Dealing with an eating disorder (and other mental conditions) as a Muslim

i wanted to bring this topic up since its not really spoken that much in the Muslim community. I’ve had an eating disorder for a year now and its honestly changed me as a person. I’ve prayed many times but i still feel regret after eating and it doesn’t help with a family who don’t understand. They have this view that whenever you have a mental problem its because you’ve ‘strayed from god’. i kinda want some religious help because i feel so lost and numb.

Unfortunately it is common for people, and not just Muslims, to treat mental disorders as a weakness of the person’s character instead of a real condition.

The Islamic way to think of your disorder is to think of it as any other illness, such as type I diabetes. There are many devout Muslims who have this condition, and they are dependent on injections and drugs for the rest of their lives. There is no guarantee in Islam that prayer will take the condition away.

And a Muslim born without legs due to a genetic issue is most likely not going to grow new legs regardless of their prayers and worship. But God can turn their condition into a blessing for them in various ways. For example they could receive a good income from the government that enables them to dedicate themselves to studying what they like instead of having to waste their time working to earn a living.

The first step to defeating your condition is to accept it, the way the people mentioned above accept their conditions. God does not promise us perfect lives, and He does not promise that we will be free from suffering the various illnesses and conditions that befall all humans. If we are among the “unlucky” few to suffer a condition, we must accept it and realize that God had complete power to prevent us from getting that condition, and that He has complete power to perform a miracle to cure us. Yet He allowed us to get the condition, and He has not decided to cure it.

There is an important lesson in this. Your condition is not meaningless. God, with all of His power and watchfulness, has allowed you to have it. It is His decision. He is the one in charge, you are not in charge. If He wants, He can take it away at any moment. But while you have it, you must accept it, knowing that it is by His decree and permission. When you suffer, this is a chance to practice patience and earn its rewards. One cannot earn the rewards of patience unless one has something to be patient about.

Most of the hardships we suffer in life are sent to bring us closer to God, as they force us to see our weakness and fragility and our dependence on Him. We must stay close to God at all times, we must keep His remembrance alive, and we must always ensure that He and the afterlife always feel as important to us as the present life. Once we achieve that state, and we prove our loyalty to Him by maintaining that state instead of abandoning it after a few days or weeks, He either removes the hardship, or turns it into a blessing, or gives us something else that makes up for it, so that even though we continue to suffer from the hardship (a chronic condition, for example), we are given sources of happiness and joy that more than make up for it.

Forgive your family for not understanding, do sufficient Quran-reading, prayers and supplication to feel close to God every single day, then patiently wait for His judgment. He will either bring about a cure eventually (months from now He may lead you into reading an article that mentions some treatment strategy that works for you), or He will do something else that makes up for it one way or another.

Think of your condition as any other medical condition, such as diabetes. Your part is to seek closeness to God and seek help through research and medical professionals, in this way taking care of both your spiritual duty and your material duty. What happens next is up to God. He may give you a cure or He may not. What matters is that you do your part, stay patient and do not lose hope, knowing that He will do what is kind and just toward you when He wants, and what He will do may be something you never expected.

God does not ask you to do more than you are able. Sometimes we are in so much pain, physically or mentally, that the most we can do is prevent ourselves from complaining or thinking unthankful thoughts. If this is the most we can do, then God will understand and will not ask more of us. If people speak of God as if He is harsh, unjust or demanding, then know that what they say is false. God is kinder than we can imagine, and He will never hurt us just to hurt us, or demand more from us than we are able to give.

53. [The angels] said, “Do not fear; we bring you good news of a boy endowed with knowledge.”

54. [Prophet Ibrahim] said, “Do you bring me good news, when old age has overtaken me [when I am too old to have children]? What good news do you bring?”

55. They said, “We bring you good news in truth, so do not despair.”

56. He said, “And who despairs of his Lord’s mercy but those who are lost?” (The Quran, verses 15:53-56)

It is permissible for Muslim women to pluck their eyebrows (with conditions)

Is it permissible for a woman to pluck her eyebrows? Being a woman with unsymmetrical and thick eyebrows I always feel the need to clean them up so they look normal and symmetrical. But as far as I know the prophet sallalahu alaihi wasalim said, woman who pluck their own or other womens eyebrows are cursed. Does that still apply to today or was that meant in a different context? Thank you.

Imam Abu Dawood says that what is meant by the forbidden type of plucking is when a woman distorts its shape by making it very thin, like some women do, meaning that other forms of plucking that do not make the eyebrows look unnatural are not forbidden.

The opinion of the Hanbali school is that plucking the eyebrows is allowed after agreement with the woman’s husband, if it is not overdone, and done for correction rather than for creating a new appearance.

The Maliki scholar Shaykh al-Nafrawi and the Hanafi scholar Ibn Abidain al-Hanafi also agree with the above.

Dr. Ali Jum`ah of Al-Azhar University and former chief Islamic jurist of Egypt says that what the Prophet, peace be upon him, meant by plucking the eyebrows is removing the whole of them then using makeup to draw them. He says that there is no issue with a woman correcting and beautifying the shape of the eyebrows if it is not overdone.

As for Salafi scholars like Ibn Baaz, Ibn Uthaymeen al-Albani, they all say it is forbidden, some Salafis make an exception for correcting a clear and obvious issue that severely reduces a woman’s beauty.

Most of the Muslim world follows the Azhari opinion, which is that correcting and beautifying the eyebrows is allowed if it is not overdone.

On the Rohingya Muslims

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Would you like to share about your opinion of Rohingya Muslim genocide in Myanmar?

Different Muslim races and nations have suffered similar fates throughout history, and this will continue.

We will certainly test you with some fear and hunger, and some loss of possessions and lives and crops. But give good news to the steadfast. Those who, when a calamity afflicts them, say, “To God we belong, and to Him we will return.” (The Quran, verse 2:155-156)

If a wound afflicts you, a similar wound has afflicted the others. Such days We alternate between the people, that God may know those who believe, and take martyrs from among you. God does not love the evildoers. (The Quran, verse 3:140)

The Quran teaches us that suffering is a part of life, although it also teaches that suffering will not continue indefinitely. All Muslim nations have gone through periods of intense suffering followed by periods of ease and prosperity, followed by periods of suffering.

Those who stay close to God will gather the rewards of good deeds during times of ease and the rewards of patience during times of suffering, so that regardless of which phase their nation is going through, they continue to gain God’s rewards.

Regarding the Rohingya, we can continue to spread awareness and support charities like CAIR which are trying to gather support in the US to encourage US politicians to put pressure on the Myanmar government to put an end to the crisis.

Keeping your Islamic faith when going to a Christian school

Salam. I have a question. I am in 8th grade, and I also live in America. The school I go to is a private school, and we have religion class there. Do you have any advice on how to stick to Islam, even though my head is being filled with Christianity teachings??

If you do sufficient work to maintain closeness to God, such as supplication, worship and Quran reading (30 minutes a day or more), then those Christian teachings will be a minor influence.

I recommend that you get Yasmin Mogahed and Tariq Ramadan’s books and read them occasionally, this will help you maintain your Islamic identity.

The Islamic way to getting over a breakup

I have issues regarding relationship. Well I broke up with my boyfriend few months ago. Usually when this happened lovers will not contact each other. Unfortunately, we have the same group of friends. I am trying so hard not to feel mad or sad every time I see him yet I still cant control my expressions. Do you have any advice on this?. I still want to keep our relationship as good friends. What should I do?

The Islamic view of watching anime and reading manga

Salaam. I am a Muslim and I like watching anime and reading manga. I usually watch action, adventure types and block tags that contain mature content. I wanted to ask if I am allowed to do so? Another question I have is about drawing. What has been said about drawing cartoons and such? Jazakullah Khair.

There is nothing wrong with anime and manga inherently. It is however against Islamic manners to seek sexual pleasure outside of marriage, therefore if those “mature” blocks you describe are there for the reader’s sexual enjoyment, then it is not acceptable for you to peruse them. You can skip those pages and scenes that are designed to be sexually suggestive and enjoy the rest.

Since we can never be sure if God will be pleased with us if we seek sexual enjoyment outside of marriage in any form, no one who truly loves and fears God will risk disrespecting and angering Him through such things, even if it is in a seemingly unimportant matter.

The Azhari scholars (from al-Azhar University in Cairo) Gad al-Haq Ali and Yusuf al-Qaradhawi and the Saudi Islamic studies professor Khalid bin Abdullah al-Qasim say that drawing (including drawing living things) is permissible. You will find others who will say that drawing living things is not permissible. The people of Egypt and most of the Muslim world follow the Azhari opinion.

The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan (And a Critique of Political Islam)

This book is a beautiful tribute to the memory of Ahmad Moftizadeh, may God have mercy on him, containing a detailed and well-supported biography of the man and detailing his works and beliefs.

As someone whose (Sunni) family spent the late 80’s and most of the 90’s in Iranian Kurdistan, Ahmad Moftizadeh and Nasir Subhani, I have been hearing the names of these two men mentioned with love for as long as I can remember.

I am thankful that such a work was done by someone with a Western background, since the quality of the research is much higher than that of Eastern publications.

The book provides further evidence of the futility of political Islam, something I have been studying for years, beginning with my study of Sayyid Qutb. Both men belong to a class of Islamists who believed that “good and sincere” men would be the perfect men to government a country, ignoring the fatal flaw within this hypothesis; that there is no way to reliably find “good and sincere” men, and once supposedly “good and sincere” men are selected, there is no way to reliably make them continue being good and sincere. You always end up with a limited democracy where all kinds of insincere power-seekers make it through the system and gain power. From the history provided by The Last Mufti and clues elsewhere, it appears that there were many good and sincere men among the Shia leaders of the Iranian revolution, but within ten years the revolutionary government was ruled by some of the worst criminal scum to ever walk this earth.

The critical weakness within political Islam is that for it to work, everything must go perfectly:

  • Nearly everyone involved in the political movement must be sincere and not a power-seeker
  • The current government must respect the Islamists and allow them to peacefully take power, it must not persecute them and assassinate its leaders (Iran, Algeria, Iraqi Kurdistan and Egypt’s experience show just how naive this expectation is.)
  • Most of the country’s Muslims must support them, instead of the party becoming a cause for division and dislike among Muslims, where some people trust the party and others have good reasons not to trust it due to what they know about the party’s leadership and power structure.
  • It must be able to keep its moral integrity and attain success despite facing a thousand dirty tricks played by the opposition, which has no religion and no qualms about using every trick in the book to defeat them. If the opposition makes up lies, sets fire to its establishments, intimidates its members and uses the law to put hurdles in front of them, the Islamists, if they want to continue to following Islam truly, must not counter these with their like.

The conclusion I have reached at the moment is that seeking power is like seeking wealth, and that no God-fearing Muslim or group of Muslims will self-elect themselves to do it. Power corrupts and attracts the corruptible. All Islamist political activism that is aimed at seeking power (such as by winning elections) is inherently un-Islamic because the chances of it doing good are far smaller than the chances of it doing evil:

  • The party can attract good and sincere people, only to have the government imprison and torture them, because the party makes them easy targets, and makes the powers that be uncomfortable. While if they had not acted politically, if they had remained ordinary civilians, they would have attracted dangerous attention far later in their careers, and any persecution would have befallen a far smaller group of people. The Muslim Brotherhood has probably caused the unintentional deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people who by today would have had millions of descendants who would be devout Muslim judges, journalists, writers and professionals, doing far more for Islam than the Brotherhood has done.
  • The party causes division among Muslims, because not everyone will want to join them, since people will judge the party by its members, and if they know any of its members to be insincere and corrupt (and the party is bound to attract such members), they will not want to have anything to do with the party. This is a cause for a highly dangerous and corrupting form of division in the community, as is highly evident in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Islamist scene.
  • The party can give Islam a bad name, as Iran’s Shia Islamists, Turkey’s Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood have all done. Any evil they do reflects on Islam.
  • Terrorism is just a continuation of political Islam by other means.
  • When a foreign government wants to interfere with local politics for its own benefit, political groups including Islamist ones, are at the forefront of the tools it will consider using. Examples are Iranian support for Iraqi Kurdish Islamists, Turkish support for Syrian and Chechnian Islamists, Saudi and US support for various Islamists around the world including terrorist ones. The Islamist group can easily be entangled in international power plays and become nothing but a disposable tool that will have support for a while from a foreign entity, until the winds change and the foreign entity abandons them or starts to support their enemies against them.
  • Group think: Every political party eventually builds its own culture of “political correctness”, because there will be members who seek power, and one of the main ways of ensuring an increase in power and avoiding a loss in power is to fit in with everyone else. The least sincere and most toxic individuals will be the most eager to fit in, to create a large set of virtue-signalling behaviors that they follow to show their sincerity and dedication. This will cause others to respond in kind, and soon members of the party can be easily distinguished from the general population by their distinguishing manners, values and forms of speech developed within the party. This culture makes it difficult for sincere members to contribute through constructive criticism, because insincere power-seekers will act that such criticism is defeatist, divisive and harms the interests of the party. The sincerest members can easily become marginalized within the party.

I am not against all Islamic political activism, however. The “good” form of Islamic political activism has one key attribute: It must never seek power. That is the key differentiator. We can criticize governments, we can publish exposés, we can refuse to do any evil the government apparatus asks us to do, we can try to influence politicians in a publicized manner (we must never scheme behind the scenes, as this too is a form of power-seeking, any dealings we have with politicians must be public, such as in the form of open letters, if it has to be secret, it is a way of befriending politicians and gaining power from it, and this causes it to turn into the “bad” type of political Islam), we can do everything we can to improve the world and to reduce tyranny, but none of this must include power-seeking.

This is the way of the Prophet, peace be upon him, while he was under the sovereignty of another power. He spoke the truth, but he never sought power. And his activities eventually made those in power uncomfortable, until they tried to kill him. What he did was not fight back, but immigrate to a different area.

If the Prophet, peace be upon him, had acted like today’s Islamists, using political organization and directly targeting Mecca’s power structure, he would have attracted the murderous attention of Mecca’s pagans far more quickly, perhaps within a few months. But by not doing this, by not being political, he was able to work for 13 years in Mecca. And once it became too dangerous for him to be there, he left for a different place.

Whether political Islam seeks or does not seek power, it will always risk persecution. But the point is that while Islamism spends lives needlessly (attracting murderous persecution quickly), the Prophet’s type of political activism does not spend lives needlessly.

Islamism tries to change the world in a top-down way; we gain power, then we will do good with it. The Prophet’s political activism, on the other hand, tries to change the world in a bottom-up manner; we work with the people and tell the truth, and this causes social and political change down the road.

The Prophet’s way is far more likely to be successful because:

  • It only attracts sincere people. People are not attracted to the movement for power, because it promises no gain in power. This means that like the Prophet’s circle, it will be free from the poisonous personalities that seem to exist in every Islamist party.
  • It does not attract quick and harsh persecution. It may attract it eventually, but it will have far more time to attract devoted followers.
  • It does not create division among the people, because there is no “my Islamist group” vs. “your Islamist group”. All Muslims are treated the same by it.
  • There is no danger of group think, because the group does not seek power. There are fewer insincere people wanting to increase their power and status through virtue-signalling.

At this moment, to me the facts that the power-seeking form of political Islam attracts insincere personalities, creates division and invites harsh persecution are sufficient to consider it a very foolish form of activism. The right way is the Prophet’s way, which is to never seek power, but to work with the people, helping them improve spiritually, while also criticizing tyranny and injustice, knowing that all power comes from God, and if the time is right, He will give it, if He wants.

In Islam, we neither seek wealth nor power. We act as if we already have these, not feeling poor or weak, but criticizing those in power bravely, because we know we are servants of the Most Rich and the Most Powerful. Like the Prophet, peace be upon him, our mission is to live the Quran while not being attached to wealth or power (because by the virtue of being God’s agents, we already have these). The seeking of wealth or power has nothing to do with our mission. Our mission is to be with the people, the poor, the enslaved, the voiceless, to teach them, to help them regain some hope and courage. Like the Prophet, we deal neither with wealth nor power unless these things are freely and openly given to us, in which case we follow his example in dealing with them.

One argument in favor of political Islam that Islamists mention is that Muslims need “organization” to better arrange their affairs. I agree, but we can have all the organization we need without seeking power, therefore this does not justify Islamism.

And if they say that Islamists are needed to protect the interests of the Muslims, the examples of the past century show that Islamists expose Muslims to far more persecution, torture and murder than they would be exposed to without them, therefore no, Muslims do not need this type of poisonous favor. Islamists have shown time and again that they are completely powerless at defending the interests of Muslims. Either they and their friends get imprisoned, tortured and assassinated en masse, or they gain power only to be bombed into oblivion by the latest bully on the world stage. They can say that ideally, if everything goes perfectly, they can do much good. Yes, but things never go ideally. Ideally communism can create great happiness and equality. Realistically, communism always creates police states, purges and starvation. In the same way, realistically, Islamism always creates far more evil than good despite the best intentions of its leaders.

It should be mentioned that Maktab Quran, Moftizadeh’s movement which continues to exist today, does not seek political power. However, it continues to act as something of a party, just not a political one, and this makes it suffer some of the issues Islamist parties suffer from (causing division, attracting persecution, having limited penetration among the population). They would have done much better if they had been nothing but a group of friends with each of them acting independently, becoming leaders in their own communities, and not naming themselves anything. They continue to be highly respected and to do good deeds, as they do not suffer from one important weakness of political parties, which is the promise of power attracting toxic personalities. Their lack of power-seeking ensures that only sincere people are attracted to their group.

Better than Maktab Quran would be a movement that is not a party, but a creed, and that has no organization (or need for one). It is an intellectual movement of educated and dedicated people acting together because they all follow the same creed, similar to a colony of ants which does not have central organization, but whose each part functions in tandem with the parts closest to it. And this already exists to some degree. Throughout the world, millions of Muslim intellectuals are developing a sense of belonging to a “mainstream”, loving its leaders and doing good works in their local communities. A new creed from a new Ghazali could help give direction to them and cure the Muslim world from the misguided, power-seeking form of political Islam.

The author provides the following interesting snippet on life in modern Tehran:

During the government of Mohammad Reza Khatami, the first so-called reformist president of the Islamic Republic, the author was an intern for Iran’s premier private consulting firm in Tehran. The firm’s management was educated and or raised in the West, while the majority of its employees had similar backgrounds, or came from a segment of Iran’s middle class that was educated and relatively progressive in its values. Headscarves were promptly removed in the office, flirting was common among the young employees, and everyone but the valet sipped tea throughout the day during the month of Ramadan. Even though most of these individuals voted for reformist candidates in the Islamic Republic’s elections, they disavowed allegiance to the system, and did not believe religion should play a role in government. For them, “reformism” ideally meant reforming Iran into a modern, Western-style secular country.

Which provides a useful occasion to mention Hawramani’s Law of Regime Change:

Once the values, beliefs and practices of a country’s intelligentsia is significantly out of sync with the values, beliefs and practices of the state, the state experiences accelerating irrelevance that always ends in peaceful or violent regime change.

The Iranian government wants to continue to pretend that it is 1979, that they are here to save the Islamic world, and they justify every evil and injustice through this. If the Iranian government had a motto, it would be “The End Justifies the Means”. This, of course, applies perhaps to all governments in the world. Another law that I can quote here is Hawramani’s Law of Utilitarian Murder:

Once a government has committed a single utilitarian murder1, it has lost the entirety of its moral legitimacy.2

The Iranian government wants to think that it is here to save the world from Israel, thinking that one day God will give them the honor of being the Islamic world’s conquerors and flag-bearers, not admitting that to God, they are just as worthless and evil as the Israeli government. Both of them oppress and murder those under them, Israel does it to the Palestinians, Iran does it to its millions of Sunnis. Both of them torture and assassinate good and innocent people to ensure their own power and survival. Both of them keep and feed armies of bloodthirsty thugs in their secret police and intelligence organizations, for the greater good, of course. Both of them believe that having power over people is far more important than God and the justice and kindness He commands.

Both of them are rebels and outlaws against God, and both of them are on track to obliterated by Him and turned into stories:

Those before them also schemed, but God took their structures from the foundations, so that the roof caved in on them. The punishment came at them from where they did not perceive. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, He will disgrace them, and say, “Where are My associates for whose sake you used to dispute?” Those who were given knowledge will say, “Today shame and misery are upon the disbelievers.” Those wronging their souls while the angels are taking them away—they will propose peace: “We did no wrong.” Yes you did. God is aware of what you used to do.”3

Of course, both Iran and Israel will say, “It can’t happen to us! We are the good guys!” like nearly evil evil ruler and government on Earth has done before them. In the meantime, God, the Writer of History, will continue using both Iran and Israel as His tools.

The Islamic Way to Getting Wealthy: Worship God Until You Feel Needless

This is a note I wrote for myself, I am publishing it here and expanding it in case others benefit from it.

Wealth begins when you already feel wealthy without having wealth, through your reliance and trust in God. Asking for wealth is a way of wanting to decrease your reliance on God, to be a god yourself.

Instead, rely on God, knowing that the treasury is already with Him, and He gives it to you as He sees fit. Do all of the prayers (including tahajjud and duha), in this way the feeling of wealth (needlessness) is created in you, regardless of your material condition. From there, God may choose to give you all the wealth you want, once you feel wealthy regardless of wealth.

If you feel poor, this shows a lack of piety, a weakness in your faith, a lack in your worship and reliance on God, a distance from God, and wealth will not cure this feeling, it will only replace it with something equally harmful for you, arrogance, pride, a sense of being safe from God and needless of Him.

If you feel poor when you don’t have money (instead of feeling rich by the virtue of being the servant of the Rich), then wealth will not cure you.

Your feeling of poverty is a weakness within you. Wealth will bandage it, but the weakness will manifest itself in other ways. Feeling poor shows a distance from God. Receiving wealth will not bring you closer to Him, it may in fact cause you to be distanced further from Him. You may continue praying and doing the usual good deeds and feeling good, but you may give up supplicating to Him as ardently as now, you may give up small and big good deeds, giving only a little and withholding much, giving what is easy and not doing anything difficult for the sake of God, which is the state of most wealthy Muslims, who live a life of luxury and contentment and only do good deeds that make them feel good.

If God wants good for you, He will keep you poor until your suffering creates the spiritual depth in you, the knowledge of God and closeness to Him, to feel wealthy without having any wealth. Once this feeling is achieved, He may give you wealth, because now it is safe for you to have it.

You must develop the lifestyle of worship and the knowledge and depth necessary to feel wealthy without wealth, if you want God to give you wealth.

Of course, once you have achieved this state, you will stop asking for wealth, realizing that you already have all the wealth you want, because you are an agent of a wealthy God who feeds and clothes you and takes care of your life for you. An agent (a spy who works for a foreign government) does not worry about making money when he is on a mission in a strange land. He knows he is provided for by a powerful entity that can give him more money than most people achieve in a lifetime if it helps him achieve his mission. When there is a need, he can always go to his spy agency’s secret bank and gets all the money he needs.

