Tag Archives: Islam

What’s a good modern biography of Prophet Muhammad?

Can you recommend a good bibliography of the prophet Muhammad pbuh. I’ve read one so far but I didn’t like it. The style of the author was too heavy.

I just read Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet and it is extremely good. I think it should be required reading for every Muslim. It focuses on the personality and spiritual teachings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, rather than focusing on unnecessary technical details.

Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time is also good.

(I assumed you meant biography)

What to recite next after finishing salah

After finishing salah what should be reciting next? and are you meant to do dhikr after each fard prayer?

You can do various forms of dhikr or dua. The most common dhikr, which is done after every prayer, is to say subhanAllah 33 times, alhamdulillah 33 times, and allahu akbar 33 times, mentioned in Sahih Bukhari. You can also shorten these to ten each, aslo mentioned in Sahih Bukhari.

You can also recite any other dhikr words you know if you choose.

After that, you can perform dua, or stand up to pray the voluntary salah, if there is a voluntary salah associated with the obligatory one.

Can a person perform the ritual washing of a dead spouse’s body?

Regarding the ruling of washing a dead body; can a man or woman wash the body of their spouse? In my East Asian culture the scholars say that the nikah is ended when one of the spouse dies, and therefore it’s haraam to wash their body. I tried on islamqa, but their not giving a definite answer.

The Saudi scholar Ibn Baaz says there is nothing wrong with washing a spouse’s body. He mentions that Asmaa’ bin Umais (the wife of Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him and her) washed Abu Bakr’s body when he died, and that Fatima (daughter of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family) washed Ali’s body.

Dealing with parents who disrespect and fight each other

I would like to ask about my family problem. My parents have been fighting for years. My father no longer talks to my mother although he tried to make amends once. My mother constantly talk bad about my father to me and my siblings. She is always full of hatred and anger towards my father. I’m afraid with time I’ll begin to hate my father as well. What is the view in Islam about parents talking bad about their partner to their kids? Where should I stand in this? Thank you.

What your parents are doing is against Islamic teachings. What you should do is stay neutral and respectful toward both of them. If one parent does something unjust toward the other parent or toward one of the children, if you can help prevent it without causing greater harm, then you should try, without belittling or offending either parent.

In your situation, one thing you can do is encourage your siblings to think the best of your father so that they are not unjustly biased against him by your mother’s words. Since your father is not speaking to her and allowing the situation to continue as it is, it appears that both parents are responsible for the bad situation, therefore it is best to not take sides but try to be fair toward both.

If there was anything you could to improve their relationship, then that would be a good thing to do, although it is unlikely. Anything you try could do greater harm than good, since they are older than you and know much more about each other than you do.

Please also see my answer On Islamic Manners Toward Parents.

On Islamic Manners Toward Parents

What to do if you cannot find interesting and like-minded Muslims to befriend

I have experienced bad things in Muslim communities for so many years that it led me to giving up religion and I went astray. After going through many hardships in life alhamdulillah I came back to the Deen to take shelter. However I’m afraid of mixing with Muslims again. They are shallow at their thinking, even non Muslims understand me better and try to help. I’m tired of being judged yet I want to belong to a community or at least have Muslim friends so I’m not alone. How can I find balance?

Your experience of not finding mixing with other Muslims uplifting, although disheartening, is common. The Medieval scholar Ibn al-Jawzi mentions the same thing, and one of the primary pieces of advice he offers in his book of advice Sayd al-Khatir is that one shouldn’t mix too much with others, because most people are not very spiritual and will harm rather than benefit your faith.

When it comes to most Muslims, Islam is just a small add-on on top of their personalities and characters, so that if their personalities and characters are not compatible with yours, Islam will do little to change things. The exceptions are those who have taken Islamic spirituality to heart and try to follow Quranic manners in everything, but such people are rare, and you will be lucky to meet one among a hundred Muslims you meet.

There are different sections of society, each section having its own interests, character and manners. What Islam means for one section can be very different to what it means for another, therefore if you try to engage the wrong section, you will may not get anything satisfactory out of it.

I love reading, but the majority of people, including the majority of Muslims, do not. The people I like to befriend are those who enjoy reading and learning, and such people are few. This means that most people I meet are not going to be the type I can enjoy spending time with, even if they are good people and I like them.

Your experience might be the same. This is also the experience of many genetically European converts to Islam, who want to find fellow Muslims who are interested in intellectual topics, who care about the long-term good of the community and want to plan things and solve problems, but who discover that most people in the community do not care very much about these things. Perhaps this is what you meant when you said you find most Muslims shallow.

The type of people you like might be rare and perhaps not present in your local community. The internet can be a great help in overcoming this issue. You can find like-minded Muslims from around the world and follow them and perhaps befriend them. The people I keep in contact with over the internet are far higher in quality as friends compared to anyone I know at my local community.

Feeling lonely is a common experience if you are different from the people around you. You must first accept this reality, knowing that this is how things will always be unless God grants you the deep friendship of someone. In the end, it is only God who can cure our loneliness. He can arrange things for us, plan for us and facilitate things for us so that we are no longer lonely, if He wishes, if the time is right and if we deserve it. For this reason this is a thing that must be sought through God more than through any other means.

Islam’s theory of free will versus physical determinism: Why humans are responsible for their actions even though God operates the universe

Emission Nebula

In your essay “God, Evolution and Abiogenesis,” you said an atom has no power to move on its own. It is God who has to move every single thing that moves in this world. Given that, does that mean we don’t have free will? On the atomic level, it is due to the chemical reactions and the firing of neurons in our brains that we think and make decisions. So, since God is responsible for everything that’s in motion (including atoms), then isn’t God to blame for all my immoral actions?

Your soul is “plugged into” this universe without being part of it. When you desire to lift up your hand, the desire is yours, therefore you are responsible for this action, but it is God who actually has to move the atoms (and everything else) for your hand to actually move.

When you play a video game, you can issue a command for your game character to lift its hand. You personally have no power to lift the character’s hand, it is the video game engine that actually has to carry your command out, and if the video game engine malfunctions, no matter how many times you issue the command for your character to do something, it may not do it.

When your soul, which is independent from this universe, issues a command, it is fully responsible for this command. But this command is nothing but a feeble wish, it has zero power to change the universe. It is God who has to communicate the soul’s commands to your body, and it is God who has to carry the command out by moving the universe, since nothing in this universe has the power or ability to move or change by itself.

So your soul is free, it is not part of the functioning of this universe. This universe can be thought of as a simulation that is entirely upheld and operated by God. Your soul has no power except to wish for things, and God can transfer these wishes to the body that is temporarily under a human’s control inside our universe. When a person dies, the soul is simply “unplugged” from the universe, and when the person is resurrected, the soul is plugged back into a new body in a different universe, or an outer universe inside of which our universe is contained.

Since He wants us to have the choice of disbelieving in Him, He always reliably operates this universe for us, making us think that we have control over our brains and bodies, and making us think that this universe would function by itself even if there was no God. This is a necessary part of the design of the universe, to make faith in God a choice.

Imagine yourself as sitting in a room outside of this universe, holding a remote control that enables you to send commands to your brain and body which are inside the universe. You are responsible for the commands you issue, but you do not have any power or authority to cause a change within the universe. God (or some mechanism laid down by Him) changes the universe so that the command is carried out. He does this so reliably for us that we are tricked into thinking that we have power over this universe.

In reality, the view of the universe we arrive at from the Quran is that it is a simulation-like thing upon which humans have zero power. The human soul is temporarily given the illusion of control over a body, and as the soul issues commands, God moves the body in response, as part of everything else He does in operating this universe.

Saying the soul is independent of this universe does not mean that it is not affected by it. By being plugged into this universe, it experiences it and responds to it. When a human is presented with a temptation, the physical body (and I include the brain in this), which belongs to this universe, responds to it and desires it. The soul, however, maintains final judgment on whether the human succumbs to the temptation or not. The stronger the temptation is, the less room there is for the soul to exert control over the physical body, and the weaker the temptation, the more control the soul has over the body. For this reason we are not always, perhaps never, entirely responsible for the bad deeds we do, the environment affects us and pushes us toward some things. The mistake is in thinking that the environment completely controls us, which is what some atheists say. The Quran says that while the environment affects us, our soul maintains its independence, being able to go against the environment if it wants.

God could prevent all evil from happening, since all that He has to do is stop carrying out an evil person’s intentions, or cause slight changes so that a terrible accident does not happen. I explain why He does not prevent evil things from taking place in my essay Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Humans would have had no responsibility for their actions if they were merely brains and bodies, similar to other animals. If things were so, they would be parts of this universe, and everything they do would be a consequence of the motion of particles and forces within the universe, similar to the actions of bacteria in a pond. But when a soul is plugged into the body, the soul “rides” the body, taking charge of it, directing it, and being responsible for it.

At times, the physical body is out of control, such as when under the influence of a drug, or due to mental illness, or due to witnessing some horrible crime. When this happens, when the soul loses control over the brain and body, it is no longer responsible for what the brain and body do until it regains control.

Our responsibility for a sinful act increases as the involvement of the soul increases. If there is no terrible temptation making us partially lose control over the human body that we control, if our sin is done in cold blood while having full control over the earthly body, then this is a far greater sin than a sin done out of overwhelming desire.

This concept also applies to good deeds. A person who forces their unwilling earthly body to do a good deed is going to deserve higher rewards than a person who only does good deeds that make them feel good. It is for this reason that Umar ibn Abdul Aziz says:

The best good deeds are those that one has to force the ego to perform.

When your ego wants to do evil and your soul overcomes it and prevents it from doing it, or your ego dislikes to do a good deed but your soul overcomes it and forces it to do it, in both of these cases you deserve reward, you used your free will to go against the environment, against the ego your soul is plugged into.

The ego is the earthly body’s sense of self. Even if humans had no free will, if they were merely animals, they would still have an ego. This ego makes them seek what they desire and avoid what they do not desire. The soul is an add-on over the ego, able to override it or go along with it. The ego is arrogant, loves pleasures and dislikes work. The soul can submit to it and do as the ego pleases. It can also receive guidance, submit to God and go against the ego when the ego desires something harmful.

You will meet some humans who mostly live inside their egos. The soul has nearly fully relinquished all control, letting the ego make nearly all of their decisions for them. These people are greedy, power-hungry and love pleasures, they are kind and loving toward their own families (since it is an animal instinct to be this way toward one’s own family), but have no empathy or understanding for others. If their child unjustly beats up someone else’s child, they will continue to defend their own child without caring about right or wrong, since they judge things based on the ego, and the ego wants what is good for the human animal’s interests and does not care about justice.

An easy way to find out if someone lives in their ego is to ask yourself, “Will this person help me if helping me required them to do something that gave them some inconvenience and discomfort?” People who live in their egos will generally only help others if helping others is easy and costs them nothing. If there is any cost involved, they immediately ignore the person who is asking for help, treating them as an annoyance to be gotten rid of. But if helping others will bring them fame and praise, they will do it.

The concepts mentioned in this answer are not meant to be used in scientific discussions with atheists, they help explain the Quranic view on these matters for people who have already accepted the truth of the Quran. The concepts in this essay are also useful in discussions with atheists like Sam Harris who falsely claim that the theory of physical determinism proves free will wrong. If the universe was physically determinate, there would be no free will. But there is no proof for this, as I will explain. What they say is similar to saying “If God did not exist, then there would be no God.” In reality, we can have a perfectly scientific universe that appears physically determinate, while also having free will that operates in parallel to it, and which to a scientist appears either as randomness or as a chaotic and emergent behavior

There is no proof that free will exists, the same way there is no proof that God exists. All that we have is soft evidence (rather than hard evidence) that the Quran is true, and once we have accepted the Quran as true, we accept that both God and free will exist.

LGBT rights versus religion: Refuting “everyone should do what makes them happy as long as it doesn’t affect others”

Ludgate, Evening by John O’Connor (1887)

The statement “everyone should do what makes them happy as long as it doesn’t affect others” is from a reddit comment I saw. It aptly sums up the common secularist Western mindset toward things like gay marriage. The one who says it generally assumes this is an undeniable and inalienable right, meaning that there is absolutely no way anyone with a functioning brain, common sense and a lack of religious brainwashing should oppose it. It is perhaps an extension of the train of thought so well-put in America’s Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The problem with it, however, is that it assumes that humanity is purposeless. This is not surprising, since the people who believe in it are secularists to a greater or lesser degree. But if humanity has a purpose, then the statement is false. People should not pursue what makes them happy, even if it doesn’t affect others, they should pursue whatever serves their purpose.

Therefore, embracing the statement is not a sign of being modern and enlightened, and opposing it is not a sign of backwardness and a lack of empathy for others. The difference is not between being modern or backward, the difference is in whether you consider humanity purposeless or purposeful. If humanity is purposeless, they should peaceably follow their instincts, as the statement advocates. If humanity has a purpose, humans should fulfill that purpose, instead of (merely) peaceably following their instincts.

If you have a purpose, and if acting upon an instinct goes against your purpose, then it logically follows that you shouldn’t do it.

Therefore the right to do as you please as long as it doesn’t harm others is self-evident and inalienable only if you presuppose that humans are purposeless (that there is not a God who has designated certain purposes for humanity). Since the religious do not presuppose these, they do not believe in the statement.

In a society in which both religious and irreligious people live, whose word should take precedence, since there is no hard evidence for humanity having a purpose?

Generally, as is happening in Australia, opposition to things like gay marriage are portrayed as ignorance and backwardness, since the liberals who support these things are completely and utterly incapable of seeing the religious viewpoint (that the existence of purpose requires avoiding the fulfillment of certain desires), they rather, just as ignorantly and closed-mindedly as any religious person, start with their own unproven presupposition (that humanity is purposeless), then illogically and irrationally use this to “prove” that homosexual marriage is an inalienable right.

You cannot prove something using an unproven supposition, whether you are religious or liberal. The religious cannot prove that homosexual marriage is “wrong”, and the liberal cannot prove that homosexual marriage is “right”, since the root of the disagreement is in whether humanity has a purpose or not, something about which there is no hard evidence, whether to prove it or disprove it.

Therefore in a democratic society where both religious and irreligious people live side-by-side, instead of turning the matter into a barbaric scuffle filled with hatred, calls for blood and utter lack of empathy for the other, it should be settled democratically. The religious believe that it harms humanity’s purpose to practice homosexual marriage or tolerate it, the irreligious do not believe this. If the society is democratic, then each has the right to work for what they believe to be right like civilized humans, rather than like quarreling schoolchildren.

Those who support homosexual marriage will say that it is their inalienable right to enjoy the type of marriage they choose, what right does society have to dictate things for them? Society dictates many things on people to prevent things it considers harmful. If God exists and dislikes homosexual marriage and punishes those who engage in it, and if the spread of homosexual marriage means that society will tolerate it more, so that more of the children of the religious will be influenced by it and perhaps engage in it, then it logically follows that the religious should oppose homosexual marriage for the good of their children and societies.

You could say that the spread of homosexual marriage will not affect the choices of the religious, since they are free what they do. But that’s like saying the spread of child pornography and rape pornography is OK since people are free whether they actually molest children or rape people. Most people, including liberals, are opposed to the toleration of child pornography and rape pornography because they think it “normalizes” these things and makes it more likely for people to engage in them. The exact same logic applies to homosexual marriage; tolerating it normalizes it, which makes it more likely for people to engage in it. If the behavior is harmless, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the religious consider it harmful.

Therefore the religious opposition to homosexuality is not illogical; It is based on logic that begins with an unproven presupposition (that humans have a purpose, i.e. that God exists and commands things), while the liberal position is also based on logic that begins with an unproven presupposition (that humans are purposeless, that God does not exist or that He does not command things or certain things).

Therefore while as a liberal you have the right to work for what you consider your rights, you’d be wrong to think that an opposition to gay marriage is illogical or irrational, it uses the same methods you use (logic that starts with an unproven supposition) to reach the conclusion that gay marriage should be prohibited. If the religious are illogical and irrational for basing their thinking on an unproven supposition, you too are illogical and irrational for basing your thinking on an unproven supposition.

One could go on to say that the burden of proof is on the religious to prove that there is any validity to religious thinking, that the starting point of human rationality is irreligion, therefore an irreligious supposition (that humans are purposeless) does not require proof, while a religious supposition (that humans have purpose) requires proof.

This argument is incorrect because rationalism does not begin at irreligion, but at a state of confusion that seeks answers, which may either lead to religion or irreligion. There is much soft evidence to direct one toward religion, as I explain in my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species, while there are also things that make one doubt the validity of religion, such as the fact that there is no hard evidence for it.

Therefore the two positions are equal; whether you presuppose the existence of purpose when you oppose homosexual marriage, or you presuppose its lack when you support homosexual marriage, you are performing exactly the same logical exercise. You either adopted religion and used it to derive principles, or you adopted irreligion and used it to derive principles.

The liberals and and the religious both started at the same place (confusion), were exposed to the world and its experiences, then used their rational brains to arrive at differing conclusions. From a moral and ethical standpoint, liberals have no right to belittle certain humans for using their rational brains to arrive at conclusions that differ from theirs. If they respected human rights, human dignity, ethics and the democratic process, they would respectfully disagree with the religious instead of dehumanizing them.

As the (atheist) writer Terry Pratchett says, evil starts when people are treated as things. If it is evil to dehumanize gay people, it is also evil to dehumanize those who oppose gay marriage. Gays and those who oppose gay marriage are both humans, and a fair-minded person will never forget this humanity and the respect and kindness it necessitates.

I consider the whole issue of gay marriage a symptom of the West’s decline, rather than a cause. It is exactly the same as the issue of sex outside of marriage. Christians who themselves engage in sex outside of marriage and other mortal sins (like usury) cannot help but appear as utter hypocrites when they oppose gay marriage.

The gay marriage issue is very useful, as it helps distract attention away from society’s actual problems. If half of the country is foaming at the mouth with anger as they support or oppose gay marriage, they will have little time and energy to critique the utter corruption of their governments, the fact that the banks control their economies, the fact that a few people own and control most of their country’s major media outlets.

And to a neo-Marxist leftist (which is what most of the people who run the mainstream media and academia are), the gay marriage issue is useful in driving wedges into society, making one section fight another, and reaping power and profit from the process; delegitimizing religion and religious institutions and making their own ideologies replace them, making themselves the heroes of the supposedly oppressed, and enforcing a militant culture of political correctness where no one dares to oppose them and stand up to them. They are the good ones, after all, and if you disagree you are a bad, bad non-human!

It is the Marxist project all over again, making one section of society hate the other (workers against capitalists, women against men, minorities against whites, LGBT against the religious), and reaping immense power and profit from the process, with zero concern for the lives destroyed, the decay in manners, the utter lack of respect for ethics, the dehumanization and promotion of hatred and violence against millions of innocent people. If millions suffer in the process, let God sort them out; almost no one remembers the 11 million innocent Christian men, women and children murdered by the Marxists. If our new Marxists do the same in promoting the dehumanization of millions of people and violence toward them, who cares as long as they get to gain power, influence, fame and outrageous salaries as pundits, non-profit executives, academic bureaucrats and career victims?

Why does God oppose homosexuality and gay marriage?

If you are interested in the technical reasons why religion opposes gay marriage (i.e. we know that God doesn’t like homosexuality, but why is this so?), see my essay On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims. While this essay is written from an Islamic perspective, the reasons why Islam opposes gay marriage are similar to the reasons why Christians do it.

What to do if strict/intolerant Muslims make you dislike Islam

I’m now making slowly process to turn to Islam (as a Muslim) after years of no Iman. However sometimes I can come across really blogs here that post Islamic posts that are really strict and even dark in someway. I feel like I can’t keep it up if Islam requires me to hate other religions and groups so I end up not performing my prayers etc. because I don’t feel peaceful at my heart. It feels as if I’ve come to the wrong religion.

Generally whenever you stray away from the Quran and put your focus on anything else, you will lose your understanding of God and get an inaccurate and even depressing view of Him and His religion. This is true even if you read books by inspiring writers like Ibn al-Qayyim, who focus too much on certain of God’s characteristics and less on others. Only the Quran is perfectly balanced, all other sources will contain some imbalance that can upset or mislead you.

It is the Quran that defines your mission in life, your principles, your philosophy, your ideals. When people say something that goes against anything in the Quran, reject it and go on with your life.

There is no such thing as an “Islam” that is independent of the Quran. Islam is nothing more or less than the Quran applied to the real world. Read the Quran and you will see that it will not tell you to hate other religions. Read In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan and you will see that the Prophet, peace be upon him, was an example of love and tolerance toward non-Muslims.

You should not allow others to define Islam for you. Do your own reading and learning, and if anyone says something that insults your intelligence or goes against your sense of justice, research it and ask others about it, and you will find out that there is always a sensible answer. Instead of giving in to others when they present a version of Islam that you find unacceptable, find your own tolerant and beautiful version of Islam and use it to challenge theirs.

Many of the “strict” Muslims you see are Salafis who believe that the best way to please God is to follow the authority of hadith as an equal to the Quran, while the school of Islamic thought that I follow is Quran-focused Islam, which considers the Quran the center of Islam. These two different approaches lead to very different types of Islam. Salafism is “strict” and thinks virtue is in strictness, which often leads to an intolerant and judgmental form of Islam, while Quran-focused Islam is tolerant and respects your dignity and individuality.

I describe the problems with Salafism and its alternative in my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely or meaningless

Flowering Azaleas by Marie Egner (c. 1895)

I would appreciate some advice. I pray all my prayers on time and I read Quran daily, along with other forms of worship, but I feel so numb & empty. I feel like I have no purpose in this life, like if I died it won’t even matter. I don’t affect this Ummah in any way. I just work full-time, I’m single, I don’t have friends, my family and relatives are not on good terms, and I have social anxiety so I hate interacting with others. I feel so useless, is there a point to my worship?

It is human nature to want to be productive and achieve things for the sake of any cause you believe in, such as Islam. But ideally, your Islam should not be in any way attached to results.

Even if you were the only remaining human on earth, you can still perfectly apply Islam in your life, achieving your mission in life and a great success in the afterlife.

Your mission is the same as the Prophet’s mission, peace be upon him. It is to read the Quran and apply it wherever you can in your life, living by its manners, principles and philosophy.

When speaking of placing humans on Earth, God said to the angels, “I am placing a steward on Earth.” What is a steward? It is someone who takes care of something, for example a farm, for the sake of its owner, until the owner comes back.

We Muslims (and faithful Christians and others) are stewards on Earth. Our job is to take care of it for the sake of its Master. And this is achieved by following God’s Straight Path. The Straight Path is a program designed to ensure two things: humanity’s long-term survival (by placing various mechanisms to ensure that humanity doesn’t die out), and humanity’s short-term moral integrity (never justifying evil in the name of the greater good, never saying “the end justifies the means”).

We stewards are God’s representatives on Earth, and an important part of our stewardship is to keep God’s remembrance alive:

“And I have chosen you so listen to what is being revealed.
“Indeed, I am God, there is no god except Me, so worship Me and establish the prayer for My remembrance. (The Quran, verses 20:13-14)

Regardless of your situation, you are always able to fully live your life as a Muslim. You do not need anyone else’s involvement, this is something between you and God.

I have lived alone twice in my life, once when I was 18 and another time when I was 27, and both are some of the worst experiences of my life. I understand the difficulty of your situation, and how purposeless and meaningless it feels.

