IslamQA

Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

IslamQA: On fearing loss of faith in a non-Muslim country

Assalamualaykum. I’m a bit worried now. I’m applying for an internship in a non-muslim country. Even I already lived there for a year, but the worries still there. It’s all about how can I survive as a Muslim in a secular society who tend to think logically about everything. I used to hear a question like, why you and your friend have a different way to practice Islam? She doesn’t wear hijab but you do. Etc I lost my words to explain. I also don’t want to judge anyone tho. Do u have any advice?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Throughout life we get thousands of chances to become misguided, and thousands of chances to go back to Islam and hold firm to it. So if your heart is pure and if you constantly ask God for guidance, then He will guide you. There is no need to worry about suddenly becoming cut off from Islam. That does not happen. When someone is distanced from Islam, it is because they chose that again and again for years on end.

If you have trouble answering some questions about Islam, simply increase your knowledge by reading more. Research the topics people ask you about so that you can answer them next time.

There is nothing dangerous to Islam about people thinking logically. I am an extreme rationalist, empiricist and skeptic myself, I constantly question things, and since my childhood I have never had a servile respect for figures of authority. If Islam is truly from God then it must stand up to all criticisms and all challenges. And that is why I continue to hold on to Islam. I have read more science books than most atheists. My favorite novelist is Terry Pratchett, an atheist, and I have read 40 novels by him, and I continue to be completely devoted to Islam.

So increase your knowledge, and realize that God does not abandon the believer. Whenever something troubles you, ask God for guidance and He will guide you one way or another.

And when My servants ask you about Me, I Am near; I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. So let them answer Me, and have faith in Me, that they may be rightly guided. (The Quran, verse 2:186)

And your Lord has said, “Call on Me, and I will respond to you.” (From the Quran, verse 40:60)

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Can a Muslim woman leave her house without the permission of her husband?

Assalumalaikum Can a woman leave her house without the permission of her husband? Is the Hadith forbidding this authentic?

The Islamic family functions according to the principle of qiwāma, which refers to the fact that the husband is the ultimate authority in the household. Women are free to seek divorce or threaten divorce, but while remaining married to a man, they are required to respect the fact he is the chief of the household. If her husband is a tyrant and refuses to let her leave the house, she should seek the help of her family, his family, religious authorities, or should threaten divorce. In Islam the man and the woman are equal as humans and have equal human rights. Neither is allowed to oppress the other. The husband’s higher authority is similar to a CEO’s authority over his employees. He does not consider him employees lesser humans, he knows they are his equals when it comes to their human rights, but he is given a higher authority so that the business can function more effectively.

This is merely the theoretical framework. In the real world, Muslim husbands and wives, just like Western couples, agree with each other on what is acceptable behavior and what is not. So regarding your specific question, the husband’s permission does not mean that she should ask him whether she can go out every time she wants to (like a school child in a classroom). It means that her activities should be with the general knowledge and approval of her husband. So if the husband accepts the fact that she usually goes out for grocery shopping, or for work, or for medical appointments, then his acceptance is the “permission” that is meant.

So in the real world things are just like any other marriage. Needing her husband’s permission simply means that she should not do things that he finds unacceptable. She should not randomly go to a concert without first finding out whether her husband agrees with her going to that concert. But when it comes to ordinary daily activities, then she can do whatever is normal without requiring her husband’s specific approval, since he knows about these activities and approves of them.

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IslamQA: Is it permissible for a woman to be the head of state in Islam?

Assalamualaikum I wanted to know if it is permissible for a Muslim woman to be the head of an Islamic state. Many people quote a Hadith from Abu Bakrah, one of the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) ,that indicates it is not permissible.Is that Hadith authentic?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are different opinions on this question. The highly respected scholars Muhammad al-Ghazali and Yusuf al-Qaradawi believe that it is permissible for women to be leaders of state and consider the evidence of the Quran (which portrays the Queen of Sheba as a good leader) to be more important than the evidence of hadith.