A true servant of God, too, feels needless of wealth, knowing that he has direct access to God’s bank, and that He will give to him as needed and manage everything for him. Ideally, a spy does not worry about anything except his mission, it is his agency who provides for him a car, a house, money, partners and accomplices. In the same way, we who love and fear God work for God’s agency, it is His agency that takes care of everything for us, our purpose is to carry out our mission.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, was poor for most of his career, because God did not consider it necessary for the success of his mission to have wealth. But he did not feel poor, because he knew he was the agent of a wealthy Master, Who would give him everything he needed whenever he needed it. The Master is wise, instead of giving him immense wealth, which could have harmed him spiritually, and harmed his followers and his movement, gave him only exactly what he needed, not letting him starve or beg of others, enabling him to always have enough to continue his mission perfectly. Wealth was never an obstacle to the Prophet, because the Master always provided for him as he needed it, as if he had an infinite credit line.

Your wealth, your credit line, your bank account, is with God. Asking him to stop managing it for you and to give it all to you shows a lack of appreciation for His wisdom, a lack of appreciation for the fact that you are His agent on a mission in life, and it shows that you have an arrogance that causes you to think you know better than Him what is good for you.

When you ask for wealth, you are asking God, “Please stop managing my millions of dollars for me. I want to manage it myself, because I know better than You what to do with it.” God, if He loves you, will not answer your prayer, instead teaching you lesson after lesson until you reach the point where you can appreciate that all wealth is with God, and that your sustenance comes from God, and that He knows better than you what is good for you, and that it is far wiser to let God manage your wealth and give you exactly what you need, than asking Him to give it all to you when you can never, ever be sure if it is safe for you spiritually to have wealth. These realizations require submission and humility, which we all lack to some degree.

If you feel poor, realize immediately that this is a disease in your heart, a disease in your reliance on God. Cure it immediately with continuous worship and prayer. Pray tahajjud, witr and the duha prayers. Read the Quran. Repeat this work and continue it, no matter how repetitive and boring your ego finds it, until you start to feel wealthy in your heart. And never stop seeking knowledge. And once you feel wealthy, you will no longer ask for wealth, the way the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not ask for it. You will ask God to guide you, to provide for you and to take care of you, and you will leave it to Him to decide how much wealth you should have in your hands.

You will already feel wealthy, knowing that your wealth is with Him, and it will feel irrelevant to you whether wealth is with God or with you. Both are the same thing.  An agent does not care if they have $100 in the pocket and millions in the agency’s secret bank, or whether they have millions with themselves. The two are the same, and in fact that latter situation is less desirable, because the wealth is a burden and a danger to the agent.

In the same way, as an agent of God, since you have access to His limitless wealth, it does not matter how much you have with you. Whether it is with God or in your hands, it is the same thing, and the latter (having much wealth in your hands) can be a burden and a danger to you. It is better to leave it to God to take care of the matter of wealth, its management and protection, so that you can focus on your mission instead.

It is for these reasons that the Prophet, peace be upon him, lost sleep over the fact that there was a lump of gold in his house that had been given to him somehow. Since he was a man on a mission, he felt that this gold was an obstacle to him, a burden and a danger, so that his heart did not settle until he found a poor person to give it away to the next day.

A spy, too, would hate to have too much wealth with him, because it attracts attention and danger, and gets in the way of his mission. A person who is truly close to God will think the same way about wealth, considering it irrelevant to their life, a tool that can be provided by God as needed for their mission and nothing more. Their focus is on completing their mission, and they leave it to God to provide them with the necessary tools and equipment.

This does not mean that one should not seek wealth. One should want sufficient wealth to be needless of others, and they should use the opportunities God provides to acquire it. But one should realize that any wages they earn, any profits they make, are all ultimately from God, because if God does not enable us and support us, we have no power to gain these things. The wages you earn are as much from God as money falling from the sky. A thousand things could go wrong in your life so that you lose the ability to earn, or so that what you earn goes to waste (such as various illnesses and accidents).

We work, as the Prophet’s companions worked, peace be upon him and his companions, because this is part of our mission in life. But we do not work to cure a sense of poverty or to become wealthy. We already feel wealthy, but we work because it is part of the functioning of the world that we should work, the same way that it is part of the functioning of the world that we should procreate in order for humanity to continue, and the same way that we eat to survive. Not working and saying that God will provide is like not eating and saying that God will put food in our stomachs directly.

We Muslims are not monks or Sufi hermits. We partake in the game of life fully, enjoying food, drink and sex, working and not throwing away wealth. But we understand that everything we enjoy or acquire is ultimately from God. And part of this understanding is that we do not seek to be wealthy or pray for it. Our job is to take part in the game of life while also staying on the Straight Path.

Regardless of how hard we work to earn money, it is God who will decide how much wealth we will have. There are those who spend all of their time thinking of wealth and scheming for it, yet many of them live in poverty and die poor. There are others who do the same and acquire it and die wealthy. Life and God both teach us that getting wealthy is not guaranteed, no matter how hard we try. We could have the most successful business in the town, only for a fire to destroy it and put us in debt.

We work, but it is God who provides. Realizing this, we do not seek wealth, knowing that all wealth is with God; our task is to carry out our mission, it is God Who provides for us.

We are like agents who have been told to work as part of our mission, so that we do not stand out, even though we are told the agency can give us millions of dollars if it wants. We work because it is part of the mission, but we do not want to be wealthy, because there is no point in it. It is ridiculous for a spy to get attached to his fake job trying to make a few thousand dollars when he knows that if he completes his mission, the agency promises him millions of dollars.

It is utter foolishness to complain that God’s agency is not giving us sufficient wealth to carry out our mission, it is an insult against God’s greatness. A spy can complain that the agency’s planning and resources are deficient, but we cannot, because we do not work for a human agency, but for a divine one.

If you feel poor, or you feel that you could do so many good deeds if only God gave you a few billion dollars, then you have misunderstood your mission and the One who assigned this mission to you. He knows exactly what you need and when you need it, therefore stop trying to tell Him to correct how much He gives you. Learn to respect Him and to respect your mission. Stop fighting against your mission, asking it to be changed, telling God His planning isn’t good enough.

Your mission is to live the Quran. You can do this whether you are wealthy or poor. Wealth has nothing to do with it. If you are poor, your job is to work hard enough in worship so that you do not feel poor. You have not truly accepted your status as God’s agent except when you feel extremely wealthy regardless of how much wealth you have, when you know that wealth does not matter for your mission because you work for an immensely wealthy agency that provides everything needed.

It is more likely for God to give you wealth once you have stopped feeling that you need it, because then you can have it safely. That is what the title of this essay says. But as has been clarified, when you reach this state, you will stop caring about getting wealthy anyway. Therefor what I said above probably works, it can can increase your likelihood of getting wealthy, but for this to work, you must paradoxically first achieve a state of not wanting to get wealthy. As long as you desire wealth and feel poverty, you have not understood your mission, and there is a deficiency in your faith and understanding of God that needs to be corrected.

You must stop desiring wealth, only then you have achieved the status of a true agent of God. Satan will try to trick you into losing this status by telling you that you could serve God better if He gave you more wealth. By making you doubt the wisdom in God’s decrees and His management of your life, he causes you to forget your mission and causes you to think negative thoughts about Him. You must resist these thoughts and always remind yourself that true reliance on God means that you trust Him to give you what is needed when it is needed, and that you mission in life, which is to live the Quran, does not require you to be wealthy, and in fact requires you to stop desiring it.

Feeling wealthy regardless of wealth cannot be achieved by wishful thinking. It requires daily work, it requires you to do more prayers and more Quran-reading than most of the people you know. And if you ever stop, the feeling of poverty will come back, because it is the natural state of humans to feel in need and to desire wealth.

If you do not find the above satisfactory, if you still want wealth, then this shows that you do not understand your purpose in life, or that you understand it but want to reject it because your comfort and desires are more dear to you.

The iPhone X vs the Samsung Galaxy S6

I don’t like Apple, but what Android enthusiasts continuously fail to realize, or fail to admit, is that the iPhone is about the experience, not the features. The features are important, of course, Apple always needs fluff to fill up its two-hour-long announcement events, and it needs its customers to feel that they are getting new and shiny stuff.

But the fact that phones exist with certain better features is largely irrelevant. What matters is the superiority of the total phone experience. You may think your grandma is foolish to prefer an iPhone instead of the far superior available Android devices, but she is actually cleverer than you when it comes to what is good for her.

Phones are like doctors. Your grandma does not want to go to a genius of a doctor who makes her feel uncomfortable, weirds her out and is not widely known or admired. She wants to go to a doctor who is famous for being the best all-round doctor, so that if she tells others that he is her doctor, others think better of her for that, knowing that it is rich and classy people who prefer or can afford that doctor.

So while the iPhone is inferior in various ways, the fact remains that to the larger society, having an iPhone confers a certain status, and the most expensive iPhone confers the most status. You can say that society is stupid for doing this, that the best Android phone should confer the best status. But you are wrong. When it comes to status, what matters is doing what works. If Apple spends billions marketing iPhones as the coolest thing to have, and people believe this, so that someone who buys an iPhone is considered cool, then everything is working as expected.

This is how it works when it comes to ordinary people. As for geeks and nerds, we want more, and we do not like to be told what to think and what to do, therefore just the fact that iPhones are cool and something of a bandwagon is sufficient for us to want to avoid having anything to do with them.

It is the same when it comes to politics. Nerds and geeks want to vote for the politician who has the right track record, shows competence and has the right plans. The average person votes for the politician who makes them “feel” the right way, so that they put the country in the charge of some pretty boy who knows a lot about asbestos litigation, or some lecher who feels no shame in giving lustful descriptions of his daughter’s body. This is infuriating, but this is reality, so get used to it.

What to do if all the negative coverage of Islam and online Islam-bashing affects you

I’m from India and I see a lot of negativity towards Islam and it saddens me very much. Filthy comments made about Islam and people who practice Islam. I usually do not indulge in such arguments/comments because there is no point but it effects me. Please help Jazakallah khair

That is a promise of the Quran come true:

You will be tested through your possessions and your persons; and you will hear from those who received the Scripture before you, and from those who do not acknowledge the oneness of God, much abuse. But if you persevere and lead a righteous life—that indeed is a mark of great determination. (The Quran, verse 3:186)

The best thing to do is go on with your life like normal. It is not our job to guide people, and especially not those who say nasty things about Islam. Our job is to practice Islam, which means to stay close to God, to obey His commandments, to be kind and generous.

The Quran’s command regarding dealing with such people is to ignore them (instead of engaging them and trying to change their minds),

So turn away from them, and wait. They too are waiting. (Verse 32:30)

So avoid him who has turned away from Our remembrance, and desires nothing but the present life. That is the extent of their knowledge. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who has accepted guidance. (Verses 53:29-30)

The servants of the Merciful are those who walk the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace.” (Verse 25:63)

When you encounter those who mockingly gossip about Our revelations, turn away from them, until they engage in another topic. (Verse 6:68)

So leave alone those who take their religion for play and pastime, and whom the worldly life has deceived. (Verse 6:70)

While some of what we hear and read can be very upsetting, this is nothing new. All of the prophets have suffered similar treatment. This is not a problem that can be solved, it is a fact of life, like bad weather. We have to accept that it exists and move on with your lives. Our focus, when dealing with non-Muslims, should be that the good and open-hearted among them should have an accurate view of Islam. As for those who dislike us, it is not our business to change them, they have already made up their minds.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, used to wish to have miraculous powers to be able to guide more people to Islam. The Quran’s answer was this:

Even if there were a Quran by which mountains could be set in motion, or by which the earth could be shattered, or by which the dead could be made to speak… In fact, every decision rests with God. Did the believers not give up and realize that had God willed, He would have guided all humanity? Disasters will continue to strike those who disbelieve, because of their deeds, or they fall near their homes, until God’s promise comes true. God never breaks a promise. (Verse 13:31)

The Quran teaches us that it is God who guides people. Even the Prophet could not guide people unless God willed it:

You cannot guide whom you love, but God guides whom He wills, and He knows best those who are guided.

For these reasons, we must not think it our duty to guide people. Our duty is to practice Islam, and to present an accurate view of Islam. What people do in response is their business, we cannot control their thinking, and we cannot force them to be guided.

Is the Deathly Hallows sign related to the “Illuminati”?

Is the Deathly Hallows sign illuminati or a sinful sign?? I know that the peace sign and all is signs of the devil, but is the deathly hollows simbol illuminati or the devils sign??

The Illuminati and other conspiracy theories are promoted on the internet so that people like you are distracted from the real problems that face this world, such as: Why do the banks have so much control over the world’s economy? Why does the US force every country in the world to use the US dollar in trade and bomb every country that tries to break away from the US financial system (Iraq, Libya, Syria)? Why does the Israeli lobby have such immense control over the US congress so that every politician must bow down to them to be elected? Why do Jews support Muslim immigration to the US and Europe while also supporting the Israel ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Palestine? Why do they support Mexican immigration to the US yet fight against African immigration to Israel?

Difference Between Sunnah Muakkadah and Ghair Muakkadah

Salaam could you please explain what is sunnah mu’akkadah and sunnah ghair mu’akkadah?

Sunnah mu’akkadah refers to any voluntary act of worship (such as the Eid prayer, or the two rakat after the maghrib prayer) which the Prophet peace be upon him continuously performed and almost never abandoned. These are not obligatory, but a person who abandons them is considered blameworthy.

As for the ghair mu’akkadah ones, they are those which the Prophet peace be upon him sometimes performed and sometimes abandoned, such as two rakat before the Isha prayer.

The different schools of thought have different terminology and rulings regarding the precise nature of these acts of worship.

On kind-hearted non-Muslims being better than evil Muslims

Is it wrong that I think that a kind hearted non-muslims is better than an evil Muslim? It’s more logical to be that a good soul is better than a guided soul who choose evil.

That is correct. Satan, too, believed in God and worshiped Him, like any Muslim does, yet despite his knowledge of the truth, he decided to disobey God. A Muslim who knowingly does evil, not out of overwhelming desire but out rebelliousness, arrogance and greed, is doing something similar.

Dealing with auto-Islamophobia

I need help with not fearing being exposed to Islam. I’ve been too much exposed to very toxic parts of Islam (I don’t know if they are authentic or not) but it was very very discouraging. Even made it hard for me to pray etc.

Read the Quran from beginning to end many times, that is 99% of Islam. Anything that goes against its message, anything that goes even against a single verse of it, is not part of Islam.

You can also go through this blog1 and read the quotes to get an idea of what Islam is like as it is practiced by its most devout followers. If you can, read Yasmin Mogahed and Tariq Ramadan’s books.

Can Muslims keep dogs as pets?

Is it okay for a Muslim to have a dog as a pet? Not just as a guard dog, but as a companion. Bring them inside the house, play with them, take a walk, etc. I’ve read somewhere that if there’s a dog in the house, angels will not come inside our house. Is it true? Thank you

This is a highly controversial topic among the scholars. The opinion of the Maliki school is that dogs are pure (i.e. not ritually unclean), and that it is permissible to touch them and play with them as long as they are not diseased. This is also the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basri, al-Zuhari, Sufyan al-Thawri, Imam al-Shawkani, Ibn Munzir al-Shafi`i and Ibn Hazm from what I can find out.

The Egyptian scholar Muhammad Shaltut (1893 – 1963 CE), who was Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar (Egypt’s highest authority on Sunni Islam), ruled that keeping a dog as a pet and letting it in the house is permissible as long as it is not diseased. However, he says that if the dog eats or drinks from a utensil, it must be washed thoroughly before it is used by a human.

The rest of the scholars, the Hanafis, Shafi`is and Hanbalis say that a dog is either unclean or that it is forbidden to keep it as a pet, that it must only be kept if it is a hunting, shepherding or guard dog.

So there is sufficient support within the Islamic scholarship community for a person to keep a dog as a pet. But the majority of scholars are against it, and so are the majority of Muslim cultures.

If an American who already has a dog converts to Islam, there is sufficient sufficient evidence within Islam for them to continue keeping it as a pet. But they shouldn’t be surprised if the Muslims around them strongly frown upon their doing this.

It should also be noted that the majority opinion is that it is forbidden to listen to music, but most Muslims reject this and follow the common sense minority opinion (the Maliki / Zahiri / Shawkani opinion) that say that listening to music is permissible. The issue of forbidding music and forbidding the keeping of dogs as a pets are similar and the same scholars either forbid both or permit both.

Personally I cannot say whether it is permissible or not to keep a dog as a pet, this matter is not something I have studied sufficiently to have a firm opinion about it.

On the Scrabble and IQ debate, or why mastering Scrabble doesn’t require genius

My answer to the Scrabble-IQ debate which keeps coming up on the Unz Review, from a comment I wrote on there:

The entire debate may be about crystallized versus fluid intelligence.

Scrabble requires that one be intelligent enough to be able to “crystallize” the patterns for solving each situation, so that a person can do it without having to think about it the next time they run into the same situation, but no more intelligent than that.

Winning games like chess and Scrabble requires some fluid intelligence (IQ), and massive amounts of crystallized intelligence (stored solutions), which is why they need so much training.

If you are familiar with computing, it is easy to understand what this means. A lower-IQ person can simulate high IQ in a game like Scrabble using this function:

solve(game_context) {
  if(cached_answer_exists(game_context)) {
    return get_cached_answer(game_context); // extremely fast, even for a low IQ person
  }
  else {
    return compute_answer(game_context); // slow, even for a very high IQ person
  }
}

So a game like Scrabble has a very high “caching advantage”, a person who spends immense amounts of time with it will have thousands, maybe millions, of cached answers in their heads, that enable them to nearly instantaneously find the solution for a new game context, because there is no computation involved, the solution is cached in their brains.

A lower-IQ Scrabble “genius”, however, will be incapable of mastering a topic of study they have never studied before (such as economics), so that they can quickly come up with original and interesting solutions and ideas within the field, because their genius is about being good at caching answers. Their genius has nothing to do with fluid intelligence, the type of intelligence needed to handle massive data, operate on it and synthesize new things from it. Your millions of cached Scrabble solutions are just that, millions of cached Scrabble solutions. A Scrabble genius is like a computer that has tons of Scrabble solutions and is very good at winning Scrabble games, but that cannot do much of anything else. The computer is not an AI genius, it simply has a hard drive that is filled with canned solutions.

My hypothesis, therefore is this: A race or nationality’s ability to master Scrabble does not predict its intellectual, scientific or technological achievements, because Scrabble does not require very high IQ, while the rest of these things do.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that very few really-high-IQ people (135+) bother to play games like Scrabble, because they would rather do something open-ended, rather than something entirely unproductive, with their time. Almost everyone I have met who was dedicated to chess and similar closed-ended games has not been an intellectual genius who could say something intelligent and interesting about geopolitics, for example.

I do not enjoy watching sports, and no really-high-IQ person I know enjoys them either, because it is closed-ended. There is only so much that can happen. We soon get a feel for the game and get bored with it. We would rather play a complex computer simulation game where we can manage the affairs of an empire, even though this too ultimately gets boring so that we start to read hundreds of books on economics and history like maniacs.

Another hypothesis is this: A Scrabble genius will be very bad at games with a low caching advantage. Thus a race or nationality that is good at Scrabble will perform worse at Go than a higher IQ nation, because Go has a lower caching advantage (it requires more fluid intelligence, i.e. IQ, since the situations that arise in the game are too diverse to cache, there will of course still be some caching advantage, therefore we must find a game that has a very low caching advantage, such as…Raven’s Progressive Matrices1).

God and depression

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While the immediate cause of your depression could be chemical imbalances in your brain, other health issues, or life circumstances that are out of your control, the ultimate cause is distance from God, because He has the power bring about all of the right circumstances that would cure the depression. As the Quran says:

Whosoever fears God, God will create for him a way out. (The Quran, from verse 65:2)

This way out of depression will probably not be something obvious and instantaneous, it will be subtle changes in your life that lead you out of it, if you continue to be patient and thankful, instead of jumping right back into a sinful and heedless lifestyle as soon as the sadness is gone.

When hardship befalls someone, they return to righteousness and seek God ardently. When the hardship is lifted, they go back to a life of heedlessness, only doing the minimum that Islam asks of them and engaging in minor sins. God sends them a new hardship to cause them to become pious again. They return to worshiping God properly and showing Him proper respect, until hardship is lifted, only for them to go back to heedlessness.

The way to break out of this cycle is to seek God during times of ease as ardently as during times of hardship, so that you no longer need hardship to make you truly heedful. As long as times of ease cause heedlessness in you, you will suffer hardship.

The Islamic View of Sex Education and Adolescent Exposure to Sexual Scenes in Novels and Films

My child loves to read books. Some of the books she wants to read mention sex. She is 13 years old and I don’t know when to allow her to read those books or even when to tell her about sex. I need help with this. Thank you!

When a child reaches puberty (and I assume your daughter has), in Islam they are considered mukallaf (responsible for their actions, i.e. legally adults). This means that parents should start to treat them like adult humans, respecting their intelligence and freedom of choice as humans. Parents should no longer treat them like children whose lives they control and dictate.

At that age, they have the right to demand honest answers from their parents regarding sex, and they have the right to be educated about the Islamic rules and etiquette regarding sex and marriage. In Islam there is no difference between the rights and responsibilities of an adolescent 13-year-old and a 25-year-old, legally they have the same status, although developmentally they are not exactly the same.

It is natural to be wary of letting an adolescent learn about sex because of the vague potential for harm that we perceive, but we should also take into account the even greater potential for harm that comes from belittling them and restricting them for no obvious reason. There is no Islamic or scientific reason to prevent an adolescent from learning about sex, and the great scholars of the past, such as Ibn al-Jawzi, would have memorized thousands of hadith narrations, some of them explicitly dealing with sex, before the age of 10.

If she has reached puberty, then it is your duty to teach her all of the Islamic rules that surround menstruation, such as by getting her a book on this matter. You do not have to give it to her specifically if this would be too embarrassing, it can be somewhere in your house where she can look at it when she wants. It will be largely your failing if she prays in a way that is invalid because no one told her any better.

You probably know much about sex, but your appreciation for Islamic principles enables you to stay devout and to put sex in its proper context. An adolescent can do the same if the parents have done their duty of giving them an Islamic upbringing, and if inside the home they maintain Islamic manners and standards. Trying to control a child’s knowledge about sex is a futile effort, especially today when they can easily find out everything they want on the internet. There is no way you can take away all possible opportunities for them to learn about it. The logical thing to do is to be moderate, letting them learn about sex and read books that you yourself would read, while not letting them have unmonitored access to the internet and not letting them read erotic books that you yourself wouldn’t read.

There is No Conflict Between Islam and Sex Education

Is a 13-year-old who knows much about sex from books less likely to be religious and devout than a 13-year-old who has been forbidden to learn anything about it?

I would hazard a guess that the one whose intelligence and dignity has been respected to the degree that he or she is allowed to read books on sex is going to be more religious and devout, because they are not made to feel that Islam is against human nature, that there is something wrong with them when they think about sex or want to learn about it.