These are the times when your faith in God is tested. Will you think bad thoughts about Him, consider Him incapable of helping you, or consider Him unkind so that He wants you to suffer?

If we are fair-weather friends of God, then we will worship Him and love Him when things are easy, and once things get truly difficult, once our patience is tested, we fail the test and prove that we are unworthy of being honored by Him.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, suffered many hardships during his career that must have seemed purposeless and needless, since God had the power to protect him at all times and to ensure the very best for him. For 13 years he and his followers had to suffer under the hands of the pagans of Mecca. Couldn’t have God made this only one year, so that the Prophet and his followers used their time more productively? Couldn’t they have used all these years of suffering better if God had enabled Islam to spread faster? What was the point of the Prophet losing his wife and his main protector in Mecca, his uncle Abu Talib, at a crucial place in his career, greatly weakening him?

What the Prophet was taught with all of these difficulties is that God is a King, and He does as He wishes with His servants. If we have truly submitted, we will accept His decrees, thinking the best of Him and continuing to love Him, praise Him and worship Him, even as we suffer knowing that He can end our suffering.

Know that God has no need of you. You cannot do God any favors. No matter how talented or capable you are, God can always create someone with exactly your talents and abilities in little time. Everything we do for God’s sake is actually a gift from Him, because it is He who taught us, guided us, and sustained us throughout all of these years so that we could do this thing in His name and claim credit for it.

Any good deed you do for God is actually a favor from Him. If you want to be productive, to serve Islam, Muslims and humanity, what you are actually asking is for God to give you the favor of being useful in His cause.

You are asking God for a great favor. Ask yourself if you deserve it. Ibn al-Qayyim says:

Whoever, among the workers, wishes to know his status in the eye of the King, let him look at what jobs He gives him and with what He busies him.

If you want the King to give you a great job the ensures you rewards in this life and the afterlife, then you must know that this job is given to those He wishes, and not to everyone. You must purify yourself, rededicate yourself to God, give up all sinful behaviors, and constantly seek His guidance and forgiveness, while remaining patient and thinking the best of Him, and in this way you will be guided to Him step by step, month after month, until you reach a place where He decides to give you a better task in life.

There are no shortcuts if you want to be a sincere and useful servant of God. You must turn yourself into the type of person who deserves God’s honor and favors, and He will give these to you.

God can change your situation in an instant, solving all of your problems, giving you immense knowledge and placing you somewhere where you can be a great and highly admired leader. God will not do this for you, because God does not perform miracles for us. If God did miracles for us, yet we sinned afterwards, this would cause us to deserve the utmost punishment from Him, as happened to Jesus’s apostles:

112. “And when the disciples said, ‘O Jesus son of Mary, is your Lord able to bring down for us a feast from heaven?’ He said, ‘Fear God, if you are believers.’“

113. They said, “We wish to eat from it, so that our hearts may be reassured, and know that you have told us the truth, and be among those who witness it.”

114. Jesus son of Mary said, “O God, our Lord, send down for us a table from heaven, to be a festival for us, for the first of us, and the last of us, and a sign from You; and provide for us; You are the Best of providers.”

115. God said, “I will send it down to you. But whoever among you disbelieves thereafter, I will punish him with a punishment the like of which I never punish any other being.” (The Quran, verses 5:112-115)

They demanded a miracle from God, and God answered their prayer. But to maintain justice, it is necessary for God to hold these people who see the miracle to extremely stringent standards afterwards. Disobeying God after seeing physical evidence with your own eyes of His power is a far greater sin than disobeying God while He feels hidden from you.

It is out of His mercy that He does not do miracles for us. If He did miracles, this would be a burden that many of us couldn’t carry. On the one hand, it would cheapen our good deeds, because now we’d be doing them while having some proof of God’s existence. On the other hand, it would greatly increase our sinfulness if we disobeyed Him in anything, because we’d be committing sins while having had direct experience of Him.

What God wants, instead, is for us to go through the boring, difficult, numbing experiences of life, so that the good we do can be fully attributed to us, and so that we can be rewarded for our faith and patience. If God intervened directly in our lives, showing Himself and performing miracles, all of these things possibilities would be destroyed.

Accept your situation, knowing that God is fully capable of changing it in an instant. He wants you to be responsible for the change, so that He can reward you for it, instead of He Himself causing the change directly and taking away the chance for you to prove yourself.

Nothing you achieve in this life is going to be of any worth except the record of your deeds. Even if you build the world’s greatest mosque in His name, when the world ends, it will be destroyed and turned into nothing, as if it never existed. If you want to work for Him, then know that results only come through Him, and not through your own efforts. If He allows you to achieve any success in His name, then know that this is a favor from Him, not a favor from you to Him.

This is not to say that nothing we do for Him is of value, saying that He can accomplish anything He wants Himself. It is, rather, to realize that there are two worlds, the world of the seen and the world of the unseen. The unseen world is that which has priority. Nothing you do in the seen world is of value if the unseen part of your world is corrupt. And nothing you do in the unseen world is worthless regardless of your results in the seen world.

Becoming a chosen servant of God

If you want to become the type of servant that God favors by making him or her productive in His cause, then these are the steps you can follow to accomplish this.

1. Clean your slate

Chronic sins in your life will block God’s blessings. You cannot hope to be honored by God if part of your life is in direct contradiction to His teachings. For example, if you have usurious debt (debt upon which you pay interest, such as mortgage, car or credit card debt), then this is going to be a blocker of God’s blessings in your life. If you have cut off your relationship with a family member despite the fact that God commands love and kindness and tolerance toward them, then this will block God’s blessings.

Think of your life and find anything that could be considered a chronic sin, and fix it as soon as you can, doing your utmost to do so. God will not believe you to be sincere in wishing for His forgiveness and love if your life contains sinful parts that are insults toward Him.

The next thing to do is to ask God for His forgiveness for every great and small sin you have ever committed. Do this with every prostration of every one of your formal prayers, and do it after every formal prayer.

Equally important is to not add new sins to your record. Your goal should be to have a pristine record, clear of all sins. You cannot hope to have God’s favors if you are carrying a great burden of sins on your back.

2. Reestablish your connection with God through worship

Your question suggests that you are already doing this, that is good. Perform tahajjud at night (8 extra units performed after the isha prayer) and the duha prayer in the morning (8 rakat performed anywhere between 15 minutes after sunrise to 15 minutes before the dhuhr athan). Sit down for a few minutes after every formal prayer, supplicating to God for everything you desire. Do this with all of your five prayers.

3. Be patient and do not expect results

Even if you do not see results for months, detach yourself from expecting results, knowing that God is a King, and a King does what He wills with His servants. Submit to His decree. Do your part of worship, seeking forgiveness and avoiding sins, knowing that God will do His part. If you repent, worship Him ardently and constantly pray for His help, yet see no results for a week or two, what do you know, perhaps if you are patient, results will come in a few months, when you are ready for it.

If you feel numb, uncared for and abandoned, then realize that all of us have felt like that at some point in our lives, even the Prophet, who after revealing the first few revelations, stopped receiving revelation for a period of six months to two years, after which these verses were revealed:

1. By the morning light.

2. And the night as it settles.

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

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

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

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

7. And found you wandering, and guided you?

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

9. Therefore, do not mistreat the orphan.

10. Nor rebuff the seeker.

11. But proclaim the blessings of your Lord. (The Quran, verses 93:1-8)

4. Read

An important help toward being patient, thinking the best of God and understanding His decrees is to read. Read Ibn al-Jawzi‘s and Ibn al-Qayyim‘s sayings. If you do not speak Arabic, read multiple translations of the Quran, especially Muhammad Abdel-Haleem’s. Read Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet if you haven’t. Read every good Islamic book you can find, especially by modern, mainstream writers.

5. Put your hopes in the afterlife

This world will never live up to your expectations, and nothing you achieve in it will last forever. It is a central spiritual teaching of the Quran to focus more on the hereafter than on the present life, as verse 4 above teaches.

Think of this world as nothing more than a waiting room. You are here for a while, waiting for the door to be opened, behind which there is a beautiful and thriving city where you can finally have peace and freedom from all stress and worry. Arriving at this city must be your goal, you must never be deluded by the cheap counterfeit goods of the worldly life, which almost always cause as much pain as the pleasure they bring.

If you at this moment feel depressed and unable to do anything for the afterlife, then wait patiently, and this in itself is worship. Imagine yourself waiting in that waiting room. Just wait, if you cannot do anything more. Wait, knowing that eventually the door will open. You do not need to do anything more than waiting, God does not burden you with more than you are able.

6. Be easy on yourself

A mistake many of us make is to rededicate ourselves to God for a short period of time, such a during Ramadan, only to burn out, feeling that we can never be the perfect saint that we hope to be.

Never push yourself beyond what you are able to carry at this moment. Continue to enjoy what you enjoy, reading novels, browsing your favorite sites, playing video games, doing whatever (non-sinful) thing you enjoy doing.

Islam does not ask you to give up the pleasures of this world, or to turn yourself into a God-worshiping robot. It asks you reform your life, to remain close to God as much as you are able, and to continue living a normal human life. God does not blame you for enjoying yourself, for taking the time off to go to the park, to listen to music, to do anything you find enjoyable and uplifting.

Be gentle with yourself and increase what you do for God only when you are able. If today you are tired and cannot perform an extra good deed that you performed yesterday, then do not do it.

Pushing yourself too hard can cause your ego to rebel, because it will feel like Islam is an enemy that wants to prevent it from enjoying life. Children and teenagers also feel this way when their parents try to push them too hard to be pious and religious.

Instead, be a gentle and kind master with yourself, respecting your own dignity and giving yourself time to do what you enjoy.

7. Rely on His guidance

Another mistake that people make is losing hope in God’s ability to guide them. They lose hope and think that they are permanently lost, thinking as if God is incapable of reaching into their lives and purifying it again. The truth that Quran teaches us is that God is with us every hour of every day, teaching us, educating us, helping us overcome challenges and grow into better humans.

Some Muslims, especially strict ones, mistakenly think that for a person to acquire guidance, a thousand things have to go exactly perfectly for them. In reality, once a person accepts the Quran as their guide, and sincerely prays to God for guidance, then their guidance is assured. God will take care of arranging for them everything necessary to help them grow and improve. The Quran speaks much of guidance (al-huda), and there would be little point in mentioning this if it was all about a human’s own efforts toward learning about God and Islam. Rather, guidance is largely about God bestowing His favor upon humans, inspiring them and helping them along the way:

God chooses to Himself whom He wills, and He guides to Himself whoever repents. (The Quran, 42:13)

He said, “I am going towards my Lord, and He will guide me.” (The Quran, verse 37:99)

No matter how lost you feel, pray to God for guidance, and He will guide you, in ways you do not expect. He will arrange for you to go through the right experiences, to hear, read and see the right things, to be able to learn and grow and mature. What you must do, above all, is repent and be sincere.

On social anxiety and loneliness

I too do not enjoy social interactions except with people I know really well. This is perfectly normal. It is not a character flaw, it is due to your genes. If you get only four hours of sleep one night, the next day nearly all of your social anxiety will be gone, because the parts of your brain the cause you social anxiety will stop doing their usual thing.

Consider social anxiety just one of life’s annoyances, similar to a person who has an accident and has to limp for the rest of their lives. It is probably never going away completely, although many things can significantly reduce it (such as gaining wealth and status). Accept social anxiety as a part of life and move on. There are people who are blind, be thankful that your problem is not as serious. It will still get in the way of enjoying a life that people would call normal, but it is not more than you can bear.

When you are in a situation where your social anxiety becomes a factor, it is like a person who has a limp being expected to move fast or run. It is not enjoyable and you’d much rather avoid it, but if you think of it as just another physical disability, then you will be able to handle it with few negative emotions. If people constantly expect you to be outgoing and comfortable socially, then the blame is on them for expecting you to act in a way you are not designed to act. Instead of trying to live up to their expectations, trying to act the way their genes make them act, instead of acting the way your genes make you act, be comfortable with yourself, accepting your limitations, finding social enjoyment in the ways you can (instead of in the ways people expect), and having hope that as you grow older, you will learn better ways of dealing with the issue.

If you feel lonely and wish for meaningful social interactions, for example with a loving spouse, then you can pray for this and let God decide when and how you will have it. Loneliness is just one of the many tests of life, and the happiness we desire from ending our loneliness is only something that God can give to us:

42. And that to your Lord is the finality.

43. And that it is He who causes laughter and weeping.

44. And that it is He who gives death and life.

45. And that it is He who created the two kinds—the male and the female.

46. From a sperm drop, when emitted.

47. And that upon Him is the next existence.

48. And that it is He who enriches and impoverishes. (The Quran 53:42-48)

It is best not place your hopes of fulfillment in this life, as already mentioned, and this includes hoping for an end to loneliness. It is better to put our ultimate hope in the afterlife and to serve God as best as we can, expecting favors and blessings only from Him, whenever He decrees these for us.

This is about the spiritual side of things. As for the material side of things, you are free to seek fulfillment, for example by trying to get married. If you take care of the spiritual side, God will give you His help and guidance as you use your intelligence and planning ability to improve your material situation.

Spiritually, seek fulfillment only through God. Wealth, a spouse, family and friends will not bring you fulfillment unless He allows it and makes it possible. In the worldly life, act like any intelligent human, spiritually, act like His servant, knowing that He is the King above all kings.

When to stand up during the iqamah, at the beginning, a specific point or at the end?

In our part of the world, I have noticed a few people standing up for the salah when the caller pronounces the words “Haiya as Salah” during the iqamat and most stand up from the beginning of the iqamat. Which is correct?

There is no specific evidence on the right time to stand up once the iqamah starts, and this is what Ibn Uthaymeen says. The various schools have used different arguments to justify different times for standing up. But since there is no strong evidence on any of these opinions, you are free to stand whenever it suits you. There is a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari in which the Prophet says not to stand up until the crowd sees him stand up, therefore if there is a specific person who is meant to lead the prayer, then the rest should wait for that person to stand up before standing up themselves.

The Hanafi opinion is to stand up when the athan reaches “hayya alas salat”.

The Shafiee opinino is to stand up once the athan is finished.

The Maliki opinion is that you can stand any time, at the beginning, middle or end of it.

The Hanbali opinion is to follow what the imam does. The imam is supposed to stand up once the athan reaches “qad qamatis salat”. But if the imam takes longer to stand up, then the rest will wait until the imam stands up.

However, if there is a specific imam who is meant to lead the prayer, and the imam is late, and the iqama is said, the rest should wait for the imam to arrive before standing up.

Muslims may use “God” instead of “Allah”, and why most converts to Islam should keep their pre-Islam names

They say in our doctrine that the word “God” is way different than “Allah”, and shouldn’t be said as long as the Kuffar use it. We as Muslims differ from what they came with.. Similar to what happened when Adan was first confirmed. What’s your take on that?

The Saudi scholar Ibn Uthaymeen says there is no issue with using foreign words to refer to God if the meaning of the word is commonly known and well-understood and not confusable with pagan deities.

I try to use the word “God” wherever I can if I am speaking or writing in English, because it sounds more natural than using “Allah”. My wife is a native English speaker and we always say “God” when we speak.

I come from a Kurdish culture and we always use Khwa and Khoda when we speak about God. It sounds highly unusual if someone says Allah in the wrong context, it is like saying “thou” and “thee” in English to refer to someone.

You will find some Arab-centric opinions on the internet that say to use “Allah” instead of other words, acting as if the cultural choices of hundreds of millions of non-Arab Muslims around the world are of no importance.

Using the word God in English is recommendable because it shows non-Muslim English speakers that we are not speaking of some foreign deity like some of them mistakenly think. It shows that we are speaking of the same God that they know of, the God of Abraham and Jesus, peace be upon them.For similar reasons I recommend that converts to Islam keep their pre-Islam names. A convert to Islam named Christopher is going to have a far easier time befriending and approaching non-Muslims, putting them at their ease and showing them that Muslims are just like themselves. If he chooses some foreign-sounding name, this will always act as a barrier.

Ultimately it comes down to personal choice whether a convert chooses to change their name or not. But it is a big mistake to tell them this should be one of the first things they should do after converting. This should be one of the last things they do, by choosing a foreign name they separate themselves from their local community and make it far more difficult on themselves to get their conversion to Islam accepted by others on the one hand, and to get others to have a friendly view of Islam on the other.

Additionally, converts to Islam who have children have the right to continue using local names, as long as these names do not have a meaning conflicting with Islam. Irish Muslims can continue using common Irish names, the way that Kurdish Muslims use Kurdish names, and Turkish Muslims use Turkish names.

Strategies for forgiving others

I’m having a bad past and it was not easy to forgive and forget. I’ve already tried my best to forgive people, but I still can’t find the inner peace. I still can’t find what I should be. Why it is so hard to forgive people? And why it is hard for me to forget the past. What should I do?

You are a human living in a human body. It is a natural part of you to find it difficult to forgive people who have injured you, since the subconscious part of the mind keeps track of every harm others have done us and in this way controls our emotions toward them. This is done for our own good, it is an automatic response meant to help us stay away from people who may harm us.

It is sufficient for you to consciously forgive people (to decide in your mind to not try to harm them or take revenge on them), as for your subconscious mind, it will continue to have its negative emotional response toward these people until a long time passes and you either start to see these people in a new light based on positive interactions, or so much time passes that you forget most of the injuries they have done you.

If you can consciously forgive people, and you can control your actions toward them, then there is no need to worry about the rest. Your focus should instead be on maintaining a heightened state of spirituality (through daily Quran reading, listening to lectures, and other acts of worship), increasing your knowledge, and always going closer toward God. As you improve in these regards, the worldly things that trouble you will feel less important.

Your subconscious (the emotions you feel toward people) is not under your direct control. The only way you can affect it is indirectly, by focusing on things that can rewire its priorities so that it stops worrying about people. And this is done, as I said, through days, months and years of spiritual practice.

There were people in my life who were extremely unkind to me years ago. Instead of trying to forgive them, I moved on with my life. I read hundreds of books, traveled, suffered many hardships and many good things, and in this way the negative things I felt toward these people became irrelevant, so that today I can interact with them without feeling anything negative toward them.

This is similar to how we do not feel strong emotions toward people who were mean to us in kindergarten or elementary school. It is not that we actively forgave them, it is that we grew up, we changed, so that they no longer feel relevant to us, to our emotions and our sense of self-worth.

In the same way, to forgive someone, a person can go to a different country, spend 5 years there and become a completely different person, and coming back to their home country, they may discover that they have forgiven the person even though they almost never thought about them.

To forgive, grow into a new person, move to a new position in life where those people’s negative actions toward you no longer feel important or interesting, so that you do not even bother to think about them anymore.

Besides Islamic worship, another thing you can do is to read 100 books. Read 100 good novels (classics written before 1965) and I guarantee that you will feel like a very different person once you are done, your view of yourself and the world around you will expand and you will start to see the world differently, so that your past stops having the power to hurt you.

What to do if the Quran (in English) does not touch your heart

I have an issue I feel bad about. Whenever I read the Qur’an i can’t connect to it. At worst I haven’t even had a clear feeling it’s from God. Idk why. Maybe because I don’t know Arabic. But whenever I watch a religious video explaining the religion i feel very connected.

You could try different translations of the Quran, some of them have a very technical style that is hard to connect to. Many people like The Qur’an (Oxford World’s Classics) which is not available for free online. You can also try Irving’s translation, which is free.

And if that doesn’t work, but you continue to enjoy lectures, then that is fine too. Once you have understood the religion and follow it, you are free to worship God and seek spirituality in the way that works best for you.

My favorite way to feel spiritual other than listening to the Quran is to read my collection of Ibn al-Jawzi’s sayings, which I have published as a book and which you can read here for free.

What is “sabr”?

/ No Comments on What is “sabr”?

What is sabr actually? Is it to learn to be stoic?

Sabr means “patience”, its literal meaning is “to withhold”. To have sabr means to be able to withhold yourself from doing anything that displeases God. In times of hardship, sabr means not to complain, not to think negative thoughts about God, and not to give up worshiping Him and seek refuge in other things.

In times of ease, sabr means to withhold yourself from using God’s blessings to disobey Him. It also means to continue worshiping Him as ardently as during times of hardship, instead letting times of ease make you complacent and lazy toward worship.

To have sabr means to be steadfast. Regardless of what life throws at you, if you have sabr, you continue to obey and worship God, withholding yourself from doing things that displease Him.

Dating and Relationships in Islam: What is Allowed and What is Not

Is dating and having relationships totally forbidden in Islam?

I will start with a description of an example scenario of the way dating and relationships work in Islam, then will clarify the Islamic stance. If a woman works somewhere, and there is a man there that she likes and who likes her, and both of them want to enjoy a relationship with each other, Islam asks them to get their families involved and work toward getting married.

The time between knowing someone and marrying them could be years. When two people are interested in each other, Islam does not strictly prescribe how they should behave with one another. The two people are expected to get their families involved, and to have a polite and formal relationship with one another, until the marriage takes place.

Depending on the culture, the couple may be allowed to see each other often; for example the man may visit the woman’s family and see her there once or twice a week. This is how dating works among conservative Iranian families. Once the nikah takes place (the official engagement ceremony), but before the wedding, they are allowed to spend time alone outside, going to cafes and restaurants for example, and it is accepted of them to be in constant contact with each other, such as through their phones. But they are not expected to be sexually intimate until after the wedding.

Therefore the Islamic way of dating is as follows. This is the Iranian solution (which is perfectly acceptable in Sunni Islam as well) which allows for dating before the wedding. Note that this is not a loophole, this is perfectly in accordance with Islamic manners:

  1. The man and woman know each other, either as family friends, coworkers or classmates, and both show interest in marrying the other (or the man is interested in marrying her).
  2. The man approaches the woman’s family in an official proposal ceremony. If the man doesn’t know the woman’s family at all, he may get her family’s contact information and set up an official meeting with them. The woman will tell her family about it, and in this way it is set up. The man visits the woman’s family accompanied by some of his own family, and in this way the two families get to know one another.
  3. If everything goes well, the man and woman maintain a formal and polite relationship, although it is not expected to be as formal as that between strangers. The man may visit the woman’s family occasionally. The two families work toward setting up a nikah ceremony.
  4. The nikah takes place. The relationship between the man and the woman becomes religiously officiated by a cleric. They are not married yet culturally. They are allowed to date and to be in contact, similar to a Western-style relationship (without sexual intimacy).
  5. The wedding takes place, after which they are a married couple.

There are all kinds of subtleties involved with this process, and Islam does not strictly prescribe the exact way it is carried out, as long as there is no intimacy before the nikah.

Within the Islamic system, people are discouraged to become intimate emotionally before the nikah, although there is no punishment for this within Islam, so it is not considered a crime, it is considered a breach of good manners and etiquette that could have harmful consequences, so that a person who truly fears God would avoid it.

Lovers in a Garden by Marcus C Stone (c. early 20th century)

For someone living in a different society, what they do could be different. Islam strictly prohibits physical intimacy between people before marriage, leaving emotional intimacy in a gray zone. If a young man and woman fall in love and become emotionally intimate before getting their families involved, their behavior may be considered sinful, or approaching sinfulness, but they have not committed a punishable crime. They are instead strongly encouraged to get their families involved and to maintain a formal relationship until after the nikah.