The hadith of Abu Bakra that you referred to is the following:

During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, "Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler."

Sahih al-Bukhari 7099

I decided to conduct a study of all existing chains of this hadith to find out its level of authenticity based on my hadith verification methodology. Below is a diagram of the result:

The result of my computations is that this hadith has a 24.3% authenticity score, which makes it fall below the 30% needed for ṣaḥīḥ. This means that this is a relatively low-quality hadith whose authenticity is inherently doubtful (even without this computation, all hadiths that come from a single companion, such as this one, are inherently doubtful). All of the chains of the hadith have problematic transmitters:

  • The first one comes through Hasan b. Yasar, a known mudallis (a person who misattributes hadiths). It then comes through Uthman b. Haytham, known to err often, Mubarak b. Fudala, who is considered a non-hujja by one hadith scholar (his hadiths are not worth being used as evidence), and Humad b. Tayrawayh, another mudallis.
  • The second one comes through Abd al-Rahman b. Jawshan, a little-known transmitter, then through Uyayna b. Abd al-Rahman, whose hadiths are considered worthless by one hadith scholar.
  • The third one comes through Abd al-Aziz b. Nufay`, an unknown person, then through Abu al-Minhal al-Bakrawi, another unknown person.

None of the chains come through highly respected transmitters.

Therefore this hadith has no power to form the basis of judgment on such an important issue.

The opinions of al-Ghazali and al-Qaradawi is therefore to be preferred. Since we do not have any strong evidence against the leadership of women as heads of state in the Quran or Sunna, the matter is left to the judgment of the people themselves.

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IslamQA: Is it forbidden to sleep after the asr prayer?

Assalamualaikum brother. Is it forbidden to sleep after salat al ‘asr صلاة العصر ? Is there any hadits?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no authentic evidence that sleeping after the asr prayer is forbidden or disliked. Some of the early scholars disliked it, but they explained it based on their own reasoning, not based on Quranic or hadith evidence.

References:

IslamQA: Can a woman take off the hijab for an online suitor?

Salam alaikum. Brother, what are your thoughts on a man who found a woman in an online dating site, whom wants to get to know of her, felt good connection after few conversations because they have lots in common, but asks her to take off her hijab before any agreements for marriage? He didn't force her, but he asked if she might consider his request. This happens to me and I don't know what to do, except sending you this question. Thank you for your time.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is permissible for a woman to take off the hijab for a suitor. However, to protect her dignity this should be done with the permission and involvement of her family, although according to a fatwa by the Qatari Fatwa Authority the permission of her family is not technically required, while Ibn Baz (representing a Salafi opinion) says that it should not be done in private, meaning that a family member must be present. The taking off of the hijab should only be done once, and when the man has seen her, she must continue to wear the hijab before him afterwards.

As for how much of the body she can show, there is some disagreement among the scholars, but the common opinion appears to be that she can show him what she can show to her own family members (maḥrams).

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IslamQA: Is it permissible for Syeds to marry non-Syeds?

Assalamualaikum There are many people in South Asia who claim to be Syeds. Whether this claim is true or not is a different thing, but some of them say that it is haraam for a female Syed to marry a non-Syed boy. They say that Syed girls have the status of mothers (and according to some, sisters) of non-Syeds. I believe that Islam doesn't accept caste-based discrimination, but I want proofs from the Quran and Sahih Hadith to correct them.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

That has no basis in Islam. Syeds claim descent from the grandsons of the Prophet PBUH, and we know that the daughters of these grandsons married people unrelated to the Prophet’s family PBUH. If that was acceptable for them, it should be acceptable for all descendants of the Prophet PBUH. There is nothing in the Quran or Sunna that prevents the descendants of the Prophet PBUH from marrying non-descendants.

IslamQA: Is dawah obligatory on every Muslim?

Salaam. Is dawah obligatory for every Muslim?