Devoutness has nothing to do with how much a person knows about sex. Regardless of whether an adolescent knows nearly everything or nearly nothing about sex, they will have the same level of desire for the opposite sex. This desire is not about knowledge, it is about hormones and the human brain. To be able to resist this desire, what is needed is an understanding of Islamic principles and internalization of Islamic values, so that the adolescent knows that there is a good reason why they should resist their sexual desire, instead of feeling like they are being prevented from sexual pleasure for no good reason (like some adolescents brought up in extremely strict Muslim and Christian homes feel).

For an adolescent, learning about sex is like learning about any other topic, such as physics. There mere knowledge of sex is not going to push them into sinful behaviors, the same way that a divorced 30-year-old is not going to be more likely to sin just because they know very much about sex. Their knowledge of sex and their knowledge of Islam are two separate things.

Once a child reaches puberty, their sex hormones make it certain that they will have highly detailed and explicit daydreams and nighttime dreams about sex, and that sex will be on their minds often. Muslim adolescents generally spend ten years thinking about sex, whether they want to or not, before they get married, and reading or hearing a story or anecdote about sex, whether in an Islamic book or non-Islamic book, is going to be little more than a drop in the ocean of sexual thoughts that is in their heads.

As for books that are designed to be read for sexual pleasure (erotic and explicit romance books), then neither you nor your child should reach such books, because it is against Islamic manners to seek sexual pleasure outside of marriage, and no one who reads such books can honestly claim to be reading them without sexual intent.

The Developmental Concern

The one serious concern regarding exposing an adolescent to information about sexuality is that with their as-of-yet undeveloped minds, and their heightened sexual desire, they may be more likely to fall into sinful behaviors.

Isn’t it better to let them grow some more, garner more experiences, before they are exposed to such things?

It is true that the human is not fully developed until the late twenties, that is when a person’s impulse control matures. It is for this reason that insurance companies charge higher rates to people under the age of 25, because such people are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and cause accidents.

The problem is that, their lack of wisdom and development also means that will be unable to understand why information about sex is being kept from them, and their impulsiveness means that they will be extremely unlikely to be content when a parent says they are too young. They will probably jump on any chance to learn about sex from friends, from the internet, from libraries, from anywhere they can.

Preventing an adolescent from learning about sex is in fact telling them, “You are too impulsive and not enough of an adult to learn about sex, but you must act like an adult and control your impulses when you desire to learn about it.” It is placing a contradictory demand on them. If they are too impulsive to safely read about sex, they are too impulsive to be prevented from reading about sex out of your sight.

Therefore the argument that they are too young to learn about sex is false. If they are treated like they are too immature and foolish to be allowed to learn about sex from proper sources, they will only be right to act immature and foolish by seeking information from harmful sources, they are acting exactly the way we say they will act, and they are likely to do it just out of spite. If we belittle them and make them feel they are not proper members of society, they will naturally feel like outcasts, and they will be right to act like outcasts, ignoring customs and people’s expectations. If they are not allowed to enjoy the privileges of being full members of society, why should they suffer its restrictions?

It is best to treat them the Islamic way, to acknowledge their status as full members of society, while also acknowledging the fact that they are not fully developed yet. This is the best way to prepare them for adulthood; by treating them like adults. Treating them like children is not going to do any good, they are going to resent it.

Once an adolescent is given the freedoms and privileges of an adult, they will stop thinking of themselves as children who selfishly think of their own needs the whole time, and will instead start to think of themselves as respected members of their families and societies. This is very important for their growth. By being treated like a growing adult, being given both rights and responsibilities, they will try to live up to this expectation.

If a parent is too strict, this can cause the child to feel oppressed and controlled, and this can cause them to dislike the parent and the religious motivations for the parent’s choices. It is better to give the child sufficient freedom to not feel oppressed, but not so much freedom that they can do whatever they want in private. Since they live under your roof, you can set standards of behavior and etiquette that must be observed by them and any other adult living with you.

I have rarely seen children brought up in strict families grow into sincerely devout adults. They generally consider Islam a burden that’s placed on them, rather than something they love and follow by choice. They sometimes have a child’s mentality, thinking that their families and societies are against them, that what is good and fulfilling in life is one thing and society’s expectations another thing, because they do not feel like full members of Islamic society.

The Islamic Way of Bringing Up Devout Children: Balancing Conservativeness and Liberality

The best Muslims I have known in my life have been brought up in families that mixed conservativeness and liberality, conservative in the most important things, liberal in the rest. This means that the children are taught to carry out all their obligatory duties like prayer and fasting. It is not accepted of them to abandon these like some misguided liberal Muslim families allow. They are taught the Quran and encouraged to read beneficial Islamic books, most importantly the life of the Prophet peace be upon him and the lives of his companions. If the child is female, she should have access to at least 10 books dedicated to famous Muslim women in history and encouraged to read them (but not forced).

What are Islam’s priorities? It is to believe in God and the Day of Judgment and the rest of the Islamic items of faith (aqeedah). The entire family must act and live by these beliefs. The next priorities are the obligatory deeds, the entire family must carry them out (except for children who cannot), it should be an unspoken assumption in the family that abandoning the Islamic obligatory acts of worship is entirely unacceptable.

The next thing after the above is abandoning sinful behaviors. It should be unacceptable for anyone in the family to engage in anything clearly sinful, such as drinking alcohol. It is the job of the parents to ensure that Islamic standards are maintained in the family, that no one engages in anything sinful.

The above is the core of Islam. A child brought up in a loving family to believe in the Islamic items of faith, to carry out the obligatory deeds and to follow Islamic manners is guaranteed to grow into a devout Muslim, unless at some point they make a conscious choice to abandon Islam. Humans have free will, which means that regardless of their upbringing, they will forever have the choice to abandon Islam, this ability cannot be taken away from them.

A family that focuses on the above and gets it right can then be liberal in everything else. This liberality is very important. Islam must feel small and simple to a child, it must not feel like something that controls and burdens them. This means that filling one’s home entirely with Islamic books, always having Islamic channels on TV, allowing the children to visit the mosque and no other venue, forcing them to go to Quran schools instead of learning about other things they are interested in, are all exactly the correct way to make a child hate Islam. There is only so much religion a person can take. Religion is a tool to help us develop a spiritual connection with God and to guide our manners as we go about in the world living our lives. Once a person has the correct aqeedah, performs the obligatory deeds, loves the Quran and fears God’s punishment, religion’s goal has been accomplished in them. Religion is not there to dominate them and take their humanity away from them, it is to guide them to be better humans, as they continue to be humans, doing and enjoying human things.

This means that once the core of Islam has been actualized in a family’s life, from then on everyone should be free what they do with their time. Islam does not forbid children from playing video games, women from enjoying shopping or men from playing soccer, even if none of these things serve a productive purpose. The clearest proof of this is that in Islam it is acknowledged that people have sex for pleasure, unlike among some Christians who think that sex must always be done with the intention of procreation. Sex that is done for pleasure does not serve an obvious productive purpose, except for the fact that it improves the relationship between the husband and wife and makes them have a more positive view of life.

And the above reason is also why many other enjoyable acts that strict Muslims may scoff at are actually lawful and even encouraged. A child who is allowed to play the video games he or she likes, while also being expected to follow Islamic manners and carry out their Islamic duties, is going to grow up knowing that Islam is not against human nature and the enjoyment of life, that Islam is there to help them live better lives that they define themselves, instead of being there to force them to live a narrowed down life defined by ancient texts and society.

On Books that Mention Sex

As for your original question, there is no clear Islamic text that deals with her reading books that mention sex, but if you yourself would read that book and think that it is permissible for you, then she too can read it.

Since Islam is vague on this topic, one should act based on maslahah (“what is in the best interest of the person, family and society”) with regards to it. Allowing her to read a book she likes is a good thing, because it reaffirms her dignity and freedom, and reaffirms the fact that she can enjoy what she likes while also being a devout Muslim, that Islam is not her enemy like some teenagers mistakenly think. If the book contains casual mentions of sex but is not dedicated to arousing sexual desire in the reader like erotic books are, then I see little harm in it. Adolescents are perfectly capable of imagining sexual scenes in their heads, reading about one more sexual scene is not going to be anything significant.

Philosophically, there is no difference between an Islamic book that describes a sexual act and a random non-Islamic book that does the same, since in both cases, the reader is made to imagine a sexual scene in their heads. If reading about a sexual scene is sinful, then this means reading many hadith narrations and Quranic commentaries is sinful, since they too describe sexual scenes.

Your child has the right to read the Quran, books of interpretation of the Quran (tafseer), and books of hadith, and you should encourage her to do so, and if she does, then there is no avoiding the topic of sex, since the Quran, its interpretations and books of hadith cover various sexual topics in detail. Some scholars, in fact, consider it highly recommended that the child should be taught all of these things, meaning that to them sex education is part and parcel of Islam.

A person may say that the sexual acts described in a novel might be sinful acts (they might be between unmarried people), and that this makes it forbidden to read them. But this is logically a false argument. The Quran describes various sinful acts of previous nations, if reading the description of a sinful act is sinful, then reading the Quran would be sinful. And if reading the description of a sinful sexual act is sinful, then reading various books of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) would be sinful, since they are full of mentions sinful sexual acts. The reader is expected to understand that it is sinful, and to have their core of Islamic belief prevent them from engaging in similar acts.

A person may go on to say that novels would describe sinful sexual acts in a context that approves of them, while Islamic books do not. This too is an invalid argument. The Quran mentions in detail the arguments of Islam’s detractors, arguments which support disbelief if they are read out of context:

But the notables of his people, who disbelieved, said, “This is nothing but a human like you, who wants to gain superiority over you. Had God willed, He would have sent down angels. We never heard of this from our forefathers of old. He is nothing but a man possessed. Just ignore him for a while.” (The Quran, verses 23:24-25)

If you obey a human being like yourselves, then you will be losers. Does he promise you that when you have died and become dust and bones, you will be brought out? Farfetched, farfetched is what you are promised. There is nothing but our life in this world. We die, and we live, and we are not resurrected. He is nothing but a man, making up lies about God. We have no faith in him.” (The Quran, verses 23:34-38)

Since the person is reading the Quran, we assume that they will also know about counter-arguments the Quran offers. There is nothing sinful in relating a sinful behavior as long as the person is educated sufficiently to put it in context. The above verses relate the sin of shirk (denying God’s oneness), which is a far greater sin than any sexual crime, because it is the one sin that God says He will not forgive.

Someone who reads about a sinful sexual act is not going to be led into sin by it when they also read the Quran constantly, when they have had an Islamic upbringing and have internalized Islam’s values. Any novel a devout Muslim reads is already in proper context, because the context is their own minds, which is already firm on the belief in God and the Islamic principles. Reading a random sexual scene in a novel is only the feeblest challenge to someone’s faith.

I do not recommend letting adolescents read just about everything they want. Reading a book that is designed to be read for sexual pleasure is going to be an insult to the maintenance of Islamic manners in your home, and this should not be allowed. But as for the average Western-written novel, whether you let your daughter read it should rely on what you consider to be in her best interest. Preventing her from reading a book or a category of books she likes is going to harm her faith, because her freedom is restricted in something that is not clearly harmful, and her own interpretation of Islam is discounted and your interpretation imposed upon her, which always has a psychological cost on her and on her relationship with you.

We all want to bring up devout children, and our policies toward them should be geared toward this. If being strict in the Islamic matters of priority mentioned above while being liberal in everything else enables us to bring up children who are more devout and more likely to love Islam, then that is what we should do.

In general, arbitrarily forbidding children things because of a vague potential for harm is going to do more harm than good. I know someone who started to steal from his relatives in his childhood in order to be able to go to an arcade to play video games, because his strict father refused to buy him a video game console to play with at home, since according to him it was harmful. The child was forced to engage in a clearly sinful behavior due to the father’s misguided apprehension of the possible harms of video games.

Whenever you think of forbidding your child something that you consider potentially harmful, always keep in mind that the act of forbidding itself is also always potentially harmful. You must balance between these two concerns. Being too strict is always harmful, and being too lax is also always harmful. One must find a balance. The best balance I have seen is for the parents to focus on the core Islamic principles, manners and acts of worship, then be liberal in most other things, respecting their children’s right to make their own choices even if we are not always perfectly comfortable with their choice. It is in their best interest to feel free and to be treated like respected adults whose choices are respected, it is also in their best interest to follow Islam devoutly. These two interests must be balanced, neither of them should be neglected.

I would never forbid an adolescent from reading a book I would read myself, because there is no Islamic basis for creating such a rule, and it is disrespectful and belittling toward them, and they can probably find ways of reading it out of my sight.

If your child has not read the Quran, books of tafseer, books of hadith and Islamic biographies, then this should be corrected as soon as possible. They should have sufficient appreciation for Islam to follow it in public and in private of their own desire, and if they read or hear anything that challenges their Islamic belief, they should be able to counter it themselves.

If you worry about the influence of the non-Islamic books she reads, you can ask her to read one Islamic book for every few non-Islamic books she reads, or find some other arrangement.

I would have a library in my house filled with all kinds of books, and I would give the adolescent the right to read what they want. As long as they have had a proper Islamic upbringing, as long as they have been encouraged to read the Quran, hadith, Islamic biographies and other beneficial books, then there is no danger in this. I would never forbid my daughters from reading any of the hundreds of books I have in my house even though I may have the authority to do this. What right do I have to decide for her what she can and cannot read? If I give myself the right to read something, it feels highly hypocritical to me to forbid others from reading it.

Saying that she shouldn’t read a book she wants to read will make her feel insulted and belittled. I want to treat her like an adult, like a dignified and respected human, doing that will show her that I am not really honest in that treatment, that I still consider her a child even if I say otherwise.

Is it worth it to do this? Does it improve our relationship and her love for Islam or does it harm it?

My philosophy is that influences should be countered by influences. It is true that most of the West’s media and publishing contain harmful influences.The right way to counter this is to expose my children to good influences, such as from Islamic books and TV shows like the beautiful series The Companions of the Cave, instead of following the futile strategy of forbidding them from all potentially harmful influences, which would cause them to feel restricted and belittled, and which would reduce their love for their family and for Islam. As long as my children practice the core of Islam with understanding, this by itself is a strong influence helping them counter bad influences. And this understanding can only come from being educated in Islam, learning about the purposes of the acts of worship, the meanings of the verses of the Quran they recite, and biographies of the great Muslims of history.

Out of the fear of God, if a reader starts to feel sexually aroused by a sexual scene in a book, they can skip it. What is sinful is intentionally seeking sexual pleasure outside of marriage, and a person can use an Islamic book or non-Islamic book for this purpose if they want, and they can do it even without a book using their imagination. This is a small matter between a person and God, and it is not sufficient justification for forbidding someone from reading a book.

Films are a different matter, because it is impossible to watch a sex scene without becoming aroused by it, especially when the watcher is a young and healthy person. Since a person who fears God can never be sure that God approves of this, they will not engage in it. Parents should make sure that no one under their roof, child or adult, watches sex scenes under their roof, as a matter of maintaining Islamic standards. They, however, should not make a big deal out of this, keeping an authoritarian watch over everyone’s activities. They should put it in its proper context, which is that compared to the important matters of Islamic belief and practice, it is a relatively unimportant matter and no one should be condemned and harassed for it, the same way that if a man sees his son admiring an attractive woman on the street, instead of beating him up or shouting at him, he should gently tell him it is not polite to do that, and that should be the end of it, he should immediately go back to treating him like normal, with love and kindness. The son is treated like an equal, with dignity and respect, not like a piece of property to be beaten into shape.

Summary

In summary, what we allow our children to engage in should be decided based on their best interests. An important part of their interests is to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be given freedom instead of being made to feel oppressed and controlled. Another part of their interests is to ensure that they are not given so much freedom that they develop sinful habits and engage in them without restriction. Good Muslim parents will find a balance between these two concerns, neither being too strict nor too lax, but being strict in the Islamic matters of priority and liberal in everything else, while also ensuring that many good influences are available to counter bad influences, including Islamic books and TV shows.

Adolescents have the right to sex education. There is no conflict between Islam and learning about sex. And just because a book contains mentions of sex is not sufficient reason to forbid adolescents from reading it. Any book we think we can read ourselves, they too should be allowed to read. We should not approve of their reading erotic books or watching sex scenes in films. But we should also not turn these into a great matter of concern. We should instead treat it the same way we treat a son admiring an attractive woman, with politeness and gentleness, without condemnation, respecting them as our friends and equals.

Adolescents have poor impulse control due to a not-fully-developed prefrontal cortex. This means that even if they love Islam and want to follow it, they are more likely to fall into sinful behaviors without parental guidance. They should not be allowed to spend long periods of time in privacy, and they should not be allowed to have private access to the internet or television. They should be treated like good friends who are more likely to engage in minor sins if they are not watched, they should not be held to the same standards as older adults, and if they make mistakes, they should be quickly forgiven and not condemned, acknowledging that they are good people who do not have very good impulse control at the moment, but who will one day have it.

Follow-up Question

So if the child reads a book and the book contains just one scene of sex and there is some love triangles in the book, she can read it, right?

The general rule is that anything you can read, she can read too. As long as her life is filled with good influences, one book is a minor influence and of little concern. It will become a cause for concern if someone constantly seeks that type of book to the exclusion of other books. But if a person reads such books because they are famous or classics, then there is no issue with it.

It is about intentions. A person can peruse a medical textbook with the intention of learning. Another person can peruse it for the pictures of naked people it contains. Since adolescents have low impulse control, you cannot just let them read every romance novel they want, since it can become a habit like it becomes in some people in the West, who use romantic novels as a more refined alternative to pornography. The sexual arousal that comes from reading such books can make a person want to seek more of it.

But if I have a large library and some of the novels are romance novels, and the child likes to read every type of novel, then I will not prevent them from reading what they like. The context and the child’s reading habits matter.

The most important point is that, as a matter of maintaining Islamic manners, no one in the household should make it a habit to seek sexual arousal and pleasure in a non-marriage context. Your son should not be allowed to watch erotic music videos and your daughter should not be allowed to read books designed to be read for their erotic content. But a parent who harasses them by trying to control everything they can see and read is going to do more harm than good.

For the child’s own spiritual good, they should be given enough freedom of choice and privacy not to feel oppressed and controlled, but not so much that they develop sinful habits.

What to do if you make a mistake during salah (formal prayer)?

What would one do if they make a mistake during salah. For example I think I forgot to read a surah so I stopped praying and started my salah again. I know you’re not meant to stop but I though my prayer would be invalid, have I committed a sin by doing that?

What is the right age for a Muslim woman to get married?

What age is the right age for a female to get married??

Islam doesn’t specify it, leaving it to the person’s culture. In Egypt, the average age at marriage for women is 27.9, in Jordan it is 23.8, in Indonesia 22.3, in Palestine 20.

Will one’s prayers be valid if they unknowingly make an error in them for a long period of time?

In the first rakah of fajr I have been saying the tashahhud and for the 2nd rakah. I didn’t realise this mistake and now know it’s only meant to be said in the 2nd. Will my prayers still be valid as I’m fairly new to praying

According to Ibn Qudamah (12th century CE Hanbali jurist) doing something additional in the prayer that is part of the prayer (such as tashahhud) does not nullify it if it is not intentional, but only requires that one perform two extra prostrations at the end of the prayer to make up for the mistake. These extra prostrations are known as sajdat al-sahwu, and they are considered voluntary, rather than obligatory, by the Shafi`ite and Malikite schools.

From these it appears that your prayers are valid and that there might be nothing more you should do, unless you follow a different school of thought. But I recommend that you ask your local imam, since I couldn’t find any rulings that apply exactly to your situation (adding something extra to a prayer and repeating this mistake long-term).

How long can you delay the isha prayer?

When does maghrib and isha prayer become qaza? and when should they be prayed when missed

Maghrib’s time is until the Isha athan. There is difference regarding when the time for Isha ends. The four schools recommend that it should be prayed in the first third of the night (with “night” defined as the time between the isha athan and the fajr athan), but that the prayer is not missed as long as it is prayed before the fajr athan, while others (like Ibn Baaz) say that it is sinful to delay it beyond the middle of the night.

A missed prayer should be performed as soon as one is able, it is considered highly sinful to delay performing a missed prayer when one is able to do it.

Raising and lowering the finger during salah (formal prayer)

I want to ask about when should you raise your finger during salah and when should it be lowered?

The Hanafi method is to lift the index finger when you reach “la ilaha” during tashahhud and to lower it once one reaches “illallah”.

The Shafi`i method is to lift it when one reaches “illallah” until the end of the tashahhud (until one finishes saying “rasulullah”).

The Hanbali method is to lift the finger then lower it again every time the word “Allah” is mentioned (thus doing it twice, ashhadu an la ilaha illallah wa ashahu anna muhammadan rasul allah) (al-Albani recommends this method too and says this has the most evidence behind it).

These three methods are the most common. From what I have read, none of these three schools recommend moving the finger repeatedly, one only lifts it then lowers it.

The Maliki method is to move the finger left and right (not up and down) repeatedly from the beginning of the tashahhud to its end. Some Malikis however say to lift it up and down.

How soon are the sunnah prayers performed after the fard prayers?

I have a question regarding sunnah prayers. How are they preformed? For example, maghrib you pray 3 fard do you then stand up straight away and pray the two rakat or are you meant to wait?

You do not need to perform the sunnah prayer immediately after the fard prayer. Each fard prayer can be followed by voluntary dhikr, and this is recommended to be performed before the sunnah prayer.

The most recommended form of dhikr is to say subhanAllah 33 times, alhamdulillah 33 times, and allahu akbar 33 times after every fard prayer.

As for supplication, it is recommended to be performed during the final sujood, and it can also be performed before the end of the prayer (before you say salam). One can also perform supplication after the prayer, although some modern Saudi scholars discourage lifting the hands up in supplication after the fard prayers, saying it is a bid`ah (”innovation”), while Ibn Baaz (a Saudi scholar) says it is permitted but not recommended. To be safe from criticism, it is best to not do this form of supplication until after the sunnah prayer.

It is recommended that you do not speak to anyone or do anything non-worship-related between the two prayers.

“The Journey of Job” by Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (1962)

For You is praise, no matter how long the distress lasts,
And no matter how oppressive the pain becomes,
For You is praise, afflictions are bestowals,
And suffering is of Your bounty.
Did You not give me this darkness?
And did You not give me this dawn?
Does the ground then thank raindrops,
But get angry if the clouds do not find it?
For long months, this wound
Has been cutting my sides like a dagger.
The affliction does not calm at morning,
And nighttime does not bring death to wipe out the agony.
But if Job was to cry, he would cry,
“For You is Praise, for suffering is like drops of dew,
And wounds are presents from the Beloved,
The stacks of which I hug to my chest.
You presents are in my line of sight, they do not leave,
Your presents are accepted, bring them on!”
I hug my wounds and call out to visitors:
“Look here and be jealous,
For these are presents from my Beloved!”
And if the heat of my fever approaches fire,
I would imagine it a kiss from You fashioned from flame.
Beautiful is insomnia, as I watch over Your heaven
With my eyes, until the stars disappear
And until Your light touches the window of my home.
Beautiful is the night: The hooting of owls
And the sound of car horns from a distance
The sighs of patients, a mother retelling
Tales of her forefathers to her child.
The forests of a sleepless night; the clouds
As they veil the face of heaven
And uncover it from under the moon.
And if Job cried out, he would say:
“For You is praise, O One who hurls fate,
And O One Who, after that, decrees the cure!”