For two Muslim converts in the West who get to know each other and who want to start dating, performing the nikah is as simple as getting the permission of the woman’s guardian (a male family member, such as a father, brother or other blood relative if they are Muslim, if not, some respect Muslim man from the community), performing a 10-minute nikah ceremony in front of witnesses, then publicly announcing their nikahengagement (for example on Facebook). This can be done months before the wedding. Once this ceremony has been performed, they can start dating like any couple (if they want to date but not marry). In this ceremony the woman’s dowry is set. If they decide to separate before physical intimacy, the women receives half of her dowry, rather than the full dowry, she can also forgo the dowry if she wants.

And, if after the nikah they want to start living together as a husband and wife (without a wedding ceremony), they can do that too, making the nikah the wedding too. In Iran too, sometimes the nikah and the wedding are on the same day, other times they are separated by long periods of time.

So, in Islam it is considered bad manners and a weakness in one’s faith if one tries to have an intimate emotional relationship (for example over the internet) with a member of the opposite sex before the nikah, because this can lead to various sinful behaviors, as there can at times be an immense desire for the couple to take the relationship further, “sexting” and exchanging inappropriate photos. A couple who want to follow Islam’s guidance fully would avoid such a relationship. If they want to know each other better before the nikah, they would get their families involved, or at least the woman’s family (meaning her guardian) should be involved.

Different Muslim cultures have differing practices. Islam does not expect people to act like robots, it acknowledges their humanity, which is why it leaves the pre-nikah relationship in a gray zone, acknowledging that different circumstances require different policies. It is ultimately a matter of conscience between you and God. It is very easy for us to find excuses for our sinful desires and to say that our case is different. So we must be aware of our ego’s desire to always take a relationship with a person of the opposite sex further until it becomes sinful.

By having a relationship with someone before nikah, you constantly create opportunities for you and the other person to act in ways that would be considered sinful by others and by God. Therefore you must do your best to keep your ego’s desires in check, and you must do your best to get your families involved at the first possible opportunity.

If you want to date before marriage, then have your nikah ceremony, then start dating. In this way you can have a relationship, and if you end up not wanting to get married, you have the option of ending the relationship. If it is the woman who wants to end it, then she will get no dowry. If it is the man who wishes to end it, he must give her half the dowry, unless she says she does not want it.

If it is a long-distance relationship, it is sufficient to have a Skype session that involves the two of them, the woman’s guardian and two male witnesses. In this session, the woman’s guardian gives his agreement to the nikah and the dowry amount, and this would be it. They would be considered engaged in Islam, and they can publicly announce their engagement, and from then on they can have an intimate relationship like any non-Muslim Western couple. Depending on their culture, however, physical intimacy may be considered highly inappropriate until after the wedding, although technically it is allowed.

Why should your relationship life be anyone else’s business?

Why can’t young Muslims simply get into relationships without having to involve other people? They mean harm to no one, and they are old enough to think for themselves.

The reason is that in Islam, marriage is an extremely serious business, because the survival of humanity depends on it. Islam creates a system that ensures above-replacement fertility rates, meaning that sufficient children are born and taken care of so that the the population does not start shrinking and slowly going extinct.

Why should anyone care about that when one’s fulfillment is involved?

For the same reason that a factory owner has to worry about not releasing contaminated water into the environment. It may bring him or her great fulfillment to do this, since it reduces costs and increases profits, but for humanity’s greater good, their desire is curbed. What they do isn’t just their business, it is also society’s business.

In Islam, relationships and marriage are equally society’s business. It may seem really fun to spend one’s youth “hooking up” with a dozen different people, having a different sexual partner every few months. This can be highly enjoyable, there is no need to deny this. The problem is that this leads to a society that does not value its future, and that considers having and bringing up children a nuisance that gets in the way of personal fulfillment.

The result is that the number of people dying ends up being greater than the number of people being born, so that the population starts to shrink, like it is happening in Japan. A person may say, “So what? They have 120 million people, let it become 10 million instead.” But if a population it can go from 120 million to 10 million, it can go from 10 million to zero if the same trend continues.

You are free to think this is OK, that it is fine if humanity goes extinct by preferring personal fulfillment over the good of society and humanity’s survival. Islam says it is not OK. Islam wants humanity to survive, and it doesn’t make a difference in God’s eye whether it is a plague that may kill off humanity in a year, or an ideology of sexual freedom that does it in 2000 years. The result is the same; humanity dies out.

You could say that you personally shouldn’t have to sacrifice your fulfillment for the sake of some disaster that may happen thousands of years in the future. Islam says you must. It says you must not kill, you must not use legalized robbery (usury) to extract profit from society, you must not do injury to others, you must not abandon your children so that they starve. And you must not have casual sex, you must instead build families intended to survive for the long-term.

All of these commandments are there to ensure humanity’s long-term survival while also ensuring its short-term moral integrity, since one of Islam’s central teachings is that the end does not justify the means; you must never do evil for the sake of some good you wish to obtain. Even if you are made to testify, and your testimony harms those you love or harms the Muslim community, you must do it. You must give preference to truth and justice over worldly concerns. To a materialist this sounds like insanity, to prefer principles over one’s material good. But this is what we believe in, because we believe by following principles, God will ensure our material good.

When it comes to relationships, Islam asks you to not be selfish, but to engage in them in a way that benefits society and humanity’s survival, rather than harming it. You are part of humanity and you have a responsibility to leave in as good a state as you found it, and that, needless to say, means that you do not do what leads to its extinction, whether it is by releasing toxic waste into the water supply or by giving preference to your sexual desires over doing the hard work of building families and raising children.

Islam versus Feminism

/ No Comments on Islam versus Feminism

My professor told me that men and women have different purposes, so we can’t protest how men are more “free”. We can’t protest on how wives have to do what the husbands say as long as it’s right. My Mom also told me that if your husband says no, then you don’t do it. However, there are feminists that are rebelling against this, they say that it’s sexist, women rights, equality, etc. What do you think about this? And what do you think about feminism? Sorry if it’s hard to understand.

It is true that men and women have different evolutionary purposes. I describe this in detail in my two essays Man’s Masculine Role and Woman’s Feminine Role in Family and Civilization and Civilization versus Feminism.

There are many types of feminists. Some of them believe in equal rights for women and there is nothing wrong with this. Others believe in women’s moral superiority and think that all men are inherently worthless

“I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” —Andrea Dworkin

“All men are rapists and that’s all they are” —Marilyn French, advisor to Al Gore’s presidential campaign.

“In order to raise children with equality, we must take them away from families and communally raise them” —Dr. Mary Jo Bane, feminist and assistant professor of education at Wellesley College, and associate director of the school’s Center for Research on Woman.

“The most merciful thing a large family can to do one of its infant members is to kill it.” —Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in “Women and the New Race,” p. 67.

“We are, as a sex, infinitely superior to men.” —Elizabeth Cady Stanton

These are feminism’s leaders and intellectuals. They have high-paying jobs as university professors and administrators, pundits and non-profit executives. These are not some crazy outsiders, they are at the center of feminism, and it is people like this who run most women’s studies departments at universities. It is for this reason that women taught at women’s studies departments generally have a visceral hatred toward men, believing that no evil done to them is too bad, and believing that a woman has zero moral responsibility toward men and society, because she is infinitely superior to all religious and societal values.

Feminism’s leaders are some of the most bloodthirsty and poisonous people on earth, utterly selfish and self-centered, having zero empathy toward 50% of humanity (males), and rejoicing at the thought of men suffering injustice and murder.

Since we Muslims follow a balanced religion that considers men and women equally worthy, we must naturally reject this type of feminism for the doctrine of hate that it is, and instead of considering these dangerously bloodthirsty women leaders of women (as some female Muslim intellectuals mistakenly think), we must consider them enemies of Islam and civilization, for what they want is to utterly destroy our values and ideals to replace them with their male-hating, marriage-hating, abortion-loving and homosexuality-promoting ideology.

As for women who believe in the equal worth of men and women and simply want to promote equal rights and opportunities for women, then there is nothing wrong with them, although it would be better if they did not call themselves feminists, because the above is what feminism’s leaders are like. They should create a new movement that stands against feminism, rejecting its doctrine of hate and replacing it with something that works for women’s rights without wanting to carry out genocide against half of the world’s population.

In Islam, a man has “a degree of authority” over women in his household, as I explain in my answer Patriarchy in the Quran. The woman should always have the right to divorce and to agencies that protect her against abuse, so that the man is prevented from abusing his authority. But the authority is there nonetheless, and it cannot be taken away without throwing away the Quran. This means that his wife cannot make significant decisions without his agreement. If she wants to, she is free to threaten divorce to get her way, but while she remains a wife to her husband, her husband has this authority over her.

A woman is not forced into marriage; she is the one who chooses what man deserves to be her husband. If she marries a man as cultured and intelligent as herself, then the question of authority may never come up, since the family functions comfortably, with both the man and the woman enslaved to the interests of the family, rather than their own personal interests. Neither of them seek power or privilege over the other; they both work for the same goal, the project in life.

So the man’s extra authority is something that only comes up if the woman wants to do something that goes against his wishes. In such a case, she can argue with him, she can ask for the support of her family and his family to convince him, and if the matter is important enough to her, she has the right to ask for divorce. So this authority is not absolute, like a short-sighted view would suggest; it is balanced by the woman’s right of divorce, and by the fact that in Islamic societies all women have universal income guaranteed by their male relatives, so that they are not reliant on their husbands in order to be fed, clothed and sheltered, if they leave the husband, the male relatives are required to do provide these for them.

Before marriage, a woman is free to ask her husband to give her equal authority, and he is free to either agree or not agree, since marriage is by the agreement of both sides. The Islamic view is that the system of giving men more authority in the household than women is beneficial to both of them, by giving them happy and stable families. When it comes to traditional marriages, some short-sighted people focus on the one unhappy and abusive marriage they find and ignore the 9 happy and peaceful marriages around them, and use this one example to “prove” that there is something wrong with the Islamic system.

Regardless of the system, there will always be unhappy and abusive marriages. The Islamic system claims to lead to better marriages, families and societies on average; having a lower rate of unhappy and broken marriages and families. If in Western societies the rate of unhappy marriages is 20%, in an Islamic society it might be 5%. And while all major Western societies have below-replacement fertility rates (their societies are slowly but surely going extinct), conservative Islamic societies all have above-replacement fertility rates, meaning that they continue to thrive, even in developed societies like Malaysia.

Another sign of the healthfulness of the Islamic system is the low suicide rates in peaceful Islamic countries. The suicide rate of the United States is four times greater than that of Indonesia and Egypt, for example.

Understanding Islam’s Sophisticated Approach to Slavery: Why Muslims Practiced Slavery in the Past, and Why They Reject it Today

It may sound like nothing but empty apologetics to defend Islam’s toleration of slavery and say that Islam’s goal was to abolish it, when Islam’s Prophet  and his companions all practiced it widely. And generally this is what much of the arguments defending Islam’s views on slavery sound like when they come from traditional scholars.

It is difficult to reconcile classical Islam with modern views on slavery because classical Islam calls for applying the Quran and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s traditions ﷺ as recorded in hadith collections) as equal authorities. Since the Prophet ﷺ practiced slavery, the implication is that anyone can practice it without it being an issue. Saying slavery is morally wrong today is like saying the Prophet ﷺ did something morally wrong, which naturally is considered unacceptable. The Saudi Salafi scholar Saleh al-Fawzan recently issued a fatwa (ruling) saying that terrorist groups operating in Iraq have the right to enslave women belonging to the non-Muslim Yazidi minority.

The root of the problem is the corruption of the Quran’s status and role within Islam. While Islam was originally a religion based on the Quran, with hadith acting as a helper, today the Quran has become overshadowed by hadith, so that the Quran is no longer considered the always-relevant, always-supreme authority within Islam that it is meant to be.

Within conservative Sunni Islam, there are two major schools of thought, one of which cannot explain Islam’s toleration of slavery in a satisfactory manner. This side includes classical scholars and Salafis. The other side is the Quran-focused school, which can provide a satisfactory explanation while also being fully in agreement with the modern world’s ban on slavery. For a detailed discussion of Quran-focused Islam and its differences from classical Islam, please see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

To start the discussion, I will quote the relevant part of the linked essay that deals with slavery:

When we modern folk consider slavery repulsive, when we believe in human rights and the dignity of every human being, and when we find that the Quran, while regulating slavery, never commands it, then we can reject slavery and ban it in our societies. Our living guide, the Quran, does not ask us to practice slavery. Our dead guide, hadith, mentions that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions, widely practiced it, because that was the common practice in the world at the time, and it served various beneficial functions (it was far superior to the Jewish and Christian practice of killing all men, women and children of a defeated enemy, or leaving them to starve). It served a purpose at the time. And if 10,000 years from now, the world goes back to being undeveloped and slavery becomes commonplace, then the Quran is there to regulate it again and slowly eradicate it.

Classical scholars today are all against slavery to some degree, but they also have to “defend the Sunnah” by saying that it is a part of Islam and by finding various justifications for it. They are placed in the difficult position of having to say that there is nothing morally wrong with slavery (because the Prophet, peace be upon, practiced it), that the Prophet’s traditions are meant to be applied as an equal to the Quran today, and that slavery today is wrong and that Islam is against it. Quran-focused Islam doesn’t suffer from having to adopt these contradictory stances, because it believes the point of Islam is to follow the Quran, and that the Sunnah is merely a help toward this.

The Quran does not command slavery, therefore if there is no slavery in a society, then Muslims do not have to engage in it, and they are free to ban it. But, if Islam finds itself in a society that already practices it, then Islam can be adopted by it, in this way their practice of slavery is reformed and slowly eradicated (the Quran strongly encourages freeing slaves, and a child born to a slave and her master is considered a free person in Islamic law.)

[…]

So we can honestly say that slavery was a part of Islam then, but that it is no longer part of Islam today, and that one day in the far future it could again become part of Islam. Our religion is always updating itself. There is no such thing as a single Islam the entirety of whose practices and ways of life can be set in stone and followed for eternity, as Salafis think. Instead, Islam is always a self-renewing derivation of the Quran and life, guided by hadith and classical scholarship wherever needed. If people say slavery is wrong, we agree with them, and tell them that Islam wants to eradicate it. If they point out Islam’s historical practice of slavery, we say it tolerated it because it was a worldwide practice then, because it served practical purposes, because banning it could have had violent consequences, but now that the world is different, Islam, too, can be different, because the Quran is living among us, telling us how to respond to each new age of the world.

According to Abul A’la Maududi, the Prophet ﷺ freed 63 slaves by himself during his life. In his commentary on Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s Bulugh al-Maram, the historian Muhammad bin Isma`eel al-San`ani says that the Prophet ﷺ and his companions together freed over thirty-nine thousand slaves in their lives.

The question then is if Islam had to tolerate slavery for practical purposes, why did the Prophet ﷺ himself and his close companions have concubines? Couldn’t they have chosen to be morally better than the rest of the population?

I will focus on early Islamic history, since what Muslims did after that did not always reflect Islamic principles. If we find moral justification for the Prophet’s practices ﷺ, then this is sufficient. It is not necessary to find moral justification for Ottoman practices regarding slavery, since what they did regarding slavery and a thousand other things does not necessary reflect the teachings of Islam.

Islam’s critics may say that we modern Muslims are trying to back-rationalize Islam’s “savage” beginnings by reinterpreting the Prophet’s actions ﷺ as if he wasn’t a vicious and power-seeking warlord. But as will be shown below, his policies and reforms regarding slavery were so noble and ahead of their time that he puts Christians of a thousand years later to shame.

The Arabian System of Slavery

Slavery has been a part of life in most human societies. American Christians were having sex with their black slaves by the tens of thousands. Since Christianity has no framework for dealing with slavery, the slaves and the children born would be abandoned, rather than taken care of as Islam would require.

At Islam’s beginnings, it was common practice to take the defeated enemy’s women as slaves, this was done by the pagans too. It was an ordinary and accepted part of life. Before Islam, Arabs had 20 ways of acquiring slaves according to the scholar Muhammad Mutawalli Sha`rawi, such as people being made slaves due to debt, or a tribe offering one of their own as a slave as an offering to another tribe, or one tribe attacking another with the purpose of enslaving them. Islam reduces these ways to only one way: Enemy prisoners coming out of a just war, not an offensive war done for gain, but a war done against an aggressor.1 And if there are international treaties for dealing with prisoners of war, like there are today, then this way too would be closed.

So within the Islamic system, this is how slaves are created:

  1. During an age of the world where slavery is a worldwide practice, some group launches a war of aggression against Muslims. The Quran expects Muslims to sign treaties with their neighbors and commands them to not be aggressors, therefore a war would only be against an enemy that has broken treaties. Of course, many Muslim states throughout history have abused Islamic law to justify wars of aggression, but the actions of Muslims are one thing, and Islamic principles are another. You cannot hold Islam responsible when Muslims break its laws. All major religions, ideologies and constitutions have been used to justify wars of aggression.
  2. The enemy is offered peace but refuses to back down.
  3. The enemy is conquered.
  4. The enemy’s men, women and children are taken as captives and have the status of slaves, with a long list of rights ensured by Islam. Note that the enemy would have done the same to the Muslims if they had been the conquerors.

This is what happened to the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe, which at Islam’s darkest hour, when the Muslims were under attack by a large alliance of pagan Arabs during the Battle of the Trench, they broke their treaty with the Muslims and plotted with the attackers to help them destroy the Muslim state. Their men were executed for high treason (treason during a time of war, it is also the law in the United States to execute for high treason), and their women and children were enslaved. Executing the enemy’s men was done for their treason, this wasn’t the standard practice against enemies.

In Islam’s early history, this enslavement of an enemy was not done out of aggression. An enemy, instead, initiated the aggression, with full knowledge of its potential consequences. In the case of Banu Qurayza, it was a risk they took, and it did not pay off. Had they been successful, it would have been the Muslims who would have suffered execution and enslavement under the hands of the pagan Arabs and their Jewish accomplices.

Couldn’t God have asked the Muslims to do something morally superior to enslaving the women and children? He could have, but He didn’t. We can speculate regarding this, although we may not be able to find a conclusive answer.

One important reason for tolerating slavery may have been that at the time Islam arrived, Arabs may have found it impossible to accept the idea of not enslaving an enemy, because to them this was the standard practice around the world. They may have found it incredibly unjust and infuriating to not enslave an enemy that was going to enslave them if it had the chance. Abolishing this practice could been similar to trying to teach Arabs parliamentary democracy. They may have been unable to appreciate the reasoning behind it, and this could have created discontent and division. Therefore Islam humored them for a while, allowing them to continue existing as they already existed, while reforming their practice of slavery and placing mechanisms for eradicating it slowly.

So part of the reason could be the psychology of those times. It may not have been possible to help Islam continue on the one hand, and to ask its adherents to not take defeated enemies as slaves on the other.

One other reason for tolerating slavery is that slavery took care of providing for the women and children acquired through war. The Jewish solution to this problem in Biblical times was to also kill the women and children, as is recorded in the First Book of Samuel in the Bible and in other places:

…and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (Samuel I, 15:3)

The Jews who founded the modern State of Israel also seem to have had a similar mindset.

Christians did the same at times, for example:

Albert of Aachen, a chronicler of the First Crusade era, explicitly claims that the Arab soldiers capture and enslave virgins. (According to him, the Christians just kill everyone.)

[From a historian’s answer posted on Reddit]

Muslims, being more civilized, did not kill people needlessly, and especially not women and children. The killing of women and children in war is strictly prohibited by Islamic law.

New populations of slaves acquired during war would be mostly women and children (because the men were mostly dead, since the wars in those times were often “total wars”, where all the males fought). If this population of mostly women and children had been abandoned, it could have starved, since it had no men to take care of providing for it, and to avoid starving, the women may have resorted to prostitution, as Venezuelan women do today.

The Prophet ﷺ couldn’t have asked the Muslims to take care of these women and children without getting anything in return. Food, clothing and houses did not magically fall from the sky; it required much labor to provide these. Politically it could have been highly damaging to his cause to force the men to become practically slaves of the interests of this defeated population, building them new neighborhoods of homes in their towns and feeding and clothing them. Doing this would have also led to a great increase in prostitution and theft, because this new population of women and children would have had no major alternative ways for advancing in life. This is what happened in New York City in the 1850’s when a great number of unmarried Irish women and children were dumped into the city, escaping famine in Ireland. Their neighborhoods would have turned into ghettos full of crime, as happens to all jobless and idle populations, supported by the hard labor of the Muslims.

The Prophet ﷺ could have asked his followers to marry these women and take care of their children. This wouldn’t have worked because only a man who had two homes and the income to maintain both could have married a second woman. They couldn’t keep two wives under the same roof, because this has an immense likelihood of causing marital discontent and no sensible man would do this. Most men did not have a second home or the income to maintain one. So marrying them wouldn’t have been practical, a few of the women could been married, but not most.

As a reminder, I am describing the reasons why Islam tolerated slavery in the ancient world. As I will describe below, Islam today does not tolerate slavery and Muslims around the world have supported banning it, this is not because Islamic principles have been abandoned for modern principles, it is because the Quran supports us in doing what we know to be the just and kind thing, while also tolerating slavery in societies that already practice it. The Quran has an anti-slavery agenda, but its agenda requires that it should tolerate slavery if a society already practices it, ending it from the inside (more on this later). Societies that already practice slavery may be violently opposed to the thought of abandoning slavery, as the example of the American Civil War shows. Islam’s toleration for slavery enables it to spread in such societies and gently reform it and put an end to it.

So marriage was not a practical option. What was needed was a form of marriage that did not compete with the man’s existing marriage, that did not require a second home, and that did not require high income for a man to engage in it. The Arabian system of slavery provided all of these features by enabling the women to work as servants in the men’s homes, in this way not being competitors in status to their wives. By giving the men the right to have sex with their female slaves, it made the men willing to keep them as slaves, otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted them (as will be described further).

In this way the women were taken care of and fed as were their children, they were not killed like Jews and Christians would have done, and they were not left to starve. These women grew up thinking of slavery and concubinage as a normal part of life, and their own husbands had female slaves, and they saw nothing wrong with this as long as it was not happening to them. For them the difference between being a wife and a concubine was a difference in status, not a difference between a consensual sexual relationship and rape. This is evident to someone studying China and Japan’s ancient practice of concubinage. Concubines were neither wives nor mere sex toys. They had a specific social status, it was lower than that of a wife, but it is a highly naive view of history to think of such women as merely bodies that were abused and raped.

The Christians of Egypt gifted the Prophet ﷺ a Christian concubine named Maria. Were the Christians merely sending the Prophet ﷺ a sex toy as a gesture of good will?

Of course not. As any historian of ancient times will tell you, this was similar to a man offering his daughter in marriage to someone else, with her own opinion in the matter ignored, as has been standard practice among large sections of society in all of history, especially among the aristocracy. She did not have to be placed in chains and shipped off in a box. For her this was her job, and she had no problem with doing it, similar to the way today female actresses do not mind having a male actor’s sexual organ inside them for a movie sex scene, it is part of their job and they do it. The difference is that, in theory, concubinage was “forced”, while a modern actress is not “forced” to do that. But it all depends on the woman’s mindset. A concubine did not feel raped the way a modern woman forced into slavery would feel, she felt that she belonged to a lower-class caste of women, one of whose jobs was to have sex with their masters. She may have hoped for a better life, to one day be a full wife and not merely a concubine, but she had a respected social status and function, she thought of herself as an integral part of society, not as someone imprisoned and raped against her will like modern-day sex slaves are.

