IslamQA: How to know when it is time to convert to Islam

As-salaamu alaykum! I am from a non-Muslim family but I have been thinking of converting. How will I know when it is right to do so, and how do I start when I do? I live in east London so there are many mosques near me, but I wouldn’t know which one is best to go to and I am nervous of rejection because I am gay. I know this is silly, because god teaches love for all his creations and Islam is not homophobic, but it’s scary coming out to new people. Thank you for your time Ramadan Mubarak

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Once you believe Islam is truly God’s religion and admit in your heart that there is no deity besides God and that Muhammad is His messenger, then you are Muslim whether you are practicing or not and whether you “officially” convert or not. At this point it is time to start practicing Islam as much as you can. I recommend reading a beginners’ book on practicing Islam, such as Being Muslim.

Going to a mosque is similar to going to a library. There is no need to worry about being accepted or rejected; you can simply attend the prayers whenever you feel like it, and if you are male, it is obligatory to attend the Friday noon sermon and prayer. Unless you go to a very small mosque, you will likely be completely ignored and accepted as any of the rest of the attendants at the prayers.

Regarding Islam and homosexuality, please see: Islam and LGBTQ+

IslamQA: Good deeds that benefit a dead person

As-salamu alaykum What could we do for family members who passed away? What we can do, so that they have benefit of it? Thank you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

According to a fatwa by the Qatari Fatwa Authority, the following deeds can benefit a dead person:

  • Praying for them.
  • Making charitable donations for their sake (i.e. making a donation with the intent that the rewards should go to a dead person).
  • Fasting for their sake.
  • Performing pilgrimage for their sake.

Source (Arabic PDF)

IslamQA: Does dua change qadar?

How do we know whether something was in our Qadr, predestined by Allah azzawajal, or whether our actions lead to a certain event? What things are definitely determined by Qadr that are unchangeable? And what predestined things can be changed by dua?

That is a complex question and there are many possible answers depending on what theory of qadar you believe in. Personally I like the views of al-Māturīdī and Ibn Taymiyya on qadar (as I discuss in this essay). According to that view, qadar is dynamic and changeable. God is always in charge of what happens to us, but God responds to our choices by changing our qadar. So if you do good deeds, God places good things and guidance in your path, and if you do bad deeds, God can place harmful things in your path. So it is all from God, but your choices affect what God decrees for you. According to this theory dua/supplication can change qadar.

IslamQA: The difference between devils and jinns

assalamu alaykum, what is the difference between devils and jinns?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Being a “devil” is a moral quality. The Quran suggests that both humans and jinns can be “devils”:

Likewise, We have assigned for every prophet an enemy—human and jinn devils—inspiring one another with fancy words in order to deceive. But had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. So leave them to their fabrications. (The Quran, verse 6:112)

So perhaps we can say that a devil is any person, human or jinn, who is intent on knowingly spreading evil and falsehood and opposing God’s wishes.

As for jinns, they are creatures that we cannot see but who can see us. We know very little about them, and most of what you hear from Islamic sources is questionable unless it is found in the Quran or sound hadith. The Quran tells us that there are good and bad people among them:

[Jinns speaking:] “Some of us are righteous, but some of us are less than that; we follow divergent paths.” (The Quran, verse 72:11)

IslamQA: Is it hypocritical to perform salah when it feels like a burden?

assalamu aleikum, is it hypocritical to still pray when salah feels like a burden sometimes?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

No, quite the opposite. Praying when you do not feel like it proves your loyalty toward God: you are able to override your instincts and make your ego perform its duties whether it wants to or not. Umar b. Abd al-Aziz says:

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

IslamQA: Are women said to be created for men as helpers in the Quran?

