IslamQA: Does Islam oppose poetry?

Salamalaikum, according to several hadiths, is all poetry that is not Islamic in subject matter not permitted or disliked? Esp regarding this hadith: "It is better for the belly of any one of you to be stuffed with pus rather than to stuff (one's mind) with poetry"?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The hadith you mentioned speaks against dedicating too much time and effort to poetry as was the habit of some Arabs (spending many hours on it daily). But I haven’t seen any hadith that declares a general prohibition on poetry. Ali b. Abi Talib RA, Imam al-Shafi`i and many other scholars composed poetry, and their themes weren’t always religious. The Quran speaks against poets for their boasting and false exaggeration. But it approves of poets “who believe, perform good deeds, remember God often, and do not humbly submit to oppression.” (paraphrasing 26:227). This does not mean that all poetry should be religious. It means that the type of poetry that God approves of comes from a person who has such a character. The poetry can be about anything, but the character of the poet determines whether it is wholesome poetry or otherwise.

And note that the Quran above is talking about the production of poetry, not its consumption. A person can read any type of poetry as long as they have a good reason to do so. But once they find that a particular poem or poet affects them negatively then it is better if they avoid it.

IslamQA: Is it permitted to recite Quran or dhikr in the bathroom?

Salam! Is it permissible to do dhikr and recite durood internally (like in your mind) while showering? Worried that since you are in a bathroom, it is not allowed. Thank you!

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Even reciting the Quran aloud in a bath/shower (not toilet) is permitted by many important scholars (Imam Malik, al-Nawawi). Reciting the Quran or doing dhikr in your mind only is permitted by even more scholars, and some say it is permitted everywhere (even in the toilet) if it is silent (Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibrahim al-Nakha`i). If the bathroom has a bathtub/shower and toilet, then once the shower curtain is opened then it seems to me that that part of the bathroom can be considered a separate place and would have that same ruling as a bath/shower lacking a toilet.


Fatwa by Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Suhaym

IslamQA: Major and minor sins in Islam

El Salamou alaykoum Can you please explain what are el kabaîr and saghaîr? And how to make taouba ?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are different opinions on what constitutes major sins. According to Ibn Taymiyyah they are sins that are mentioned in the Quran or hadith as deserving the anger or curse of God or as deserving punishment in this world or the afterlife. Among such sins are shirk (associating partners with God), murder, adultery, bearing false witness, disowning one’s parents, falsely accusing chaste women of adultery, and consuming the profits of usury (i.e. consuming interest income). Everything that is not a major sin is a minor sin.

As for repentance, it depends on the type of sin. If it involves the rights of others, then those rights have to be restored (for example a person who gave false testimony should confess it and try to undo all damage caused by it). Apart from that, asking God for forgiveness is all that is needed. My view is that if God inspires someone to ask for forgiveness, it is because He wants to forgive them.

IslamQA: Islam and creating manga

I really want to draw a form of comic books, A.KA. "manga". The genre would be fantasy, and it would have a certain amount of violence. Is that ok in islam?

Creating comic books and manga is neither good nor bad in itself from a mainstream Islamic perspective. It is similar to writing novels. The question to ask yourself is whether your art makes the world a better or worse place. What is the effect of your art on your readers? I do not mean that your art should contain obvious religious or moral messages. But some types of art create a sense of hopelessness, purposelessness and despair, all of which are harmful things. Other types of art create elevate and enhance people’s experience of life, and such art can be considered good.

IslamQA: She is attracted to a married man

I have feelings for this guy but he’s married. I do not think he feels the same way as I do. He’s also a non Muslim. I can’t stop thinking about him. What would you suggest I do?

You should treat it like any other temptation. We are generally not able to control how we feel toward others, but we can control our behavior and conduct. The best help toward avoiding all sins is developing a close relationship with God and working daily to maintain this relationship. For more on this please see: Guides on Getting Closer to God

IslamQA: Is it haram to have a platonic boyfriend or girlfriend?

Is having a boyfriend haram? But you don't do anything haram with him. You just label each other as boyfriend/girlfriend but treat each other as best friends without doing anything haram

The right question to ask is: “Does it please God and my family to have a boyfriend/girlfriend, is it beneficial to my own soul, and is it good for my future?” If you read the Quran and the books of hadith, you will not find anything that explicitly forbids such a relationship. But there is a lot more to it than that.

First, note that I would be willing to accept the excuses of a person who involves themselves with such relationships. But that is the problem; such relationships have to be excused. They are not noble and admirable things to participate in, and all pious and self-respecting Muslims would do their best to avoid them except under the most extreme circumstances.