These things do not justify slavery, but provide part of the explanation for why Islam tolerated it. A modern woman may value her own dignity so much that she may consider murdering anyone who tries to enslave her, but at that time, the women thought of concubinage as a forced, low-status marriage that would be their fate if their men failed to protect them.

In Islam, the relationship between a slave woman and her master is an official relationship, it is similar to a marriage. She cannot be in a sexual relationship with anyone else during this relationship. If she is already pregnant when acquired, her master does not have the right of having sex with her until she gives birth. If she becomes pregnant by her master, her master no longer has the right to sell her, because she acquires that status of umm walad and cannot be sold as a slave. Her children that are born to her and her master will be free citizens and not slaves, and if her master dies, she becomes a free woman herself. If Islam was a barbaric religion that taught its adherents to enslave people, why would it have so many sophisticated mechanisms for eradicating it? What is the point of preventing a master from selling his slave once she is pregnant or has given birth? The Christian slave owners of America didn’t think there was any point in this, since they were not civilized enough to worry about the status and rights of the slave, while the Muslims of 630 AD found a point in this, because it enabled the woman to care for her children under the care and protection of her master, while also forcing the master to take full responsibility for the children, who were now free citizens. Americans just 160 years ago were barbaric savages in their dealing with slaves compared to the “barbaric” Arabs of 630 AD.

A person who has a limited view of history may think that the best solution to slavery is to ban it and let whatever happens happen afterwards, and this was the idea of the North in mid-19th century America, which led to the American Civil War2, causing the death of about a million people (it was the bloodiest war in history up to that time). Since Islam was not invented by short-sighted humans, it respects the existing culture, enables an extremely undeveloped society to take care of the women and children who are victims of war (instead of killing them, allowing them to starve or encouraging them to become prostitutes and criminals by dumping them into cities), and provides various methods for slowly but surely eradicating slavery until it can be banned without any social unrest, the way almost all Muslim-majority countries today have banned slavery.

While these facts are, of course, not sufficient to justify slavery in the modern world, in the ancient world, given the political and economic circumstances of those times, it is understandable why Islam tolerated slavery.

It would be untrue to say that the Prophet tolerated slavery entirely out of charitable motivations. The Arabian system of enslaving war captives and distributing them was done as part of the distributing of war booty, the goods taken from a defeated prisoner. From Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet:

Seven days had elapsed since the surrender, and the Hawazin had not appeared to ask for their womcn and children back. Now thinking that they would not come, Muhammad decided to share out the captives between the Quraysh Muslims (who once again received a more important share) and the Ansar. He only just finished the distribution when a Hawazin delegation arrived. The Prophet explained to them that he had waited for them, but since they had not arrived he had already shared out the captives; he said that he would intercede for them and ask people to give back their prisoners if they wanted to. After some hesitation, all the fighters gave up their captives to the Hawazin delegation. (Pages 184 and 185)

The Muslim fighters wanted the captives as their slaves. The Prophet, however, wanted them to wait for the captives’ tribe to come and hopefully sign a peace treaty, after which they would be given back the captives. Since the Hawazin didn’t seem willing to come for a treaty, the Prophet assumed they still intended war, and for this reason allowed the Arabian system to take its course, giving his warriors what they were used to get.

But once the Hawazin finally appeared, the Prophet showed his noble character and the non-Arabian-ness of Islam by convincing his fighters to give the captives back. Instead of acting like an Arab warlord, rejoicing in defeating and enslaving an enemy that had gathered to destroy the Muslims, he let them go free once their representatives came to ask for peace.

This scene also illustrates the sensitivity of the Prophet’s political situation. He could not force his fighters to give up the captives. They were from different Arabian tribes with their own ideas about their rights and their status in relation to the Prophet. The Prophet was not in charge of a “horde” of mindless soldiers like so many detractors of Islam (especially various Jews in the West’s academia) wish to portray, he had to keep a sensitive political situation balanced, giving sufficient satisfaction to each section of his following so that they would not rebel against him.

He did not act like the largely Jewish Bolsheviks of Russia (led by the Jewish Vladimir Lenin), enforcing a new ideology on the entire population and giving everyone the option of either accepting it or dying. He humored the population, their pride, their culture and their various forms of social organization. He did not want to destroy society then rebuild it (like all Marxist and neo-Marxist ideologies wish to do), he peacefully gave his message to his society, giving them the option of either accepting it or leaving it, and never responding to the violence offered him and his followers. Only when he was elected the sovereign ruler of Medina by its main tribes did he start to act like a ruler, doing what was necessary to protect his state against aggressors.

And even then, he continued to respect the existing society and culture. Instead of acting like Lenin or Ayatollah Khomeini, using assassinations and purges to enslave the population to his interests in the name of the greater good, even though he was a prophet of God and had His authority behind him. He continued to respect them, consult them, while the Muslims continued to maintain the right to question and criticize his decisions. Even at the end of his life, when he had become the supreme ruler of Arabia, his companions severely criticized to his own face his choice of a 17-year-old as the leader of a Muslim army. Instead of thinking “God’s messenger says so, therefore no argument can be admitted”, they treated him like a human and felt free to disagree with him, so that he had to convince them of the sense and rationality of his decisions.

In his truly democratic form of governance, in allowing everyone to voice their opinions and take part in decision-making, treating him like any other human, rather than as a supreme leader, he was a far cry from the typical modern dictator who expects absolute obedience, or the typical modern democratic leader who considers democracy an annoying formality that gets in the way of their achieving their goals, paying lip service to it while betraying its principles on a daily basis. It is all the more strange that someone who had over 100,000 people under him, considering him truly a messenger from God, would never make use of his status as God’s messenger to get his way, instead allowing people to challenge him daily.

Compare him to Ayatollah Khomeini, who by the virtue of (supposedly) belonging to the Prophet’s descendants and being the main religious authority of his sect, while in his weakness he admitted to believing in democracy and spoke with non-Shia leaders like Ahmad Moftizadeh, once he achieved supremacy in Iran, he quickly went on to purge the government from his opposition, rushed the constitution he liked through the judiciary to the dismay of his opposition and his own friends, and used theological arguments to prove that his decisions could not be questioned.

Vaso di fiori sulla finestra di un harem (“The window of the Harem”) by Francesco Hayez (first half of 19th century)

The Prophet’s Concubines ﷺ

A person may acknowledge that politically and economically, it made some sense for Islam to tolerate slavery instead of banning it immediately. They may even acknowledge the fact that Islam in the modern world does not command slavery nor support it, since, in the Quran-focused school of thought, Islam is always a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and since the Quran does not command slavery, and since we in the modern world dislike slavery and consider it repulsive, Islam gives us full rights to ban it.

But they may wonder why the Prophet ﷺ himself accepted to have slave women he had sex with (concubines). Couldn’t he himself, and his closest companions, have chosen the moral high ground of avoiding it?

We cannot find a conclusive answer for this, but we can speculate. Perhaps in God’s view, there was no good to be gained by prohibiting the Prophet ﷺ and his companions from keeping concubines when everyone else did. These women would have had masters anyway, so it wouldn’t have improved the lot of these women to prevent some Muslims from keeping them, it may have even worsened their lot, because many Muslims may have tried to follow the Prophet’s example ﷺ of not keeping concubines, creating large populations of female slaves that nobody wanted. And if the Prophet ﷺ had kept concubines without having sex with them, in this way practicing slavery without the sex part, other Muslims may have tried to follow his example, and by so doing, they may have avoided keeping female slaves at all, since an important reason, perhaps 90% of the reason, for their wanting to take care of these slave women was that they received the privilege of intimacy with them. So the result, again, could have been large populations of female slaves that no one wanted. The result would have been that the slaves would have been sold to non-Muslims (since Muslims didn’t want them), and this wouldn’t have been better for the women, but worse, since the non-Muslims may have had no laws for protecting the rights of these slaves or providing them with ways for themselves or their children to be freed. So there would have been no moral gain from these choices.

By keeping concubines the way the rest of the culture did, the Prophet ﷺ showed the rest of the Muslims that they too could do this. In this way the society of that time was able to absorb conquered populations and slowly free them.

In Islam, slaves also have the right of mukataba, which was for them to be given free time in which to work, so that they could buy themselves off of their masters. In this way many male slaves were able to buy their own freedom. America’s slave owners of 1850 CE and their official laws considered their slaves and everything the slave owned as properties of their masters. Imagine their infuriation if they were told their slaves should be allowed to work in their free time, or that what they earned was not a property of the master, but a property of the slave. They, including their religious clergy, would have considered this a dangerous attack against their God-given rights over their slaves.

The Prophet ﷺ himself could have kept no concubines, saying that God had commanded him not to keep any, while making it lawful for everyone else. This could have affected his status negatively in the eyes of his followers and allies, since the concubines belonging to a man’s household added to his prestige. The Prophet himself ﷺ was part of Arabian culture, considering slavery and concubines a normal part of life, like everyone else did. God could have taught him that one day humans will discover that it is morally wrong to enslave people, but He did not for His own reasons, perhaps it served the interests of everyone, including the slaves, for the Arabian system to continue functioning like usual, with a few crucial reforms added to it to significantly reduce the number of new slaves, and to provide various ways for slaves to be freed.

While today we can think of various things the Prophet ﷺ could have done at that time instead of practicing slavery and concubinage, we can never be sure that our solutions wouldn’t fail miserably in that ancient Arabian context. We can never be sure if Islam’s solution wasn’t the best possible solution for that time and place, enabling a society to slowly eradicate slavery without causing civil wars, and without the religion being abandoned for being too ahead of its time if it had outright banned slavery.

Therefore a fair-minded reading of the Quran and early Islamic history will see that there is not sufficient justification for calling Islam a false or unjust religion for tolerating slavery at that time. They will see that the Prophet ﷺ was already greatly ahead of his time and that he made some incredible reforms in various areas of life, including reforms regarding slavery. Therefore the only thing they can criticize him for is not being even more ahead of his time, which is a pretty weak criticism. Who is to say that he wasn’t already operating as much ahead of his time as it was possible to be without people abandoning his movement?

Is Islam Outdated?

A person could say that now that the world is sufficiently developed, Islam is an outdated religion, that since it contains many rules and regulations regarding slavery, the religion must have been meant for ancient times and not today.

The truth is that there is no guarantee that the world will continue to be developed. Perhaps a nuclear war will break out 10,000 years from now and there will be isolated areas of the world that would live in conditions as basic as those of 630 AD, and in that case, there may again be warring entities that practice sexual slavery, and Islam’s rulings regarding it would become relevant again.

Or humans could establish a colony on another planet where slavery is practiced. If some people among them convert to Islam while belonging to that culture that practices it, then Islam’s rulings regarding slavery would be relevant again.

Islam’s goal is to end slavery, as it is obvious to anyone reading the Quran. Muslims have not always worked toward this goal, but this is Islam’s goal, if Muslims misapply Islam, that is their fault, not Islam’s.

The Modern Islamic View

As I explained earlier regarding the Quran-focused school of Islamic thought, since Islam is always a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and since we in the modern world reject slavery, and since the Quran does not command that we practice slavery, then it logically follows that we modern Muslims can reject slavery without issue, working to eradicate it completely, and not practicing it even when given the opportunity.

This is not a way of rejecting Islam’s old teachings. Islam is based on the Quran, and the Quran does not command slavery, therefore practicing slavery is a choice that may make sense for some Muslims in some time and place that already practices it (as in ancient Arabia or an isolated space colony), while it may not make sense in another time and place (as in the modern world today).

Islam does not force us to practice slavery. Since we Muslims believe in human rights, since we hate the idea of any woman getting raped, since we have empathy for people, we can reject slavery while remaining 100% true to the Quran and the Sunnah, practicing the full letter of the Quran in every part of our lives.

The Quran is always the same, but Islam is not. Islam changes with the times, because it is a derivation of the Quran and the time in which it exists. When the Quran is placed inside the modern world, it leads to an Islam that rejects slavery, while when the Quran is placed inside ancient Arabia, it leads to an Islam that tolerates it for a while. Think of the Quran as a computer program. The computer program is the same, but it acts differently depending on the environment in which it is placed. Here is how the program’s logic works:

If there are practical reasons for tolerating slavery, if the world practices it and banning it would do more harm than good then slavery is tolerated, otherwise it is banned.

And this program is exactly what the majority of the world’s Muslims follow today. Almost all of the world’s Muslim-majority countries have banned slavery.

Islam’s Historical Mistakes

It is true that various Islamic empires have acted aggressively and have sought to enslave not as a matter of practical necessity but for profit and pleasure. You cannot blame a modern Muslim for the deeds of these past Muslims because, as I said, Islam is a program derived from the Quran, a program that is updated daily, therefore if the Muslims of previous times, out of ignorance, lack of appreciation for human rights or sheer greed have done things that would be found morally reprehensible today, then those acts reflect the shortcomings of those Muslims and not Islam.

One could say that if Islam had forbad slavery, all of those evils would have been prevented. There is no way to know this for sure, because as explained, banning slavery may have been politically and economically unfeasible, and even if it had been banned, Muslims were still free to do a thousand other evil things, therefore slavery is nothing special. If Muslims hadn’t enslaved, Islam’s detractors would simply have found another historical deed of Muslims to criticize Islam for.

Therefore a fair-minded person will not criticize the deeds of Muslims, but the program they follow. Islam is the program, and its programming logic makes Muslims avoid and ban slavery, therefore there is nothing to criticize today’s Islam for regarding slavery. You can, however, make this criticism:

I dislike the fact that in some isolated space colony 1000 years from now if slavery is already practiced, and if some people embrace Islam, I dislike that they will not ban it immediately but instead take a generation or two doing it.

A final question could be; why believe in a religion that has parts which require so much justification, why not just abandon it and embrace the modern world instead? Because Islam has undeniable soft evidence of its truth in the Quran, therefore the issue of slavery is a very minor thing for someone who has accepted Islam based on this evidence. In my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species, I discuss the reasons why I believe in Islam.

 

Conclusion

The best of Christians have also acted as the best of Muslims in fighting slavery, therefore what I mentioned above is about Christian history, not Christian ideals. Christians continue to use Islamic history against Islam, so there is no injustice in doing the same towards Christian history, so that it is known that Christian criticism of Islam is generally quite ignorant of the ugly sides of Christian history. As for Christian work against slavery, from Wikipedia:

Several early figures, while not openly advocating abolition, did make sacrifices to emancipate or free slaves seeing liberation of slaves as a worthy goal. These include Saint Patrick (415-493), Acacius of Amida (400-425), and Ambrose (337 – 397 AD). Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-394) went even further and stated opposition to all slavery as a practice. Later Saint Eligius (588-650) used his vast wealth to purchase British and Saxon slaves in groups of 50 and 100 in order to set them free.

Today, if there is a war of conquest between a Muslim nation and a non-Muslim one, then there would be no question of slavery, the enemy’s women would be treated according to modern practices. Muslim states officially recognize and respect international treaties, and the majority of Muslims have no problems with this. It is only barbaric, CIA-trained-and-funded groups like ISIS and al-Nusra which want to bring back slavery.

So it is true that Islam does not forbid slavery, and it is against the Quran and the Sunnah to say that the religion forbids it. But it does not encourage it either. It has a sophisticated approach toward it that takes the facts on the ground into account, regulating it and ending it when the time is right, rather than doing it too soon when it might cause starvation or war.

The fact that a child born to a female slave and her master is considered a free citizen, and the fact that the Quran strongly encourages the freeing of slaves is sufficient evidence for the fact that Islam came to end slavery, not to encourage it. If the Muslims before us made the mistake of encouraging slavery at times instead of fighting against it, we the Muslims of today are not required to act like them, and in fact are fully justified in disavowing their actions as we follow the Quranic program in the modern world.

The Quranic and Prophetic Way to Treating Non-Muslims

My father says we must hate Buddhist and Hinduists because they are mushrikin. I don’t really hate them or see them as enemy. Is that normal?

There is no reason to hate them. Hatred often causes you to be blind to the good qualities in the person you hate and to only see the bad qualities in them.

We must instead treat them the way the Quran teaches us to treat people, and the way the Prophet ﷺ treated his pagan extended family and neighbors. The Prophet ﷺ did not gather his following by preaching hatred and intolerance toward others. He did it by preaching recognizing God’s Oneness and the importance of connecting with Him, and by preaching good manners and patience toward the insults and attacks of the pagans against the Muslims.

Here is an anecdote about the Prophet ﷺ and his treatment of his arch-enemy Ibn Ubayy in Al-Madinah:

The Prophet’s leniency toward this hypocrite continued until Ibn Ubayy died of natural causes. The Prophet accepted to have his (own) garment used as Ibn Ubayy’s burial shroud upon Ibn Ubayy’s son’s request.

The Quran says that God would not forgive the like of Ibn Ubayy even if the Prophet asked for forgiveness for them seventy times, so the Prophet said he would ask for his forgiveness more than seventy times. He accepted to pray at his funeral, after which verse 9:84 of the Quran was revealed which prohibited him from praying at the funerals of proven hypocrites. (From my book A Beautiful Path to God).

The Prophet ﷺ, instead of finding excuses to hate this man who spent most of his time plotting against the Muslims, continued to find excuses for him, and honored him after death by letting his own garment be used as his burial shroud.

Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him was a similar person as is recorded in the Quran:

74. When Abraham’s fear subsided, and the good news had reached him, he started pleading with Us concerning the people of Lot.

75. Abraham was gentle, kind, penitent.

76. “O Abraham, refrain from this. The command of your Lord has come; they have incurred an irreversible punishment.” (The Quran, verses 11:74-76)

The angels had arrived to tell Prophet Ibrahim that they were about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, which were inhabited by a people who were homosexual rapists and robbers. Instead of rejoicing at the news of the destruction of these people, Prophet Ibrahim argues with the angels on their behalf, wanting to block the punishment.

And the Quran does not blame Prophet Ibrahim for trying to block the punishment, instead praises him for it in verse 75 above.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his ancestor Prophet Ibrahim are role models in kindness and tolerance toward others, including toward non-believers. It is the example of these two men that we must follow above all others.

If individual Buddhists or Hindus, or groups of them, commit a crime against Muslims then they should be dealt with as the case requires, the way the Prophet ﷺ dealt with the Jews, hypocrites and pagans who plotted to destroy the Muslims. But there is nothing in the Quran and the Prophet’s life ﷺ to teach us to have a blanket hatred toward people who mean us no harm just because they are not Muslim.

As for those who have not fought against you for your religion, nor expelled you from your homes, God does not prohibit you from dealing with them kindly and equitably. God loves the equitable. (The Quran, verse 60:8)

Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism

I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I came back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam. — Muhammad Abduh

At the end of the 19th century, Egypt came into increased contact with Western ideas. Travel to and from Europe became commonplace. Many intellectuals learned French and spent time in Paris. Egyptians started to feel that their conservative Islamic culture was increasingly outdated, irrelevant and inferior compared to the supposedly irreligious West.

The above saying of Muhammad Abduh elegantly expresses this realization; that despite the fact that Islam was supposed to be God’s latest and greatest religion, an irreligious civilization had built institutions, legal structures and prosperous societies that put Muslims to shame.

Cairo’s al-Azhar University was the world’s foremost authority on orthodox Sunni Islam at the time (and still is for most of the world). Al-Azhar’s scholars rushed to update their understanding of Islam so that its teachings wouldn’t seem inferior to the Western doctrines of socialism, communism, romanticism and humanism. Books were published with the intent of proving that, despite appearances and the obvious facts on the ground, Islam was really a socialist doctrine, and that it had great respect for logic and human rights.

Islam’s secularist detractors, thanks to the weakening of scholarly authority as a result of colonial rule, were able to speak loudly and point out Islam’s various failings. It was more than sufficient for them to point out the superiority of Western science, ideas and living conditions to show how inferior the Islam of their time was.

The Egyptian reformist jurist Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905 CE, al-Azhar professor and Grand Jurist of Egypt in 1899-1905), who had spent time in Paris and England, started a movement that resolutely worked to update Islamic thought and doctrine, and his follower Mahmud Shaltut (1893-1963, chief jurist of al-Azhar University in 1958-1963 CE) continued this work. They made many new and sometimes controversial rulings, some of which remain controversial up to this day. They were the first major establishment scholars to dare to risk controversy and become the subject of attack by going against established opinions and coming up with new interpretations of the Quran that sometimes conflicted with authentic hadith narrations.

By somewhat discrediting the Islamic establishment, they helped create a new generation of Islamic intellectuals that re-embraced Islam in a Quran-focused way, rather than a hadith-focused way, deriving their ideals and principles chiefly from the Quran rather than hadith.

This movement was similar to the Salafi movement, in that it wanted to go back to Islam’s roots to re-establish an authentic version of Islam pure from the decay and irrelevance of the Islamic establishment. The difference was that while the Salafi movement bought into the classical doctrine of considering the Quran equal or nearly equal to hadith, the Egyptian Islamic intellectuals considered the Quran a living book, something completely different from hadith.

Similar to the way that the printing of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 CE revived Christian belief and initiated the Puritan movement that took Christianity away from the clerics and put it inside everyone’s homes, the Egyptian movement took the Quran away from the Islamic establishment and put it in every intellectual’s home, as a living guide that taught them nearly everything they needed to know about Islam. Hadith was relegated to the task of explaining matters of ritual and practice, being an example of how the Quran is applied, rather than being a competing authority to the Quran.

Sayyid Qutb

The Egyptian intellectual Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), after spending much of his life as a secular intellectual, rediscovered Islam at the end of the 1940’s. Thanks to the new intellectual atmosphere of Egypt, he placed nearly all of his focus on the Quran, acting as if the book was sent down to him personally, instead of acting as if the Quran was merely a text belonging to a large library of Islamic texts determining Islamic belief and practice, which is how a person going through a classical Islamic education usually thinks.

The fact that he was a secular intellectual was probably crucial in developing his new understanding of Islam. He was originally repulsed by the classical Islam of his time and considered it outdated and irrelevant, only to rediscover the Quran and realize that the spiritual and ethical teachings of the Quran led to a worldview, spirituality and religion that were very different from the Islam of his time.

Imagine if the Prophet, peace be upon him, was brought back to life and placed among the people to lead Islam once again. What kind of revolution would that be? What kind of inspiration and revival? Sayyid Qutb says that you must treat the Quran as if it is alive, as if it was being revealed on the mouth of the Prophet this very moment, guiding us every hour and every day.

To a secular person reading this, this may sound like insanity, to treat a 1400-year-old book as if it is up-to-date even though its text has not changed in that time. It would be insanity if the Quran wasn’t a miraculous book. But, if like Sayyid Qutb, you are a secular person with very good knowledge of Arabic (he was a literary critic) who rediscovers the Quran, ignoring all their preconceived notions about Islam, you’d know exactly why he thought as he did.

Realizing the Quran’s immense superiority over all other texts and authorities, he came to consider it what the Quran was meant to be all along; a miraculous text designed to guide humanity for all time; a living guide. This means that the Quran is as much of an authority as the Prophet, peace be upon him, would have been if he were living among us today. The Quran is not considered a dead book to be left on the shelf, to be considered along with hadith as a historical artifact, sometimes to be followed, other times to be ignored in favor of hadith-based principles. What the Quran says, it is as if God is saying it to us today, as if He sent it down to us this very moment.