Translated from Arabic by Ikram Hawramani on April 21, 2017

Why Most Terrorists are Muslim: An Introduction to the Origins of Modern Islamic Terrorism

Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy. —George F Kennan, American Cold War diplomat and father of “Containment Theory”

Introduction

Islamic terrorists serve as useful tools for carrying out the slaughter and butchery that the CIA and other intelligence agencies perform as their day jobs. A terrorist attack can kill “only” 100 people but entirely change the course of an election or precipitate a country into war, and this can be extremely useful for achieving certain geopolitical goals. Israel funds Islamic terrorists in Syria today and treats them in its own hospitals because it wants them to succeed in ending the non-Israel-friendly Syrian government. The fact that these Islamists slaughter innocent women and children means nothing to Israel’s admirable people, because what matters is that they achieve their geopolitical goals, no matter the moral costs.

Iran has been funding Sunni Kurdish and Shiite Arab Islamists in Iraq for decades to weaken the country. In return, Iraq used to fund and host the communist terrorist organization Mujahiden-e-Khalq, who were responsible for killing hundreds of people in bombings in Tehran and elsewhere.

Today, Islamism is the most easily exploitable ideology for attacking one’s enemies while keeping one’s hand’s clean, as the CIA and Israeli support for Islamic terrorists shows. Tomorrow it might be communism that serves the same purpose. For an intelligence agency wanting to destroy an enemy, the ideology does not matter, what matters is that mass slaughter of people is carried out in a way that affects an entire country’s morale, politics and economy.

A Short History

The United States invented modern Islamic terrorism (the al-Qaeda/ISIS flavor) in 1979 as part of its efforts to fight the Soviet Union’s influence in Central Asia, that all-important part of the world, control of which is necessary for any would-be world hegemon.

The groundwork had been laid by the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that started out as a welfare and education society but grew too powerful for its own good. Its major political work was their helping in the war against an army of Jews eager to repeat the Hebrew Bible’s conquest of Canaan by systematically killing Palestinian men, women and infants in a poetic reenactment of the Book of Joshua; see the Deir Yassin Remembered website, run by a Jewish man who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Since it was Jews carrying out terrorism and genocide, rather than whites, those who carried out these atrocities are celebrated as heroes, rather than being universally condemned for the Jewish replicas of the Nazis that they are.1 David Ben-Gurion, who commanded the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians, has an Israeli international airport and a major Israeli university named after him. Moshe Sharett, one of the terrorists who carried out the King David Hotel Bombing, in which Israelis dressed as Arabs bombed the offices of the British Mandate in Palestine, killing 96 people, would later go on to become foreign minister and then prime minister of Israel. The Israeli war hero Ariel Sharon, 11th Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006, oversaw the execution of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, killing 3000 innocent men, women and children.2

From the perspective of Quranic law, the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in the war against these terrorists was justifiable, as the Brotherhood wasn’t acting independently, unlike today’s Islamic terrorists. It was helping in a conflict that involved existing sovereign states (Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, members of the Arab League). The Muslim Brotherhood’s war was exactly the opposite of conflicts launched by modern Islamic terrorists, it was an anti-terrorist force in the conflict, helping governments fight terrorists that were carrying out bombings and massacres, intent on terrorizing all Palestinians into leaving the territories that these Jews had decided belonged to them as God’s Chosen People.

The Brotherhood’s power grew to the point that it developed its own intelligence and covert operations arm, known as al-Jihaaz al-Sirri (The Covert Apparatus), which was involved in assassinations and bombings, such as the assassination of Ahmed El-Khazindar Bey, President of Egypt’s Court of Appeal, and Mahmoud El Nokrashy Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt, both in 1948. Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood, condemned both of these assassinations, but he had practically lost control over his organization, since powerful factions within it wanted violence, and they had the power to bypass al-Banna’s wishes.

The Egyptian intellectual Sayyid Qutb, well-known among Egypt’s intelligentsia and student of the famous Egyptian journalist Abbās Mahmūd al-Aqqād, reverted to Islam after a life of secularism and adopted the Brotherhood, while also, perhaps without realizing its true consequences, building the intellectual foundations necessary for the Brotherhood’s violent arm to carry out its insurgencies. If Sayyid Qutb’s highly partisan biographer is to be trusted3, his house was used as a meeting place for Gamal Abdel Nasser and his friends as they planned the 1952 July 23 Revolution in Egypt against the British occupation.

Once president of Egypt, Nasser wanted Qutb on his side, offering him high government positions, which Qutb always refused.4 Once he despaired of Qutb joining him, he started persecuting him and his associates, imprisoning him for a decade. Nasser ordered Qutb’s hanging on the 24th of August, 1966, after a show trial. These events turned Qutb into the perfect martyr, a secular convert to Islam, a literary critic, a warrior for social justice, and a revolutionary who was stabbed in the back by Western-friendly seculars that he had supported into power.

The Brotherhood distanced itself from Qutb, going back to its early position of advocating peaceful activism (at least openly), but extremists around the world wishing for a resurgence of Islam continued to follow him as their primary source for both knowledge and inspiration.5

Brzezinski’s Genius

By the 1970’s, the time was ripe for any would-be terrorist to launch his own holy war against whoever he disliked. The CIA jumped right into the action, training, arming and encouraging these terrorists as tools for protecting US interests abroad and fighting its major enemy, the Soviet Union. Operation Cyclone, conceived by the Jewish US foreign policy strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, armed and financed jihadi warriors in Afghanistan to use them as a buffer against Soviet influence from 1979 until after 1992, to the tune of $630 million per year by 1987.

What judgment to render on all this is a matter of perspective. Asked in 1998 if he had any regrets about having helped instigate Soviet intervention in Afghanistan6, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in many respects the god-father of Operation Cyclone, reacted with astonishment. “Regret what?” he replied. “That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?”

The interviewer pressed the point. Hadn’t subsequent rise of radical Islamism tranished that victory? Not in Brzezinski’s view. “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”7

Check out Edmonds’ interview with Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative magazine: Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?

This brilliant program to manufacture Islamic jihadists to fight America’s enemies resulted in the creation of Operation Gladio B, the United States program to train al-Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates, exposed by the FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.

In her interview, Edmonds  insisted that after its initial exposé, the Times’ investigation had gone beyond such previous revelations, and was preparing to disclose her most startling accusations. Among these, Edmonds described how the CIA and the Pentagon had been running a series of covert operations supporting Islamist militant networks linked to Osama bin Laden right up to 9/11, in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus.

While it is widely recognised that the CIA sponsored bin Laden’s networks in Afghanistan during the Cold War, U.S. government officials deny any such ties existed. Others claim these ties were real, but were severed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.

But according to Edmonds, this narrative is false. “Not just bin Laden, but several senior ‘bin Ladens’ were transported by U.S. intelligence back and forth to the region in the late 1990s through to 2001”, she told this author, “including Ayman al-Zawahiri” – Osama bin Laden’s right-hand-man who has taken over as al-Qaeda’s top leader.

“In the late 1990s, all the way up to 9/11, al-Zawahiri and other mujahideen operatives were meeting regularly with senior U.S. officials in the U.S. embassy in Baku to plan the Pentagon’s Balkan operations with the mujahideen,” said Edmonds. “We had support for these operations from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but the U.S. oversaw and directed them. They were being run from a secret section of the Pentagon with its own office”.

Edmonds clarified, “the FBI counterintelligence investigation which was tracking these targets, along with their links to U.S. officials, was known as ‘Gladio B’, and was kickstarted in 1997. It so happens that Major Douglas Dickerson” – the husband of her FBI co-worker Melek whom she accused of espionage – “specifically directed the Pentagon’s ‘Gladio’ operations in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan at this time.”

In testimony under oath, Edmonds has previously confirmed that Major Doug Dickerson worked for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the weapons procurement logistics division on Turkey and Central Asia, and with the Office of Special Plans (OSP) overseeing policy in Central Asia.

[…]

Edmonds said that the Pentagon operations with Islamists were an “extension” of an original ‘Gladio’ programme uncovered in the 1970s in Italy, part of an EU-wide NATO covert operation that began as early as the 1940s. As Swiss historian Dr. Daniele Ganser records in his seminal book, NATO’s Secret Armies, an official Italian parliamentary inquiry confirmed that British MI6 and the CIA had established a network of secret “stay-behind” paramilitary armies, staffed by fascist and Nazi collaborators. The covert armies carried out terrorist attacks throughout Western Europe, officially blamed on Communists in what Italian military intelligence called the ‘strategy of tension’.

“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game” explained Gladio operative Vincenzo Vinciguerra during his  trial in 1984. “The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people… to turn to the State to ask for greater security.”

While the reality of Gladio’s existence in Europe is a matter of historical record, Edmonds contended the same strategy was adopted by the Pentagon in the 1990s in a new theatre of operations, namely, Asia. “Instead of using neo-Nazis, they used mujahideen working under various bin Ladens, as well as al-Zawahiri”, she said.8

The US tradition of spreading the American ideals of peace and liberty in the Middle East by funding and training Islamic terrorist groups continues to ISIS, also known as ISIL, Daesh or the Islamic State.

James Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Emerging Threats at NATO – now that’s a lovely title – recently gave a talk at a private club in London on the Islamic State/Daesh. Shea, as many will remember, made his name as NATO’s spokesman during the NATO war on Yugoslavia in 1999.

After his talk Shea engaged in a debate with a source I very much treasure. The source later gave me the lowdown.

According to Saudi intelligence, Daesh was invented by the US government – in Camp Bacca, near the Kuwait border, as many will remember — to essentially finish off the Shiite-majority Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad.

It didn’t happen this way, of course. Then, years later, in the summer of 2014, Daesh routed the Iraqi Army on its way to conquer Mosul. The Iraqi Army fled. Daesh operatives then annexed ultra-modern weapons that took US instructors from six to twelve months to train the Iraqis in and…surprise! Daesh incorporated the weapons in their arsenals in 24 hours.

In the end, Shea frankly admitted to the source that Gen David Petraeus, conductor of the much-lauded 2007 surge, had trained these Sunnis now part of Daesh in Anbar province in Iraq.

Saudi intelligence still maintains that these Iraqi Sunnis were not US-trained – as Shea confirmed – because the Shiites in power in Baghdad didn’t allow it. Not true. The fact is the Daesh core – most of them former commanders and soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s army — is indeed a US-trained militia.

True to form, at the end of the debate, Shea went on to blame Russia for absolutely everything that’s happening today – including Daesh terror.9

Then there are reports like this, of US troops feeling completely safe in the presence of ISIS:

For years, Iraqi politicians, including members of parliament, have accused the US of airdropping supplies for ISIS. Since what they say goes against the US narrative, these accusations are given no airtime in the West.

The Psychological Stress of Terrorism on the Muslim Mind

Terrorism is an extremely stressful phenomenon for Muslims. It uses Islamic rhetoric to justify acts that disgust and horrify most Muslims. For Muslims, the problem with terrorism, and the reason they still haven’t figured out what to do about it, is that it is something entirely new. We Muslims are like the American Indians who were exposed for the first to time to European germs they had never faced before when Columbus discovered the Americas. Most of these native Americans had no defenses against these germs, and so they succumbed to them by the millions. Our societies, too, have no defenses against terrorism-supporting extremist ideologies because terrorism was never a threat before.

Terrorism, this new European-incubated germ (if we think of Americans as Europeans, for their European genes and culture), forces two choices on the average Muslim just trying to get on with their life. The first choice is to renew their allegiance to Islam, to convince themselves that these terrorists aren’t acting according to the true version of Islam. This argument feels weak, but they don’t know anything better, so that they try not to think about it too much and instead direct their hatred at terrorist groups like ISIS and find solace in theories that blame Western powers and Israel for the raise of these terrorist organizations, to absolve themselves of the guilt they feel. Some of the kindest and most admirable people they know are fellow devout Muslims, so while they cannot consciously tell what the fundamental difference is between Muslim terrorists and peaceful, devout Muslims, they know in their hearts that the difference exists.

The second choice is to entirely abandon Islam as something evil, outdated and barbaric. Every major terrorist attack renews the pressure on Muslims to take this choice, and many do. And from their newfound post-Islam position, they attack Islam as the embodiment of all that is evil in this world.

We are caught between a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that claims to be the only true version of Islam, and that provides the fuel that provides the ideological justification for these terrorists, and a secularism that entirely abandons Islam. Every new terrorist attack creates intense cognitive dissonance where we have to continually repeat to ourselves that this is not true Islam, hoping to preserve our faith until we can forget about the massacre and go on with our lives.

Terrorism is nothing but an intense genetic-cultural evolutionary pressure10. We are faced with two ways forward:

  • We remain in our present state of weakness, continuing to provide fertile ground for the FBI and the CIA to recruit terrorists among us and use them for their own purposes, becoming nothing but dehumanized tools of war among empires. More and more of us would feel pressured to abandon Islam, and in this way Islam fails and becomes extinct, as our children, deciding to be more enlightened than us, abandon Islam in favor of a secularism that feels much more sensible and civilized.
  • We evolve into a new type of Muslim population whose very foundations reject and cripple the terrorist ideology that has been so perfected by the peaceful and freedom-loving geniuses at the CIA.

If we are to evolve, this evolution has to happen at the level of our intellectuals, scholars and preachers, who are the midwives responsible for birthing Islam into the 21st century.

Ending Terrorism

A previous incarnation of this essay blamed the root causes of Islamic terrorism on hadith-primacism, the Islamic establishment’s focus on inherently unreliable narrations regarding the Prophet, peace be upon him, at the cost of the Quran’s teachings and principles. I have come to question this thesis, however. I continue to research this topic to find out an answer. It is obvious that the Islamic establishment is not very capable of handling this new threat, what it must do to evolve remains an open question.

I do not know if anything can be done when the world’s most powerful countries are willing to spend billions of dollars recruiting and arming ignorant youth from around the world to do their dirty work for them in the name of God and Islam.

Islam and Christianity have both been exploited by vicious and blood-thirsty rulers for most of their respective histories. Islamic terrorism might simply be another incarnation of this trend.

The Coming Multipolar World

The final solution to terrorism would be for the United States not to be the world’s hegemon, the big bully that can get away with anything it wants. As Russia and China’s power and influence grows, just as the United States continues its decades of decline, Russia and China will be increasingly capable of throwing wrenches into America’s terror-exporting business.

This is already evident in Syria, where Russia has been a big thorn in the side of the CIA’s various al-Qaeda spin-offs. What is crucially needed is for Chinese businesses to become heavily invested in Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of America and Israel’s playgrounds. Once this happens, Chinese intelligence and its military will start doing what Russia is doing in Syria, protecting their investments and regional interests, not letting America/Israel get away with being the only geopolitical manipulator on the scene.

As I discuss in my essay Forecasting the World’s Top 50 Most Powerful Countries in 2035 Using the HQI, China is on track to become two and a half times as powerful economically, technologically and militarily than the United States within the next few decades, and when that happens, we will be living in a very different world indeed.

Below is a beautiful illustration of the coming times:

Those people in Israel are sad that there are new players in the field getting in the way of themselves being the only people in the Middle East with the right to kill and bomb anyone they want. The presence of these new players means that Israel has to, for once, stop acting like a mafia of Stone Age thugs and more like a civilized nation, worrying about the consequences of its actions, instead of acting the way it has always acted, like a god over the gentiles, deciding who lives and who dies, what country survives and what is turned into a war zone, with idiotic Christians doing their dirty work for them and paying them for the privilege.

How to increase iman (piety and mindfulness of God)

Can a Muslim woman have male friends? The Islamic view of having friends of the opposite sex

Salam. I have a question over boy friends? Is it okay to have friends who are boys and you know that they won’t do anything with you or take your guys friendship over the line? Or should we Muslim girls have no friends who are boys?

What is permissible for a Muslim woman to wear in front of her husband, and what are they allowed to do in private?

I have a question over husbands. What can you wear or do with your husband in private? What is allowed in Islam?

The rule regarding both clothing and sexual enjoyment is that everything is allowed unless it is specifically forbidden.

She can wear anything and nothing. Spouses are permitted to see each other naked.

Women are strongly discouraged from wearing male clothing, that’s the only important limitation I can think of regarding what she can wear in front of her husband.

As for what they can do, they can do all that’s customarily done between a husband and wife throughout the world, except for three things: Anal sex, sex when the woman is menstruating, and anything that causes harm to either person.

Sources: Dr. Khalid Abdul Mun`im al-Rifa`i (Azhar-educated scholar), UAE Fatwa Authority, Dr. Muhammad Sa`eed Ramadan al-Buti (Syrian Islamic studies professor).

What is permissible for a Muslim woman to wear in front of her father, other close male relatives, and other women?

Using PUT to RESTfully upload an image to a server with jQuery AJAX and PHP

When uploading a single image to a known location, for example a user uploading an image to use as their profile image, using a PUT request for the upload makes more sense than POST if you are trying to follow REST principles.

I couldn’t find a complete solution online, so the following is what I came up with. Due to the complexities of real life, the request also has to send the file name and mime type to the server with the image, which is not something a PUT request can do. For this reason the file name and mime type are attached to the request URL, in this way making use of GET parameters and the PUT body to send data. I cannot say if this will be considered an abuse of REST principles or a good use of them, but this is simpler than doing two requests, the first one to tell the server what to expect, perhaps a PUT request that fills out the expected image’s attributes, and the second one to send the actual binary data.

Below is an everyday event listener that fires when the user chooses a file in the file upload input:

$("input:file").change(function (){
sendImageToServer();
});

And here is sendImageToServer():

function sendImageToServer() {
if ($('input:file').val().length > 0) {
                var file = $('input:file')[0].files[0];

                $.ajax({
                    url: '/profiles/' + user.id
                    + '/image?filename=' + file.name
                    + '&mimetype=' + file.type,
                    type: 'PUT',
                    data: file,
                    contentType: false,
                    processData: false,
                    cache: false,
                    error: function (data) { /*alert(data);*/
                    },
                    success: function (response) {
                        // do stuff
                    }
                });
            }
        },
}

And below is the back-end code, which uses Silex. If you are not using Silex, you’d use a typical AJAX handler and use $_GET and fopen("php://input", "r") to get the needed data.

Here is the Silex route:

$app->put('/profiles/{user_id}/image', 'Controller\ProfileController::profileImage');

And here is the controller. It writes the PUT data to a temporary file, then moves it to a permanent place. There might be a more elegant way of doing this.

public class ProfileController {
	public function profileImage(Application $app, Request $request, $user_id) {
		// permission and validity checks

		if ($request->getMethod() == Request::METHOD_PUT) { // if this is a PUT request
			$temp_file = '/some/path/temp_profile_image' . $user_id;
			touch($temp_file); // create file
			$fp = fopen($temp_file, 'w'); // open file handler
			/* in a non-Silex environment, instead of using $request->getContent(), 
			   you'd probably use fopen("php://input", "r") */
			fwrite($fp, $request->getContent());

			$profile_images_dir = '/some/path/profile_images/';
			$file_type = $request->query->get('mimetype');
			if (!$file_type) {
				$file_type = Util::getMimeBasedOnExtension($request->query->get('filename'));
			}

			if ($file_type == 'image/png' || $file_type == 'image/jpg'
				|| $file_type == 'image/gif' || $file_type == 'image/jpeg'
			) {
				$filename = $user_id . '.jpg';
				$full_file_save_path = $dir . $filename;

				$image = new \SimpleImage();
				$image->load($temp_file);
				$image->save($full_file_save_path, 'image/jpg');
			}
			unlink($temp_file);

			return new JsonResponse(['Successfully updated.', 'success']);
		}
	}
}

God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species

Introduction

This essay is now available on Amazon.com as an ebook and paperback.

As a lover of science and rationalism, and a very religious person, the issue of God and evolution has been on the back of my mind for years. I grew up hearing many refutations of the theory of evolution from everyone around me; scientifically-minded relatives, Islamic preachers and science teachers, all of whom considered evolution a challenge to religion that had to be defeated to protect our faith.

While I eventually came to consider the evolution of non-human creatures plausible, the evolution of humans continued to be a challenge. In 2010 I read Darwinian Fairytales by the Australian atheist philosopher David Stove and considered it a good a challenge to the theory of evolution.

Since then I have read many more books on the topic. Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species is one of my favorite scientific books, in which he shows an unusual level of intelligence and intellectual humility in pointing out the deficiencies he saw in his own thinking.

One of my favorite novels is Terry Pratchett’s The Last Continent, in which the wizard Ponder Stibbons repeats many of Darwin’s thought processes.

What I have sought all of these years is something that perfectly satisfies both science and religion, because if a religion is entirely true, it wouldn’t conflict with science. One of the things I’ve said in the past is this:

A religion must make as much sense as mathematics, and if it doesn’t, it is not worth believing in.

If something in our religion is proven false beyond doubt, then that proves the entire religion false. The Quran claims to contain the unadulterated words of God, and claims to contain no errors. It logically follows that the presence of a single error proves the entire book false, because it either means that God isn’t so great as all that after all, since He made a mistake, or that He was incapable of protecting His book from adulteration, which is an equally fatal flaw in an all-powerful God.

It is a common misconception that all religions require their followers to curtail their skepticism when it comes to some matters, that they would have to believe certain things even if these things clearly contradict reality. The great science fiction writer Frank Herbert writes in his 1985 novel Chapterhouse: Dune:

Religion (emulation of adults by the child) encysts past mythologies: guesses, hidden assumptions of trust in the universe, pronouncements made in search of personal power, all mingled with shreds of enlightenment. And always an unspoken commandment: Thou shalt not question!

The novel Chapterhouse: Dune is one of Western civilization’s great achievements.

In multiple places he repeats his principle that an essential commandment of religion is “Thou shalt not question!” This is a common mistake made by both the religious and atheists, and if it were true, then the existence of a conflict between evolution and Islam would not be a special thing, it would be yet another conflict between rationalistic, atheistic science and backward and superstitious religion.

While the above might be true of some religions, and of some misguided versions of Islam, it is not true of the Quran. The religion of the Quran is founded upon the commandment “Thou shalt question!” The Quran constantly refers to evidence and proof, mocks various sections of humanity for not thinking clearly or for believing in superstition, and constantly calls its readers to think, to reason, to observe, to analyze, to question.

It is from two directions, both as a lover of rationalism and a lover of the Quran, that I have approached the theory of evolution. After years of coming up with various approximate solutions then discarding them, in 2014 I reached the “mold” theory of evolution, which I later renamed to the “topological theory”, that has stood the test of time and that fully satisfies both the Quran and everything we know about evolution.

While I could have waited on publishing this theory until I could turn it into a book (with detailed references), the theory is simple and straightforward enough to be shared in its present form, and I believe this will best serve the interests of both Muslim and non-Muslim seekers of knowledge.

Explaining the Winds and Rain

Muslims who have a problem with Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection due to the fact that it takes God out of the picture have a greater problem to solve, one that usually goes neglected, and solving that problem opens the way to solving the problem of evolution.