Imagine an irreligious culture where there is no marriage and all relationships are boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. Then imagine that the people convert to Islam. What would happen next? If you think about it, you will realize that such relationships will quickly go out of fashion because people will start to demand more from their mates. Instead of randomly getting into relationships with whoever seems to be able to love them back, they will start to have a long-term mindset about relationships. A woman will not just want a random man’s love. She will want a man who doesn’t just love her, but who is also pleasing to her family, and whose family is pleasing to hers. Rather than acting on her animal instincts by jumping into relationships, she will act like a princess. Not a Disney princess, but a real princess who cannot just marry anyone. Her marriage is a very significant decision that affects the future of her country, so she has to choose someone who fits in within her very long-term plans. She doesn’t just think of her own desires, she has to think of how her relationship will affect the future of her dynasty. She has to think carefully about how being with a particular man will affect her future, the future of her family, the future of her country, and the future of her children and grandchildren.

If you think about it, a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship is a very primitive, what we may call a barbarian, type of marriage. Religion comes to civilize it by changing relationships from something casual to something extremely serious. People go from wanting to please their immediate appetites to wanting to build a civilization through their relationships.

Muslims who are attracted by the boyfriend/girlfriend system are actually being attracted to something primitive and barbarian. It is like wanting to abandon civilization to join the simple life of a tribe that lives in the jungle where there is no marriage and everyone is free to love whomever they want. It may seem like an attractive and paradisaical arrangement, but it is not civilized. You cannot build a civilization where casual romantic relationships are the norm, and any civilization that is degraded enough to make that the norm will quickly suffer decay. We see this in the West where people are extremely irresponsible about their relationships and couldn’t care less about how these affect their families and societies. The result is extremely low-birth rates because everyone is too busy seeking their own satisfaction to think about the future of their families and civilizations. Countries like Portugal and Japan today are going through slow-motion collapse as villages and towns are abandoned because people do not think that continuing their families and civilizations are worth the effort. By embracing a primitive and barbarian system of romantic relationships, the result is that the countries become more and more primitive and barbarian. Nature starts to reclaim land that was in the past filled with homes and schools.

To a young person who is simply seeking to be loved, such concerns are of little importance. Religion, however, cares very much about these things, and it is for this reason that it creates a system of marriage that forces people to take their romantic relationships very seriously.

Religion wants to build civilization. The boyfriend/girlfriend system is out of place in civilization and it takes the country back to a primitive stage. And for this reason no one who has truly understood religion and who takes it seriously will want to participate in that system. For a faithful Muslim woman to jump into such relationships is similar to a princess from a royal family getting into a relationship with some random man and throwing away the future of her dynasty and country.

By calling someone your boyfriend/girlfriend, you mean that you have an exclusive romantic relationship with them. It is like pretending to be married without actually marrying and without intending to do the physical acts associated with marriage. The intention is to get the companionship and sense of being loved and supported that we get from a romantic partner without going through the difficult process of finding out if your life circumstances will enable you to be together, and finding out whether your family approves of the person and whether their family approves of you. You cut out their involvement, and the involvement of the rest of reality in order to jump right into the romance part.

It is almost needless to say how foolish and dangerous that is. If you are a woman, a husband is forced to be nice, kind and considerate toward you even when he does not feel like it, even when you do not deserve it, because he is not only responsible to you but to your family and his family. He has to live up to the image of a husband. But a random male with whom you develop a romantic relationship is not answerable to anyone but himself. Many people in the West who enjoy the freedom of being able to jump into romantic relationship after relationship end up being scarred for life by the extreme maltreatment (I do not mean physical abuse, but emotional abuse and negligence) of their partners, or end up being the abuser themselves without intending it, because there is nothing to humanize their relationship and control it as it happens in marriage.

Marriage is meant to be an election. You need to appreciate the purpose of marriage before you are able to realize what is so wrong with boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. See my essay: The Point of Marriage in Islam (and the Problem with Romantic Relationships Outside of Marriage)

An intelligent, self-respecting and wise Muslim woman will consider it extremely beneath her to grant her love to a man who has not gone through the process of proving himself to be a worthy husband. She would be giving something away for free that is meant to be extremely valuable and precious; a foolish decision that shows her lack of understanding. It is a sign that there is a serious problem with her that is making her desperate. Sometimes, maybe often, the blame is with her family. By depriving her of love and sense of having an honored status in her family, she is forced to seek that in men outside her family. But even in such cases part of the blame is on her; a better woman would put up with her family’s failings and lack of love and endure patiently until God enables her to have something better.

The same of course applies to some men who seek such romance.

I know such relationships can be a great temptation. But our task is to resist them the way we resist all other temptations until God changes our situation and we are able to enjoy the pleasures of romance in the normal way through marriage.

IslamQA: Is ghusl necessary if there is no ejaculation?