The Quran as a Software Program

The easiest way to understand the difference between Sayyid Qutb’s Quran-focused and classical Islam is to use the analogy of a computer program. A computer program can choose to do entirely different things based on the environment in which it is run. The program is always the same program, but its behavior can be different depending on the environment. The issue of slavery makes this clear. When the Quran was applied during the Prophet’s time ﷺ, it led to an Islam that tolerated slavery, since the environment required this toleration. When the Quran is applied today, it leads to an Islam that does not tolerate slavery, because the environment no longer requires that Islam should tolerate slavery.

The Quran with its laws and principles has always been the same, it has not changed. But it contains programming logic that does different things at different times:

If the environment already practices slavery, then tolerate it, reform it and slowly eradicate it. If the environment does not practice slavery, then do not practice it, but act the way the best of mankind act.

The Quran does not seek to control every facet of our lives. It gives us a set of ideals, principles and basic laws, and from there gives us the freedom to live our lives according to reason, common sense and our knowledge of the world. The Quran does not lead to an Islam that is out of date or anachronistic, seeking to bring 630 CE into the modern world. It leads to an Islam that is made up of Quranic logic applied to the modern world. It stands up to all of its challenges, rejects its falsehoods and adopts the good in it.

This Quran-derived Islam can evolve and become better over time. As we humans become better connected and find better ways of social organization and interacting with outsiders, we can adopt these new practices and make them part of our Islam. The Quran teaches us to adopt the highest ideals and principles, therefore if the modern world teaches us things about the rights of humanity that all of us can recognize as good, then we can adopt these new things even if the ancients did not. The Quran does not teach us to freeze ourselves in time.

Classical Islam and Salafism make the mistake of trying to follow the Quran and its ancient application (hadith) as equal authorities, not realizing that hadith is nothing but a derivation of the Quran, a record of how the ancients applied the Quran in their specific time and place, a record of the behavior of the Quranic program in the ancient world.

Classical Islam and Salafism will always suffer conflict as they try to apply the Quran and hadith equally, because they are misusing both the Quran and hadith when they do this, not recognizing the status and role of either. It is like having a computer program that acts a certain way today, but that acted a different way in 630 CE, and trying to adopt its 630 CE behavior instead of its modern behavior. It is rejecting the Quranic program’s modern authority, treating it as a dead guide, acting as if following the unreliable record of its behavior in 630 CE is preferable to following its reliable, ever-living, ever-authoritative principles and ideals today.

By mistaking hadith for a program by itself (rather than considering it a record of the way the Quranic program functioned), an unreliable and enormous tome of text becomes an equal authority to the Quran and refuses to allow the Quran to have the freedom to respond to the modern world. It mistakenly tries to adopt the program’s ancient behavior, instead of trying to adopt the program.

Classical Islam neglects the program (the Quran) in favor of adopting its unreliably recorded set of behaviors (hadith). In this way it refuses to admit that the Quran could do anything different today than what it did in 630 CE, acting as if God’s miraculous text, God’s guide to mankind for eternity, is a dead book that can teach us nothing new today. We are made to ignore God’s miraculous program in favor of a record of the way it was applied, a record that was written down somewhere between 100 and 200 years after the fact. The software analogy and an appreciation for the Quran’s immense superiority over hadith shows that this is almost insanity and is bound to lead to a corruption of Islam’s mission; instead of being a highly dynamic, always-relevant, always-responding program that deals with the matters of the age, it becomes an outdated program that thinks its highest achievement can only be an accurate reenactment of 630 CE.

This way of thinking led Muslims to forget their duty of living in constant renewal as necessitated by the Quran, becoming a backward religion that focused on appearances and rituals, leading to a worldwide Muslim community that had the rug swept from under them by the modern world. Instead of being leaders of modernity, they had divided societies where the religious leadership continued to advocate for a remake of 630 CE while the general population watched on with horror as their supposedly world-class religion was proven inferior time and again by the West’s prosperity, justice, empathy and peacefulness.

The analogy to a computer program is, of course, not exactly accurate. Hadith is a necessary part of applying the Quran in the modern world. The proper response is not to abandon hadith, but to realize that it is the Quran that we must follow as our ever-living guide, as our program in life, and to use hadith as a helper where needed, a helper toward following the Quran.

Once we think of hadith as a helper toward applying the Quran, everything falls into its proper perspective. Hadith no longer dominates Islamic thinking, and the Quran is no longer neglected and its mission abandoned. The Quran once more becomes the center of Islam, its priorities becoming the priorities of Islam, and its philosophy is used to judge both the modern world and hadith.

A Religion for Everyone, Not Just Scholars

Since the Quran is a very clear and simple book, Sayyid Qutb’s Islam takes the power of interpretation from the clerics and gives it to every Muslim capable of reading and understanding the Quran. Sayyid Qutb’s Muslims are not followers of the clerical establishment (although they respect it and use it where necessary), rather, like the Prophet’s Companions, they are followers of the Quran, and this gives them the power, the courage, and some would call it the audacity, to question everything within Islam, using the Quran to renew Islam daily, removing all practices and beliefs that went unchallenged a hundred years ago, but that today we have good reason to challenge as we follow the Quran.

Islam becomes a merger of the Quran and the cutting-edge of modern thought (rationalism and empiricism), instead of being a behemoth of tens of thousands of pages like classical Islam that only a scholar can properly understand.

Hadith is not a competitor to the Quran, or an equal authority to it. Hadith merely tells us about the Prophet’s efforts in following the Quran’s guidance. Islamic belief and practice is entirely about following the Quran, hadith is there to help us toward this goal, it is not there to give us new goals, to add things to Islam, to create a companion religion to the religion of the Quran that also has to be followed, which is sadly how Islam is practiced today.

What I am describing is not Quranism, the belief that only the Quran should be followed. We are still within orthodox Sunni Islam, we are merely rediscovering the Quran’s status and role.

Sayyid Qutb is today a controversial figure due to his political activism; his teachings have been used as inspiration by a number of famous terrorist organizations. Sayyid Qutb’s new, Quran-centric thinking naturally made him one of the most dangerous men in Egypt, because he had a version of Islam with him that was always up-to-date. Unlike the Islam of the scholars, it wasn’t concerned with technical matters of jurisprudence, or reciting the virtues of performing the minor pilgrimage and fasting on particular days of the month. His version of Islam was like the Prophet’s, was concerned with fighting injustice and tyranny, freeing the people from slavery and oppression, and reconnecting them with God as their always-present guide. He naturally made many enemies due to discrediting the authority of the ruling class on the one hand, and the authority of classical clerics and their control over Islam on the other.

Sayyid Qutb made the mistake of believing that the seeking of political power by Muslim groups is a good thing, and that said groups had the right to carry arms to defend themselves. This, as would be expected, was used (after his death) by others to justify terrorism. This matter is unrelated to the discussion (of Quran-focused Islam), therefore I will not delve into it. For a discussion of why I consider political power-seeking by Muslim groups detrimental to the interests of Islam, Muslims and humanity, please see my essay The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan (And a Critique of Political Islam).

Ahmad Moftizadeh

Two major Islamic leaders who followed in Sayyid Qutb’s footsteps were the Iranian Sunnis Ahmad Moftizadeh and Nasir Subhani. It is unclear to me how much influence Sayyid Qutb had on Moftizadeh, it is possible that Moftizadeh developed his Quran-focused Islam in parallel to, rather than as a result of, Sayyid Qutb’s Islam.

Nasir Subhani was a member of Iran’s Muslim Brotherhood and Sayyid Qutb’s influence on him is well-documented.

Ahmad Moftizadeh worked against the oppressive (but Western-backed) Shah regime of Iran, and later with the leader of the Iranian Revolution (Khomeini) in good faith, trying to ensure the rights of Iran’s multi-million Sunni population. Khomeini soon betrayed his promises to the Sunnis (and to some of his own Shia cleric friends who truly believed in reform and coexistence with Sunnis, such as Ayatollah Beheshti) and started a campaign of torture and assassination against them that continues until this day. Moftizadeh spent many years in prison under torture. He died in 1993, three months after being freed, due to the irreparable damage he had sustained under the regime’s treatment.

Nasir Subhani

Similar to Moftizadeh, Nasir Subhani, who was more of a classical scholar than Ahmad Moftizadeh, also worked against the Shah’s regime, and later worked with Iran’s revolutionary government to advocate for the rights of the Sunnis. Like Moftizadeh, he fearlessly criticized the duplicity and tyranny of Iran’s new “Islamic” regime, so that he was stalked by the Iranian authorities for years while he continued his activism and teaching career in Iran and abroad, until he was caught in 1989 and executed in 1990.

It should be mentioned that neither men ever condoned violence against the regime. In fact both spoke harshly against certain violent nationalist elements of the Kurdish population. Their imprisonment and deaths were brought about without any semblance of due process, and the Iranian treatment of both men were harshly criticized internationally.

 

The Plasticity of Interpretation

The most significant result of Sayyid Qutb’s Quran-focused school is that it results in a form of Islam that is always renewing itself, day by day and year after year. Regardless of what year we are in, we always go back to the Quran, treating it as if it was revealed right at this time, as if everything it says is relevant and authoritative this moment. This means that as times change, interpretations can change (because they are updated daily as new knowledge and ideas arrive and are exposed to the Quran), and in this way Islamic thinking can change, while always staying true and authentic to the Quran.

One good example of this is the issue of evolution. Old interpretations of Islam fought evolution, and classical scholars to this day continue fighting it. But the Quran-focused version of Islam is perfectly capable of handling it, absorbing it and making it a part of Islam, because the Quran is compatible with evolution. If science says something, our living authority (the Quran) agrees with it, but hadith and the scholars disagree, Sayyid Qutb’s Quran-focused Islam enables Muslim intellectuals and scientists to bypass the classical scholarly community and make progress on their own, reconciling science and Islam. For a detailed discussion of Islam and evolution, please see my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species.

And if one day science proves evolution false, we again go back to the Quran and ask its opinion on the new theory. We have the Quran living among us, enabling us to answer any challenge that Islam faces, now or 10,000 years from now.

Sayyid Qutb’s Islam is the Quran applied in the modern world, guided by hadith where needed. In this way a simple, highly capable, intellectually satisfying and non-contradictory Islam is achieved that is not anachronistic or irrelevant, that is not concerned with unimportant and technical matters, but that is always fully fitted to the needs of the age, that’s always highly relevant and highly activist, because it is derived from God’s living authority, as if the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, was living among us this day.

Embracing Sayyid Qutb’s Islam is like going back to the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, being with him and supporting him in his mission. It accomplishes what Salafism wishes to accomplish; to have an Islam that is alive and relevant today, having a living authority from God that guides each one of our steps, motivates us and inspires us to spend our lives in the service of God.

While classical Islam futilely continues to try to derive a modern Islam from the Quran and hadith, Sayyid Qutb’s Islam derives Islam only from the Quran, then uses hadith to provide guidance where needed. Since the Quran is a living authority, the Islam that is derived from it is always fully modern and up-to-date, and always fully compatible with science (if it wasn’t, if it contained even a single scientifically-provable error, it wouldn’t be worth believing in).

The Quran is not twisted to fit science and modern thinking, because it does not have to be. The Quran, by the virtue of being a miraculously always up-to-date book, always fits science and modern thinking, whether it is the ‘modern’ of now or the ‘modern’ of the next century we are talking about. The Quran opposes many things in the modern world, such as usury and sexual freedom. Those of us who know something about the history of the world know that when it opposes the modern world, the Quran is not backward, but ahead of its time. Usury is a highly corrupt practice that causes the super-rich to enjoy exponential wealth growth at the expense of everyone else. Sexual freedom breaks down the evolutionary mechanisms for the continuation of civilization; no matter how good it sounds, the end result is always below-replacement fertility rates and ultimately extinction; just because it takes a few centuries to cause a society to go extinct does not make it any less evil than a deadly plague.

Renewing Islam While Following the Sunnah

Quran-focused Islam gives its adherents immense freedom to modernize Islam and counter attacks against it, while also giving them the freedom to live authentically modern intellectual and personal lives. When living in the West, instead of acting like Salafis and Orthodox Jews, separating ourselves from the world, we fully embrace Western life and thinking, reject its evils, and work to improve it from the inside. We act the way the Prophet, peace be upon him, acted in Mecca. He did not separate himself from his pagan people, even though he recognized the evil they did and tried to change things for the better. He was fully-fledged member of Arabian society, living it and breathing it, and instead of being concerned with matters of technical detail, he was concerned with Islam’s spiritual message. His mission was to teach people to recognize the Oneness of God and to serve Him with everything they had.

We in the West, instead of hating the people and the society, love it and its people, recognize the good in them, forgive them their faults, and try to show that there is a better way. We do not try to destroy the West and rebuild it, any more than the Prophet, peace be upon him, tried to destroy Arabian society and rebuild it. Unlike Salafis who are generally authoritarians who think that everything must be forbidden unless expressly allowed by Islam, we leave it to the people to manage their personal and intellectual lives. If, like the Prophet, we succeed at spreading Islam through good manners and kindness like he did, then people will by themselves, democratically, choose to do what is in their best spiritual interests, similar to the way the people of the city of Al-Madinah invited the Prophet, peace be upon him, and made him their chief.

Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed God. (The Quran, verse 4:80)

A person reading this may think that this way of thinking rejects hadith or considers it unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth. We continue to love and respect hadith and the classical scholarly tradition, all that we want to do is make one crucial reform, which is to recognize the Quran’s immensely high status compared to hadith, and the crucial differences between the role of the Quran compared to the role of hadith.

The Quran is my guide in life. The Prophet, peace be upon him, is my hero. He is the best man ever to follow the philosophy of life that I want to follow, therefore I use his example as my inspiration.

This is similar to a person who loves the rationalist and humanist teachings of Western philosophy and wants to apply them in his or her own life. To do so, they go and study the lives of the West’s greatest intellectuals, in this way finding inspiration and guidance toward applying rationalist and humanist ideas in real life. They gather a number of heroes whose thinking, sayings and ways of life are taken as a guide.

The point is not to follow those heroes due to any innate virtue the heroes contain within themselves, considering them sacred and holy. A person who loves the Western tradition follows these heroes because they embody the philosophy they want to follow. They want to follow the philosophy, and those heroes, by having applied such philosophies very well in their thinking and lives, are followed.

In Islam, the point is the Quran. This is the philosophy we follow. The Prophet, peace be upon him, is the hero that we follow for having embodied the Quran’s teachings best in his life. As Aisha, may God be pleased with her, says:

His manners were the Quran. (Mentioned in Sahih Muslim, al-Nasa’i, Ahmad, Ibn Majah)

Most of the difficulty that the scholars have with raising the status of the Quran (the way Sayyid Qutb suggests) is that it automatically lowers the status of hadith, and to them, this lowers the status of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Anyone who praises the Quran’s immense status and mentions its central place in Islamic life is considered potentially a dangerous fanatic, because they think the person is attacking the Prophet’s status. It is a sad state of affairs when even great scholars are short-sighted enough to think like this, to think there is some competition between the Quran and the Prophet, and to have an issue with a person taking the Quran as their guide in life.

The Quran, Islam’s only entirely reliable and trustworthy source, never mentions anywhere that the Prophet was anything more than human:

Muhammad is no more than a messenger. Messengers have passed on before him. If he dies or gets killed, will you turn on your heels? He who turns on his heels will not harm God in any way. And God will reward the appreciative. (The Quran, verse 3:144)

We did not send before you except men, whom We inspired, from the people of the towns. Have they not roamed the earth and seen the consequences for those before them? The Home of the Hereafter is better for those who are righteous. Do you not understand? (The Quran, 12:109)

And in fact it mentions him making several mistakes:

It is not for a prophet to take prisoners before he has become firmly established as a sovereign the land. You desire the materials of this world, but God desires the Hereafter. God is Strong and Wise. Were it not for a predetermined decree from God, an awful punishment would have afflicted you for what you have taken. (The Quran, verses 8:67-68)

May God pardon you! Why did you give them permission before it became clear to you who are the truthful ones, and who are the liars? (The Quran, verse 9:43)

O prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has permitted for you, seeking to please your wives? God is Forgiving and Merciful. (The Quran, verse 66:1)

1. He frowned and turned away. 2. When the blind man approached him. 3. But how do you know? Perhaps he was seeking to purify himself. 4. Or be reminded, and the message would benefit him. 5. But as for him who was indifferent. 6. You gave him your attention. 7. Though you are not liable if he does not purify himself. 8. But as for him who came to you seeking. 9. In awe. 10. To him you were inattentive. (The Quran, verses 80:1-10)

We can argue about the status of the Prophet, was he nothing but a messenger like the Quran says, or was he somehow intrinsically divine like the Christians think Jesus was? Was his task to give humanity the Quran, or to also give them a 9-volume second Quran (Sahih al-Bukhari) that competes with the Quran as a second authority?

A fair-minded reading of the Quran that has not been biased by classical Islamic doctrine will see that the Quran considers itself the center of Islam, and the center of the Prophet’s mission. It wasn’t the Prophet’s job to create a religion that is 50% based on an entirely reliable and miraculous text, and 50% based on a different, and ten times bigger, text that is full of unreliability and contradiction, and that often opposes central tenets of Quranic philosophy, and that due to its massive size overshadows the Quran.

The classical, outdated view of considering the Quran and hadith equals or de facto equals leads to the creation of a monstrosity that is very difficult to follow in good faith without one’s intelligence and sense of justice being insulted. The Quran says God is just and does not punish needlessly. Authentic hadith mentions someone being sent to the Hellfire because they did not clean themselves properly after urinating. The Quran says the Prophet is unable to hear the dead. Hadith mentions him listening to people in their graves. The Quran says when a person dies, they wake up on the Day of Judgment feeling as if only a few hours or days have passed. Hadith mentions them going through eons in their graves, being conscious, before being resurrected. The Quran says God guides humanity toward what is good, yet according to hadith He supposedly will give miraculous powers (such as the ability to bring back the dead) to some anti-Christ so that he can misguide people and take them to the Hellfire. The Quran does not contain a single mention of Jesus coming back to life and establishing some Paradise on Earth, instead strongly suggesting that he is already dead, while hadith is full of narrations regarding these matters, apparently taken directly from Christian mythology.

While there is usually not sufficient evidence to clearly rule out the above claims of hadith, Quran-focused Islam turns them into non-issues:

  1. Since they are not in the Quran,
  2. and since hadith is not 100% reliable (even if it is 99% reliable. Imam al-Bukhari, may God have mercy on him, says that the chain of narrators Malik-from-Nafi`-from-Ibn-Umar is the “most reliable” chain that exists, which naturally means all other chains are less reliable)
  3. therefore they are not important parts of Islam, or they may not even be parts of Islam,
  4. and therefore they can be safely ignored,
  5. and therefore they cannot be used as a basis for any argument or for establishing any principle or law.

A fair-minded person then will read the following authentic narration from the Prophet:

There will be after me narrators of hadith. Expose their narrations to the Quran; any of them that agree with the Quran, then follow those, and those that do not agree with it, then do not follow them.

And they will realize that even hadith calls for considering the Quran a judge and authority over hadith.

Then they will learn that Umar and other Companions disliked that hadith narrations should spread, because they feared that this would reduce the Quran’s importance in people’s minds (and they were sadly right). Then they will find out that Ibrahim al-Nakh`i (A Tabi` who met Aisha, may God be pleased with her) and Abu Hanifah both considered Abu Hurairah, a major “authentic” narrator of hadith, unreliable, because they considered him a human capable of human errors and of overextending himself, rather than considering his status holy and sacrosanct like those after them considered him.

The point is not to abandon the Sunnah. The point is to acknowledge the Quran’s central place in our daily lives, to acknowledge its authority over all other authorities, and to give preference to its principles and philosophy over hadith narrations.

One important fruit of Quran-focused Islam is that it has the power to revolutionize the science of hadith. As Muhammad al-Ghazali, may God have mercy on him, and his students argue, the Quran can be used to judge the content of hadith, something that has not been done formally in the classical science of hadith. Since Islam is always updating itself due to the merger of the Quran and modern thought, if through this process we conclude that something is true (such as evolution), then we can use this new finding to go back to all existing hadith narrations and reevaluate them. Those of them which clearly contradict evolution can be lowered to the status of “unauthentic”, which will affect our opinion of the narration’s chain of narrators, and this effect will go on to affect our opinion of all other narrations that have a similar chain of narrators.

When a hadith says something questionable, it is even possible that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said something from his own opinion that is incorrect or that he has corrected in another saying. The following is recorded in Sahih Muslim and other collections:

Anas reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) happened to pass by the people who had been busy in grafting the trees. Thereupon he said: “If you were not to do it, it might be good for you.” (So they abandoned this practice) and there was a decline in the yield. He (the Holy Prophet) happened to pass by them (and said): “What has gone wrong with your trees?” They said: “You said so and so.” Thereupon he said: “You have better knowledge in the affairs of your worldly life.” (Sahih Muslim 2363, Musnad Ahmad 24964)

And from Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet:

When he arrived at Badr, the Prophet set up his camp near the first wells he found. Seeing this, Ibn al-Mundhir came to him and asked: “Was this place where we have stopped revealed to you by God, so that we must not move either forward or backward from it, or is it an opinion and a strategy of yours, linked to war expedients?” The Prophet confirmed that it was his own personal opinion; Ibn al-Mundhir then suggested another plan that consisted of camping near the biggest well, the nearest to the way from which the enemy was to arrive, then blocking the other wells in the area so that the enemy could not get to the water. During the battle, the Muslims’ opponents were thus bound to find themselves in difficulty. Muhammad carefully listened to the explanation of this strategy and accepted it straightaway: the camp was moved and Hubab’s plan was implemented. (Page 103)

These examples show that the Prophet is not infallible in matters not having to do directly with Islamic guidance. They should not be used to reject narrations left and right without proper scholarly work, and this is not what I am suggesting. Quran-focused Islam wants to correct the corruption of the status of the Quran in the minds; it does not seek to throw away the scholarly tradition, it only seeks to reform it. Scholars of hadith can continue doing the important work of analyzing hadith, but now with the Quran always in their minds as the Criterion by which all narrations are judged.

An Always-Modern Islam: Solving the Problems of Slavery, Stoning, Apostasy and Others

Sayyid Qutb’s Islam is about correcting the error of the scholars in lowering the Quran to the status of hadith. It places the Quran back in its proper place; at the center of Islam. By doing this, it creates a form of Islam that is never outdated or irrelevant, but that is always fully fitted to the needs and concerns of the age, while also always fully authentic to the classical spirit of Islam, because it continues to respect and follow the Sunnah.

The great difference in this new form of Islam is that whenever modern science or thinking recognize some truth, and the Quran supports it, then Muslims can accept it, even if there are narrations that say otherwise. The Quran is used as a judge over both modern thinking and over hadith, in this way preventing us from adopting false modernist ideas (such as women’s moral superiority over men, or communism), while also preventing us from holding onto false ancient ideas that are in hadith but that are today proven false. The Quran, being always up-to-date, enables us to live through the ages and respond appropriately to all of the challenges the world throws at us, while also staying authentically orthodox Muslims.