The problem is that in the Quran, God takes credit for various natural phenomena which all have scientific explanations. Among such instances are:

God is He who sends the winds. They stir up clouds. Then He spreads them in the sky as He wills. And He breaks them apart. Then you see rain drops issuing from their midst. Then, when He makes it fall upon whom He wills of His servants, behold, they rejoice. 1

It is He who sends the wind ahead of His mercy. Then, when they have gathered up heavy clouds, We drive them to a dead land, where We make water come down, and with it We bring out all kinds of fruits. Thus We bring out the dead—perhaps you will reflect.2

Have you not seen how God propels the clouds, then brings them together, then piles them into a heap, and you see rain drops emerging from its midst? How He brings down loads of hail from the sky, striking with it whomever He wills, and diverting it from whomever He wills? The flash of its lightning almost snatches the sight away.3

We, as rational human beings, are supposed to believe that God is responsible for the things described above, even though we never see God taking care of these things. This leads one to think that perhaps the universe would go on functioning like normal even if there was no God. What is the point of saying that God is responsible for making it rain when, from observation, it appears that it would probably rain anyway even if no God existed? We can carry out physics experiments inside sealed chambers where we can make it rain or snow, what does God have to do with any of this?

Imagine a king giving a speech in a newly conquered city, telling the listeners “I bring you food and water, so be thankful!” A skeptical person may go to the gates of the city early in the morning to see who actually brings food and water. Since he never sees the king himself carrying sacks of flour into the city, he concludes that the king lied, it is not the king who brings food and water to the city, it is people who do that.

His mistake is that he fails to realize that it is by the king’s order that people are bringing food and water to his city, so when the king says he is doing it, he is right. If it wasn’t for the king, it wouldn’t be happening.

When God claims to make it rain, the fact the His hand can’t be detected in the process doesn’t necessarily mean He is lying.

If the pharaoh of Egypt claims he makes the sun rise, I would be skeptical and ask him to provide some pretty convincing evidence before I take him seriously. In all likelihood the sun would rise regardless of the pharaoh. So what is so special about a 14-century-old book out of the deserts of Arabia that I should take it seriously when it says its writer makes it rain?

Atheists demand hard evidence before they believe in scripture like the Quran. But such evidence is not forthcoming. The Quran itself promises that it will not be forthcoming, because it says that once the existence of God has been proven by hard evidence, that would be the end of the world:

Are they waiting for anything but for the angels to come to them, or for your Lord to arrive, or for some of your Lord’s signs to come? On the Day when some of your Lord’s signs come (i.e. hard evidence for God’s existence), no soul will benefit from its faith unless it had believed previously, or had earned goodness through its faith. Say, “Wait, we too are waiting.”4

The above concept is repeated in multiple places in the Quran; that once a person has seen irrefutable evidence of God’s existence, their faith will no longer be of any worth, since faith will no longer be necessary.

The purpose of this universe is to create free-willed creatures who have the option of rejecting God’s existence, so that an act of will and a submission of the heart is needed for them to become believers in Him, and for this act of will, which they have to repeat every day of their faithful lives, they will be rewarded with Paradise5.

This situation leads to the conclusion that if God’s existence is ever proven, and the world doesn’t end, then this would prove the Quran false, since the Quran claims that hard evidence of God’s existence will only be shown to humanity when the world ends.

Are they waiting for God Himself to come to them in the shadows of the clouds, together with the angels, when the matter has been settled? All things are returned to God.6

As a Muslim, I obviously take God’s claim seriously when He says that He makes it rain. As a lover of science, a rationalist and an empiricist, I reject everything that’s not backed by evidence as superstition and ideology. And yet, although there is never any hard evidence, I am capable of believing the Quran when its Writer claims responsibility for various natural phenomena. How?

A verse of the Quran is called an ayah in Arabic, which literally means “sign”, something on the road that points toward a direction. As for its figurative meaning, the scholar al-Faraahhi says in his definition of ayah:

ما تستدِلُّ به على أمر. وليست هي تمام الدليل، بل يُنَبِّهُك على الدليلِ.

That which is used as evidence toward (proving) some matter. It is not the whole of the proof, but it directs you toward the proof.7

While a single verse or even chapter of the Quran cannot be used as “proof” of God’s existence, the book in its totality and its historical context is a powerful piece of evidence that cannot be discarded out of hand in good faith, and it is for this reason that a person like me can believe in it.

The reason I believe in the Quran is the same reason I believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. They both get too many things right, which makes it impossible for me to dismiss them in good conscience. For the Quran, among such things are:

  • Its zero-tolerance policy toward usury. The evils of usury are long-term and requires deep and lengthy analysis to bring them to the surface, so much so that one among a thousand economists today cannot be found who appreciate how it creates immense wealth inequality, creating a form of legalized stealing that constantly causes wealth to “trickle up” into the coffers of the upper class.
  • The zakat system, in which the poor charge an annual 2.5% interest on the uninvested and speculatively invested wealth of the rich. This system would be completely useless without banning usury, it takes a genius to plug that loophole, and the Quran does it.
  • The fact that in 600 pages written in the 7th century CE, it doesn’t contain a single statement that’s provably false, or that contradicts another part of itself.
  • The moral philosophy of the Quran, where moral integrity and justice are always paramount. Killing a single innocent human is similar to killing all of humanity, which means that there can never be such a thing as a utilitarian murder, the type of murder that’s practiced on a daily basis by the CIA and probably every other intelligence organization in the world, where innocent people can be murdered if there is a great enough prize to be gained by it.
  • The concept of the Straight Path, where humanity’s long-term survival is ensured while humanity’s short-term moral integrity is also ensured. The Quran never asks you to do evil for the sake of the greater good. The end never justifies the means. The Quran teaches that God ensures a good end, so that our job is to stay on the Straight Path, serving His interests while behaving in the best manner possible, being kind and forgiving to all, and never, ever doing any evil toward anyone even if it ensures great good. That’s the only type of moral philosophy I can believe in.
  • The beauty of the Quran. The Quran is the only book that I can read over and over again and continue to be surprised by how intelligent, beautiful and sensitive the mind of its writer is. The writer is always superior to me. I’ve never had a similar experience with any other writer. I used to think Terry Pratchett was incredible, and I continue to enjoy his books, having read some of his books 20 or more times, but every reading brings up further flaws in his thinking, to the point that I can no longer stand some of his books that I used to think were so clever and intelligent in the past.
  • The Quran’s non-Arabian character and the unusual restraint of the writer in not engaging in the typical rhetoric of the time. This is perhaps the greatest clue to its truth. Anyone who studies Arabic poetry from that period, and the fabricated words of revelation of Musailamah and other false prophets, will see that while all of the literary speech from that era has a distinctly Arabian character, full of hyperbole, self-aggrandizement and bad logic, the Quran does not. The Quran was brought to us by an Arab from the heart of Arabia, yet it does not have an Arabian character. It feels like it was written by an alien civilization who were far more intelligent than any human of the time, and who translated their thinking into Arabic and used some Arabic idioms to make it easier for Arabs to understand. It does not feel like a book written by an Arab for Arabs. It feels like a book written by an unbelievably intelligent being who made use of Arabic. Something else we can compare the Quran to is hadith (narrations from or regarding the Prophet, peace be upon him). These narrations are clearly by an Arab and for an Arab audience, because the words are by the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, and clearly show the same character as the rest of the Arabic literature of the time.
    A fair-minded comparison between the Quran the rest of the Arabic literature of the time will conclude that the Quran is more unusual, extraordinary and miraculous than a 1500-year-old laptop computer buried under a rock in Arabia. Once examined deeply, one concludes that it does not belong to Arabian civilization, then one concludes that it couldn’t have been made by any human civilization of the time. And unlike the 1500-year-old laptop, for the Quran, one concludes that it couldn’t be made by any human civilization of the present either.

That is just a short illustration of what makes the Quran the best guide in life that I have found. I continue to read the Quran with skepticism, assuming Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wrote it himself, as a way of ensuring that I’m being honest to myself, that I am not following it merely out of habit, but out of recognition for its virtue, and all it takes is 3 to 4 pages before the sheer amount of beauty, intelligence and sensitivity dispels any doubt I have that it could have been written by a human.

Re-examining Rain

How could God claim credit for making it rain when we cannot detect His hand in the process? In three ways:

  1. Purposeful invention. God invented rain. He designed and built a universe in which rain happens, for the very purpose of having it be a help toward the evolution and sustenance of the creatures that would one day come about on Earth.
  2. Operating the universe. This universe would be a big blob of inert, unmoving matter without God’s involvement. An atom has no power or will to move. It is God who has to move every single thing that moves in this world. That means God has to cause steam to raise, He has to make it go where it is supposed to go in the sky, He has to bring it together into clouds, and then He has to take it to where it will eventually become rain, where He condenses the water atoms into droplets of water, and where He causes these drops to fall using gravity, a energy field that He has to maintain. He does all of these things so reliably for us that we start to think of them as simply phenomena, saying “things just happen”, refusing to admit that there could be a power doing all of these things for us.
    This entire universe is like an image shown on a TV screen. Turn off the TV, and the image would disappear like it never existed. In the same way, this universe, if God decided to “let it go”, would disappear as if it had never existed: “God upholds the heavens and the earth, lest they cease (to exist). And were they to cease, there is none to uphold them except He. He is Most Clement, Most Forgiving.” (The Quran, verse 35:41) If God decided to stop moving the frames of this universe, the universe would be like a frozen video on a TV screen, not moving. It is God who has to move everything, and in this way He animates the universe, and claims responsibility for doing so. (Related essay: Islam’s theory of free will versus physical determinism: Why humans are responsible for their actions even though God operates the universe.)
  3. Intervention. While the above two ways admit for the possibility of God being responsible for the phenomenon of rain in general, we need something more. God seems to claim that He purposefully sends rain here and there (especially in verse 24:43 quoted above), in directions He wants at this moment, meaning not directions that only obey the laws of nature that He sustains. God seems to claim that His agency goes into deciding when and where rain happens, that it is not mere chance caused by the laws of nature. The way that God could make this happen is by making it happen regardless of the laws of nature, because He has the power to do that. This, of course, would be impossible to detect, according to His plan, since God does not want His existence known by hard evidence. Even if we could build a machine that perfectly predicted rain around the world, so that any aberrations caused by God’s decisions could be seen, God could change what the machine shows. While this explanation is not scientifically satisfactory, since it requires undetectable supernatural agency (which sounds like any other old superstition), the reason it can be taken seriously is that the Quran says it. Once you believe in an all-powerful God, it doesn’t require any stretch of imagination to think that He can do whatever He wants.
    Saying that God intentionally makes it rain here and there is to claim a miracle happens, since you are saying this rain is happening due to a supernatural phenomenon (God’s decision), not due to a natural phenomenon. To prove a miracle, an equally miraculous piece of evidence is needed, and the Quran is that miracle.
    Personally I’m disinclined to believe that God would change the readings of a machine just so that His hand would be hidden. It seems more likely that in the things where He intervenes, He will do it so gracefully that no further intervention would be needed to hide Himself. For example, when it comes to weather, His interventions are so subtle that they are all easily explained as “randomness” by scientists. A Muslim scientist can study the weather as a purely natural system, while also believing in God’s power to direct it as He wills, so that they can thank God when a tornado avoids their neighborhood.

Some Muslims and Christians try to re-interpret the relevant verses regarding weather and other phenomena to say that God is merely explaining how the laws of nature work. But I cannot support such interpretations in good conscience, because verse 24:43 in particular seems to claim direct agency. While a Muslim scientist may feel ashamed to admit that rain could ever happen for supernatural reasons, we Muslims aren’t actually asking non-Muslims to believe in it. We fully support scientific explanations, and we will not bother non-Muslims with anything supernatural, since that requires that they believe in God and the Quran in the first place, since they don’t, there is no point in telling them about God’s potential role in undetectably making it rain in certain times and places.

In other words, we fully believe in science. But we also believe that God is its inventor, that science is nothing more than the human effort to find out how God designed the universe, and we believe that God has the power to bypass it when He wants, in a fully undetectable way, because His own laws require that His existence should be undetectable.

An atheist could say this is like saying invisible magical fairies make it rain, and the reply is that yes, it is exactly like saying that. But in our case, we have extraordinary evidence to support our thinking; the Quran, while a person who claims that invisible magical fairies make it rain has no evidence.

Atheists will go on to say that the only reason highly intelligent and educated people believe in the Quran is cultural conditioning, that if we were reallytruly intelligent and open-minded, we couldn’t possibly believe in it, that there is some invisible, magical force that is preventing people like me from opening my eyes even after years of exposure to scientific books and enjoying books by atheists. There is no evidence for this, it is an atheist superstition that helps them feel smugly snug in their comfort zones.

Another phenomenon for which God claims direct agency is the forming of the genetic makeup of humans during conception:

It is He who forms you in the wombs as He wills. There is no god except He, the Almighty, the Wise.8

When a father and a mother’s genes unite, there are 64 trillion different possible combinations that could be created. God claims to have a hand in choosing which combination ends up actually taking place. Again, God can claim responsibility for forming our genes in the womb through the three methods mentioned above: Purposeful invention, operating the universe and intervening when He wants. Similar to weather events, the process of genetic recombination is so immensely complex and affected by randomness that God does not need to do anything to hide His hand in the matter, His interventions would be easily explainable as merely randomness, which is as it should be.

Yet another place where God claims direct responsibility for physical phenomena is in His providing sustenance for humans:

Or, who originates the creation and then repeats it, and who gives you livelihood from the sky and the earth? Is there another god with God? Say, “Produce your evidence, if you are truthful.”9

And whosoever fears God, He will create for him a way out. And He will provide him with sustenance from where he does not expect.10

The second verse implies that God has a direct hand in providing sustenance, because He says that if we fear Him, then He will provide. This is a central concept of the God-human relationship, repeated often in the Bible and the Quran,

[Moses said,] “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks, I will grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.'”11

If God did not intervene directly in the affairs of humans, there would be no way for this contractual relationship to be maintained. If we fear God, God will provide for us. We act, God reacts. For God to react, He has to intervene directly in our universe.12

God, Evolution and Topology

The problem that many of the religious have with evolution is that it seems to claim that the creatures on Earth could have come about regardless of whether God exists or not. They mistakenly think it is a God versus nature problem, and this mistake is also made by atheist scientists on the other end, who think that finding a scientific explanation for natural phenomena disproves God’s role. They do not see that God’s agency and the existence of perfectly explainable natural phenomena are not mutually exclusive.

Topology refers to the physical design of the universe; the physical constants that govern the universe (such as the speed of light), the placement of the galaxies, stars and planets, and the placement of mountains, rivers and oceans on Earth.

Topology is critical to evolution. Very minor differences in the universe’s topology would have made life impossible to exist. And very minor differences in the topology of Earth would have lead to the evolution of extremely different creatures than the ones we have now, and could have made the existence of humans impossible.

This is a fact of evolution that rarely goes examined even by scientists (I say this as someone who has enjoyed numerous books on evolution). Imagine if Earth was entirely an ocean planet, with the bottom of the sea a flat, featureless plain of sand. What type of creatures would evolve on such an Earth?

Ones that would be very different from the ones that we currently have. To begin with, there would be no way for land animals to evolve. The only types of bird that could evolve would be ones that could survive by sleeping on water without being eaten by the fish underneath, if such a thing is possible.

Since the bottom of this imaginary sea is flat and featureless, the type of aquatic life would be far less diverse, because diversity requires differences in conditions, the presence of unique evolutionary niches where an organism can find food and shelter and reproduce. Having an Earth that is exactly the same all the way round would lead to far less biodiversity. Perhaps the number of all species that would evolve on such an Earth would be less than a few thousand, instead of the 8.7 million species we have on Earth.

It might even be impossible for such an earth to support any type of organism beyond microscopic ones.

What this is meant to show is that the design of a planet is crucial to the type of creatures that evolve on it. And if you could design a planet with the right topology, you could create any type of creature you want.

It follows that you can create any living thing you want just by designing the right topology for it to exist.

And perhaps it is for this reason that God says:

Certainly the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of humanity, but most people do not know.13

27. Are you more difficult to create, or the sky? He constructed it. 28. He raised its masses, and proportioned it. 29. And He dimmed its night, and brought out its daylight. 30. And the earth after that He spread. 31. And from it, He produced its water and its pasture. 32. And the mountains, He anchored. 33. A source of enjoyment for you and for your animals.14

God is saying that the fact the He designed our universe’s topology is a greater accomplishment than the fact that He created humans. This would make a lot of sense if the existence of humanity was nothing more than a byproduct of the universe’s topology. When God created the universe, He didn’t merely create a lifeless system of stars and planets. He created a universe in whose topology was embedded the program that would ultimately lead to the existence of 8.7 million species, including humans.

Imagine if Earth lacked mountains and rivers. Could humans or human-like creatures have evolved on such a planet? It is unlikely, perhaps impossible. The design of the planet and the universe in which it exists decides what type of creature can evolve on that planet, meaning that the designer of the universe can be fully credited with the creation of all the creatures that exist inside that universe, if the designer had the creation of those creatures in mind to begin with.

Through the Quran’s consistent references to mountains, rivers, seas and the design of the earth and the sky, God acts as a topological designer explaining His methods. God explains the topological design of the universe in detail, and says that this is of greater importance than the creation of humans, because He is in effect describing the template, the code, that led to the existence of humans.

This universe can be thought of as nothing more or less than a factory for creating and sustaining humans. When God describes the various design elements of the universe, He is explaining His greatness as the designer of such an immensely complex factory that led to the existence of not just one species, but millions, and all done in a way that hides Him from our view.

Reversing Entropy for a Time

How can non-living matter lead to the complex biological machines that exist in all kinds of creatures? Doesn’t this go against the idea of entropy, that the universe continues to break down and become simpler over time?

It is possible if you provide 1. energy sources and 2. complexity-inducing topologies.

Both of these conditions come true on Earth, where energy is available in the form of sunlight, geothermal energy and tides, and where the topology of Earth and the universe in which it is contained create an environment in which life can not only originate, but diversify by finding niche after niche in which it can survive.

The origination of life requires that dead matter somehow join together and increase in complexity. This is somewhat like expecting a bunch of rocks to join together and walk up a hill. The difference is that in the world of atoms and molecules, things join together and increase in complexity all the time. All that’s needed is the right mixture, and usually a source of energy, and from this, extremely complex molecules can evolve. This is a fact of chemistry. The question is just how complex can these natural structures become? Someone who denies abiogenesis (the origination of life from non-living matter) would say that there is no way that the complexity can increase to the degree seen in living things, meaning that life could never evolve from non-living matter.

While someone with sufficient imagination would see that it might be possible given a large enough test chamber, ample building blocks of life, water, energy and hundreds of millions of years, and most importantly, a Designer who put all of these together in just the right way to create life.

Topological Programming

Physicists say that if the Big Bang (the explosion of the blob of matter that lead to the creation of our universe) had happened the merest fraction of a second slower or faster, the galaxies couldn’t have formed, and humanity wouldn’t have existed.

To create humanity, what God had to do was get the conditions of the Big Bang right, and 13.8 billion years later human-like creatures came into existence on one of the planets inside the universe created by the Big Bang.

The timescales involved in this, and the amount of intelligent design necessary, make it very difficult for people to imagine this actually taking place, that is, imagining God creating humans in such a complex and roundabout way.

But if you imagine the whole process taking just one second, it becomes easier to believe. Imagine a god who is holding a blob of matter in his hands. He parts his hands, the blob expands with it, and in just that second, you see a planet inside that blob of matter on which certain creatures live. Shouldn’t a god have such power? And can’t such a god claim responsibility for the existence of those creatures, if the nature of the blob of matter and the way he expanded it is all that lead to the existence of those creatures, and if the way he did was perfectly intentional, with the aim of creating those creatures?

Do the disbelievers not see that the heavens and the earth were one mass, and We tore them apart? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not believe?15

We constructed the universe with [our] capability, and We are expanding it.16

The Islamic version of intelligent design (the phrase Christians use to refer to God designing humans and other creatures) can therefore be also called topological programming. When you want to create a creature or group of creatures, all that you need to do is design a universe with the right topology. In this topology is programmed the existence of those creatures you want to create, and after millions or billions of years, which, if you are God, could be no length of time at all, those creatures will evolve on the planet or planets of your choice, according to the design you put into the topology you created.

Think of a computer program that lets you design creatures, but instead of letting you design the creatures directly, it asks you to design a universe that would lead to the type of creature you want. On the screen it shows you a box where a picture of the creature would be, but currently it is blank. And it gives you various boxes where you can input various numbers. It asks you for the size of the universe, the speed of its expansion, the external shape of it, and the various physical constants that go into that universe, such as the speed of light. By making the tiniest changes to any of these variables which the program lets you change, the creatures it shows you on the screen change immensely. Get the numbers just right, and you will get humans, among the trillions upon trillions of other possible creatures you could create.

This is what topological programming means;  designing universes with the specific aim of seeing creatures originate and evolve upon it after billions of years. A topological programmer is a designer of universes, and that is what the Creator is.

If you think about it, there is no difference between God creating all the creatures on earth by a single command that turns a large puff of smoke into all of them, which is the way our ancestors used to think how creation should work, and creating them by designing and sustaining a universe that would lead to their existence after billions of years. The end result is exactly the same, it is just that the second method is harder for the human brain to understand and appreciate.

In this way there is no clash between Darwin’s theory of evolution and intelligent design (except when it comes to humans, which will be dealt with below). The theory of evolution is merely telling us God’s means of designing creatures, which is far cleverer than anything one would usually imagine.

To design an elephant, God doesn’t need to create an elephant from a puff of smoke. He instead brings a blob of matter and expands it, and billions of years later elephants will exist on a planet or many planets inside that blob of matter. God has the power to create a new universe full of millions of planets all of which are inhabited by elephants, merely by designing a universe with the right topology to lead to such planets and creatures.

Topological programming doesn’t only explain evolution, but the origin of life as well. The same way that God can program evolution into the universe’s topology, He can also program the origination of life into it, and take credit for it.

Muslims mustn’t challenge atheists to create life from scratch, saying that if they do that we will stop believing in God. There is no suggestion in the Quran that artificial life cannot be created, and creating artificial life does not take away from God’s greatness. We are merely copying Him, from inside a universe that He designed and that He sustains.

The following verse seems to suggest that humans cannot create artificial life:

O people! A parable is presented, so listen to it: Those you invoke besides God will never create a fly, even if they banded together for that purpose. And if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it from it. Weak are the pursuer and the pursued. 17

However, this verse can actually be used as an argument for the possibility of humans creating artificial life. The second part of the verse says, “And if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it from it.”

Is it impossible to recover things stolen by flies? As a general rule, it is not impossible to catch flies and take back whatever they have stolen. What the verse is actually saying, which is a point repeated many times throughout the Quran, is that we have no inherent power of our own, that we have zero power over this universe, and that it is ultimately God who operates it. This means that we have no power to recover something a fly steals except when God enables us, by moving the relevant atoms, photons and energy fields for us so that we can carry out our intention of recovering something the fly stole.

By the same reasoning, we have no power to create artificial life, except when God enables us, by maintaining and operating the universe. Both of these things might be possible for us to do, if God makes them possible, and both would be impossible, if God makes them impossible.