It depends on what is meant by dawah. If what is meant is spreading brochures and pamphlets and intruding into people’s lives to talk to them about Islam (as Jehovah’s Witnesses do for Christianity), then that is not obligatory. What is obligatory is being a good example and calling those who are closest to you to be better. This shouldn’t be done in a harassing way, but as a genuine effort to make them better people and show them what is better. For more on this please see this previous answer.

IslamQA: How to learn Quranic Arabic

Assalamualaikum. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to learn Arabic in the Qur’an? I already know how to read the Arabic, but since I want to understand deeply about Qur’an maybe you have learning methods which you can suggest. Jazakallah brother

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

You may be interested in my book Learning Quranic Arabic for Complete Beginners. The contents can be accessed for free at my site here.

Learning Arabic properly requires thousands of hours of effort. It doesn’t really matter what book you select or what learning method you choose as long as you continue to read new books and benefit from free online courses such as on YouTube.

The way I learned Arabic was from watching Arabic-dubbed anime cartoons as a child (here is an example). You can also watch Arabic TV series that use standard Arabic, such as the Omar series.

Once you have some understanding of the language, you can move on to reading Arabic-language books, such as novels. Amazon.com actually sells a lot of Arabic books, including the Harry Potter books in Arabic. You can check them out here. Once you have a good knowledge of standard Arabic, reading and understanding the Quran deeply become possible.

I believe that the most important thing in language learning is consistent effort to try to read the language, and reading books in the language is the best way to do that. I learned English from reading hundreds of novels.

IslamQA: On political correctness

What do you think of 'Political Correctness'?

I consider it an extremely harmful thing. Political correctness simply means that an unelected elite decide for the rest of society which truths they are allowed to speak and which truths they are not allowed to speak. In the United States this basically means that those who own the major media outlets and publishing houses decide what is allowed to be discussed in public.

An extreme example of harm of political correctness is recent attempts to make discussions of the harms of being overweight and obese politically incorrect. Thus doctors who speak about the science on the dangers of obesity are attacked for discriminating against obese people.

Another example is the fact that discussing the powerful influence of Israel on US politics is politically incorrect. This makes it impossible for intellectuals to discuss the fact that having a foreign country have so much power over one’s own country may not be in the best interests of the home country.

In my view it is a betrayal of God to hide any important truth for political reasons, so I have little respect for those who consider political correctness to be more important than truth. I am a supporter of free speech and believe that an important duty of Muslim intellectuals is for them to be speakers of truth. Recently a scientist was attacked for studying the possibility that the practice of cousin marriage among Muslims in Britain may be responsible for the high incidence of birth defects among certain Muslim-majority ethnicities. I have only contempt for people who attack scientists for studying such politically sensitive issues. If it is true that cousin marriage among Muslims in Britain is leading to increased birth defects, the first step toward a solution is for this to be openly discussed. But the ignorant, narrow-minded media elite of Britain, rather than discussing the actual facts involved, attacked the scientist’s motive for studying the subject. Even if the scientist hated Muslims (and there is no evidence that he did), if what he said is true, then it must be discussed and taken seriously.

IslamQA: On nail polish and ablution

As-salamuʿalaykum, I recently i have come across Dr. Shabir Ally's thoughts on the nail polish dilemma on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOpxO_ISJQ4). I'm inclined towards his reasoning for it but would like to know your take on his opinion too if possible.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I watched the video but unfortunately he did not say anything new on the issue. I believe that nail polish is at best in a gray area, which means that it should be avoided as part of piety.

He mentioned that oil can be used on the skin, which can be barrier to water. But the human skin naturally produces oil and absorbs it, so it is not directly comparable to nail polish. As for kohl, unlike nail polish it does not create an impermeable barrier to water because as far as I know the skin pores continue to remain open after using it, although I am not sure about the exact science of how it interacts with the skin. The comparison with kohl is interesting and hopefully if the exact science of its interaction with the skin can be determined, a similar substance may be possible to create to use as nail polish, although it will likely not create the “polish” that ordinary nail polish creates.