When modern science and the Quran support the theory of evolution, if a scholar finds an authentic narration or two that go against it, then it is science and the Quran that are given precedence, by the Prophet’s own command (to use the Quran to judge all hadith narrations).

When we modern folk consider slavery repulsive, when we believe in human rights and the dignity of every human being, and when we find that the Quran, while regulating slavery, never commands it, then we can reject slavery and ban it in our societies. Our living guide, the Quran, does not ask us to practice slavery. Our dead guide, hadith, mentions that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his Companions, widely practiced it, because that was the common practice in the world at the time, and it served various beneficial functions (it was far superior to the Jewish and Christian practice of killing all men, women and children of a defeated enemy, or leaving them to starve). It served a purpose at the time. And if 10,000 years from now, the world goes back to being undeveloped and slavery becomes commonplace, then the Quran is there to regulate it again and slowly eradicate it.

Classical scholars today are all against slavery to some degree, but they also have to “defend the Sunnah” by saying that it is a part of Islam and by finding various justifications for it. They are placed in the difficult position of having to say that there is nothing morally wrong with slavery (because the Prophet, peace be upon, practiced it), that the Prophet’s traditions are meant to be applied as an equal to the Quran today, and that slavery today is wrong and that Islam is against it. Quran-focused Islam doesn’t suffer from having to adopt these contradictory stances, because it believes the point of Islam is to follow the Quran, and that the Sunnah is merely a help toward this.

The Quran does not command slavery, therefore if there is no slavery in a society, then Muslims do not have to engage in it, and they are free to ban it. But, if Islam finds itself in a society that already practices it, then Islam can be adopted by it, in this way their practice of slavery is reformed and slowly eradicated (the Quran strongly encourages freeing slaves, and a child born to a slave and her master is considered a free person in Islamic law.)

The Slave Market, painting by Allan David (1838)

While classical Islam will always have difficulty with slavery, Quran-focused Islam does not. We can sincerely say that Islam is against slavery, and that its toleration of it is for practical purposes, since, as the experience of the American Civil War shows, abruptly ending slavery can create great discontent and unrest. It is far better to gradually phase it out, as Islam does. What the Prophet, peace be upon him, did in his time in practicing slavery does not apply to our time, because we are not required to follow his way of life in a vacuum (as Salafis think), we are required to follow the Quran and use his example when it applies, and needless to say, a modern person who authentically and unabashedly follows the full letter of the Quran does not have to have anything to do with slavery, and is in fact perfectly justified in opposing it, fighting it and working to put an end to it.

What the example of our Prophet, peace be upon him, teaches us is that if we find ourselves in a society that practices slavery, instead of taking up arms against the society, we can become part of it, help Islam spread, encourage people to free slaves, and in this way phase it out. If we find a slave woman on sale in the market, we can buy her and free her like the Prophet’s companion Abu Bakr used to do. Other Muslims, who are still stuck in the mindset of that slavery-practicing culture, can buy her and use her as a slave without being condemned. The culture is respected, while slowly being changed.

Unlike a Quran-focused Muslim, a Salafi, cannot have such a mindset toward slavery (that it was acceptable then but is not acceptable now). The Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Salaf (“The Pious Predecessors”) practiced slavery and had slave women with whom they had sex, therefore there is nothing wrong with it, and the practice can be continued today (as the Saudi Shaykh al-Fawzan recently ruled regarding Yazidi women captured by terrorist groups) even if most of the people of the world, including Muslims, find it repulsive.

To them, since Islam is a derivation of both the Quran and hadith, slavery has to be considered a good and acceptable thing, since it is part and parcel of hadith. While in Quran-focused thinking, since Islam is a derivation of  only the Quran, we are free what we think about slavery, if we find it repulsive, we do not have to support it, we can avoid it and work to eradicate it. If the world, or part of the world, or some isolated space colony, goes back to practicing slavery, then the Quran and hadith are there to regulate and eradicate it again.

So to a Quran-focused person, the fact that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had slaves does not have sufficient force in argument to justify it in the modern context, and such a person can stay true to the Quran while also supporting a worldwide ban on slavery. If there is a just war between a Muslim and a non-Muslim entity, the Muslim entity, while recognizing that technically Islam permits them to enslave the enemy, also recognize that Islam is a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and neither of these things recommend enslavement of people today. In a different time and place, in a world that practices slavery, things could be different. But, since their Islam is always up-to-date, in today’s modern context, it is fully in accordance with Islam to oppose slavery and not practice it.

So we can honestly say that slavery was a part of Islam then, but that it is no longer part of Islam today, and that one day in the far future it could again become part of Islam. Our religion is always updating itself. There is no such thing as a single Islam the entirety of whose practices and ways of life can be set in stone and followed for eternity, as Salafis think. Instead, Islam is always a self-renewing derivation of the Quran and life, guided by hadith and classical scholarship wherever needed. If people say slavery is wrong, we agree with them, and tell them that Islam wants to eradicate it. If they point out Islam’s historical practice of slavery, we say it tolerated it because it was a worldwide practice then, because it served practical purposes, because banning it could have had violent consequences, but now that the world is different, Islam, too, can be different, because the Quran is living among us, telling us how to respond to each new age of the world.

The Quran-focused view is that Islam tolerates slavery for practical reasons where it is already practiced. The classical view is that slavery is not so bad, because the Prophet, peace be upon him, practiced it. The Quran-focused view admits the possibility of development in human ideas about morality and ethics, the classical view does not.

It is true that Islam’s dedicated detractors will probably not be satisfied by the Quran-focused view on slavery, but it is not our mission to satisfy them. Our mission is to reach fair-minded and moderate people, people who do not have a hatred against Islam but who merely want to understand it.

Another important matter solved by the Quran-focused view is that of stoning adulterers, which is something that perhaps 99.999% of Muslims would not agree to witness or carry out. The Quran-focused view effortlessly shows that there is no such thing as stoning or executing adulterers in Islam. There is strong evidence in the Quran against it, as I will describe in another essay, and there is sufficient evidence to believe that the hadith narrations that mention stoning were mentioning instances of the Prophet following Jewish law before Islamic law was revealed in the Quran, as Imam Muhammad Abu Zahra (1898 – 1974 CE), prominent 20th century Egyptian scholar of Islamic law, al-Azhar professor, member of al-Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Research and president of Cairo University has argued.

Another issue is that of punishing Muslims for leaving Islam (for committing apostasy), which is clearly in opposition to the Quranic concept of “no compulsion in religion” (as stated in verse 2:256). As our modern appreciation for logic shows, forcing someone to stay in a religion is as much compulsion as forcing someone to adopt a religion. Quran-focused Islam rejects the classical Islamic thinking that apostasy is punishable, considering it a human right granted by the Quran. Ahmad Moftizadeh is the major Islamic leader I know of who has advocated for this new view of considering apostasy a right of Muslims.

And another issue is the treatment of non-Muslims in Islam. While traditionally nearly all non-Muslims were considered kafirs (“infidels”), a modern reading of the Quran shows that a kafir is someone who knows and accepts the truth but denies it and acts against, committing Satan’s sin. This means that most of the people of the world are not kafirs. It also means that faithful Christians and Jews living today, those who believe and do good deeds, will go to Paradise as the Quran teaches, rather than going to the Hellfire for not accepting Islam as classical Islam teaches, since they barely know anything about Islam. God only burdens a soul with what He has already given it, it is highly unjust to punish a Christian for not being Muslim when they barely know anything about Islam, and when they do their best to serve God in good faith.

The Quran, besides reiterating the fact that pious Jews and Christians will go to Paradise in many places, has the following verse which criticizes Muslim exceptionalism in their thinking that only they will go to Paradise, while also criticizing the Christians and Jews who say similar things:

It is not in accordance with your wishes, nor in accordance with the wishes of the People of the Scripture. Whoever works evil will pay for it, and will not find for himself, besides God, any protector or savior. But whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and is a believer—those will enter Paradise, and will not be wronged a whit. (The Quran, verse 4:123-124)

It is a sign of the incredible ignorance and negligence of Quranic principles and the status of the Quran that Muslims, including scholars, read the above two verses, then go on to say that Jews and Christians will go to the Hellfire in clear contradiction to it.

As can be seen, while the classical view insults our sense of justice regarding non-Muslims by teaching us to consider nearly all of them enemies of God, the Quran-focused view teaches us to have a positive view of them, since they are humans partaking in the same human struggle as ourselves, without being blessed with knowledge, and it also teaches us to have great respect for faithful and practicing Jews and Christians (few as they might be), and for people of other Abrahamic religions. And to give all of them the benefit of the doubt, since we do not know what is in their hearts, and to realize that it is opposed to the Quran to call them infidels when for all that we know they might be close servants of God. The only infidels among them are those who know the truth but act against it, and such people are also common in Islamic societies.

Salafism’s Better Alternative

One criticism of Quran-focused Islam could be that by giving the power of interpretation and argument to everyone who reads and understands the Quran, it promotes disrespect for the Sunnah and scholarship, that it teaches everyone to create their own sect. The best proof of the invalidity of these allegations is the ways of life of those who have actually adopted Quran-focused Islam, such as Iranian Kurdistan’s Maktab Quran movement. They continue to be full members of mainstream Islam, they love Islamic scholarship, and they follow the Sunnah. The same is true for those in Egypt who love Sayyid Qutb’s Quran-focused teachings.

Unlike Salafis (note that I have great respect for many Salafi scholars, such as Ibn Baaz, and consider them good and pious men), who often create elitist cliques that separates itself from the mainstream, who have an “us vs. them” mentality toward other Muslims, who attack respectable and pious scholars and leaders like Yasir Qadhi, Quran-focused Muslims, since they judge the world by Quranic philosophy, have an open and loving attitude toward all other Muslims (and non-Muslims), judging people first and foremost by the quality of their hearts, not by the quality of their virtue-signalling or their exact adherence to their version of Islam.

Quran-focused Muslims treat all Muslims as innocent unless proven guilty, while Salafism treats everyone as guilty until proven innocent.

Both Quran-focused Islam and Salafism have the same goal; to revive Islam based on Islam’s original teachings. Salafism makes the mistake of trying to derive Islam equally from the Quran and hadith, which, while often leading to good results in matters of fiqh (Islamic law), also leads to an exclusive, elitist and intolerant form of Islam.

Quran-focused Islam corrects Salafism’s mistake by not buying into classical thinking, but by evolving beyond Salafism to place the Quran back at the center of Islam and to re-derive Islam from its principles and philosophy, leading to an extremely open-minded, spiritual and tolerant form of Islam that thinks the best of everyone, that fits modern science, that solves the various issues that have Muslims questioning Islam, and that remains fully part of mainstream Islam.

It is important to reiterate that I have the same goal as a Salafi person; I too want to follow a version of Islam that most accurately represents Islam’s original mission. Having looked at both Salafism and Quran-focused Islam, it has become clear to me that Quran-focused Islam is far superior to Salafism; it accomplishes everything Salafism was meant to accomplish, while avoiding all of its pitfalls, and just as importantly, while creating a version of Islam that stands the tests of all time:

  • Salafism tries to derive “true Islam” from the Quran and hadith equally, creating a rule-based (rather than ideals-based) form of Islam. Every Muslim is judged based on their abidance by thousands of different rules, regulations and ways of thinking. Quran-focused Islam, on the other hand, tries to derive a far smaller “true Islam” from the Quran only, leading to a religion that is not rule-based, but ideals-based. Kindly and well-intentioned people of all sects are accepted, because the Quranic ideals are what matter most. Passing judgment on people is highly discouraged, because this is directly in opposition to the Quranic commandments of mercy, forgiveness and thinking the best of others.
  • Salafism always leads to elitist cliques of Muslims who separate themselves from the mainstream. Quran-focused Islam does not, because it contains nothing to build cliques on. It is a spiritual practice, a person who uses it to feel superior to others has failed to understand the basic precepts of it and will be shunned by the rest.
  • Salafism leads to a mindset that has a total lack of empathy for those who refuse to abide by its authoritarian version of Islam. It doesn’t matter that a scholar has a good heart, is pious and God-fearing, if a Salafi person finds a few technicalities to attack them by, they will do it without shame, and they will say they do it in the service of God, of course.
  • Salafism makes intellectual progress (in things like solving the problem of evolution or stoning) nearly impossible, because it refuses to admit that the Quran is an authority over all authorities, it considers Islam’s unreliable history an authority to be dragged into the modern world. Quran-focused Islam gives its adherents immense intellectual freedom, because their central authority by which they judge all other authorities is a simple and extremely open-minded book. This enables them to go out into the modern world and have a fully-fledged intellectual life that is in no way inferior to that enjoyed by the rest of the world, and is in fact far superior to it, because it has the courage to reject the things like the West’s fashionable but irrationalist ideas and ideologies.

 

Practicing Quran-Focused Islam Today

We cannot preemptively say what conclusions we may reach once the classical Islamic sciences are reformed according to Quran-focused teachings. For now, we can use the following rule to practice an intellectually satisfying and modern form of Islam that is free from the pitfalls of classical Islam:

Whenever someone says something about Islam that is not in the Quran and that is not anticipated by the Quran, you can safely ignore it.

If you hear a hadith narration about the virtue of performing the prayer (the salah) at a certain time of day, then you are encouraged to follow it, since the Quran encourages prayer, and it is fully in keeping with the Prophet’s mission (as an applicator of the Quran) to have prayed in such a way, therefore, even though such a time for performing the prayer is not in the Quran, it is anticipated by the Quran, therefore there is no issue with following it.

On the other hand, if someone tells you about devils praying on your fingernails, the Dajjal, or the need for exorcision, then while you may not be able to say that these things are definitely false (unless you have great evidence to back up your saying, or you rely on a well-respected scholar’s research on the matter), you have the right to be skeptical toward these things and to ignore them. Using the above rule, you can stay focused on Islam’s message and mission; its spirituality, its dedication to worshiping and serving God, its activism, and ignore everything that insults your intelligence.

From the outside, you can continue practicing Islam just like before, but now focusing more on the Quran, and due to the renewed devotion to God that this causes, working to carry out more of the Sunnah good deeds, while also being free from suffering the confusion, hesitation, and moral indignation that classical Islam causes. When a preacher says something so ridiculous that it makes you want to cringe and shudder, instead of feeling hopeless and questioning why you belong to this religion, you can simply think: “It is not in the Quran, and it is against the Quran’s principles, therefore it is not worth talking about. End of story.” You no longer have to submit to anyone’s authority except the Quran’s, with hadith acting as your helper toward applying the Quran in your life.

To many Muslims, what I describe here (of placing the Quran at the center of Islam) will not sound new or controversial. Within the scholarly community, however, few people dare to voice such an opinion, since they will quickly be attacked by Salafis and other hadith-centrists. Most scholars would rather choose the safe path of complacence that will ensure they will not be condemned, instead of choosing the path of respecting the Quran as an unchallenged authority as it is meant to be. In this way, with their silence and lack of courage, they continue to enable countries like Saudi to continue exporting their highly intolerant version of Islam with little resistance, so that today most Muslims cannot answer if asked why they are not Salafis.

We are not Salafis because it gives precedence to the Quran’s ancient application (hadith) rather than to its modern application (applying Quranic principles in the modern world). It thinks that if the Quran tells us to do something today, but hadith tells us that Muslims did something different in 630 CE, that we must ignore the Quran and follow the hadith, despite the fact that hadith is inherently unreliable.

Salafi attitudes toward slavery, stoning, apostasy and the treatment of non-Muslims is sufficient to show the inferiority of hadith-focused (classical) Islam and the immense superiority of Quran-focused Islam in the way it solves all of these issues.

Note: The concepts mentioned in this essay are developments of Sayyid Qutb’s ideas as carried forward by the Iranian Sunni leaders Ahmad Moftizadeh, Nasir Subhani and myself. They are not directly taken from Sayyid Qutb, but are inspired by his method in interpreting the Quran.

How is it fair that unattractive women have difficulty getting married? Why does God allow this?

I was reading your blog post and I keep wondering isn’t the system unfair? That the most attractive woman will get men and the unattractive not . As an unattractive female I can’t get married although I wish

First I will explain why the world is the way it is, then I will explain the Islamic way to think of these facts.

Of course it is unfair, because life is unfair. How is it fair that some people should have everything they need, and others have to struggle every day to stay alive and avoid starving?

As for relationships, it is equally unfair to men that fat, ugly, creepy and broke men are not considered attractive by women, regardless of how good his heart is. If this person had a million-dollar car, women’s interest in him would skyrocket, as the various “gold digger prank” videos show on YouTube.

It is unfair that a man should be judged by his wealth and success, which are things not outside his control. And in the same way, it is unfair that attractive women get more attention than less attractive women.

And it is unfair that innocent children are born poor.

This life is not meant to be fair. It is not meant to be Paradise. It is meant to have problems, imperfections and injustices, because this makes it an ideal testing ground for a person’s faith, patience and dedication to God. A person cannot be patient unless there is something they have to be patient about. And they cannot claim to be devoted to God unless they are able to overcome temptation.

So the system I described is part of the order of the natural world. It is in the benefit of humanity’s survival that men are attracted to good-looking and young women, and that women are attracted to successful men. This is called sexual selection, and it is not unique to humans. All sexually-reproducing animals have criteria they prefer in the opposite sex. This ensures that those individuals who have the highest genetic quality are most likely to successfully reproduce.

It is about “quality control”. In biology, there needs to be a way for a species to ensure that bad genes are not passed on to the next generation. A male bowerbird who has a broken leg will not be able to build a good nest, meaning that females will judge him inferior, since they judge him by the quality of his nest (among other things), they will reject him and prefer another male. This is unfair to the male bird, but it is in the benefit of the species. Because if the females did not care about the male’s abilities, birds of low ability would be able to reproduce, resulting in offspring that has a higher chance of dying (because the male bird cannot care for them properly), and if the male bird’s incapability is due to defective genes (due to mutations), then if this bird reproduces, those defective genes are passed on to the next generation. In this way, if those defective genes spread throughout the population, the species will suffer from the issues caused by these genes and may go extinct, as it becomes easier prey to predators, or less able to withstand environmental challenges.

The same concept applies in humans. A man who is incapable of holding down a job and being somewhat successful is naturally suffering from some genetic or environmental issue that is preventing him from being like other men who are successful. If a woman marries him and has children with him, first he will not be able to care properly for the children (because he is not good at providing for the family), and second, if his incapability is due to a genetic defect, that defect is passed on to his children, and in this way more incapable humans are created, harming the species as a whole.

So an important part of the female sex’s duty is quality control over males. They decide which males deserve to have children by rejecting some men and preferring others. This ensures that the highest-quality males reproduce the most, and the lowest-quality males reproduce the least, in this way the species as a whole maintains a high quality and capacity for survival. This applies whether we are talking about animals or humans, although humans, due to their advanced brains, are more able to ignore these instincts and act against them. But the instincts are always there underneath everything else.

So when a human is unattractive, whether they are male or female, that is the species deciding that others should be given preference over them. This is unfair to the individuals, but it is in the benefit of the survival of the species. The human species wants the most genetically fit people of both sexes to reproduce the most, which gives preference to some men and women over other men and women. This is not about religion, it is about the system of the natural world.

If you ask why God allows this, it is because He wants this world to appear to function perfectly without a need for Him, so that people have the choice of disbelieving in Him if they want. He does not want people to be forced to believe in Him, He want them to make the choice. And that requires that the survival of all species, including humanity, works along well-defined natural laws (such as that of natural and sexual selection). I explain this in detail in my essays God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species and Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Note that no matter how attractive or unattractive someone is, they are nothing but a point on the timeline of humanity’s evolution. A person who is unattractive today may be considered extremely attractive if they went back 50,000 years in time. And if they go forward 50,000 in time, they may see that everyone in the world is as attractive as the most attractive people today, and such people may actually be considered unattractive compared to new people who have come into existence.

From the religious perspective, being unattractive is one of those things in life that one has to deal with, similar to being born blind, or being born in an extremely poor village and spending one’s life there, not being able to go anywhere else. The point of existence is not this life, but the next one. If you have been assigned a life that is more difficult than the lives of others, and if you show patience (by not complaining, by thinking the best of God, and by worshiping Him ardently), then He will do for you what is in your best interest in this life and the next.

Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while being a believer, We will grant them a good life (in this world)—and We will reward them according to the best of what they used to do (in the hereafter). (The Quran, verse 16:97)

Treat your situation like other Muslims have treated their various hardships. Prophet Yusuf, despite his good looks, was oppressed by his siblings then spent years in prison. After years of patience, he was given his reward. If you feel oppressed by life and by the way society treats you, think of it as just another prison. If you endure patiently, you will have God’s rewards in this life and the next.

God will not let your life go to waste. This is a promise that the Quran repeats in many places. Good people are taken care of by God in this life and the next. God does not say that we will suffer and suffer in this life until we die, to be rewarded in the afterlife. He says that we will sometimes suffer, and other times will have highly enjoyable lives, and if we continue to serve God in both conditions, we will have an amazing afterlife.

I cannot say what kind of you life you will have, or how God will give you fulfillment in this life, but He is capable of all things. Satisfying a human being is the easiest thing for Him, therefore seek only from Him instead of looking at the world’s unfairness. He has full power and control over this world.

And whoever fears God—He will make a way out for him. And will provide for him from where he never expected. Whoever relies on God—He will suffice him. God will accomplish His purpose. (The Quran, from verses 65:2-3)

83. And Job, when he cried out to his Lord: “Great harm has afflicted me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.”

84. So We answered him, lifted his suffering, and restored his family to him, and their like with them—a mercy from Us, and a reminder for the worshipers.

85. And Ishmael, and Enoch, and Ezekiel; each was one of the steadfast.

86. And We admitted them into Our mercy. They were among the righteous.

87. And Jonah, when he stormed out in fury, thinking We had no power over him. But then He cried out in the darkness, “There is no god but You! Glory to You! I was one of the wrongdoers!”

88. So We answered him, and saved him from the affliction. Thus We save the faithful.

89. And Zechariah, when he called out to his Lord, “My Lord, do not leave me alone, even though you are the Best of heirs.”

90. So We answered him, and gave him John. And We cured his wife for him. They used to vie in doing righteous deeds, and used to call on Us in love and awe, and they used to humble themselves to Us. (The Quran, verses 21:83-90)

Why do traditional societies care so much about a woman’s virginity?

Why reduce woman to her reputation and virginity. Why care so much if she’s a virgin or not?

If you are asking why things are so from a religious perspective (not from an evolutionary psychology perspective), then the reason is that when a woman has sex before marriage, this means one of two things: Either does not take the Quran seriously and thinks she has the right to disobey it, meaning that she is not worth marrying for a man who wants a devout woman, or that she is unable to control her urges, that she doesn’t have sufficient intelligence and upbringing to stop herself from engaging in that.

Both of these things make her undesirable as a wife, because if she has a casual attitude toward sex outside of marriage, or if she is unable to control her urges, then the man who marries her suffers being married to a woman who does not take religion seriously and breaks its commandments when she wants, or if she is unable to control her urges, it means she has a higher chance of cheating on him or abandoning him. After years of marriage, after the man has worked years to build the family and provide for it and raise it, she may fall in love with someone else and abandon him, or she may cheat on him and get pregnant by another man, so that he brings up another man’s child.