In this way, creating artificial life might be as possible as recovering something stolen by a fly.

It is possible that humans will never be able to manufacture life. Perhaps there really is something special about life, and perhaps at some point God had to breathe life into Earth to jump start the process of evolution that would eventually lead to the rest of all of the creatures we see on Earth. We do not know, and it is best that we do not issue definitive statements on matters we know little about.

Personally I lean towards abiogenesis, I believe God is great enough to program the origination of life into the universe’s topology, meaning that He can create a universe that leads to the origination of life without Him having to intervene afterwards to plant life on it. Questioning the possibility of this happening is questioning God’s greatness and creativity. Just because we cannot imagine how we ourselves would accomplish this does not mean that it is impossible for God.

The Rarest Species

Why would God create life in such a roundabout way instead of creating it directly? Because this allows for the creation of the rarest species of all. No, not humans.

Atheists.

God wants His existence to be impossible to prove. He wants there to be the possibility of disbelieving in Him, and that requires that His own hand should be invisible from direct measurement. If you think about it, evolution is just the right way of achieving this. It provides a perfectly scientific explanation for the evolution of all the creatures we see, which makes God unnecessary, which makes it possible to disbelieve in God if we want to.

God wants us to have a choice, and creating life in a way that makes scientific sense is what God wants to do, so that we will not have any knowledge of the Unseen except through His scriptures.

Making it possible for atheists to exist might perhaps be God’s greatest accomplishment in this universe. Who else is there who can create such an immensely complex, well-functioning and logical universe that can lead to the existence of creatures who can doubt the Creator’s existence?

Human Evolution

God describes the creation of humans in detail, which causes many Muslims to automatically reject evolution, thinking that evolution goes against the Quran, or that the Quran goes against evolution:

26. We created the human being from clay, from molded mud.

27. And the jinn We created before, from piercing fire.

28. Your Lord said to the angels, “I am creating a human being from clay, from molded mud.”

29. “When I have formed him, and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down prostrating before him.”

30. So the angels prostrated themselves, all together.18

We know that humans share many of their genes with chimpanzees, rats, yeast and even some viruses. So are the above verses false, or is evolution false?

The answer is in the Quran, in this verse:

The likeness of Jesus in God’s sight is that of Adam: He created him from dust, then said to him, “Be,” and he was.19

We know that Jesus, peace be upon him, was a human. Yet the Quran says his creation was similar to that of Adam.

How did God create Jesus? He used some clay to create a human whose genetic code was like any other human, and at a time when other humans were around.

In the same way, God could have created Adam at a time when humans or human-like creatures already existed on earth (and existing, of course, by God’s design, who designed the topology that lead to the existence of such creatures). God took genetic code from these humans, or more likely, God already had the genetic code before the creation of the universe. He embedded that code into the universe’s topology. For example, a minimum number of rivers may be necessary on a planet for humans to exist on it. For humans to evolve on a particular planet, their genetic code has to be translated into topological features of that planet and the universe in which it is contained.

The evolution of humans or human-like creatures on earth, and the creation of Adam from scratch (rather than from another human), are not mutually exclusive. God created Adam from dust, and He created Jesus from dust, and in the first instance, humanoids may have already existed on earth, similar to the second instance.

What, then, was special about Adam? He had free will, while the human-like creatures that had evolved on Earth lacked it, they were merely animals, like Richard Dawkins thinks he is. The fact of God breathing “His spirit” into Adam may have been the critical differentiator that turned Adam into something more than yet another animal, perhaps it is this spirit which gives us free will.

Before Adam, the earth lacked any creature that could be held responsible for its actions. Adam’s introduction into Earth was the start of the existence of responsibility. It is for this reason that the angels complained about Adam being placed on Earth:

“Will You place in it (i.e. on Earth) someone who will cause corruption in it and shed blood, while we declare Your praises and sanctify You?”20

The angels do not like the idea of ruining the fact that Earth was free from all evil, since everything on it (including the humanoids) acted according to instincts placed inside them by God’s topological programming, meaning that everything on it perfectly obeyed God’s design as accurately as the planets do in their orbits.

Bears probably still ate deer, but that was according to God’s design, so it wasn’t an evil thing. Placing Adam on Earth, on the other hand, meant that there would be a creature on Earth who could defy God’s design, in this way creating evil.

The reason humans could do evil on Earth, when no other creature could do it, is that by having free will, they could do “artificial” things, things that did not directly follow from the rules and the wisdom that went into the creation of the universe. They could defy the program embedded in the universe’s topology, in this way bringing about corruption.

Some atheist writers make a great deal of the simple line of reasoning that if the universe is entirely ruled by physical laws, then there would be no place for free will or responsibility, because every action on it would be a derivation of the system itself. In a sealed chamber, if an atom moves faster than another, we do not say it decided to move fast. It moved fast because of the way it interacted with the rest of the atoms (and other forces) present in the sealed chamber. If we think of the whole universe as one big sealed chamber, then naturally, there would be no responsibility or free will, every action and reaction on it would be nothing more than particles and forces interacting. When someone decides to steal something, it is because all the different factors in the universe led them to make that decision at that time, similar to the different factors inside a sealed chamber causing a particular atom to move faster.

They do not realize that there is a big “if” at the beginning of that whole train of thought. The Quran says that humans have free will, therefore there is some special ingredient in humans that makes them an exception to the physical laws, and therefore none of the above actually applies to humans. Based on what evidence? The Quran. Therefore the above line of reasoning is irrelevant and does not prove anything, since it relies on an unproven premise. The question is whether we accept the Quran’s evidence or reject it, if we accept it, then we believe human actions are free-willed, and there is no scientific opposition to this, since there is no scientific proof that free will does not exist. All that atheists have is a line of reasoning that starts with an unproven premise, they believe in the superstition that there is no free will without having any evidence, while we believe in the Quran-and-conscience-backed, but scientifically unproven, fact that there is free will.

The Quran refers to the atheist desire to believe in unproven superstitions that help them disbelieve in God:

That is because when God alone was called upon, you disbelieved; but when others were associated with Him, you believed. Judgment rests with God the Sublime, the Majestic.21

Many irreligious people somewhat admit the truth of free will by acting as if human creations are artificial, while saying animal creations are not. They say that it is a bad thing if a city expands and destroys the uninhabited ecology in which various animals exist. But if we are simply yet another species, our destruction of the habitat of other creatures is as natural as the destruction of habitats that has gone on for millions of years as one species acquired mutations that enabled it to destroy other species, and as natural processes turned forests into deserts.

Why should our actions be artificial and the actions of animals natural? Why should humans not act greedily and destructively when animals can do it?

The reason why human creations are artificial, rather than natural, is because our free spirit is not controlled by the universe’s topological programming (by the laws God laid down for the universe), rather, we can defy it and do as we please. This makes us responsible for our actions, and it makes our creations artificial. Human creations are artificial because we are from outside this universe. We are only here for a short time. Once humanoids were given free will, from then on they stopped being partakers in nature, equal to other animals, and became something more, something that could sidestep nature, sidestep their own genetic programming, to do new things, sometimes good, sometimes evil.

Some will use the evidence-free theory of emergence to say that a piece of biological tissue (the brain) can acquire self-awareness and responsibility, and in this way do things that are artificial, that are not mere derivations of the system’s design and function. There is no proof for this, therefore it cannot be used to prove any point.

There is much debate on what consciousness is, what this thing is behind our eyes that enables us to think about thinking, to philosophize, to choose and be responsible for our choices. Consciousness is probably nothing more or less than our God-given spirit experiencing life inside a human body. This means that even if we manage to create life, it will probably be impossible to create a free-willed creature from scratch, since unlike God, we cannot breath a spirit into something to make it self-aware. This seems like a power that only God has.

We do not know the exact moment in the history of Earth that Adam was placed on it. It is possible that it was in the past 10,000 years, or it could have been 100,000 years ago. We do not know how Adam interacted with the existing humanoids, whether there was any interbreeding.

Even if Adam and his children (humanity) share genes with various humanoid creatures that have existed, that doesn’t mean we are directly descended from them, just that God used some of their genetic code to create Adam, the same way He used the genetic code of existing humans to create Jesus from dust.

God probably already had the full genetic code of humans before the creation of the universe, and it is for this reason that He can take full credit for the creation of humans (and all other creatures) despite the fact that they evolved naturally. This universe is simply a seemingly automated factory that follows a program placed inside it (embedded in its topological features) by God that is designed to lead to the origination of life and ultimately humanoids. Therefore it is not that God “took” genetic code from other humanoids to place them in Adam. He already had all of the genetic code to begin with, even before the universe was created. He placed some of the code in those humanoids indirectly (using evolution), and some in Adam directly. The code in both cases comes from God’s “library”, so to speak, one travels indirectly, hiding in the universe’s topology until, after billions of years, it is brought to life through evolution, and one travels directly, with God creating Adam from dust based on that code.

It is a case of starting with the recipe and building a massive universe in which the recipe can come into existence, without leaving any trace of one’s direct involvement in the process. God did not have to come look on Earth 10,000 or however many years ago to find genetic code to use for Adam. The code was already in His library.

The Self-Destructive Fight Against Science

Religious people, both Christian and Muslim, have done a great deal of work to discredit religion in their short-sighted and badly advised defense of it. The Christian speaker Bill O’Reilly has been the laughing stock of the internet multiple times in his ridiculous statements in support of religion.

O’Reilly makes the same mistake that many Muslims make. He supports atheists by making the exact same mistake they make; he thinks that once a natural phenomenon has been explained by science, it automatically proves God’s involvement false.

You can’t come up with a better weapon to hand to atheists to help them win their war on religion. By buying into their way of thinking, religious people enter an arena where they are guaranteed to be crushed over and over again by scientific findings.

The scientific functioning of our universe is a principle of the Quran. God’s existence must be impossible to prove, therefore there must always be scientific reasons that explain things without a need for God.

The world of the Unseen, the supernatural, is by God’s design beyond human knowledge or measurement. Everything we see around us must have a logical explanation, or seem to, or there should be the hope of finding a logical explanation for it one day. There should never be anything provably supernatural.

Provable miracles must never happen, because a miracle, by definition, is a sign of God’s direct involvement in our universe, which means it is a direct measurement of God, which means it is hard evidence for God’s existence. God, as He repeats over and over again in the Quran, intends to hide Himself from us until the end of the world, when clear signs of His existence will be shown to us:

Do they mean to wait until the angels come to them, or for your Lord to arrive, or for some of your Lord’s signs to come? On the Day when some of your Lord’s signs come, no soul will benefit from its faith unless it had believed previously, or had earned goodness through its faith. Say, “Wait, we too are waiting.” 22

Atheists say they want to wait for hard evidence for God’s existence before they believe in the fairy tales present in scripture. The Quran tells religious people to say the same thing, that we too are waiting. The above verse can be considered a pointer to the proper religious mindset toward science. We too acknowledge, with atheists, that there is no hard evidence for God’s existence. They say they will wait for hard evidence before believing, we say we believe in scripture and wait for hard evidence, and for this humble submission and patient waiting for proof, we will be rewarded.

The mistake they make is that they reject the possibility that scripture might be true, that what their consciences tell them might be true, that there is a God and that there is a purpose built into this universe, while we do not neglect our consciences and read scripture with an open heart, until the soft evidence of it proves to us that faith is better than disbelief, while acknowledging that we would never have direct proof for our beliefs until the Day of Judgment.

There is no shame in admitting that God’s existence is impossible to prove. That is what the Quran teaches. If God’s existence was possible to prove (with hard evidence), that would make faith unnecessary, and that would turn this world into a farce.

There is certainly ample proof in this universe and in the Quran for any fair-minded person to be guided to God, as the Quran says:

In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the ships that sail the oceans for the benefit of mankind; in the water that God sends down from the sky, and revives the earth with it after it had died, and scatters in it all kinds of creatures; in the changing of the winds, and the clouds disposed between the sky and the earth; are signs for people who understand.23

But these signs are not hard evidence, in that it is always necessary for the conscience to be involved before the evidence is accepted. Rational thought is not sufficient by itself.

One can argue that there is nothing besides rational thought to think with. Religion says that there is also the conscience, a power that probably comes with the unproven spirit of God that’s inside all of us, and which was given to us through Adam. This is the part of a human that is involved in faith, involved in making the final judgment to believe in God and obey His commandments without having direct proof of His existence. The recognition of the soft evidence in scripture and the universe’s design is sufficient to prove the existence of God, even if our rational brains continue to recognize that there is room for doubt and disbelief.

A Clarification on Kufr (Disbelief / Infidelity) and God’s Justice

In Islam, merely not believing in God doesn’t necessarily mean one will go into the Hellfire. The Quran’s word for someone who deserves eternal punishment is kafir. Misinterpretation and misunderstanding of this word among Muslims and non-Muslims has led to a great deal of confusion, and has turned many away from religion.

Kafir comes from kufr, which literally means “one who conceals”. For this reason kafir is actually also used to mean “farmer”, because a farmer covers up seeds with soil. A kafir is the evil mirror image of a faithful person; one who has seen the soft evidence for God’s existence and has accepted it in their heart, but who intentionally rejects this faith out of arrogance and desire. A kafir is someone who acquires faith and then disbelieves:

On the Day when some faces will be whitened, and some faces will be blackened. As for those whose faces are blackened: “Did you disbelieve after your belief?” Then taste the punishment for having disbelieved. 24

That’s what a kafir, a disbeliever, is. Someone who acquires faith but intentionally rejects it. In Islam, people who do not believe in God, or who believe in the wrong god because they do not know any better, are not automatically disbelievers. The Quran says:

God does not hold a soul responsible except for what is in its power.25

God does not hold a soul responsible except for that which He has already given it. 26

Therefore a person who never has a chance to believe in God, for example because they have only seen negative things about religion and have never had it clearly explained to them, will not be held responsible for not believing in God.

There is some disagreement among theologians on this matter. Some say that humans are endowed with sufficient capacity to believe in God even without scripture. While we cannot rule this out, I find it questionable, although I cannot think of any definite proof either way. It seems possible that perfectly good and kind people can be driven away from religion due to particular circumstances, or simply because they never learn enough about God to believe in Him, but again, we cannot make any definitive statements about what goes in inside people’s hearts throughout their long lifetimes.

Ultimately, what matters is that God is just. Many irreligious folk say that it is unjust for someone to be punished if they truly do not have sufficient knowledge to believe in God, and use this to say that religion is unjust. But religion says the same thing these people say. God is just and He will not needlessly punish anyone. God will not do anything unjust, therefore if we ever think or imagine that something He does is unjust, then we have thought wrongly about Him, and have not appreciated His kindness, generosity and justice. It is utter madness to think that the One who created humans, with all of their complexity and sensitivity, should be less just and sensitive than humans.

The God of the Old Testament is certainly that way, because of the corruptions that the rabbis introduced into the book. The God of the Quran is not. I have not found a single unjust thing in the Quran despite all of the times I have read it.

Conclusion: Time to Join in Origin of Life Research

It is time for Muslim individuals, organizations and nations to proudly adopt the theories of evolution and abiogenesis as nothing more than new fields of the sciences. The same way that we do not fight the atmospheric sciences even if they explain how rain happens, we must not fight the science of evolution just because it explains how creatures are made.

We must abandon the centuries-old superstition that discovering rational explanations for natural phenomena proves that God is not involved with them. We must eagerly endorse the effort to find out explanations for all phenomena, explanations that completely take God out of the picture, because we and the atheists have the same beliefs when it comes to this. We both believe that there can never be anything supernatural that can be measured, meaning that when doing science, we and atheists have everything in common, seeking to find rational and logical explanations for everything around us.

It is foolishness to attack a scientist for explaining how it rains, and similarly, it is foolishness to attack a scientist for explaining how creatures come into existence. In both cases, scientists try to find out how God designs and operates the universe.

When affirmative action benefits (white) men, it has to be scrapped

From a Swedish publication:

The proposed change comes following criticism that men received priority admission to programmes where their gender was underrepresented and where there were a higher number of applicants with top marks than available spots, such as programmes in veterinary medicine, dentistry, medicine, and psychology.

“The education system should open doors – not shut them in the face of young women who are motivated to study,” Krantz wrote in an article published in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

It’s all about equality, until equality starts to benefit men, at which point they start to call it discrimination.

Feminist logic: It’s progress to shut doors at colleges on talented young men so that less talented women can get admission. But shutting doors on talented young women in a similar scenario, so that less talented men can get admission is discrimination.

In feminist thinking, men are so worthless, so contemptible, so unnecessary, that it never crosses their minds that they too might be subject to various forms of discrimination that could justify affirmative action (though I’m against all forms of affirmative action), and even if it crosses their minds, they will enjoy the thought of taking away men’s “privileges”, because they deserve it! They must pay women back for the past 3 million years of evolution in which natural selection made them the dominant sex!

But why not take this further? Why stop at humans? Let’s find ways of establishing justice and equality by finding clever ways of discriminating against the males of the other primate species!

Male gorillas, for one thing, are too privileged in my opinion.

Jews are a race and a religion

Can you please tell me the meaning of “Children of Israel” in the Quran?

Israel is another name for Prophet Ya`qoub, grandson of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Ya`qoub is known as Jacob in the Bible. The Children of Israel are Jacob’s descendants. He had twelve sons, and the descendants of his sons make up the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Israel/Jacob is the father of all Jews, meaning that the Children of Israel means “genetic Jews”, people who are Jewish by birth. The Quran also uses yahood to refer to Jews, which means “genetic-cultural Jews”, Jews who are Jews by genetics, and who consider themselves part of the world’s Jewry and act as a specific culture and interest group.

In Islam, a person can be Muslim and belong to the Children of Israel (i.e. be a genetic Jew), since belonging to the Children of Israel is a matter of genetics, similar to being Arab or Indo-European.

But a person cannot be Muslim and yahood, because being yahood means that one accepts to be part of Judaism to a greater or lesser degree.

These distinctions are lost on many Muslims and many people in the West, especially since some Jews act as if they are “just a faith” like Islam and Christianity, when they are not just a faith. If they were just a faith, how could Israel use genetics to decide who to give Israeli citizenship to (since only a Jew can get citizenship)? According to the racist thinking that rules in Israel, an Arab’s genes are not good enough to make them citizens, while a Jew’s genes are. It is all about race, similar to the apartheid government of South Africa treating whites as first class citizens and blacks as subhuman.

The Children of Israel refers to Jews-the-genetic-group (i.e. the Jewish race), yahood refers to Jews-the-genetic-and-cultural group, those of the Jewish race who are part of Jewish culture (even if they are not religious). The word Jew in English, among those who understand history, has the same meaning as yahood.

What “Jew” means is similar to what “WASP” means (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). WASP refers to people of European and Protestant heritage, which includes many of the white people who live in the West. WASPs are both a genetic group and a cultural/religious group (even though they are not very religious in general). Jews, instead of having white genes, have Jewish genes, and instead of belonging to Protestant culture, belong to Jewish culture (even if they aren’t very religious).

Some people can be found in the West who think that one stops being a Jew if one stops “practicing”. This is like saying one stops being a WASP if one stops “practicing”. Being a Jew, and being a WASP, is not something you practice, it is something you are.

For Jews and WASPs, there is a religious tradition that originally defined their culture, but to most Jews and WASPs, religion is something that’s only useful during weddings and funerals, although both groups retain some of the teachings of their religions. Thus many Jews, even the atheists among them, continue to maintain the Hebrew Bible idea of considering themselves a superior species of humans, separate from all other humans, and continue to view the world in terms of Jews vs. non-Jews. WASPs, too, continue to value Christian ideals to some degree, and their culture of respecting fairness, equality and hard work was originally inspired by Biblical ideas.

Question from a reader

Asalaamualaykum. who founded Judaism?, was it the children of Israel? (Yacoub) did they become jews after Moses? before the coming of Jesus? Would be grateful for any info into the history of Judaism and children of Yocoub.

Judaism as we know it today was established by Moses (Prophet Musa peace be upon him). The same way that Islam is based on the teachings of the Quran, Judaism is based on the teachings of the Torah, the revelation that was given to Moses.

The Torah makes up the first five books of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These five books contain the message and the laws of the original Judaism that was founded by Moses (with some corruptions).

The Jewish race (people of Jewish genes) existed before Moses, since their existence starts with Israel/Jacob, about 400 years before Moses according to Biblical chronologists. Before Moses, they followed the religion of Abraham and Israel.

The Jews before Moses are known as Hebrews, since in current usage Jew means a person of Jewish genes who is a follower of Moses’ religion/culture. But genetically and culturally the Hebrews and and the Jews are the same people. Once the Hebrews acquired Moses’ religion, they reformed into Jews.

Today’s Judaism is very different from the original Judaism because it follows the Talmud (writings of rabbis), which creates a new religion on top of the old religion and legalizes things like usury.

In Islamic thinking, Jesus was the Jewish messiah that was sent to correct and reform Judaism and ban the evils that the rabbis had legalized, such as usury. The rabbis tolerated for a while, until he started to threaten their profits by attacking the Temple (which was the Jewish Wall Street of that time where usury was practiced). Within one week Jesus was to be crucified for this unforgivable sin. In Islam, we believe that God saved Jesus, as is narrated in the chapter 3 of the Quran:

54. They planned, and God planned; but God is the Best of planners.

55. God said, “O Jesus, I am terminating your life, and raising you to Me, and clearing you of those who disbelieve. And I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return; then I will judge between you regarding what you were disputing.

In verse 55, God promises Jesus that He will ensure that the Jews and non-Jews who followed Jesus (the Christians) will be forever superior to the Jews who disbelieved in Jesus (Jews who continued to follow Judaism). This prophecy has continued to remain true to this day. Despite all Jewish efforts to stamp out Christianity, it went on to become the official religion of the Roman Empire, and since then Christian powers have always been orders of magnitude more powerful than Jewish powers.

Why do different Muslims (such as Hanafis) follow different prayer timings?

I have a confusion brother ! Please clear my mind of it. Im born in a hanafi family. Living in dubai, i see different kind of muslims praying differently, which gets me so confused that i think iam on the wrong way . Just wanna ask u why these hanafi shaifee hanbali and all others firqa’s were not in the time of Prophet (pbuh) and the sahabas?? Why do we even have these

A hundred years after the Prophet’s death (peace be upon him), the number of narrations claiming to be from him multiplied, going from a few thousand to close to a hundred thousand. At this time, Imam Malik started the process of verifying the authenticity of narrations claiming to be from the Prophet and created his collection al-Muwatta’. The Persian scholars Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah continued this work.

What we are left with are tens of thousands of narrations. Unlike the Quran, these narrations always contain an element of doubt, they are not guaranteed to be true, especially since we have “authentic” narrations the clearly contradict one another.

The times of the prayers is one of those matters where authentic narrations exist supporting different opinions, that is, different timings for the asr and isha’ prayers. Which timings one goes with depends on which narrations they prefer over the rest.

We believe that God could have made all matters, like prayer times, perfectly clear to us, but He didn’t out of His wisdom, as tests and lessons. The most important matters in Islam are all clarified in the Quran and well-established narrations. What remains are technical details that do not deserve fussing over. Staying united as a community is a Quranic principle, while the differences in prayer timings are matters of technical detail within hadith narrations, so the Quranic principle takes precedence. It is best to pray with the rest of the community instead of separating oneself, as long as the community is not doing something entirely unsupported by evidence.