I believe that the possibility of people being turned away from Islam because of the prohibition on nail polish is not significant enough to warrant permitting it.

Another solution would be the development of nail polish stickers that are easy to remove before ablution, although they would be a hassle to use.

IslamQA: Converting to Islam against parents’ wishes

I want to take my shahada infront of an imam but my parents do not support me. I tried going to church and I felt like I died inside and I cried for days before going to church( I know it sounds dramatic but my heart only belongs to Allah). My parents are also open to the idea of me marrying a Muslim boy but … I dont want to wait or specifically look for that just to convert. Would it be wrong if I converted without their support ?

You can take your shahada right now and that would be official. There is no need to do it with an imam although that is of course a nice experience.

Welcome to Islam and feel free to ask any questions you may have.

As for converting without their support; it is obligatory in Islam to go against your parents’ wishes if they try to interfere with your faith. The Quran says:

We have advised the human being to be good to his parents. But if they urge you to associate with Me something you have no knowledge of, do not obey them. To Me is your return; and I will inform you of what you used to do. (The Quran, verse 29:8)

You shouldn’t wait for their approval to convert. If you are convinced that Islam is the true religion, then it can be argued that it is actually sinful if you avoid the Islamic duties when you know in your heart that you should be doing them.

There are many organizations that support converts, such as the Muslim Convert Network. Reach out to them and inshaAllah you will get many benefits.

You may also be interested in The New Muslim’s Field Guide, although I haven’t read it, it has many positive reviews. 

Best wishes.

IslamQA: The permissibility of wiping off wudu water

Salam alaikum. Is it permissible to wipe off our wudu, as in drying the water off our skin with a towel, after taking a wudu before prayer?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

According to Imām al-Nawawī, all scholars agree that it is permitted. But there is disagreement on whether it is makrūh (“disliked”) thing to dry off the wudu water or whether it is mubāḥ (“permitted and neutral in value, netiher good nor bad”). The fatwa I cite below says that it is sunna to not dry off the water (since the Prophet PBUH never did that), but that doing so has no harm.

References:

IslamQA: Can I consider Allah as my friend?

Can I consider Allah as my friend?

In the Quran God calls Himself the mawlā of the believers (8:40 and elsewhere), which is usually translated as “protector”. But it actually also means “friend”, “companion”, “supporter”, “master”, “chief”. So it contains all of these meanings.

However, in modern usage “friend” implies that the person is equal in status to you, which naturally does not apply to God. So God can be a friend in that He is our companion in life, that He supports us and cares for us. But He is not just a friend, He is also a master and a mentor, so focusing only in His being a friend leads to a biased understanding.

IslamQA: Forex and stock trading in Islam

Is trading forex and the stock market permitted in Islam?

Selling one type of currency for another and making a profit by this is permitted in Islam. However, what is known as “forex” can contain many practices that are prohibited in Islam, such as interest or futures contracts. So there cannot be a general statement on the permissibility or not of forex until that specific company’s practices are studied.

As for stock trading, this too is permitted technically as long as there is no interest or futures is involved, and as long as the stock being traded does not make its profit largely by a practice that is forbidden in Islam, such as bank stocks that make most of their money through interest. But investing in a stock such as Microsoft that makes some money through interest but that makes most of its money through permissible means is permitted, however, the amount of profit it makes through interest must be deducted and donated from the value of the stock annually.

Also note that any money invested in currency or stock trading is annually zakatable. So if a person has a million dollars invested in currency or stock trading (or real estate trading), they are required to pay 2.5% of this money annually for zakat whether they make a profit or loss. The principle is that all speculatively invested wealth is zakatable.

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IslamQA: On artists who build shrines to their characters

I am fond of drawing fictional characters (fan arts) up until recently. After some research, I've learned that there are some people in various fan communities who would build tiny shrines dedicated to their favorite characters (whether it be joking or sincere) and/or call them their "god(dess)"/"lord and savior" for simply being admirable or breathtaking. How should I react to this? Should I stop drawing the characters I like, even if my sentiments are innocent? Should I dispose my old fan arts, too?