Assalamualaikum. I have just started to read the Al-quran religiously and looked at the translation as I want to understand what I'm reading. However, there are some questions that linger in my head as I read more. I'm rather curious about the position of women in Islam especially as portrayed in the Al-quran. This is because, in the Al-quran the mere mention of men is highly praised compared to women. For example: We created Hawa for Adam; if you obey God as a Mukmin then you shall enter Jannah where angels (women) await you; women need to cover their aurah so that men won't be sinful; and many more. It seems to me that women are just "additional characters" and their creation is merely for men. I don't want to think ill about this, but I can't help to wonder what is my purpose of being created then as a woman? For men? I feel so down and low

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The most important thing to realize is that both men and women are persons with souls. They are equal in this aspect, and this is the most important aspect of their existence. Regardless of women’s status with respect to men, the essential point is that they are men’s equals as persons. They just happen to inhabit a female body that has its own nature and duties. So the physical fact of being a woman has no relationship to her spiritual status as a person before God.

It is true that the Quran puts men in charge of women. But rather than thinking of this as a master-slave relationship, think of it as the relationship between a president and a vice president in a government. They are both servants of the people. The president does not look at the vice president as an inferior human; they are both equal, it is just that in order for the government to operate properly, one of them needs to be in charge, and the other needs to operate within this framework for the benefit of herself and for the benefit of the government and the people.

A woman’s spiritual status comes from God and has nothing to do with men. Men are nothing compared to God. So a pious Muslim woman derives her worth and her identity from her relationship to God; the fact that she is not exactly the same as men in society is of very little importance compared to her spiritual status before God.

It is true that when it comes to gender-specific verses, the Quran often speaks to men rather than women. But if you look at the Quran as a whole, you will find that the vast majority of it (perhaps 99%) speaks equally to both men and women. God has sufficient wisdom to write His revelation in a way that ensures the religion will survive for thousands of years and will continue to satisfy the needs of the humans who follow it. Just because some of the gender-specific verses are directed more often toward men than women should not be taken as an insult, it is a choice that God has made out of His wisdom.

Do not make men the standard that you judge yourself by. Your status comes from your relationship with God. Once you realize the honor and dignity that God has bestowed upon you, men and their status will be of little importance to you. You are a human, a person with a soul, standing before God. Everything else is of little importance compared to this essential fact.

In the spiritual realm, women are not merely additional characters. They are spiritual persons that the Quran constantly speaks to. It is only in the unimportant physical realm that women are in some cases men’s helpers. A materialist would not like this and would seek complete material equality, thinking this is the most important thing in life. But the Quran considers this unimportant. The Quran focuses on the spiritual persons regardless of their sex and focuses on their attaining success in the Hereafter. The material world is merely a means, a tool, for acquiring this success. It is unwise to focus on the means and forget the ultimate goal.

You are not created for men. You are a spiritual person created to worship God. Men are only there to accomplish unimportant material goals. It is the spiritual goals that the Quran focuses on, and when it comes to spirituality men and women are perfectly equal. Your purpose has nothing to do with men and has everything to do with God. It is just that by inhabiting a female body and having a female brain, your material place in this universe has certain aspects that make you differ from men and put you in a special relationship with them. You are not supposed to derive your worth, status or purpose in life from your relationship with men. It is your relationship with God that matters.

IslamQA: Why do some people refuse to believe in global warming?

Why do people out there believe that global warming didn't exist? Also, what are your thoughts on global warming?

As discussed in this previous answer, there are respected scientists who reject the global warming theory and believe that the climate is not facing any dire threats. Please see the answer for my views on climate change.

IslamQA: Dealing with an alcohol-drinking husband

my husband is occasional alcohol drinker。when he drunk he became the most terrible person in the world。he comeback home midnight says very bad words about me and even my family。most of the times when he drunk he thinks I cheated on him but I never did that kind of haram things,and in our marriage happened several times domestic violence when he drunk。when he didnt come home in time I started shaking and worried so much cant do anything normally。 then next day when he is not drunk he turned into my sweet husband again。I want to divorce but we have a little daughter and he didnt approve that saying he loves me。he promised so many times and failed every times。I cant trust him anymore。and I felt insecure most of the time ?what can I do please tell me。

