), scholars, instead of shutting down discussion by claiming consensus, acted the exact opposite way; a single disagreeing voice was considered sufficient to establish an equally valid opinion on a matter (see Shaykh Umar Abd-Allah’s Mālik and Medina). So if most of the ʿulemāʾ agree on some thing, but there are a few good and honorable ʿulemāʾ  who have a different opinion, their alternative opinion, according to the thinkers of early Islam, is just as valid as the majority opinion. The early Islamic scholars followed the principle of riʿāyat al-ikhtilāf (“mindfulness of dissent”). Instead of attacking those who disagreed with the majority, they wrote down their opinions (in books like al-Muwaṭṭaʾ and al-Mudawwanah) as forming valid alternatives.

That open-minded scholarly culture of early Islam is the correct and proper way to practice Islam, as opposed to the scholarly culture of groupthink of the past few centuries where dissenters were attacked instead of being respected.

At this point the criticism can be mentioned that if we follow minority opinions this can cause a breakdown in Muslim societies where everyone follows random opinions. That would only be true if we were robot-like creatures whose brains had to be programmed by the scholars. In reality, humans who in good conscience try to find out the truth about things and who listen to the scholars and follow the best opinions they hear are bound to be rightly guided. If we believe in the Quran’s teachings and try to follow them in good faith, then that is most of Islam. It would be extremely unjust to call a Muslim evil and misguided despite the fact that they read the Quran and do their best to follow it just because they differ from us in some opinions.

The reality of Muslim societies today is sufficient to support my opinion. Talk to any devout Muslim and you will find that they have various personal opinions that disagree with the commonly accepted ones. They continue to be faithful and devout and continue to belong to the Muslim community. This was also the experience of Imam Malik’s community; there was strong disagreement on most issues inside Medina and outside it. Instead of this leading to hatred and division, people continued to respect each other and the community was united around the core teachings of Islam without using the side issues as causes for division. This is how unity is achieved: by agreeing on a small number of things (the core teachings of Islam) and respecting people’s right to disagree on everything else.

There is no such thing as kind-hearted and well-intentioned people who read the Quran and the Sunnah and follow the best opinions they hear from the scholars and who are evil and misguided (as takfīrī Wahhabis think there are). This type of thinking assumes that God does not exist; that He is happy to watch humans go to ruin even though they believe in Him, worship Him, pray to Him and read His Book. This, of course, is pure fantasy; it is an invention of those who wish to imply that only they are the truly guided ones. This gives them the moral right to attack, defame and even murder those who disagree with them.

At this point I should mention a hadith much abused by takfīrīs in which it is mentioned that the Muslims will separate into 73 sects and that all of them will enter the Hellfire except one. It is generally accepted that the part that says “all of them will be thrown into Hell save one” is a fabrication added to the hadith later on.

On fighting desires when alone

How do you fight desires when you're alone?

There is no guaranteed way to control desires if the desire is strong and one has the privacy to engage in it without suffering material consequences. A person who wants to lose weight will almost certainly not be successful if they have a freezer full of ice cream. Regardless of their will power, when the desire is strong enough and the desired thing is easy enough to get, people succumb sooner or later.

What one should do is rearrange their life so that engaging in that desired thing becomes more difficult. A person who seriously desires something can come up with all kinds of creative ways to get over obstacles to get what they desire. You have to do the same thing but in the opposite direction, coming up with creative ways of making it more difficult to get the desired thing.

For more on planning against desires see the following answer, it suggestions can be generalized to any kind of desire: Dealing with an addiction to pornography

Dealing with an addiction to pornography

Assalamu'alaikum. I'm a girl and I'm struggling with my porn addiction. Most of my friends assume that I'm such a religious person just bc i graduated from Islamic boarding school. They just don't know the fact that I'm addicted to porn:( I feel guilty for everytime i watched it, ask for His forgiveness then stupidly watch it again and again. I just can't handle the pleasure that i got from watching it. I pray 5 times a day too, recite the Holy Qur'an and practiced some small examples of Ruqyah Syar'iyyah to protect my self from that vicious circle. But i keep doing it:( I can't stop myself from it.... how to get rid of those addiction? I know it's written in the Qur'an "and those who keep their private parts...." But i still can't stop myself:( I keep asking for His guidance to guide me to the right path but my inner desire always won

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

If you are younger than 25, then your brain has not completed its development. As we mature, our ability to control our urges increases. Therefore if you have difficulty controlling yourself now, each year that passes will likely make you more capable of it. Do not lose hope but do good deeds to make up for it, such as reading the Quran or reading books about Islam in order to increase your knowledge.

For an addict, controlling an urge is impossible if the thing they are addicted to is easy to obtain. What you should do is make it more difficult for you to engage in it, for example by spending less time alone (find hobbies, join clubs and societies, volunteer at charities around you, etc.).

Trying to control your urges is likely going to be hopeless (the way it is for an obese person who wants to lose weight and who has ice cream in the freezer, even if they resist the urge for hours, they will likely still fail many times a week). Instead of thinking of controlling yourself, you should plan against your addiction. Come up with ways of making it difficult or impossible for you to engage in it, such as by spending less time alone as mentioned. If there is a time of day when you have the strongest urges, make it a habit to go out to a coffee shop, library or park for a few hours during this time.

Developing the right plan is going to be the most important part. Reading more Quran and praying more (such as performing the voluntary prayers) is going to also help. And if despite all of these things you continue to fail occasionally, instead of fretting about it just get back on track and know that as time passes things will get easier.

Perhaps everyone’s life contains an ‘unsolvable’ problem. It can be having a disabled child that requires much time and energy to take care of, it can be having a demanding elderly parent who lives in one’s house, it can be extreme poverty or a mean and cruel boss that one is forced to work for for years on end. Your unsolvable problem might be your addiction to pornography. It is a test of your faith and patience to suffer from a problem you cannot fix. Instead of giving up and thinking that God has abandoned you (which is what Satan wants you to think), continue to do as much worship and as much prayer as you can, always seeking God’s forgiveness and trying to think the best of Him.

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.

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