Therefore ideally, a religious man wants to marry a woman who takes Islam’s commandments very seriously, and just as importantly, has the ability to follow them. And needless to say, a woman who has sex outside of marriage fails at one or both of these.

The same way that women have criteria for deciding whether a man is “husband material”, men have criteria for deciding whether a woman is “wife material”.

For a man to be considered husband material, he must have a job, he must be reasonably successful, he must have sufficient social skills and masculinity to be an attractive male, and many women also require that he must be taller than themselves. This means that women discriminate against men who do not have a job, are unsuccessful, are without social skills or are short by preferring other men over them. Most women couldn’t care less how much of a nice and moral person a man is if he is extremely awkward (”creepy”), destitute and has no job or prospects. He may wish to be loved for who he is instead of being judged for factors that might be outside of his control, but his wishes do not matter, the majority of women will care about the above factors and will reject him for not having them.

Similarly, for a woman to be considered wife material, men use certain criteria to judge her, regardless of how nice of a person she is.

Both sexes look for those qualities in the other sex that increases the likelihood of having a successful marriage and bringing up healthy and successful children. Women look for husbands who are strong and successful men, because such men are good at taking care of them and their children. Men look for wives who are virgins and have a good reputation, because such women are good at following Islam and remaining loyal to the marriage.

If a woman has lost her hymen from some accident and she can prove this, then if she is still judged because of it, then that is really foolish, since she has done nothing wrong. The problem is that most people are not geniuses and jump to conclusions in all kinds of matters on a daily basis.

And a woman who has lost her hymen due to some accident but has no way of proving it, and she marries and her husband finds this out, then if he is a good man then he will judge her by what he knows of her reputation, and will not hold this fact against her, but will take her at her word.

So the important thing about virginity is not the piece of flesh (the hymen), the thing by itself doesn’t mean anything, it is just a piece of flesh and perhaps plastic surgeons will be able to reconstruct it, it is the implications of it that matter. A never-married woman who doesn’t have a hymen has either lost it due to some accident, or due to having sex outside of marriage, or due to using sex toys. Usually everyone assumes the worst (including all of the female relatives of the man), because marriage is an extremely serious business that determines a person’s fate for the rest of their lives, therefore they believe a woman who does not have a hymen when she is expected to has some explaining to do, the man’s family do not want him to marry someone who has sex outside of marriage.

So, in a traditional society, if society reduces a woman to her reputation and virginity when it comes to being considered for marriage, a man too is reduced to his success and prospects. Both are reduced to those qualities that are most crucial for a successful marriage. When a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage, the first thing the woman’s family thinks about is his job. If he has a high-status job like being an architect, her family may exult at the fact, saying “Wow! An architect wants our daughter!” What kind of person he is deep inside is rarely given a thought, and if a poor man with zero prospects asks for their daughter’s hand in marriage, they will think, “What a loser! We will never give him our daughter!” even if he is a very good and kind man inside.

Meanwhile, the man’s family will not think in such terms, they have different criteria for judging whether the woman their son wants is worthy or not. They will talk about her attractiveness, her manners, and her history, especially her history. They will gossip about her history for days and months and make use of the Old Wives and Grandmas Intelligence Organization to find out everything they can about her, because they want to make sure their son does not marry someone who does not take religion seriously, or someone who finds it easy to be disloyal and have sex outside of marriage.

Many of these activities are extremely crude and an intelligent and sensitive person will be repulsed by them, but that is how most traditional societies function, and there is some logic to its origins; the woman’s family’s purpose is to ensure that the man can take care of their daughter, the man’s family’s purpose is to ensure that the woman can take care of their son’s children and new family and not abandon it or be disloyal toward it.

No woman enjoys being under the scrutiny of a man’s family, being considered guilty until proven innocent, but she will most likely do the same to a woman her own son or brother wants to marry. I have seen this countless times. And similarly, no man enjoys being under the scrutiny of a woman’s family and being judged by his job and success rather than his innate qualities, but he will do the same if his daughter or sister is about to get married, if he is wise, he will worry about whether the man is able to take care of his daughter or sister for the long term.

If you ask why a man is not scrutinized equally for his virginity, it goes back to evolutionary differences between men and women. A religious family will care very much about his virginity (if he has never married) and will not want their daughter to marry someone who has sex outside of marriage. But, ignoring religion, in traditional societies, it was a man who supported a woman and her children, his function was mostly economic. If he had sex with other women, this did not necessarily affect his economic function, he could continue to provide for his wife and children. For this reason among irreligious folk, there is generally a laxer attitude toward a man cheating than a woman cheating.

On the other hand, in a traditional society, if a woman cheated, that could be the end of the world for the marriage. She could get pregnant by another man and her husband forced to take care of the child born. A man wants to raise his own children, and the purpose of a marriage and family is for him to achieve this. If the wife gets pregnant by someone else, then that destroys the purpose of his marriage. He will be like a slave, not working for his own benefit, but for another man’s. For this reason attitudes toward female cheating or sleeping around have usually been much harsher.

Men have an animal instinct to prefer young and sexually inexperienced women, because this instinct ensures that they are more likely to marry a woman who will be loyal to them and their marriage. Women do not have this instinct, they instead have an animal instinct to prefer successful men. It is these two instincts that come out in the behaviors of traditional societies, which do not always fit religion and are sometimes directly opposed to it.

When it comes to well-educated and intelligent populations (rather than traditional ones), the human brain has more control over their thinking processes, so that they do not judge everything by instinct. Therefore men can be found who do not mind if their wife has sex with other men, and women can be found who do not mind taking care of their families while their husbands do not work and are not successful.

Devout Muslims coming from such populations are more likely to treat the issue of cheating equally between men and women, since that is what Islam demands, and they are more likely to take a woman at her word, giving her the benefit of the doubt if she is not a virgin, and even if she is known to have dated someone, if she says they never had sex, then she may be believed, while in a traditional society she wouldn’t be.

The less intelligent a population is, the more it will judge by its animal instincts, and the more intelligent it is, the more it will judge things by ideals, religious principles and logic. In a traditional population, a woman who admits to having had sex outside of marrying, saying she has now made repentance and wants to be a good and religious person, will probably never be forgiven or given a second chance, while in a better educated and more intelligent Muslim society she will be forgiven and accepted again.

There are many female converts to Islam in the West who admit to having had sex outside of marriage before Islam, but by the middle class Muslims of the West this is not held against them. But the same woman, if she talks to the lower classes of some Middle Eastern society and tells them this fact, they will immediately treat her like she is somehow diseased and gross.

The problem is not Islam but humanity’s animal instincts and the culture that has been derived from this (since culture is a result of genes). The best-educated and most devout Muslims are most likely to have a liberal and open-minded attitude toward a woman’s virginity and to give her second chances. But this does not mean that they should completely ignore her virginity or reputation, because these are indicators of her character, and a man wants to marry a woman of good character, the same way that a woman wants to marry a man of good character. In a traditional society if a woman admits to having lost her virginity due to a mistake she made in her youth, saying that she has repented now, this may never be accepted of her and her life might be ruined, while in a more educated and more devout society, she may be easily forgiven and given another chance.

If part of your question was regarding why a virgin is more attractive than a divorced woman, it goes back to the dynamics of pair-bonding, which means that a never-married woman is far more likely to have a successful marriage than a divorced woman (a first marriage in the US lasts about 25 years, while a second marriage lasts only 10 years). Since both sexes look for those characteristics in the other sex that are more likely to enable them to have a successful and long-lasting marriage, and since a woman’s lack of sexual experience / virginity means that her marriage is much more likely to succeed (as the statistics show), then you’d expect men to have a preference for this type of woman, and it is so. For more details on this please see these two previous answers of mine:

Why did God let His scriptures (the Torah and the Gospels) become corrupted?

Why did Allah allow other books beside Quran to be changed by man like the Torah, gospel and bible? It was his own sacred word too when they were revealed and they were still his words so why did he allow that to happen? Why they became secondary when at one point they were the most important books for mankind?

The answer is the same as why God allowed Adam to be tricked by Satan into leaving Paradise.

This universe is a story that God writes. He gives humans things and sees what they do with it, and based on that, He responds and gives them new things, in this way writing a story that is truly authentic and made up of the free choices of millions of people.

This instant, God could solve all of the world’s problems and turn it into Paradise. He does not, because the point of this world is the story, the process, not the destination. This process continually produces good, sincere and proven friends of God who die and spend eternity in closeness to Him. If these people had been brought up in Paradise instead, never suffering, they would have never had any chance to prove their sincerity, their patience, their courage, since all of these require hardship, temptation and the existence of evils.

God is the Master and Teacher of humanity. Humans used to be ignorant, Stone Age people. God gave the Hebrews the Torah, in this way teaching them, helping humanity grow, giving them new ideas and new ways of social organization.

He knew that they would eventually corrupt it, and He allowed it to happen, because this makes a good story. It creates the opportunity for sending new prophets and new revelations, in this way continuing the growth process of humanity, raising them the way you raise a child. A good teacher does not control everything the student can do, and does not prevent all possibilities for making mistakes.

God continued to send new prophets to the Jews for a thousand years, yet during all of this time they continued to persecute their prophets, reject them and at times stone them to death.

God then sent Jesus, peace be upon him, a Jewish prophet meant to be a witness against the Jews, and meant to be the starter of a world-wide movement that would forever change history.

To continue this story, God sent Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as an answer to a prayer that Prophet Ibrahim made 2500 years before Prophet Muhammad was born:

127. As Abraham raises the foundations of the House, together with Ishmael, “Our Lord, accept it from us, You are the Hearer, the Knower.

128. Our Lord, and make us submissive to You, and from our descendants a community submissive to You. And show us our rites, and accept our repentance. You are the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful.

129. Our Lord, and raise up among them a messenger, of themselves, who will recite to them Your revelations, and teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Almighty, the Wise.” (The Quran, verses 2:127-129)

The sending of Prophet Muhammad was an insult and punishment to the Jews by God, because while he is descended from Ibrahim (as the Jews were promised their final prophet would be), he was not a Jew. All Jews are descended from Ibrahim, so they thought their final prophet would be too. But God instead raised the final prophet from Ismail’s descendants (the Arabs of Hijaz), who, while being descended from Ibrahim as promised, was not Jewish.

87. We gave Moses the Scripture, and sent a succession of messengers after him. And We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear proofs, and We supported him with the Holy Spirit. Is it that whenever a messenger comes to you with anything your souls do not desire, you grew arrogant, calling some impostors, and killing others?

90. Miserable is what they sold their souls for—rejecting what God has revealed, out of resentment that God would send down His grace upon whomever He chooses from among His servants. Thus they incurred wrath upon wrath. And there is a demeaning punishment for the disbelievers.

93. And We made a covenant with you, and raised the Mount above you: “Take what We have given you firmly, and listen.” They said, “We hear and disobey.” And their hearts became filled with the love of the calf because of their disbelief. Say, “Wretched is what your faith commands you to do, if you are believers.”

94. Say, “If the Final Home with God is yours alone, to the exclusion of all other people, then wish for death if you are sincere.”

95. But they will never wish for it, because of what their hands have forwarded. God is aware of the evildoers. (The Quran, verses 2:87, 2:90, 2:93-95)

The reason why God allowed His scriptures to be corrupted is that it was useful in the raising of mankind, that it made a good lesson for those who came after, and that it was a test to those who did it. It could have served many other purposes that we will never know about. God decided to protect His final message from corruption because the corruption of scripture had already served its purpose, and God had a new purpose in the Quran.

We are like ants who are being managed from above, being turned this way and that, as God wishes, for His own purposes. But we are free-willed, we can disobey Him and rebel against Him. Regardless of whether we are good or evil, at the end of the day He continues to be All-Powerful above us all, so that we can never escape Him or corrupt the story, the plot line, He has devised for humanity. We can choose what role we play in His story, whether as good people or evil people, but the story is always His story.

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. (From verse 13:11 of the Quran)

As the above verse and many other verses of the Quran teaches, it is God Who manages world history. If we are good and kind, God will respond by changing our conditions for the better, and if we are not, He can send us hardships. We have zero power to ensure our own good, it is all from God. All that we can do is be good internally, and encourage others to be good, and use common sense in our dealing with the world, and the rest is up to God. No matter how hard we try to get something, if God does not want us to have it, we will never get it, which is why it is so important to not be attached to this world, but to God, knowing that all things come from Him, and that nothing can ensure our good other than His decree.

The complexity of this world, the corrupted scriptures, the various religious movements, the knowledge we have and the knowledge we lack, all of these provide an ideal testing ground for humans, separating the truly good and faithful from the average believers, and these from the lost and the evildoers.

Did God intend for Satan to not bow down to Adam? Why did He let it happen?

Since we are talking about evil and it’s origins, do you feel that God had intended iblis to not bow to adam? And did evil exist before happening of that event? And if god did intend him to not bow, why did he let it happen?

I believe that God set it all up knowing what was going to happen, as a way of bringing out Satan’s arrogance and showing His own greatness.

Satan had free will and was not forced to act the way he did. But God knew of his latent arrogance and pride, and knew that setting up that scene would bring it out. God does this to humans as well, a person who sins in private, for example, will suffer situations in public life that disgrace them and make people dislike them, as Ibn al-Jawzi points out many times. Humans have free will, but God can always set up situations where their true nature shows through.

We do not know what existed before that event. It is possible that there are billions of other universes, each with its own story and history, and that our universe and its story may be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of all existence.

Adam, peace be upon him, also had free will, and was given some knowledge by God. But God placed him in a situation where he could be tricked by Satan and did not prevent this from happening. Why? Because God wanted a story in which His qualities would show, and in which He would gain millions of true friends, friends who are tested and tempted all their lives yet continue to be sincere and devout toward Him.

If you think about it, there is no other way for God to have true friends. A true friend is the one who is not forced to believe in Him or obey Him, but that despite this, of his own choice, he seeks Him, loves Him and obeys Him until he dies, and with this he earns eternal closeness to Him as a true and proven friend.

We can wonder whether the way God set up everything was fair and just. But the truth is that we do not have sufficient knowledge to make a judgment in this regard, God is infinitely wiser and more knowledgeable about us and about everything else than we are. What matters is that the end result of this universe is the creation of millions or billions of pious, kind and good people who love God and want to be with Him, and who prove their sincerity throughout their lifetimes. The creation of these humans, in my opinion, is more than sufficient justification for everything that happened at the beginning of the human story.

What is Tawbah Nasoohah?

/ No Comments on What is Tawbah Nasoohah?

Do you know what is “taubat nasuha” ?

The literal meaning is “sincere and pure repentance”. It means to repent from a sin with the sincere desire to abandon it, acknowledging that you have done wrong and sincerely planning in God’s presence to find ways of avoiding that sin in the future.

The opposite is to sin then ask for forgiveness knowing that you will probably do that sin again and not sincerely planning to find every possible way to avoid that sin, and to not re-apply oneself in worship, which is the biggest protection a believer has from sinning.

Islam and dealing with PTSD from sexual abuse

Salaam, greetings from Malaysia. I am 21yrs old. I need help. I just feel like i need to let this out before i go crazy and do something i might regret. Not many people know of this but im dealing with PTSD. I was assaulted by my uncles at the age of 5,13 and 16. It happened long time ago, but lately i’ve been getting flashbacks of what had happened and there are times i feel like im a dirty girl as i’ve been touched by men before.. and it sometimes make me wanna commit suicide.

Continuing from above, i really dont know what to do. As i know committing suicide is haram. I started reading Quran, after years… and i feel at peace. but the flashbacks wont stop and it scares me everytime. What should i do?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

May God ease your condition. The best thing you could might be to seek medical help, it is possible that there are treatments that will work for you. The second thing to do is to read all of the books you can on PTSD. If you type PTSD on Amazon.com, many highly-rated books come up.

If you are looking for an Islamic solution, then it is to do sufficient worship so that you feel close to God, and so that the world stops feeling important to you. Pray the duha prayer (8 rakats done in the morning in units of 2, they can be done any time from 15 minutes after sunrise to 15 minutes before the duhr prayer) and also pray tahajjud (8 rakats done after isha and before fajr, in units of 2). It is good that you are reading Quran, you can start memorizing it and reciting what you memorize during your prayers. Spend 5-10 minutes after the duha and tahajjud prayers in supplication, asking for God’s help and guidance.

Do the above and everything else necessary to feel really close to God. You have a mission in life, similar to the way the Prophet, peace be upon him, had a mission. Your mission is to apply the Quran’s teachings as if the Quran was sent down specifically to you. Once you start to feel that you are an agent on a mission, then perhaps your PTSD will stop affecting you as severely as now. There were Muslims who were held in prison, suffering torture for years. Instead of losing hope, they used this as an opportunity to become closer to God.

Think of yourself as a prisoner and the PTSD as a form of torture. Instead of letting it control and own you, consider it a break in your day that will soon pass so that you can go back to your mission of living the Quran.

The above is of course easier said than done, and I do not know if they will help in your case, but it might be worth a try.

Living the Quran does not mean to dedicate every second to worship. It means to feel close to God and to feel that you are on a mission. You can still enjoy your hobbies and have fun, but you must do sufficient worship daily so that you never feel distant from God.

Reading Islamic books, such as biographies of great Muslims and other inspiring books may also help. It is not sufficient to worship, one must also always seek knowledge, through lectures or books. Maybe once you have learned much more about Islam you will be able to find a solution that works very well for you. There is no reason why you should let others know more about Islam than you do, seek knowledge until you have your own deep understanding of Islam.

Being a Muslim and a tomboy

Assalamualaikum! if you dont mind me say this, well im a female but since i was a little kid i was never into any girly thing. i dont like girl’s outfits, girl’s style and pretty much everything what a girl should be into. i have never had long hair too. i have always known as a tomboy in my big family. however, i have never hangout with boys or have a group of male friends, i always wear hijab and appropriate casual outfits(big hoodies,slacks,etc) and i never have a desire to become a trans man. i just dont like either? until now (i am reaching 20) i still dont feel any different. i cant get myself to be like the girls in my family, i dont want to be boys as well. but like i said, i cover up just fine though! people see me as a normal non-girly female on the outside. and i never leave my prayer. so im not sure if this is okay or not. my family is very religious too, they do try to help me find my way.

Human masculinity and femininity comes in a spectrum, and it does not always fit a person’s assigned gender, thus there are highly masculine women and highly feminine men. This is part of the natural variation that exists among humans and has to do with levels of estrogen, testosterone and the sensitivity of your cells to these two hormones, probably among other things. There is nothing wrong or sinful about being this way, as it comes from factors outside of your control, as long as it doesn’t cause one to do unlawful things.

As far as I know Islam does not offer any specific advice on this matter other than the usual advice of staying close to God through worship and seeking His support. You’d have to find your own way, like you said, and inshaAllah you will find success and fulfillment in this life and hereafter.

How do Muslims justify their Prophet supposedly marrying a 9-year-old girl?

So, I am someone who likes using logic and I have defended Islam and my Muslim-ness many times from criticisms, some well-founded, others not so much. How can I defend Mohammad’s marriage to a young girl? He was old at the time. I can’t imagine being a child and being given away to an older man. Why did he think that was okay? How do you defend that without sounding like a pedophile apologist? -It is an honest question. How do other Muslims deal with this and remain moral?

The current theory is that Aisha’s young age was invented to defend her against the claims of the hypocrites and some of the Shia that she was an adulteress or unworthy of the Prophet, peace be upon him. By saying she was 9, they wanted to exaggerate her quality as a virgin. From Wikipedia:

Some traditional sources disagree. Ibn Hisham wrote in his biography of Muhammad that she may have been ten years old at the consummation. Ibn Khallikan, as well as Ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi citing Hisham ibn Urwah, record that she was nine years old at marriage, and twelve at consummation. Modern author and journalist Sadakat Kadri points out that the recording of Aisha’s age by Ibn Sa’d and Bukhari (though the hadith was Sahih) came a couple of centuries after the Prophet’s death. Child marriage was not uncommon in many places at the time, Arabia included. It often served political purposes, and Aisha’s marriage to Muhammad would have had a political connotation.

Muslim authors who calculate Aisha’s age based on the more detailed information available about her sister Asma estimate that she was over thirteen and perhaps between seventeen and nineteen at the time of her marriage. Muhammad Niknam Arabshahi, an Iranian Islamic scholar and historian, has considered six different approaches to determining Aisha’s age and concluded that she was engaged in her late teens. Using the age of Fatimah as a reference point, the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement scholar Muhammad Ali has estimated that Aisha was over ten years old at the time of marriage and over fifteen at the time of its consummation.

From a historical perspective, it seems highly unlikely for Aisha to have consummated her marriage at the age of 9. Given the immense incentive for later Muslims to reduce her age at the time of marriage (to prove her virginity), the “9″ figure is extremely doubtful and almost certainly a fabrication.

While many Muslims live under the mistaken assumption that Sahih Bukhari is 100% reliable, recent research continues to poke holes into this view. Nothing in Sahih Bukhari is guaranteed to be 100% correct, only the Quran has this guarantee in our view. Everything in Sahih Bukhari (and other collections) must be judged by the Quran, by common sense and by our historical knowledge. Since what it says regarding Aisha’s age is highly questionable, we are fully entitled to doubt its statement on this regard and reject it.

Reply from a reader

Asalam Alakum, regarding Al- Bukhari a lot of Sunni scholars collectively agreed that his collection is the second most reliable source after the Quran.

I agree, and personally I love the Sunnah and try to follow it as much as I can. But the keyword is after the Quran. Traditional scholars have sometimes mistakenly assumed that this means that it is almost as good as the Quran, while it is more accurate to consider the Quran far more superior to it.

The superiority of the Quran over hadith is like the superiority of the Prophet, peace be upon him, over his companions. Hadith can never be taken as a guide by itself, and it must always be judged in the context of the Quran:

There will be after me narrators of hadith. Expose their narrations to the Quran; any of them that agree with the Quran, then follow those, and those that do not agree with it, then do not follow them. —The Prophet, peace be upon him, in an authentic narration.

The Prophet of God does not defy the Book of God, and whoever defies the Book of God cannot be a Prophet of God. Refuting any man who mentions a narration of the Prophet peace be upon him which goes against the Quran is not a refutation of the Prophet peace be upon him, and is not an act of calling him [the Prophet] a liar, rather, it is a refutation of someone who speaks falsehood regarding the Prophet peace be upon him, and the accusation [of speaking falsehood] is against that man and not the Prophet peace be upon him. —Abu Hanifah

Any hadith that you can recognize as going against reason or contradicting [well-established Islamic] principles, then know that it is a fabrication, therefore do not consider yourself compelled to act by it. —Ibn al-Jawzi

The Most Desirable Women for Marriage are in their Early Twenties and Sexually Inexperienced

In reply to my article Will a young Muslim woman miss out on marriage by not dating and having relationships? someone wrote:

No offense but that ask about marriage with 0 dating experience has so many things wrong with it, i don’t even know where to start (& there aren’t enough chars to cover everything). – “Peak of attractiveness” technically is around 30s – That “wife material” part was quite sexist – Getting a random guy u barely know to ur family bc he says “he’s into u” is just unrealistic. I know what Islam says, but that’s unrealistic. How will u get to know the guy even? He’s marrying YOU, not your family.