May Allah make your situation easy. Unfortunately there is no simple solution for dealing with your case. Alcohol tends to weaken a person’s resolve and they may not be able to avoid it despite their best efforts. I recommend that you ask him to join a program for recovery from alcoholism and make this a condition for remaining with him. I also recommend that you consult your family and friends and ask for their help in dealing with your situation.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: The zakat of monthly income

Salamu alaikum, brother. I have two questions I wish for an answer. First, I wanted to know if the 10% zakah from our monthly job income apply to only working male or both working male and working female? Second and last, if a youngster is currently unemployed but is granted monthly allowance from their parent, do they have to give the 10% as a sadaqa? That is all and thank you for taking your time. Have a good Ramadan, may Allah Bless you and your family.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I am not an expert on zakat, so I recommend that you consult a specialist. According to my understanding zakat is not calculated on your job income directly but on your savings. Once you have enough money saved to equal the value of 85 grams of gold (about $3500 USD) or 595 grams of silver (about $279 USD), then you would be required to pay 2.5% (not 10%) of this saved amount in zakat after a year passes (the lower amount, that is $279 USD, is preferred when the two prices differ). If you have $279 in the bank at lunar month 1, and at lunar month 2 you add another $500 to your savings, then once a lunar year passes, you would pay 2.5% of the $279 as zakat, and a month later you would pay 2.5% of the $500. Each month’s savings would get its own zakat taken out after a year.

You can also simplify things by setting a particular month of the year, such as Ramadan, to pay zakat. Each Ramadan you would look at your savings and pay 2.5% of it regardless of what time of the year you made the separate amounts of money that went into it.

There is no difference between males and females in zakat. And according to the majority opinion zakat is also required on the money of youth if it is more than 595 grams of silver and a year passes on it.


IslamQA: Is it wrong to not be a traditionalist Muslim?

Is it wrong to not be a traditionalist Muslim? I am a Muslim and I value Islamic tradition and history, but we are now living in a different era and probably there are things that is irrelevant to us now, like hand-cutting or stone-throwing.

Every generation of Muslims faces the challenge of reconciling Islamic tradition with the needs of the current age. So our Islam should be derived from a living tradition that constantly goes back to the sources, questions past assumptions, and tries to come to new conclusions and answers where necessary.

The proper way to do that is to understand the difference between what is essential and unchangeable in Islam and what is changeable. The Quran is our unchanging foundation, although as our knowledge increases we may understand it better and change some of our opinions about it. When it comes to hadith, things are different because new research constantly helps us differentiate between the different levels of authenticity that different narrations have. While the generation of scholars in the year 1500 CE may have considered a particular set of hadiths to be reliable, 500 years later, due to new discoveries we may be able to judge those hadiths differently.

The cutting of the hands of thieves and the throwing of stones during the pilgrimage are parts of Islam that do not seem questionable and in need of change. But if you meant the stoning of adulterers, then in the 20th century opinions developed that questioned it, as described in this essay.

Being skeptical is a good thing, and every scholar and intellectual should always approach past assumptions with skepticism. But we must also avoid the arrogance of thinking that the present age we live in is somehow the most enlightened and that our assumptions today are the best possible ones. We must be willing to be just as skeptical toward the present age as we are toward past ages, rather than trying to interpret everything in the past in light of the present as if the present provides us with an unshakable foundation to build on. So our task is to doubt both the past and the present, to hold onto the spirit of the Quran, and to constantly seek God’s guidance with sincerity and humility.

IslamQA: Is the reward for reading the Quran silently different than reciting it aloud?

Is the reward for reading the Quran silently different than reciting it outloud whenever ppl mention reading the Quran they always say to recite it, so must you do it out loud or is it the same as reading it silently? Thank you

There is no clear evidence in the Quran or Sunna that tells us there is a difference between reciting the Quran aloud or reading it silently (or even listening to it). So I believe the reward depends on a person’s effort and the amount of time they dedicate to it, not on the method.

IslamQA: Is it shirk to believe in healing crystals?