When living in a cosmopolitan place like Dubai with many different Islamic groups living there, at home you could continue praying according to the Hanafi school. The Hanafi timings are compatible with mainstream timings, so anyone can pray at the Hanafi times without issue.

The difference is that Hanafis reject the mainstream timings, saying they are too early for asr and isha’, so that they refuse to pray at a mosque that performs these two prayers too early in their opinion. This means that you would only have an issue if you wanted to pray asr or isha’ at the mosque and the mosque holds these prayers too early.

Large mosques sometimes hold the same prayer multiple times as different groups of people arrive, so if the first time it is too early, you could pray with a second group. And sometimes while the athan is early, the iqama time is late, so that the prayer is actually held at a time that fits Hanafi opinions.

How to make up multiple missed prayers (salah)

Can you please explain Qaza Namaz? And when it can be read. For example today I missed asr, magrib and Isha so when would I be able to make them up?

You should make them up as soon as you are able, and perform them in the order they would have been performed normally (asr, then maghrib, then isha). The majority opinion is that it is obligatory to pray missed prayers in order, while Imam al-Shafi`ee considers it recommended.

Imam Malik and Abu Hanifah are of the opinion that if more than five prayers are missed, then it is not necessary to pray them in order.

Origin of Darood Sharif

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Is Darood Sharief the word of Allah (swt) or words of Propphet Mohammed (saw) or someone else?

On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims

You don’t have to answer this because its a very complex question but do you think you can be Muslim and gay? And how should we as Muslims feel about gays? How shall we treat them? How do you reconcile Islam (in the sense it is a religion that discourages/disagrees with homosexuality) with homosexuality? Is there even anything to reconcile? How should Islam (or I guess Muslims) move about in this world that supports homosexuality? Is there a compromise that can be made in such a pluralistic world?

There is nothing wrong with having homosexual feelings, the same way there is nothing wrong with a man having sexual desire toward another man’s wife. The desire exists, what Islam forbids is acting upon it.

We can speculate about the reason why God forbids these things, for example it appears that any society that approves of sex outside of marriage and homosexuality quickly dies out due to low fertility rates. There isn’t a single civilization on Earth today that has tolerated homosexuality for centuries on end and survived.

I don’t doubt that some people can have highly fulfilling homosexual relationships, the same way that people can have highly fulfilling relationships outside of marriage. What matters is that God considers these harmful, and so He forbids them.

We do not need to be convinced of the harms of these things to avoid them. God forbids that we eat bacon, although by all accounts it is an extremely tasty thing to eat. We do not need to be convinced that bacon is bad for our health, God forbids it, therefore we avoid it. God forbids that we eat during the daytime in Ramadan, even though the food and water in the Ramadan daytime are just as nourishing as they are at night. The food and drink don’t turn into poison during the day, yet God forbids that we consume them.

The Quran gives a certain structure to our lives that we have to implement, even if we do not fully appreciate the wisdom behind it. The matter all boils down to the Quran, one reads it, becomes convinced that it is truly from the Creator, and decides of their own free will to follow it, which means they will follow all of it, including the parts of it that they do not fully understand, because, since they are convinced that it is from the Creator, they trust Him to know what is best for them.

Part of the structure that the Quran gives to our lives is to not have sex outside of marriage, and to not engage in homosexual relationships, despite whatever fulfillment that exists in these things. As God’s lowly servants, we can only say “We hear and we obey.” (The Quran, verse 24:51).

Reconciling Islam with homosexuality is similar to reconciling Islam with the desires of a man who is not satisfied with having sex within marriage only but constantly desires other women. While there might be scientific reasons for their desires, and while carrying out their desires might give them extreme fulfillment, Islam requires that they do not act on their desires for the greater good, therefore there can be no reconciliation.

A person who has homosexual desires might wonder, “What is so wrong with desiring a person of the same sex? We don’t mean harm to anyone, and our relationship is consensual.” What’s wrong with it is that it goes against the structure that God wants to give to our lives. It is similar to eating in the daytime during Ramadan. You can do it without meaning harm to anyone, and it can give you pleasure, but it goes against the rules that God has placed.

If one thinks God’s rules are silly and not worth following, then this is not about homosexuality, it is about their not believing in the Quran. And if they believe in the Quran but feel that it is unjustly discriminating against them, this is similar to a person feeling it is unjustly discriminating against their desire for alcohol, or for sex outside of marriage. It might feel unjust and oppressive, but it is for the greater good.

If a person feels that giving up the fulfillment of a homosexual relationship for the greater good is not worth it, then they are choosing the present life at the expense of the hereafter. Millions of people have taken this choice in various ways, choosing fulfillment in the present life instead of being content with God’s commandments, to their ultimate loss.

Homosexuality is just another condition that prevents a Muslim from having satisfactory intimate relationships. There are thousands of such conditions, and there is nothing special about homosexuality that makes one deserve to break God’s laws so that one can attain fulfillment.

A Muslim engaging in homosexual sex saying there is no other way for them to receive fulfillment is like a poor Muslim man of 60 who really desires women but who has never had sex saying that he deserves to sleep with a prostitute in order to receive fulfillment, since God has prevented him from getting fulfillment the acceptable way, or like a crippled Muslim woman who thinks she can never get married saying that she is allowed to get sex outside of marriage since there is no other way for her.

There are many people living with horrible conditions that prevent them from enjoying life and cause them great suffering, or that prevent them from ever having intimate relationships. Being homosexual and not being able to enjoy heterosexual relationships is just one of those thousands of conditions. Many Muslims patiently suffer through such conditions, and they do not justify breaking God’s laws in order to attain fulfillment.

Millions of Muslim men and women desire marriage but live their lives without enjoying an intimate relationship even once because they are too poor or too unattractive to marry, or they are attractive but there is no one they can marry, and in this way they get old and die without marrying.

For a homosexual Muslim, the matter is entirely between themselves and God. They should read the Quran and use their conscience to decide the best course of action, and they should reject the 24/7 propaganda in the West that constantly tells them they should act on their desires.

As for dealing with a Muslim who has homosexual desires but who does not act on them, then they should be treated like any other Muslim, since they haven’t broken any Islamic laws.

And as for dealing with Muslims who do engage in homosexual acts, they should be dealt with like other sinners, for example those who engage in heterosexual sex outside of marriage, or those who drink alcohol. We should treat them in public with politeness like we treat all people. If we have a close friend who is a sinner, we can admonish them with kind words if they are close enough to not be offended by our words. As for distant friends and acquaintances; we will not cause a Muslim alcoholic to suddenly come back to the Straight Path by calling them sinners or sending them articles about how people like them will go to hell. In such cases, it is best to avoid them, or if we have to interact with them, to be as polite and generous as we always are.

If such a person seeks our friendship or help, we should not reject them automatically. The Prophet, peace be upon him, says: “For God to guide another person through you is greater in worth than red camels.” Red camels were considered the most valuable commodity in Arabia at that time. (Bukhari and Muslim)

But he also says: “The similitude of good company and that of bad company is that of the owner of musk and of the one blowing the bellows. The owner of musk would either offer you some free of charge, or you would buy it from him, or you smell its pleasant fragrance; and as for the one who blows the bellows (i.e., the blacksmith), he either burns your clothes or you smell a repugnant smell.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Associating with any type of sinner can be good for both of you; they may be encouraged to become better people, and you could earn the rewards of being a cause for them to come back to the Straight Path. But it could also be harmful for both of you, in that you could become involved with their sin, and in this way both of you could earn punishment, you for falling into sin, and they for being a cause for it. What one should do is not a clear matter, it is a conscience call, and one should decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no single rule that fits all cases.

To reiterate regarding your main question (whether there is something to reconcile), there isn’t. Homosexual sex is like sex outside of marriage, drinking alcohol or engaging in usury. There is nothing to reconcile. Regardless of how common it is, or the billions of dollars that leftist billionaires spend promoting it, we must judge things according to how God judges them, even if this makes us unfashionable. Fashions come and go, but God’s words remain the same. Today it is fashionable to legally steal money from the poor through usury, and every rich celebrity engages in it by “investing” their money into various financial institutions that lend money at usury. Just because fashionable people do this does not mean we should follow their example or approve of it or try to reconcile Islam with their desires. They may all have a mental condition that makes them really like stealing money from the poor. Islam, however, asks them to not carry out their desires for the greater good even if what they do is perfectly acceptable according to today’s fashions.

200 years ago in the West usurers were treated like the most disgusting wretches of society by Christians. Today almost every single Christian engages in usury through mortgages and various investments, and even the Vatican lends money at usury through the Vatican Bank. Have they gained anything by this other than God’s wrath and the hollowing out and demise of their culture and civilization?

Question:

I’m not Muslim but I’ve been looking into the religion lately. I’m just wondering why don’t Muslims stand up for the ways LGBT are treated in Muslim countries? I understand that the Koran is against homosexual acts but I don’t understand why they are OK with gays and lesbians being alienated, beaten and killed in Muslim countries. It scares me that Muslims have so much hatred for them. If I can understand this part then maybe I can understand the rest of the religion.

It first be noted that Islam is not forced upon people. People are free to embrace it or leave it as they see fit. Classical Islam ignores this right and considers leaving Islam a punishable offense, which is against the Quran. I deal with this issue in my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

Ideally, Islamic law is enacted by democratic choose. If the majority of the people in a state are Muslim, they can elect to have Islamic law as the basis of their legal system. While if Muslims are a minority and are not in charge of the country, as in the West, then they do not have the right to use force to make others follow Islam, therefore they must either tolerate what the law allows or leave the country. They can take part in the democratic process, like the various different religious and political groups in the United States do, in order to affect the legal system.

In Islamic law, engaging in homosexual acts is a punishable crime, meaning that a Muslim majority country can use the democratic process to enact a law that punishes homosexual acts.

Punishing sexual acts is something that is done throughout the world, but different countries have different ideas about what is acceptable. In the United States, for example, pedophilia is punishable by law and the police is allowed to use extreme violence against people wanting to engage in it, or to even watch videos of people engaging in it. The reason for this is that the people of the United States agree that pedophilia is harmful to the child involved and to the rest of society. Regardless of how much fulfillment pedophilia brings to a pedophile, they are required to keep themselves in check and to neither engage in it, or even watch videos of others engaging in it. They are required to stay put and act as if they are not pedophiles, for the sake of society’s greater good.

Homosexual acts are of course not like the acts of pedophiles, since it involves consenting adults. So why would a society punish consenting adults for doing what brings them fulfillment and which seemingly harms no one?

The reason is that, according to the Islamic view, tolerating homosexuality has long-term harms to society. Even if in the short-term it brings great fulfillment to the people involved, in the long-term, thinking in terms of generations and centuries, it brings great harm. A plague is still a plague whether it takes one year to cause a civilization to go extinct, or whether it takes two centuries.

There isn’t a single civilization existing today that has tolerated homosexuality for multiple centuries and survived. The civilization always experiences declining fertility rates and either collapses, is conquered, or its entire population is slowly replaced by a section of its population that does not tolerate homosexuality.

The harms of homosexuality are similar to the harms of usury (the charging of interest). You can get a credit card, a mortgage and invest in bonds without seemingly doing any harm to anyone, and without suffering harm. But on a macro level (looking at the entire economy), usury always leads to exponentially increasing wealth inequality, a soulless corporate economy that is controlled by the banks, a corrupt corporate media that is fully in bed with the banks and the political elite, and a defense-military-intelligence complex that constantly seeks to get into new wars, because new wars require the issuance of bonds, and the super-rich earn hundreds of billions of dollars every single year on their bond investments, so the more bonds, the better, and if they get the country into a war that costs trillions, that means tens of billions of extra annual interest income for them.

Islam, since it is a religion from God, takes society’s long-term interest into account, its interest over generations and centuries, and for this reason it requires them to avoid short-term fulfillment (sex outside of marriage, credit cards, cars bought on loan) for the sake of the long-term good of themselves and their civilization.

You can argue that since homosexuality is between consenting adults, it is unlikely to do any short-term or long-term harm to society. But you do not know that. Every society on earth that tolerates homosexuality has a below-replacement fertility rate as far as I know, and this means that the society is slowly, but surely, going extinct. Since this process takes many generations, most people couldn’t care less about it. But Islam cares, because Islam has a very-long-term view, it is a religion that thinks in terms of generations and centuries.

For these same reasons, Islam forbids sex outside of marriage, even though it is perfectly natural for people to have sexual desire toward each other and want to be intimate.

The central mission of Islam is to follow the Straight Path, and the Straight Path is made up of two things:

  • Ensuring humanity’s long-term survival
  • Preserving humanity’s short-term moral integrity (never justifying evil for utilitarian purposes)

So a society of intelligent and devout Muslims living on an isolated planet have both of these things assured. Their civilization will not die out like so many other civilizations do. And their civilization never justifies evil (such as killing innocent people when there is something to be gained by it, like the CIA and every intelligence organization in the world does) for the sake of some gain. Even if doing an evil act will ensure great gain for the civilization (such as the US funding various terrorist groups because it advances its geopolitical goals), the civilization instead chooses to lose out on that opportunity, because to it, its mortal integrity is more important than material gain.

Islam’s punishment for all sex outside of marriage is flogging, and this includes homosexual acts. Homosexual acts are just a subcategory of “sex outside of marriage”.

As for killing homosexuals, it is similar to killing adulterers, both of which are against Quranic law, although most classical Islamic scholars support both of them, because they ignore the Quran in favor of less reliable historical texts (hadith). For a discussion of this see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

Any punishment homosexuals receive should be after due process. There is no such thing in Islam as individuals taking the law into their own hands. This is similar to honor killings, which in Islam would be considered murder, but which is carried out in the Middle East and Southeast Asia by many cultures, Muslim and non-Muslim. Classical Islamic scholars have been party to this crime (of killing people without due process) by being silent about it, and by accepting the corruption of the Quran’s place as Islam’s central authority, preferring less reliable hadith narrations over its principles and teachings.

As I mentioned in the earlier part of this essay, a homosexual who doesn’t engage in homosexual acts is not a sinner and Islamic law has nothing against them they are similar to anyone else wanting to have sex outside of marriage but not doing it.

The reason that in Muslim countries few people stand up for the “rights” of homosexuals is the same reason that few people in the United States stand up for the “rights” of pedophiles. Homosexuality is taboo and practicing it is forbidden and considered harmful in Muslim countries. Pedophilia is taboo and practicing it is forbidden and considered harmful in the United States.

Very few people in the United States stand up for the “rights” of pedophiles, even if it is a pedophile who has a genetic preference for children and who promises to never touch a child, because standing up for their rights causes one to be associated with them, and very few people want that. In the same, in Muslim countries standing up for the “rights” of homosexuals is similarly taboo and few people want to be associated with them.

As the world progresses, Muslim countries will hopefully adopt the Quranic attitude toward homosexuality, which is that there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is not acted upon, and that if acted upon and proven after due process, the punishment is not execution but the Quranic punishment of 100 lashes.

As for what “hope” there might be for homosexual rights in Muslim-majority countries, it is similar to what “hope” there is for pedophiles in the United States. They are required to stay put and not to engage in their desires for the greater good.

Again, I am aware that homosexuality and pedophilia are extremely different, but it is useful to compare them since both of them involve sexual acts that are violently suppressed by society. While the Western view of “sexual acts that must be violently suppressed” only includes pedophilia and rape, the Islamic view expands this definition to also include sex outside of marriage, which automatically includes all homosexual acts.

A homosexual is treated with hatred in Muslim countries for the same reason that a pedophile is treated with hatred in the United States. Both of them threaten to do harm to society, it is just that the Islamic view takes very-long-term harm into account, while the Western view is short-sighted and only cares about immediate or short-term (single-generation) harm.

What happened to Islamic civilization? Why did Muslims fall behind in science and technology?

I wanted your in depth opinion on a particular observation. Muslims, historically speaking, have been responsible for hundreds and thousands of scientific discoveries. What happened to us? Why are we in the stage we are?

Only 100 years ago, which is just a little more than one human lifetime, the Ottoman Empire was a sovereign Muslim nation that could stand up to any Western power. No Jewish colonizer would have dared to terrorize and massacre Palestinians when the Ottoman Empire was there to protect its citizens.

While many Muslims, including scholars, think that Muslims were always powerful, capable and thriving throughout history until modern times, this is mostly a romantic fairy tale told to console and encourage.

The Crusaders were able to take Jerusalem and other parts of the Levant from Muslims in 1099 CE and ruled it for nearly 100 years. Where were the great Muslim powers in this time that they couldn’t take it back? The Middle East was a mix of weak and fractured “Muslim” powers, who were only Muslim in name but in general acted like any modern power, killing and destroying while using religion to justify their actions, and while being under the influence and sometimes control of foreign non-Muslim powers.

The current weakness and powerlessness of Muslims is similar to their state during the Mongol invasions. Some Muslims thought the end of the world had arrived, thinking the Mongols were the promised Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj (Gog and Magog) mentioned in the Quran. The Mongols utterly destroyed the Sunni Muslim Khwarezmian Empire which controlled nearly all of Modern Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and parts of Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, and which had existed for 150 years, through the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children. After that, they went on to destroy Baghdad and Damascus, although the Abbasid Empire had been in decline for centuries before the Mongols arrived.

On the other side of the Medieval world, Muslims ruled nearly half of Spain for nearly 800 years, until 1492 CE (which is also the year the Americas were discovered). Just as they threw Muslims out of Spain, Christians went on to conquer two continents, spread Christian rule all over them, and eventually built the world’s most powerful nation there.

The Myth of Continuous Power Increase

There is a myth among Muslims that since they belong to God’s chosen religion, they should have been able to establish a globally dominant power that ruled the world forever. But God doesn’t promise us that. He promises that we will be tested:

You will be tested through your possessions and your persons; and you will hear from those who received the Scripture before you, and from the idol worshipers, much abuse. But if you persevere and lead a righteous life—that indeed is a mark of great determination.1

God also threatens us with His ability to remove us from power and replace us with others if we do not follow His guidance:

131. To God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. We have instructed those who were given the Book before you, and you, to be conscious of God. But if you refuse—to God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. God is in no need, Praiseworthy.

132. To God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. God suffices as Manager.

133. If He wills, He can do away with you, O people, and bring others. God is Able to do that. 2

Verse 131 above mention’s God’s warning to the People of the Book. The Old Testament contains many promises by God that if His people disobey, He will abandon them to whatever that may happen to them, and that He will make others dominant over them. In the Book of Deuteronomy (part of the Old Testament, and part of the Torah), prophet Musa (Moses) says:

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger:

26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.3

The Quran, too, mentions prophet Musa saying similar things:

6. Moses said to his people, “Remember God’s blessings upon you, as He delivered you from the people of Pharaoh, who inflicted on you terrible suffering, slaughtering your sons while sparing your daughters. In that was a serious trial from your Lord.”

7. And when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks, I will grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”

8. And Moses said, “Even if you are ungrateful, together with everyone on earth—God is in no need, Worthy of Praise.” 4

Our relationship with God is not one where He constantly supports us just because we say we are His nation, unlike some Muslims and many Jews think. Here is the Jewish feminist author Naomi Wolf expressing her surprise at finding out (by reading the Hebrew Bible) that unlike what many Jews think, God does not promise them never-ending support just because they are “His chosen people”:

He never says: “I will give you, ethnic Israelites, the land of Israel.” Rather He says something far more radical – far more subversive — far more Godlike in my view. He says: IF you visit those imprisoned…act mercifully to the widow and the orphan…welcome the stranger in your midst…tend the sick…do justice and love mercy ….and perform various other tasks…THEN YOU WILL BE MY PEOPLE AND THIS LAND WILL BE YOUR LAND. So “my people” is not ethnic — it is transactional. We are God’s people not by birth but by a way of behaving, that is ethical, kind and just. And we STOP being “God’s people” when we are not ethical, kind and just.5

She is not quite correct when she says “my people” is not ethnic. Jews are God’s chosen, what they don’t generally realize is that being chosen doesn’t necessarily mean one is chosen for a good thing. Jews are God’s chosen in that He gave them many scriptures and throughout the centuries continuously sent them new prophets to guide them back to the Straight Path. He chose them for a specific test. Their being chosen is not just a privilege, it is both a privilege and a heavy burden. If they reject God despite being chosen, God sends the most terrible punishment on them, like He has done many times throughout history. Many Jews forget the burden and choose to enjoy the privilege of thinking of themselves as God’s chosen elite.

Our relationship with God is contractual. If we obey, He supports us. If we disobey, He stops supporting us and subjects us to unfriendly powers.

The story of the Jews is a good lesson for us. Many times in their history they were extremely powerful. After they left Egypt, they entered Canaan around 1446 BCE. They disobeyed God when they were about to overtake a city and live in it, so God punished them by having them wander in the desert for 40 years. They finally entered Canaan in 1406 BCE and completely conquered it by 1399 BCE. Once they become a sovereign power, they soon start to do evil, abandoning God, worshiping Baal or the Calf, practicing usury or allying themselves with irreligious foreign powers. For this reason, as they rejected and sometimes even killed their prophets, every few generations God would send a powerful foreign power to destroy many of their cities and slaughter many of their people.

When they continued to reject God, He sent Babylon to conquer their lands and sent them into exile for 70 years. After that the Persian emperor, whose empire had conquered Babylon, allowed the Jews to return to their lands and reestablish themselves there. Their story continued the same as before, with them doing evil and being punished for it. In 70 AD, a few decades after they rejected Jesus and tried to kill him, they tried to escape the rule of the Roman empire. In return they had their city of Jerusalem utterly destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Jews killed.

The Arch of Titus, which commemorates the Roman victory over the Jews, among other things, still stands in Rome.

Titus, the Roman commander who was in charge of the Roman victory over the Jews, is supposed to have refused to wear a wreath after the victory, saying that he was only acting as a tool of God’s wrath over the Jews. Perhaps this was God’s punishment on them for their rejecting God’s prophet.

Another recent example from Jewish history is Germany in the first few decades of the 20th century. In 1920, Jews owned most of Germany’s media, banks and large corporations and controlled Germany’s academia. They continually promoted homosexuality and sex outside of marriage in books, plays and films in the name of progress. In short, they acted exactly the way they act today in the United States and Europe.

That ended abruptly with the rise of Hitler, who utterly destroyed everything the Jews had worked for.

In Jewish history there is an important historical lesson; that just because a nation associates itself with God and claims to be His people does not mean they will always have God’s support.

Muslim nations have had a history similar to that of the Jews. Many powerful Muslim states have risen and fallen throughout history, and this process is not going to end. If we establish a caliphate like some Muslims dream about, and even if it rules the world for 1000 years, if most of the population abandons Islamic values and Islam becomes largely culture and tradition and not faith, then that caliphate too will fail. God will enable another Mongol invasion, or another invasion by the British and the French, to come and divide their caliphate and do with it as they please.