I sometimes masturbate my self and something like urine comes out is that the mani or Madi and most I perform guhsul jazakallah kairan

If it is manī then this requires ghusl. Manī (semen) is ejaculated in spurts and there is usually a feeling of pleasure when it happens. But if it is madhī then this requires no ghusl. Madhī is a mucus-like fluid that comes out slowly and continuously during sexual arousal.

Note that both manī and madhī are pure (see this article for references to scholarly opinions), so if they fall on clothing, one can still pray in those clothes without washing them, according to the scholarly opinions I prefer. But like I said, even though manī is pure, its ejaculation necessitates ghusl.

IslamQA: Should we advise others to avoid sin if it may bother them?

Sir, mostly sins make me feel disturbed but what influences me most is the relationship between boys n girls outside marriage. I feel disgusted hearing the terms 'boyfriend/girlfriend'. I'm part of certain Facebook groups where sometimes posts about one's relationship comes up… Sometimes they talk about their boyfriends. It makes me sad and angry. I consider it self harm and desire to advise them, but sometimes stop myself because they might not want it. I want to leave those groups, but I think I might help or guide them somehow by commenting. Can you please guide me what is better to do? Should I leave them and feel easy or should I keep striving? Can we advise someone if they are not asking for it?

There are countless ways to serve God. Advising others to avoid sinful behaviors is just one kind. I believe that it is far more beneficial to try to call people to be better in ways that pleases them and is likely to succeed rather than intentionally going into circles where the advice is disliked or laughed at. So I recommend that you do not waste your time with such groups. Advice generally works once a loving relationship has been built between you and the person. Giving advice on the Internet to a random audience that does not like you and admire you seems to be a waste of time. You would do much better to develop a talent that attracts people to you, then once relationships have been built, you can use them to try to influence them to be better. You can do that by becoming a novelist, artist, teacher, instructor, blogger, video maker, and so on. You should do something that benefits people and makes them like you. Do anything that makes the world a better place for people and you will get countless opportunities to influence them to be better. Giving advice without first working to be an admirable and lovable person is not going to do much good.

IslamQA: Can you continue praying tahajjud if you forget it sometimes?

Salam I just wanted to know if you forget to pray tahujaad namaz Can you still continue reading them..Because I was told that you have to constantly read them…

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The tahajjud prayer is a voluntary prayer that you can do whenever you are able. There is no requirement to do them constantly, and if you do not do it for a while you are always free to start again.

IslamQA: Why did God create humans?

What’s the point of life? I can’t seem to find any meaning in it.

The universe is a factory for creating true friends of God. Think of what “true friend” means. A true friend is someone who loves you and trusts you even though they have no mathematical proof that you love them.

God throws us into a universe where we have no hard evidence of His existence. We get to know Him through the signs He shows us in our souls, in the universe and in scripture. We eventually develop an attachment to Him, while always being free to disobey Him, ignore Him, and pretend that He does not exist. Those of us who maintain His remembrance and serve Him like good servants, even though the Master seems “absent”, even though the Master is never there to force us to serve Him, prove by this that there is something to our relationship with Him that is more than mere forced slavery.

And it is this “more than slavery” aspect that justifies the universe. God could have created a world where He showed Himself and His angels to us and forced us to serve Him without choice. But He wanted more from us humans. He wants our relationship with Him to be a true love affair, filled with doubt, uncertainty, feelings of abandonment, pain, and always the choice of disloyalty. Those who make it through all of this while maintaining the purity of their heart and the innocence of their soul prove by this that they are more than slaves. And it is such people that God wants close to Him in Paradise; people who have proven that they are not mere robots serving Him, but people who could have disobeyed Him yet chose to serve Him.

If you were a powerful king, would you want to be surrounded by ministers and servants who served you because they had no choice regardless of their loyalty to you, or who served you because they loved you and because they proved their loyalty to you in the most difficult times when they had the choice to be disloyal? A wise king would only choose the second type of person to be his close companions.

Your lifetime is therefore an opportunity given to you for promotion; to be promoted into a close companion of the greatest king. As I have said elsewhere, even if the universe managed to create a single true friend of God, then that would justify the whole of creation.

IslamQA: The Islamic ruling on bowing to show respect

Salam. In Japanese culture, it’s normal to bow down to someone out of respect. As a Muslim surrounded by Japanese society, most of the times I did this too, but then u know, the feeling of guilt triggered. I know in Islam we’re ordered not to bow down to anyone other than Allah. How to deal with this?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The only hadith we have that prohibits bowing when greeting others is found in al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja and the Musnad, but it comes through Hanzala b. Abdullah who is considered weak by many scholars. So there is no strong prohibition on bowing. Shaykh Faysal Mawlawi (from the European Fatwa and Research Council) permits bowing in sports like Judo as long as it is merely a form of greeting / showing respect.