The behavior of other artists has no bearing on what you do. You are only responsible for your own art and behavior. So I wouldn’t worry about that.

IslamQA: If a mentally unstable person commits suicide, will they be punished by God?

If a mentally unstable person committed suicide would they still be punished by Allah?

God judges each person according to their own circumstances and limitations. So if a person commits suicide when they are mentally disturbed and not responsible for their actions, then God would judge that differently from someone who chooses to do it in cold blood.

What we know for certain is that God is more fair and just than any human, so there is never any need to worry about God being unjust to someone; it is God Himself who invented the very idea of justice by creating a universe in which such concepts make sense. We can trust God to be more just and kind than the most just and kind humans in history.

IslamQA: Why is Islam opposed to homosexuality when it “harms no one”?

I disagree, consider this, it was stated that man is born to desire. Separating ourselves from desires brings us closer to Allah. A man born with the interest to murder is different than a homosexual. A homosexual isn't taking anyones life whereas a psychopath is hurting others. I think intention is very important. If ur intent isn't to harm others you aren't immoral. Ur denying people love. A man desiring a woman is still desire and he shouldn't do that either. The mere act of life is desire

The argument that “no one is being harmed” is false on two counts:

1. Homosexual relationships lead to “hookup cultures”, which lead to the disintegration of traditional marriage and family relations, as discussed in this essay. Understanding these harms requires thinking in terms of generations and centuries rather than individual lifetimes, which is something that most people cannot do unfortunately. Any society that approves of homosexual relationships will immediately see a large increase in heterosexual relationships outside of marriage. This is something we see throughout the world. I challenge you to find a society where homosexual relationships are common but where heterosexual relationships outside of marriage are uncommon. Such a thing cannot exist because the approval of homosexual relationships require a complete change in the attitude of the population toward marriage and sexuality.

2. If God exists and if He does not approve of homosexual relationships, then engaging in this lifestyle and promoting it does the greatest possible harm, because it may doom its adherents to the Hellfire for eternity. What greater harm is possible? Additionally, God may punish those who approve of homosexual relationships and their societies in this life as well as the next, so even if homosexual relationships had no direct influence on society, God’s displeasure and His possible punishment are a very great harm indeed.

As for your statement “If [your] intent isn’t to harm others you aren’t immoral”, that has no basis in moral philosophy. An action can lead to harm and to immoral results regardless of the intention of the person.

IslamQA: Productivity tips

Assalamualaikum, i was wondering if you have any productivity tips regarding reading and doing our daily work?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I used to read many articles and follow many websites that were dedicated to increasing personal productivity. But I realized at some point that it was all irrelevant to me. For example having a clean desk and working in a quiet environment is recommended by many productivity-related sources, but in my case my productivity had nothing to do with these things.

So instead I developed an empirical program where I kept track of my habits to determine what increased my productivity and what decreased it. For example I discovered that having caffeine (such as a strong coffee) in the afternoon made me less productive the next day, so I stopped doing that. I also realized that having a large breakfast or lunch reduced my ability to work, so these days I only have one major meal per day at around 4 PM or after. Before that I only have small amounts of food, such as an apple in the morning.

The most important productivity thing you can do is to keep track of how many hours you worked, and how many hours you read, every day, and to keep track of how the things you do affects these things (the meals you eat and their size, where you spent your work, what hobbies you engaged in). You can keep track of these things in an Excel spreadsheet, and eventually you may notice some patterns and find out how to best maximize your productivity. Without having empirical data on your performance it may be very difficult to find out what is benefiting and what is harming your productivity, since we are not naturally inclined to take into account what we did yesterday when we think about why we are not productive today.

IslamQA: The separation of church and state in Islam

What is your opinion on separation of church and state. Is such thing possible in Muslim countries?