Christianity’s Place in Islamic History

Just as Islam faded in the Middle East and became little more than cultural tradition and ceremony, Christianity rose in the West. The Christians who conquered the Americas thought they were doing it for God’s sake. They read the Bible daily, they established Biblical law in their colonies, and they braved many dangers in order to establish families, villages and cities in empty and hostile lands.

God’s promise in the Quran came true for them for their deeds:

65. Had the People of the Scripture believed and been righteous, We would have remitted their sins, and admitted them into the Gardens of Bliss.

66. Had they observed/enforced the Torah, and the Gospel, and what was revealed to them from their Lord, they would have consumed amply from above them, and from beneath their feet. Among them is a moderate community, but evil is what many of them are doing.6

While it is common for many Muslims to think of Christians as nothing but heathens who should magically disappear now that Islam has come, Christians are as much God’s people as Muslims are, that is, they too have a contract with God, and if they uphold their contract with God, God will uphold His contract with them. If a Christian nation is more faithful, more eager to serve God, and more observant of God’s laws, then we shouldn’t be surprised if God gives them His full support.

This was the case in the Americas and much of Western Europe until 1900 CE. With all of the corruption present, the average person’s actions and thinking were still largely controlled by Christian ideals.

Today, things are different. The West has finally abandoned the religion that made it great. The only reason the West is great today is the momentum of the past. A Muslim may lose hope when they look at the United States and see its immense capacity to dominate and do evil throughout the world. But the United States is already past its prime. It is desperately trying to hold onto its past power, constantly threatening Russia, China and Iran, but incapable of doing anything about them as they continue to rise.

The United States has had a below-replacement fertility rate since the 1970’s. If it wasn’t for their continuous importation of immigrants, their population would have been shrinking by now. A decades-long below-replacement fertility rate is all that is needed to illustrate that a nation is failing.

It is a country’s population that gives a nation its economic, technological and military power, and once the population starts to shrink, its power will decrease, because there will be fewer people to innovate, and fewer people to consume the fruits of these innovations and in this way pay for further innovations. Today the United States can afford to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on military spending every year, and it is this spending that enables various military companies to continue innovating. But as the American tax base and economy both shrink, with it its power to spend will shrink. America is on a trajectory to become the next Portugal, once a global superpower, now a complete non-entity.

One illustration of the continuing fall of the United States is that of the world’s top 15 skyscrapers (those higher than 350 meters) finished in the past 3 years, 10 are in China, and only one in the United States. China continues to rise, the United States continues to stagnate and fall. America’s failing economy has no need for new office buildings, hotels and restaurants, since it already has more than its shrinking economy needs.

The answer to the question of why Muslims are so powerless compared to the West these days is that Islamic history ran into Christian history. Christian power was still rising went it clashed with an Ottoman Empire that was already past its prime, so the Ottomans didn’t stand a chance.

Today, Christian powers too are past their prime, and great change is coming.

The United States is unlikely to become a Portugal any time soon, and if Islam continues to spread, it might change into a new type of superpower without becoming irrelevant.

It should be noted that while China’s rise will probably be a good thing in the short-term, as its rise to power will probably prevent further significant US excesses for the next few decades, once it is firmly established as the world’s most powerful country, it could start acting like the US, forcing every other country to either become a de facto client state or get turned into a war zone.

Islam in the West

There already are tens of millions of Muslims living in the United States and Western Europe. Just as the native populations of these countries continue to shrink, the Muslim population continues to increase.

At the moment, of course, Muslims are extremely poor and powerless in the West. But demographics decides the destiny of a nation. It is this fact that is terrifying Zionist career Islam-haters like Robert Spencer, Geert Wilders, Daniel Pipes and Pamella Geller and the billionaire Jews supporting them.

They know that it is only a matter of time before Muslims have the political power to affect the foreign policy of these nations, and that means they will have the power to affect the policy of these nations toward their beloved Israel.

Ten years ago, in 2007, every terrorist attack and every crime that could potentially be blamed on Muslims would be plastered all over the Jewish-owned or operated Western media (which is nearly all of the West’s media) for weeks on end. It appears that some time between 2014 and 2016 the Jews decided that it was more in their self-interest to protect Muslims and promote unfettered Muslim immigration to the West, to prevent white Christians from ever gaining total control of a Western country and in this way having the power to dictate Jew-unfriendly laws, as happened in Nazi Germany. Their media today does its best to hide the identities of terrorists, and whenever a terrorist attack occurs, Jewish-operated companies like Google can be seen promoting articles (in this case, in search results and on Google News) that blame these attacks on white people rather than on Muslims.

The Jewish-owned and operated Salon Magazine, a leftist publication, is a big defender of Muslims at the moment. This is a magazine that hasn’t made a profit in the past 20 years, it is entirely a tool of propaganda for leftist Jews. If they pretend to care about us, if they defend us, should we celebrate and join forces with them?

In ten years, when winds change again and the Jews7 decide, like they did in the first decade of the 21st century, that it is in their best interest to promote a negative image of Islam in the West, then they will do that all over again. We in the West are on a collision course with Jews. As our population, and thus our political power, increases, so will our power to sway Western governments against Israel. And when that happens, when we become a threat to Jewry’s beloved Israel, they will turn around overnight, attacking us left and right and portraying us as evil barbarians intent on destroying Western civilization, like they were doing 24/7 a few years ago, and like so many Jewish Islam-haters and “conservative” Jewish media outlets like Breitbart continue to do today.

We must learn to develop long memories, and our best help in this regard is the study of history. We must never ally ourselves with an evil force that has decided at the moment it is in its self-interest to defend us, because tomorrow it can decide that it is in its self-interest to attack us. We must never justify evil for the greater good, and we must never lose our moral integrity for the achievement of political goals.

Islam might go on to become the dominant religion of the West in 100 years, as non-Muslim white people continue to die out, and as white people who convert to Islam continue to increase and have higher fertility than non-Muslim whites. And of course, there are the millions of Muslim immigrants currently residing in the West.

While Muslims continue to be strangers in the West at the moment, this is going to change soon. Today it is still common for us to be viewed as barbarians and outsiders. But a point will be reached when everyone will know a few Muslims and accept them as ordinary citizens, and when that happens, the number of conversions to Islam could multiply very fast, because these people will finally see that Islam is nothing but an updated and improved version of Christianity.

The Long View of History

Even if Muslims establish a new global superpower that lasts for hundreds of years, it too can eventually fail and get conquered by non-Muslim powers. Imagine if this world continues to exist for the next 100,000 years. The story of Muslims being powerful then weak then powerful again might play out fifty or a hundred times more.

We humans wants safety and security. We want to establish Paradise on Earth once and for all and then go on living in it. But that is not the purpose of this world, and dreams of establishing a Paradise on Earth are naive and futile.

We are taught over and over again in the Quran that this world is worthless, that it will soon be over, that none of our deeds done in this world will last. The Quranic character Dhul Qarnain shows his appreciation for God’s message when he says the following right after completing building a structure for God’s sake:

He said, “This is a mercy from my Lord. But when the promise of my Lord comes true, He will turn it into rubble, and the promise of my Lord is always true.”8

For us Muslims, it is always about the journey, not the destination. It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in this world. What matters is the record of our deeds. No matter what we build, no matter how much power we have, we could see it all destroyed tomorrow. This has happened over and over again in history, though sadly we continue to fail to learn the lesson.

Why did God let the Mongols destroy Baghdad and Damascus if our purpose was to continue to gain power, wealth and fame in this world? Why did He let the Ottoman Empire, the last truly sovereign Muslim power, be invaded and destroyed? Why did He not allow the Arab powers to defeat Israel during their multiple wars?

Because this world is a test. It is not our purpose to build Paradise on Earth. Our purpose is khilafah, literally “to be stewards”. We are stewards of the earth. Our purpose is to take care of it by enjoining good and admonishing against evil, so that humanity continues, and so that the the earth does not become entirely corrupted.

A steward takes care of a farm until the owner returns, continuing the running of the farm as best they can. It is the owner’s business what they do with the farm. In the same way, our job in this world is to continue be God’s stewards, God’s agents for good in this world, but it is His business what He does with this world, and whether He gives us power or takes it away from us. All that we can say is, “We hear and we obey.”

We are not seekers after power. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not seek power, it was given to him. Neither did any of the righteous Rashidun caliphs. We do not seek to establish global dominance, or to carry out global war. Our job is to be God’s stewards, to walk on the Straight Path.

Being on the Straight Path does not require gaining power, and in fact the seeking of power is directly opposed to it, for the seeking of power always requires that one abandon one’s moral integrity “for the greater good”. This is the story of every political party that starts out with high moral ideals only to become a nest of corruption and evil.

It is God who gives us power if we deserve it, and if the time is right, for His own purposes, and as long as it pleases Him, until He can take it away from us. As for us, we must be thankful and content throughout all of this:

No, but worship God, and be among the thankful ones.9

It is God who manages history for us. We are not in charge, God is.

No calamity strikes except by God’s permission. Whoever believes in God, He guides his heart. God is Aware of everything.10

No calamity occurs on earth, or in your souls, but it is in a Book, even before We make it happen. That is easy for God. That you may not sorrow over what eludes you, nor exult over what He has given you. God does not love the proud snob.11

God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. And if God wills any hardship for a people, there is no turning it back; and apart from Him they have no protector.12

God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds, that He will make them successors on earth, as He made those before them successors, and He will establish for them their religion—which He has approved for them—and He will substitute security in place of their fear. They worship Me, never associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that—these are the sinners. 13

Our job is to do good wherever we find ourselves, to worship God, to be kind and just, to follow His commandments as best as we can, and it is God who will establish us on Earth when He pleases:

God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds, that He will make them stewards on Earth, as He made those before them stewards, and He will establish for them their religion—which He has approved for them—and He will substitute security in place of their fear. They worship Me, never associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that—these are the sinners.14

We can, of course, be political activists and critics. We can constantly work toward social justice and the lifting of poverty. But instead of doing these by seeking power first, we do them without seeking power. We do what is right and just and kind toward everyone, and God, if He wishes, can give us power any time He wants.

Ibn al-Jawzi says in his Sayd al-Khaatir (“Quarry of the Mind”):

I reflected upon the envy that exists among scholars, and saw that its source is the love of the worldly life, because the scholars of the afterlife engage in love and do not envy others. What separates the two groups is that the scholars of the worldly life seek power and leadership in it, and they love to accumulate wealth and praise, while the scholars of the afterlife live in seclusion from these things, they fear them and have mercy toward those who are being tested by them.

Truly good and kind people, who fear God and take the afterlife seriously, do not seek power in my experience. Sometimes the right situation arises for a good person to rise and become powerful, as it happened with Saladin. Saladin wasn’t a revolutionary who grabbed power, or a politician. He became powerful as part of his job as a military commander, and one thing led to another until he became a powerful ruler.

The writer Frank Herbert says the following in Chapterhouse: Dune, and I find them true from all that I have seen:

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological
personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the
corruptible.

Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect all who seek it.

Scientific vs. Divine Explanations for Islam’s Decline: Islam, Christianity and Indo-European Genes

Islam’s great revolution in science and scholarship came from Sunni Persians. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, al-Nasaa’i, and Ibn Majah were all Persian. The first formal grammarian of the Arabic language was Sibawayh, a Persian. Some of the greatest names in Islamic history, such as al-Khawarazmi, al-Ghazali, Abu Sinaa, al-Biruni and Ibn Hayyan were Persian.

Persians are an Indo-European race, and to this day have continued their superiority in learning and scholarship over Arabs. In Iran over 70,000 books are published per year, compared to less than 20,000 per year in the entire Arab world.

It appears that historical events like the Mongol destruction of the Khwarezmian Empire, Shiite rule over Iran, and the centuries of conflict between the Persians and the Ottomans, caused Persian populations to shrink and become isolated, and in this way they fell out of the mainstream history of Islam. This might be the single most important historical reason for the decline of Islamic science.

Just as Islam lost its main source of Indo-European genes, Christianity acquired a tremendous new source in northwestern Europe. Christianity went through a similar process to that of Islam’s scientific rise, inspired by Greek philosophy and carried forward by religious thinkers like Thomas Aquinas. Christianity had far better access to Indo-European genes for many centuries compared to Islam, therefore the scientific revolution happened in Christendom. Christianity continued to ensure above-replacement fertility rates, Christian ideals continued to inspire and motivate people, and Indo-European genes supplied the high IQ needed for scientific progress.

This might be the scientific explanation for why Christianity overtook Islam after the Middle Ages.

A mistake many people make, both religious and irreligious, is that when they discover a scientific explanation for something, they start to think that it means that thing is not from God. But it is a principle of God that He will never allow us to have direct evidence of His existence, therefore when God does something, it is always through scientific means, or He makes it appear to be that way. God will not carry out miracles that can be recorded and published on YouTube. The only time that we will have direct proof of the existence of God and the rest of the Unseen is at the end of the world. When the pagans requested that they see an angel before they believe in God, God’s reply was this:

Had We sent down an angel, the matter would have been settled, and they would not have been reprieved.15

If we ever had direct evidence of God’s existence, then there would be no need for faith in God. God does not want that to happen, therefore everything that happens to us must have logical scientific explanations. We can examine Islamic history to find out where things went wrong. But even if we discover every single cause and try to cure it, our success is not guaranteed.

The divine reason for the fall of Muslims is that they abandoned Islam in their hearts, while the scientific reason is the above. The divine reasons precede the scientific reasons. If we disobey God, God will bring about logical and scientifically-explainable reasons for our destruction. And if we obey God, and carry out our stewardship in the best manner possible, God will inspire us toward whatever will give us success and power in this world.

Today, mainstream Islam is again acquiring Indo-European genes in the form of European converts to Islam. As these people increase in number, just as the number of seculars and Christians dwindles, among them will come great scholars and scientists, and soon (within a lifetime or two) Muslims could be responsible for half or more of the West’s scientific output.16

Conclusion

As Muslims, our goal in life is not to acquire power, glory or supremacy in this world. Our goal is not to establish Paradise on Earth. We can appreciate technological and scientific accomplishments, and we can work toward them as part of our stewardship on Earth, but we must never lose sight of the fact that ultimately, everything we do is meant to serve God, and that a day will come when all of our worldly works will be destroyed as if they never existed.

In this world, we are stewards of a temporary farm, a farm whose Owner has promised to destroy in the end. We must never get attached to this farm, or seek its improvement or power over it as a goal in itself. We must never get attached to the idea of establishing a global power. Even if we establish one, it too can come and go like every other Muslim power in history. History will continue going in cycles, Muslims will rise to power, fall, and rise again. The only people who achieve success are those who fear God and serve Him in the best way possible. It is only the record of our deeds which lasts forever, everything else is temporary.

If Muslims are weak today, look again in 500 years, and they may be the strongest and most technologically advanced power on Earth. Look again in 1500 years, and they may again be weak,  oppressed and backward. It is God who gives and God who takes. If we are thankful and obedient, He will increase us and improve our station in life, and if we are ungrateful, He can always take it all away from us and subjugate us to others, like He did to the Andalusian Muslims.

Book recommendations for a beginner to Islam

I was wondering if you could please recommend some Islamic books?

Listening to Music is Permissible in Islam

Is music really haram? I’m not talking about the Rihannas “Wild Thoughts” kind of music, more of peaceful piano, flute, violin, ancient music. The kind of music that doesn’t give off sexual vibe and stuff, but the music that adheres peace, you know?

[Below is a quick survey of opinions on this matter gleaned from Arabic-language sources. I may eventually write out a full essay on this, although it is not one of my topics of interest, since the permissibility of music is such an obvious thing that it is almost not worth talking about.]

Many Islamic scholars reject the idea that music is prohibited. The scholar Ibn Hazm (d. 1064 CE, creator of the “fifth” school of Islamic jurisprudence) considers every hadith that has been used to make music haram fabricated, and considers listening to music the same as taking joy from a nature walk.

The scholar al-Shashi (d. 976 CE) says that Imam Malik permitted music. Imam al-Shafi`i says that there is no clear evidence to prohibit music.

The scholar al-Mawardi (d. 1058 CE) says that Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik and al-Shafi`i did not prohibit music.

The respected theologians Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Ibn Daqeeq, Izz al-Din ibn Abd al-Salam (famous Shafi`ite scholar, known as the Sultan of Scholars in his time, d. 1262 CE), Abdul Ghani al-Nablusi, Ibn Qutaybah, al-Maqdisi, al-Dhahabi, Abu Talib al-Makki, Ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki and Imam al-Shawkani consider music permissible.

Among modern scholars who reject the prohibition on music are the Azhar scholars Muhammad al-Ghazali and Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, Hasan al-Attar, Muhammad Shaltoot, Ali al-Tantawi and Muhammad Rashid Radha.

The main issue here is the centuries-long feud between the scholars of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence, i.e. Islamic law) and the scholars of hadith. Scholars of hadith often ignore rationalism if they can find a collection of hadith to support their opinions, which is why you have Saudi scholars defending their ridiculous prohibition on women driving. The scholars of fiqh, on the other hand, are well aware of the unreliability of hadith, the duty of skepticism toward all hadith narrations, and the necessity of judging hadith by the Quran, which is why their thinking is far more moderate and easier to accept.

The fiqh scholar Ibn al-Jawzi says: “If you ever hear a hadith narration that goes against common sense and (well-known theological) principles, do not consider yourself bound to obey it.”

I will add to that and say: In general, whenever you hear people say something supposedly Islamic that insults your intelligence, if you do a little research you will find that 1. that thing is not in the Quran and 2. there are many highly respected scholars who reject it.

Whenever hadith narrations try to attach new things to Islam that are non-existent in the Quran, we have to be extremely skeptical toward them. The Quran is the criterion (a word the Quran uses to refer to itself) by which we judge everything else in Islam.

The Prophet himself, peace be upon him, says in two authentic narrations:

“What God makes permissible in His book (the Quran), then that is permissible, and what He makes prohibited, that is prohibited, and what He is silent about, that is out of His mercy, so accept His mercy, for God does not forget anything.”

“God has made certain things obligatory, so do not neglect those, and He has set certain bounds, so do not overstep those bounds, and He has remained silent on certain matters out of His mercy on you, not out of forgetfulness, so do not seek out those matters (i.e. do not argue about them and make a big deal of them).”

A prohibition on music is not in the Quran, which makes it one of the matters that God left out of the Quran intentionally, out of His mercy. Whenever something is not in the Quran, that’s a clear indication that it is not an important matter in God’s religion, and that people should make up their own minds about it, the same way they are allowed to make up their own minds about whether a PC or a Mac is a better computer.

Before people start replying with their arguments in favor of prohibiting music, please know that I am already aware of your arguments, and please see the following (Arabic) essay that has a detailed discussion of the relevant evidence on both sides of the debate:

https://archive.islamonline.net/?p=25

Certain types of music can be considered forbidden due to things associated with the music, but that is a different matter.

The purpose of bismillah

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The Arabs before Islam used to begin their works by naming their gods, saying “By the name of al-Laat” or “By the name of al-Uzzaa”. Other nations used to do the same. If one of them wanted to do something to please a king or ruler, they would say it is done “by the name of” that person, meaning that this deed would not be if it wasn’t for that king or ruler.

For this reason, when you say “I begin my deed with bismillah al-rahman al-raheem” (in the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful), it means “I am doing it by God’s command and for His sake, and not for the sake of my ego and its pleasures.

Shaykh Ahmad Mustafa al-Maraghi, Tafseer al-Maraghi.

How to stop wasting time on social media

I recently made an attempt to stop wasting my time on social media and things like netflix. Issue is, even though i read often, i find that i’m unable to replace that which i gave up with useful substitutes. Do you have any suggestions?

The ability to intentionally choose to do something useful with your time, instead of doing what is pleasurable, is called executive function. One thing that greatly diminishes our executive function is loneliness. This is why someone who cannot be motivated to study by themselves can be highly motivated if there is a friend around they can study with.

To be more motivated to do useful things with your time, find ways of doing beneficial things socially, with other people, or around other people. If you cannot be motivated to read a book at home alone, go to a coffee shop, or to a friend or relative’s house, and try to read there. Having people around you, even strangers, can greatly help increase motivation. Instead of reading Quran at home, going to the mosque to do it can be far more satisfying and motivating.

Another way of achieving the same is to find good friends with whom you speak multiple times daily. Having meaningful social interactions with people on a daily basis is a great way of increasing motivation.

Once you have this taken care of, the usual common sense advice of writing down goals and making to-do lists can be helpful.

And if one’s executive function is diminished, either through loneliness, depression, iron overload, diabetes, or damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, common sense advice will rarely have a benefit.

Why must women pray behind men at the mosque?

Why must women pray behind men? Why is it that in Pakistan women have the worst place to pray when we need to pray in public and/or in the masjid? And also, why must men and women be separate in public? Isn’t that inconvenient? What is the wisdom behind all of this?

The wisdom in women praying behind men, which is the same as the wisdom in women wearing non-revealing clothes, is to take sexuality out of public interactions, so that people can get on with their lives and do what needs to be done without male-female sexual dynamics becoming a factor.

Men are designed to find women far more physically interesting than women are designed to find men. What this means is that having the women in front of the men at the mosque will cause more distraction, on the whole, than having the men in front of the women. Since the goal is to focus on God at the mosque, the logical thing to do is to not have the women in men’s sight. Since women do not find men particularly physically interesting, in general it doesn’t do any harm to have the men within the women’s sight.

Some will say it is men’s duty not to look at women lustfully, women shouldn’t have to dress a certain way or sit in a certain place just so that men wouldn’t be distracted by them. Islam deals with the issue on both ends, it asks both sexes not to look at one another lustfully, and it asks women to dress modestly so that if men do look, they do not see much to look at

At the mosque, it adds an extra degree of conscientiousness to have the women pray behind the men, to make lustful glances even less likely, so that proper respect for God is shown at His house.

We are all God’s servants and it behooves us to organize our public spaces in the way that is most likely to please Him. If having the women pray behind the men is more conducive to proper respect for God, and less distracting on the whole, than having the men pray behind the women, then it logically follows that it is best for the women to pray behind the men. The goal is not some power play or show of authority by the men, the goal is to show God proper respect, with both sexes being His lowly servants wanting to please Him.

As for why men and women can’t pray mixed like at church services, it is again because it adds an unnecessary gender dynamic to the act of praying at the mosque, which is unnecessary and not something God wants to be present in His house. Most of us are capable of praying alongside the opposite sex without any issue. But it is better not to mix, and since we want to please God, we do what is better. Amish Christians do the same, with the men and women sitting separately at church.

About separation in other public places, the point again is for public interactions to be civilized and free from lust. Islam has no issue with men and women interacting in public, it only wants to give the best shape to these interactions by removing potentially harmful dynamics. Each Islamic culture has its own way of trying to achieve this. Some cultures take the separation of men and women too far, and others have sensible policies that do not lead to inconvenience. Much of it is cultural tradition, there are no rules regarding separation of men and women in public in the Quran, for example.

I am sorry to hear that women do not have good places to pray in public in Pakistan. This could be a carryover from the past, where women venturing outside was far less common than now, so that there wasn’t much demand for better accommodations for women. Hopefully this will get better with time. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, the malls have large and well-maintained spaces for women to pray.

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