Fatwa from IslamOnline that mentions Shaykh Faysal's opinion (Arabic PDF)

IslamQA: Is dua mandatory before prayer (salah)?

selam Is this dua mandatory before prayer and if one is not native Arab speaker is it ok if u mispronounce sometimes by mistake. I have hard time with arabic. subhanaka allahumma wa bihamdika wa tabarak ismuka wa tala jaduka va la ilaaha ghayruka sorry if dua wa misspelled.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

That dua is not mandatory, and there is no issue with mispronouncing it. What matters is your sincerity and your understanding of the dua.

IslamQA: Question on her having a male friend

salam Alaykum, I have this friend who is a guy. but we are just friends. no more than that. we don't like each other. we talk about the people we find attractive. and we are there for each other when we need to talk. is this okay? wishes the best thank you

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Please see this previous answer: Can a Muslim woman have male friends? The Islamic view of having friends of the opposite sex

IslamQA: My writing process

What's your writing process? How do you pick your books to discuss and how long does it take when you write essays or long answers?

I read books according to what interests me. My three main interests are Islamic studies, Western thought (philosophy and literature) and sociology / life sciences (everything to do with the study of humans, including biology, economics, population genetics, law, etc.).

I can sometimes write an essay in one sitting (3-4 hours) when I have the inspiration and energy to do it. The same applies to long answers. I do not have any systematic writing process; if I can write I can write regardless of distractions, stress or duties. I do not believe in any methodology for improving my ability to write, or in creating a certain environment (such as quietness, etc.). The ability to write for me is entirely a mental phenomenon. I suffer from multiple illnesses that sometimes prevent me to write for weeks at a time (I have, or may have, chronic fatigue syndrome). I have spent years trying to find a cure for my condition, and the things that have helped me most are olive leaf extract, hemp oil and gamma-tocopherol (a type of vitamin E).

IslamQA: Being a Muslim, tomboy and lesbian

I'm Muslim, tomboy, lesbian and I hate myself I tried to be normal but I just can't what should I do?

I understand the difficulty of your situation. My advice is to accept yourself as you are; you didn’t ask to be this way. My second advice is to carry out your Islamic duties as best as you can. Ask God to guide you and help you and He will do so. He has infinite powers, you have little power on your own. He can give you a meaningful and productive life regardless of your sexual orientation. Please also see:

IslamQA: Does the Quran say sperm comes from the belly?

“إِنَّهُۥ عَلَىٰ رَجْعِهِۦ لَقَادِرٌ .يَخْرُجُ مِنۢ بَيْنِ ٱلصُّلْبِ وَٱلتَّرَآئِبِ. خُلِقَ مِن مَّآءٍ دَافِقٍ. فَلْيَنظُرِ ٱلْإِنسَٰنُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ” “Sura al Tariq. 86 : 5-8” So I have often heard this verse being used as evidence for Quran being scientifically inaccurate because it seems to imply semen comes from between the backbone and the ribs which we know isn’t true. I want to know if this is truly what the verse means and if not I would love to know what it actually says.

That verse can actually be considered one of the proofs of the truth of the Quran, because semen does not come from the testicles; it comes from the seminal vesicles that happen to be in the belly, and the verse is speaking of semen, not sperm. Sperm, of course, comes from the testicles. But the sperms have to merge with other materials in the seminal vesicles, and the result is sperm. So when a man ejaculates, the seminal fluid comes from the belly as the verse suggests.

IslamQA: The price of asking God for a meaningful life

Salamalaykum Brother, In you essay it says to ask god for a meaningful life, but I'm afraid it could mean asking for something negative. I want to ask god, but dont want to pay the price for it, because I've gone through alot already. Could you tell me if there any consquences to asking god for a meaningful life? Jazakallah Brother.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Wanting to be close to God and asking Him to make your life meaningful will certainly have a price. But the reality is that if you do not do this, you will still go through difficulties, it is just that they will be pointless and will lead nowhere. So you either choose God and suffer meaningful difficulties that help build your character and turn you into an admirable person, or turn away from God and run into life’s many pointless annoyances and problems.

This is what I have noticed in my own life; being close to God and obeying Him takes away all the pointless annoyances and hindrances of daily life, but it does not take away all difficulties. There is always challenge after challenge to overcome.

So the difference is between choosing a Mentor who will help you be the most admirable person you can be, or ignoring the Mentor and going through life without a guide and facing all kinds of unnecessary difficulties that do not make you a better person.

I encourage you to be courageous, to face God sincerely and to let Him manage your fate for you. He can take you places you never imagined. Do not be like all those people who, while believing in God, are too cowardly to truly connect with Him and are willing to accept whatever He places in their path.

It is the difference between choosing growth or stagnation.