Separation of church and state only matters if one envisions the state as an authority that forces certain behaviors on the population. This is mainly a concern for elitist intellectuals who think that a small number of intellectuals in the government should have the right to dictate to the rest of the population how to manage their lives. And since most of these intellectuals (in countries like the US) are secular, anti-Christian, highly elitist, and highly hostile toward ordinary citizens, they believe that the separation of church and state should be promoted because they do not want the values of ordinary citizens to affect their plans for managing the country according to their own ideologies.

In other words, these elitist intellectuals have a top-down view of government: they think they should be the moral authorities over the population. They do not want the population’s own morality to seep into the government.

But if we envision government in a non-elitist way, as merely a reflection of the will of the people, then the idea of the separation of church and state becomes irrelevant. A government is merely a tool for making life more stable and manageable, it is similar to the management of a business. The way that the people of a village can come together to manage their village’s affairs, the people of a country can come together to manage their country’s affairs. A government should not be a force from the top forcing certain behaviors on the people, it should simply be a reflection of the people themselves and their values and desires.

The smallest unit of government is a family, as the philosopher Hegel recognized. The idea of separating church and state within the family is absurd because the way the family manages its affairs is guided by its values, which naturally means its religious values among others. These values are not forced on them, it is their own democratically chosen values. And if we get a large number of families in a community, we have a government.

If by the separation of church what is meant is that a small number of religious authorities should not dictate to the rest of the population how they should live their lives, then I fully support that. But I reject the idea of anyone forcing a way of life on any other, so this should not be a problem to begin with. It is not the separation of church and state that is the problem, it is the forcing of the values of a minority over a majority.

In my view an ideal Islamic society would be a truly federalist version of the way the United States is today: each state, and even each city, would democratically choose its own laws. In this way the government of each city would simply be the desires and values of the people of that city reflected in their laws. Separation of church and state is completely irrelevant here because it is the people themselves choosing their own laws. No one is forcing it on them.

So the crucial value for ensuring a lack of oppression is not separation of church and state, it is this: a lack of the use of force by one group in the country to change the way of life of another group. This is the higher issue. Separation of church and state is simply a sub-category of this concern. The higher concern is non-domination.

As Treebeard said to Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers:

‘I am not going to do anything with you: not if you mean by that ‘‘do something to you’’ without your leave. We might do some things together.

In a perfectly harmonious society, no one would to use force on others. When people talk about the separation of church and state what they mean is that they worry about religious authorities controlling people’s ways of life. But if we reject the very idea of control from the state, if we say that the government should be nothing more or less than a reflection of the people’s desires and values, then there is no control involved. The secular would not control the religious, and the religious would not control the secular. People would respect each other’s rights to have different laws. A city with a religious majority can choose to have more religious values reflected in their laws, while a city with a secular minority can have secular values reflected in their laws.

But to elitist intellectuals this is unacceptable since what they really want is to force secularism on all to prevent the possibility of any community making its own moral choices. The moral choices, in their view, should all be made at the top by those who control the government.

So a skeptical thinker would realize that “separation of church and state” is merely another way of referring to the domination of the secular over the religious. I reject all domination, whether of the secular over the religious, or the religious over the secular. If both types of domination are ended, then there remains nothing to “separate”.

So what we should call for is not the separation of church and state, but non-domination. If non-domination is made law, then that automatically includes what separation of church and state is supposed to accomplish (a lack of the use of force in religious matters).

But non-domination also includes the destruction of the power of the intellectual elite to control the population’s ways of life. So rather than accepting the terms of the argument chosen by them (“separation of church and state”), we must instead move the terms to a higher plane: non-domination. In this way we give these elitist intellectuals a taste of their own medicine: taking away their power to dominate others.

As Muslims, we must seek a humanist, consensual community where we deal with non-Muslims as equally valued humans, never wanting to do things to them, but wanting to do things with them. And as for those who call for the separation of church and state, they either belong to the class of elitist intellectuals who know exactly what they are doing (they are calling for the domination of the elite over the average citizen), or they have naively bought into the ideology of the elite without fully analyzing its intentions and implications.