Regarding peak attractiveness, here is a chart from the dating site OkCupid, which has a large database of statistics regarding dating and relationships. You can say it is unfair, but this is life. In fact according to them the peak is at 21, not even 25:

The wife material part is certainly sexist, if by that you mean treating women differently compared with men, acknowledging the evolutionary differences between them. It is not sexist if by that you mean there is something morally wrong with it. Men have an evolutionary instinct to prefer young, sexually inexperienced women. You are free to dislike this preference of men, but disliking it is not going to change men’s genetic code so that they start to prefer older or sexually experienced women. In the same way, a man may dislike the fact that many women find successful men attractive, while they find romantic men who have no degrees, no jobs, no money and live in their parents’ basement highly unattractive. A man can dislike these things and say it is discrimination against men, why should they be judged by their success instead of their innate qualities? A woman too, can say it is discrimination that she should be judged by her beauty and youth instead of her innate qualities. But in both cases, it is our evolutionary instincts telling us to prefer members of the opposite sex who are most likely to give us successful relationships, families and offspring.

Politics and morality have nothing to do with it. Unless we find a way to perform DNA surgery on men so that they start finding older and sexually experienced women more attractive, they will continue to prefer younger and less experienced women. And unless we perform DNA surgery on women, they will continue to care about a man’s success, or potential for success, before they decide whether they should marry him.

Unlike men, women are not attracted to young and inexperienced men, in a man shyness is weakness, not an attractive thing, and men, when they decide whether they should marry a woman, rarely care about her success or chances of success, because each sex wants different things in the other, thanks to evolutionary specialization.

Since humans are not animals, they can use their brains and free will to overcome their genetic instincts and make choices that go against them. But these genetic instincts will always be present underneath everything else. A woman always wants her husband to be more successful, and this would make her feel more attracted to him (while a man’s attraction for his wife has nothing to do with her career success), despite her religious and ideological beliefs.

One could say that we should change society so that these differences in sexual preferences between the sexes should go away. You, as a free-willed human, are free to do that in your own life. But since these facts have biological drives behind them, they cannot be stamped out. Apart from physical appearance, women are sexually attracted to success, men are sexually attracted to youth, not vice-versa. Trying to erase these facts is similar to communism’s efforts to erase the human desire for private ownership. The law, secret police and the gulag can be used to impose an unnatural arrangement on the population, but once this political force is removed, biological reality will reassert itself. All communist states revert to quasi-capitalist states, and all societies that have gender equality imposed upon them will eventually revert to biological sexual specialization.

Islam and biology both treat the sexes differently, giving each sex different duties and responsibilities (while as Muslims and civilized people we never forget that both are humans and capable of all human things). Modern politics wants to treat the sexes as if they are exactly the same, and as if any mention of differences between the sexes is blasphemy. I prefer Islam and science and couldn’t care less about politics and ideology.

I saw a train that was carrying knowledge and so torrentially it went.
I saw a train that was carrying politics (and so emptily it went.)

~ Sohrab Sepehri (Persian free verse poet)

I did not say she should introduce a random guy she barely knows to her family. The assumption was that she grew up knowing dozens of men, and through college and work, she could know dozens more. If one of these men she already knows well approach her, then instead of engaging in a potentially harmful relationship, she should direct them to her family.

As for someone she barely knows, then there is nothing wrong with getting to know him. From an Islamic point of view, the problem is with trying to enjoy a relationship with someone without marrying them. If the point is knowing a person, then there isn’t an issue with that as long as both sides observe custom and religious boundaries.

Next reply:

Those are OkCupid stats, they show which age range ppl are looking for, to date/meet. Has absolutely nothing to do w peak attractiveness. By sexist, I meant how a hymen is a criteria in marriage. You have every right to prefer islam rather than ideologies. But then again, Khadija (RAA) was neither inexperienced, nor young. The prophet (SAAWS) clearly didn’t follow any of what u said in ur arguments. And he is human, a man, with a dna, hormones and all. It IS VERY important to point out that Islam has asked BOTH men and women to stay virgin til marriage. So the “ unlike men, inexperienced women are biologically more attractive” argument clearly has NOTHING to do with Islam’s teachings. As much as I disagree, you have your opinions and preferences, that I accept. But please, don’t claim they’re what Islam says. Islam didn’t say that you’re less worthy as husbands or wives if you’re not virgin.

You are right that Islam requires both men and women to stay virgin, this goes without saying.

As for young and sexually inexperienced women being more attractive, I did not say this has anything to do with Islam. It has to do with biology. In my answers, I always take the facts of real life into account, and if I can give someone common sense advice along with mentioning related Islamic concepts, then I will do so, as I have done in most of my answers. This is how I would answer a question a friend asks me, and this is how I answer questions here.

I think the OkCupid data is highly relevant, it shows the female age that men find most desirable. Here is another chart from a BusinessInsider article that says the age is 23, sourced from different data:

I pointed to the rest of what you said in my previous answer. Humans have free will and are able to choose differently than their biological drives. For religious reasons, you could choose a less attractive and less wealthy man as a husband who is very religious, rather than less religious but more attractive man.

I have no problem with marrying a 40-year-old woman if she is a good person and we are fit for each other in other ways. But this does not prove biology false.

Humans love the taste of meat, but there are vegetarians who avoid it. Vegetarians will be wrong to say that there is no such thing as a human preference for meat. The preference exists, and the population as a whole follows the preference, but individual humans can go against it.

In the same way, men prefer young and inexperienced women, this is a biological preference. But they can overrule it with other concerns, moral, religious, intellectual, whatever they may be. When you look at the population as a whole, the preference will show up clearly, as the data shows.

Given the choice between three equally religious, intelligent and pretty women, one who is 22, one who is 32 and one who is 42, the majority of men would prefer the one who is 22.

In the same way, given the choice between three equally religious, intelligent and physically attractive men, one who is greatly successful, one who has moderate success, and one who has zero success and zero prospects, the majority of women will choose the most successful man.

Another way to illustrate this is if a man’s wife is 40, and she finds a magic potion to turn her back to 22, then the husband would love her to use it, no matter how much he loves her already.

And if a woman’s husband finds a magic potion that makes him much more successful than he is currently, she would love him to use it.

If there are always exceptions, what is the point of mentioning the general rules? The point is that these rules have significant effects on our lives whether we want them to or not. A woman will find it much easier to get married at 25 than at 45, because most men are not the Prophet, peace be upon him; most men will judge her by their own instincts, not be her spiritual qualities.

In the same way, a man will find it much easier to marry if he is successful, therefore he must try to be successful, doing what makes it more likely for him to marry, instead of saying that he will wait for the right woman who will marry him despite the fact that he has no job or degree.

The rule is that women are attracted to success, therefore a man should make use of this rule and seek to be successful. It is foolishness if he says that the right woman will not care about material things like success.

In the same way, the rule is that men are attracted to youth, therefore a woman should make use of this rule, realizing that it will be easier to get married when she is younger than when she is older. It is foolishness if she waits until she is 40 and says the right man will not care about material things like age.

Personally if I was given the choice of marrying either a 30-year-old or a 22-year-old, if both were equally pretty and religious, I may choose the older just because I would feel guilty to use her age against her, and would worry about her chances of marrying. I would be cognizant of the fact that most men would pass her up, so I wouldn’t.

But, and this is an important but, most men don’t think like that. You cannot rely on men’s kindness, saying they shouldn’t care about age, and you cannot rely on women’s kindness, saying they shouldn’t care about success.

If I were giving advice to a young woman regarding marriage, it is essential that I mention the importance of age. A 50-year-old woman will find it extremely difficult to marry, there will probably be little controversy about this. A 35-year-old woman still has a chance of marrying an attractive and successful man, but nowhere close to the chances of a 22-year-old.

And if I were giving advice to a young man regarding marriage, I would tell him to seek to be successful, because this is essential for him to be considered “marriage material” by women. He can call this sexist and say that he doesn’t care about a woman’s success, why should she care about his success? She does because she is designed to do so, because the survival of the species relies on her choosing someone who can take care of her and her children, and his material success is a very good indicator of his ability toward this (that he has the social skills, intelligence and stamina to take care of a family and ensure its long-term good). If he doesn’t work to be successful, then he has no right to complain if women reject his proposals.

Also note that I am not saying that older women cannot get married. Women of most ages can marry, but the older they get, the pool of men they can choose from gets smaller. A 22-year-old woman has the largest pool of men available to her, wanting to marry her, because she is at the peak of her desirability. At the age of 32, she can still marry, but she will have to settle for less attractive men. At 42 she can still marry, but she will have to settle for even less attractive men, unless a man like the Prophet, peace be upon him, appears and marries her. But most women cannot rely on this happening to them.

If you do not believe these, ask any single 40-year-old woman who wants to get married. The internet is full of stories of such women, who were deluded into delaying marriage until their late 30′s to work on their career, only to find out that almost no man finds them interesting anymore, even though in their 20′s they had dozens of men willing to marry them. It is nothing short of evil to cause this to happen to women, to delude them into letting their most attractive years pass them by just because it is fashionable politically, so that once they do start to want to get married, they run into disappointment after disappointment.

Women should instead be informed that marriage is much easier when you are young. An unmarried 40-year-old woman will not derive much consolation from calling these facts sexist and unfair and calling men “sexist pigs”.

Regardless of how much a man calls women sexist and materialist and says they should love him for who he is instead of loving him for his wallet, they will continue to care about his success, because it is their instinct to care. And regardless of how much a woman calls men sexist and materialist and says they should love her for who she is and not for her beauty and age, they will continue to care, because it is their instinct to care.

Exceptions can be found where people find fulfilling relationships that do not follow these patterns. But these rules exist, and they affect most of us to some degree. There is nothing wrong with mentioning them and taking them into consideration.

Will a young Muslim woman miss out on marriage by not dating and having relationships?

I am afraid, I am not like normal girls of my generation, I don’t like dating boys and getting into relationships, but I really want a serious relationship later. The thing is that I am afraid, how can i be sure that later there is someone for me, I am afraid that the people who were dating and getting in relationships will get married while i will not, i know this is stupid but this is a big fear (not the biggest, we all know what the biggest is) but it’s a big one

I assume that you are aware that sex outside of marriage is a major sin, and that relationships outside of marriage are considered a gateway to that.

As for your question, a woman continues to be near the peak of her attractiveness until the age of 25, it should be relatively easy for a woman to get married until then. A wise woman will do her best to get married around this time or earlier, this is the age where she can get the interest of the best men available to her. After this age, she may have to settle for lesser men if she wants to get married. If she values her education and career, she can get married and continue with these and delay pregnancy, or have children and resume her career later, whatever works for her.

Some people mention the idea that experience with relationships helps a person have better relationships eventually. This is wrong. In the US, for example, a first marriage generally lasts more than 25 years, while a second marriage lasts about 10 years, and a third marriage 5 years. Instead of increasing the likelihood of marital success, having had a divorce greatly increases the chance of getting a second divorce.

Men consider some women “wife material” and others not. A woman who has a cynical attitude toward relationships and has had sexual experience with many men may still get much interest from men if she is attractive, but this interest will be mostly from men who want to have sex with her, rather than men who want to marry her and take care of her for life. A woman who is known to easily get into and out of relationships is not going to be considered attractive wife material. I don’t mean that she will never get married, but that she will be considered less attractive for that than women who do not have such a reputation.

A worthy man is not going to go for the most attractive women, he will try to marry a woman who has a good reputation and who is preferably a virgin, or at least has had very few partners. Such a woman is more likely to be loyal to their marriage, to not abandon him and to not fall in love with others, because such women still have their emotional bonding ability (as the divorce statistics show).

A woman who has had many partners has less of this ability, because she feels it puts her in a very vulnerable position, and she feels no man may deserve this type of dedication after the losses she has suffered. This makes it easy for her to abandon her later relationships. I discuss this matter and many related ones in my new book Sex and Purpose. It is neither sex’s fault that things are this way. We are designed to seek the type of partner who is most likely to give us a successful relationship and healthy children, and among the things men look for in a wife is her “innocence” (or whatever they may call it), her not having so much sexual experience that she cannot feel emotionally attached to a man anymore.

Developing a reputation for having had many partners is not going to do a young religious woman any favors, it will cause the worthy men she wishes to marry to consider her less attractive. If you want to have a successful marriage with a worthy and religious man, then avoiding relationships might be more likely to give you success in this regard than engaging in them.

It is difficult to avoid relationships when other girls your age talk about it and engage in it all the time. Your solace can be the Quran and worship. By making the concerns of the afterlife feel important in your heart, the concerns of this life start to feel unimportant and become much easier to bear. Keeping a heightened state of spirituality requires daily work, as I often say. It is not something that can be achieved then put on the shelf, one’s spirituality decreases every day, and one must work to increase it again every day.

From an Islamic perspective, it is God who manages your destiny for you. You are not in charge, God is. It is only God, and no one else on Earth, who can ensure a good marriage for you. If you carry out your duty of keeping God’s remembrance alive in your heart, of avoiding all sins and gathering good deeds, then you can leave it to Him to take care of your marital success for you. This is known as tawakkul, placing one’s reliance on God. If you have a close relationship with God, if you carry out your duties and pray to Him to give you success in this life and the hereafter, then He will give it to you in the way He chooses, at the time He chooses.

Engaging in a potentially sinful relationship out of the fear of being left behind is similar to a man engaging in a questionable type of business out of the fear of poverty. This is not an admirable thing, it shows a lack of trust in God. If God is the All-Powerful King of this universe, if He can do anything, if He takes care of His servants, then how can anyone justify disobeying Him to ensure their own good?

Engaging in a potentially sinful relationship may actually cause one to be punished by God by ending up in an unwholesome marriage where neither spouse likes the other much, and where both of them continue wishing to find a better match for themselves so that they are never content with their current relationship.

So it is true that it feels risky to pass up relationships for years in the hope that you will eventually be approached by the right man. But this is what Islam demands, that we avoid engaging in things that promise us rewards and profit if they are questionable.

If you are old enough to be in relationships, you are old enough to marry. Islam wholeheartedly rejects the hookup culture of the West where people “date” and have sex for years before “taking the jump” and marrying. If a man wants to enjoy being with you, then he must publicly promise to take care of you and accept full responsibility for the relationship.

Most men would rather not do that. They would rather enjoy having sex with women without being responsible for the relationship, and if you get emotionally attached to him (as you are biologically designed to do) and ask for marriage, he will act as if there is something wrong with you and call you “clingy”, and he may try to break off the relationship. Once this happens to a woman multiple times, she becomes cynical toward relationships and loses her ability to become emotionally attached to men, and men will treat her like she is broken. She may still be interesting to have sex with, but to them she is no longer worth marrying if there are younger, less sexually experienced women available.

Islam prevents these things from happening by requiring all sexual relationships to be official, men are not allowed to use you then abandon you.

It can be beneficial to delay marriage, for example so that the person gets more experience, but this has to be balanced by the concern that a person prevented from marriage may be tempted to seek a relationship outside of it. If a family prevents their daughter from marrying, saying she should wait for the perfect man to come along, and she ends up in a sinful relationship, then it is the family that is at fault.

Islam has no concept of relationships outside of marriage. It sounds like you are not eager for a relationship, you are only worried what may happen down the road. The only thing to do is to be patient until God makes a way for you, and to remember that in the view of most men, fair or unfair, for a woman the more sexual relationships she has had, the less attractive she is as a wife (even if she continues to attract men’s sexual interest).

Assuming you are 18 or older, if you are eager for a relationship, then you can let your family know this. If an eligible man approaches you, you can direct him to your family so that he asks for your hand in marriage, if he is in love with you he should have no trouble with the idea of marrying you. Islam does not let men stay children until they are 40, saying they are too immature to marry, it asks them to marry and grow up from the experience. If your family says you are too young and that you should wait 7 or 8 more years, tell them it is not easy to wait when so many people around you are in relationships.

There is no perfect solution to this dilemma. It is one of the challenges of life that require patience and reliance on God, similar to a person’s desire to earn an income in the West while not engaging in anything forbidden, which can be difficult at times. A person may be offered the perfect degree or the perfect career, but it may require engaging in unlawful things to acquire these, and for this reason they have to pass them up, taking a loss for God’s sake and trusting that His rewards are better than what this world offers. Similarly, to not engage in the dating and relationship scene may feel like a loss, but a devout woman will do it to please God.

Islamic Strategies for Escaping a Sinful Life

19 year old boy here. It’s a serious issue but I’ll keep it short. I was exposed to pornography at a very young age and I still haven’t been able to get over it. And then came the time when I could mingle with the opposite sex and actually do things and since then I haven’t been able to stop myself from committing zina. I’ve barely started to learn Islam but my imaan was a little stable in a few days and I did not do it in a long time. But it ate me from inside. Please help me

Continuing from above, I fear Allah swt but it does not remain constant to me. I’m very helpless and I do not know what to do. I keep doing it. My sexual desire overcomes it and I feel guilty then as usual. I know I’m doing a very horrible sin but I’m really in a position of a porn addict. And if I haven’t asked you the previous thing anonymously then please don’t answer to that? I’m in deep trouble and want my sins to be discreet obviously. Please help me. Jazakallahu khair

I cannot look at myself in the mirror. I desired to be a very influential Muslim and truth in my heart but this major sin inside me is eating me. I’m very frustrated and unable to do anything and I feel horribly ashamed to offer my namaz. Please help me. I’ve asked you around three questions cuz there was a word limit and I hope I get help from Allah swt through you!

No matter how great your sins are, God’s mercy is greater. The greatest sin of all is to lose hope in His mercy and to stop offering the obligatory prayers and performing other obligatory deeds. Regardless of how you feel, this is a duty you cannot ignore. Continue asking for His forgiveness. Even if you fail ten thousand times, He has the power to forgive you more times than that.

At the age of 19 your brain development is not complete. It only completes after the age of 25. What this means is that you have poor impulse control, because of no fault of your own, because the prefrontal cortex of the brain has not completed developing, which is the part of the brain that enables us to control our emotions and impulses.

Trying to make yourself stop engaging in those sins while they are easily available, and while your brain development has not completed, might be asking the impossible. It is like putting a child in a room full of candy and asking them not to eat any. It is an unfair test, because they haven’t developed the ability to control their impulses yet. The same may apply to you.

Think of your desires as an enemy. You cannot defeat it directly, because you do not have the power yet. You must defeat it indirectly. Instead of putting yourself in a test that you are unable to pass, you must avoid the test altogether. This is done by making it impossible to engage in those sins. If you live somewhere where you have easy access to women to sleep with, move somewhere else. Move to a different country if you have to.

If you are sincere in wanting to win this battle, you must do what it takes, even if it requires much work and hardship. Consider it your hijrah. You do not yet have full control over your desires, therefore you must not put your hopes in learning a magical way of overcoming them. You must instead use your intelligence and planning ability to find ways of making it impossible to engage in those sins. Since I do not know your exact situation, I cannot tell you what the best plan for you is. Any plan that requires you to have significant control over your impulses will most likely fail. The plan must take impulse out of the equation by making the sins impossible. For example, if you could join an Islamic educational establishment in a faraway country or area that does not have internet or cell phone coverage, then in that situation avoiding sinning would probably become very easy for you, and you would be able to focus on worshiping God and getting yourself educated about Islam.

Part of the solution could be to get married, even if your family think you are too young, since avoiding major sins is more important. Ibn Masud (companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him) says that even if he had ten days to live in this world, if he was afraid his sexual desire would cause him to sin, he would do his best to get married. You may be able to find a woman who understands your problem and helps you find ways of overcoming it.

You could also go to a pious person at a local mosque, perhaps the imam, and share with them your problem. Maybe they will be able to help you by getting you involved in certain activities, or helping you move somewhere where you can fight your desires more easily. Sharing your problem with others is difficult, since it will go against your pride and self-respect. But you must give more value to avoiding your sinful life, even if this requires that you expose yourself to highly uncomfortable situations.

If you are unable to find a successful plan for making it impossible for yourself to sin, then know that as you grow older your ability to control your impulses will grow. After 25 it will become much easier for you to avoid sins related to sexual desire. Therefore this should be your back-up plan; if everything else fails, hold on to your faith until it becomes easier to resist your sins. Continue to read as much Quran as you can, try to memorize it, perform all the voluntary prayers including tahajjud, constantly read Islamic books, and if you sin, repent, purify yourself and go back to worship as soon as you can, thinking of it as a temporary interruption in your life of worship, until God helps you completely avoid it.

Continue planning against your desires and praying day and night for God’s help, until He gives you a solution sooner or later. If you sincerely ask of Him and seek Him with everything you have, then He will forgive you and answer you.

Satan will constantly tell you that you are worthless and that you should give up hope. You must fight his whispers and know that there is no solution for you in this world except to seek God, regardless of how sinful and worthless you feel. It is only He who forgives sins.

There is no safety from [God’s punishment] except through taking refuge in Him. (The Quran, verse 9:118)

God knows you better than yourself, and He understands what you go through. If you are sincere in seeking a solution, then He will reward your sincerity and forgive you your past and future sins as you continue to seek His pleasure.

You must consider it your duty to perform sufficient worship and Quran-reading on a daily basis that the afterlife starts to feel as important as the present life to you. This seems to require about an hour of extra voluntary deeds a day, whether it is Quran-reading, supplication, praying at the mosque or performing extra prayers. Once you achieve this state and maintain it for weeks and months, it becomes far easier to resist sins.

You already believe in God and the afterlife. This is only an intellectual belief. Through worship, you can turn it into an emotional belief as well, so that God and the afterlife feel real to you. Once your faith is not just an intellectual belief, but an emotional state, then this will have a powerful effect on your state of mind and on your actions. This is the state that every Muslim must seek to achieve, and it is the state of the prophets and the greatest believers.

The best help I have found toward maintaining such an emotional state has been to perform every prayer at the mosque, to perform dhikr and supplication after every one of them, and to perform all the related voluntary prayers. If there is a mosque near you, then this should be one of the first things you try. Even if it is 10 or 15 minutes away, consider it part of your war against your sins to go there, and God will reward you for your time and effort.

Personally I do not generally enjoy going to the mosque, but I do it anyway.

Consider going to the mosque part of your job, as if you earn an hourly wage for it. It is just another job, perform it, and you will get its rewards.

Planning against your sins and doing the work necessary to avoid and overcome them is not going to be easy. It is going to require difficult and perhaps boring and repetitive work. But for this you will be greatly rewarded.

If you want to have a successful career in this life and the next, if you want to be a leader like you said, then do the daily work needed for this. A career requires work, your work is to do worship and to go to the mosque. No matter how unrewarding you find this work, if you do it, you will get its fruits. Worshiping and obeying God is not meant to be fun. It is work, sometimes hard work, sometimes boring work, we do it because we want His rewards. If you do not get any uplifting feeling from your worship or mosque attendance at first, continue doing it for weeks and months, and you will eventually feel it inshaAllah.

When we try to seek God and renew our allegiance to Him, He may withhold His help until we prove our sincerity. If we try to worship Him ardently for a week, then give up hope when nothing happens and we feel no difference, it shows that we do not truly have faith in Him, that we are not sincere in our servitude. We prove our sincerity by constantly working toward Him whether we feel good or bad, whether we feel appreciated or abandoned. This is true worship of God, that we love Him regardless of what He decrees for us. Everything else is mostly self-worship.

 

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

/ No Comments on On the Rohingya Muslims

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.

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.

God and depression

/ No Comments on God and depression

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.

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?

Page 1 of 2
1 2