Salam, I don’t believe that stones and crystals have “magic” abilities but rather any benefit comes from Allah s.w.t. Is there shirk in this? Is it true that Prophet Muhammad PBUH wore a ring with an aqiq stone, so it’s ok for us to use stones as well? thank you for any clarification

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

If you believe that the healing crystals contain a natural power to heal due to energy or magnetism (rather than due to supernatural powers), then there is no religious issue with that even though there is no scientific support for it. But if the stones are used for supernatural benefits, such as bringing luck, then that is shirk/idolatry, even if a person says the power ultimately comes from God.

IslamQA: What is the best time to perform witr?

Assalamu alaykum Please how many raka'ats is the Witr prayer and when is it best observed.. is it before going to bed or shortly before dawn? Jazakallahu khayran

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Witr should be performed as the last prayer of the night before dawn. The best time to perform it is related to the best time to perform tahajjud (since witr is the last prayer during tahajjud), and according to the fatwas I’ve read the best time to perform tahajjud is during the last third of the night (night means the time between isha and fajr).

IslamQA: Is listening to music sinful when fasting?

Assalamualaikum, is it wrong to listen to music during, it seems to be the consensus amongst many Muslims on twitter… Jzk

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I’m guessing you are asking about listening to music when fasting. I consider music to be morally neutral so listening to music is the same as listening to the singing of birds, and it makes no difference whether one is fasting or not (if the music is wholesome). But since we are encouraged to be extra pious when fasting, it is a good thing to avoid all kinds of music that have any hints of worldliness and impiety, such as love songs and most pop music.

It is a matter between you and God. If you feel the music you are listening to might not be perfectly approved by God, then it is extra important to avoid it when fasting.

IslamQA: Will God answer the prayers of a woman who does not wear the hijab?

Alslam alikum Does not wearing hijab can be reason for not responding for my prayers (Du’aa) that I have been asking Allah for along time I’m so disappointed

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

God can have many reasons for not answering prayers at the time we expect and in the way we expect. We cannot say with certainty that not wearing the hijab is the cause for your prayer not being answered. God is not like a genie in a bottle who makes our wishes come true. He is our guide and mentor and He does not usually give us what we ask for in the way we expect.

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.

According to the above verse, God promises to answer our calls (prayers) if we answer His call (His commands and recommendations). And since wearing the hijab is a way of answering God’s call, a person who wears it is more likely to be answered. But not wearing the hijab is just one sin among thousands of possible sins, and a person who wears the hijab may have many greater sins than a person who does not wear it.

The point is to try to develop a close relationship with God and to answer His call, and wearing the hijab would be one step in that direction. But it is not the only step, and it may not be the most important one. There is no way to force God to answer your prayers even if you think you are doing everything right because God, like I said, is not a genie in a bottle. He is your guide and mentor. He wants you to grow, to learn, to improve yourself, and He answers you in the way that is best for you, and sometimes what is best for you is for your prayer to go unanswered for a while. In this way He tests you and determines whether you are loyal to Him even when you are disappointed and your wishes do not come true.

The point of life is not for our wishes to come true. This life is a testing hall where you prove your loyalty toward God. So you shouldn’t think of God as a spirit who is required to make your wishes come true. You cannot use God for your own benefit. You belong to God and it is He who uses you in the ways He wants. If you are an ideal, loyal and submissive servant, He will take care of you, help you mature, and make many of your wishes come true when the time is right. But if you keep expecting Him to make your wishes come true without truly submitting to Him and without fully embracing your role as His servant, then He may continue to disappoint you in order to teach you a lesson.

I recommend that you read the Quran constantly in order to get to know God better. The Quran will teach you the right way to approach God and the right way to please Him and develop a close relationship with Him. Also see: Guides on Getting Closer to God

IslamQA: Why do Muslims have to shower after sexual intercourse?

Asalam Walikum, Ramadan Mubarak! I have a question, why is it mandatory to take a shower right after sexual intercourse in order for the next prayer to be accepted? Especially if it's a sexually active married couple

The logic behind showering after sexual intercourse, and the logic behind the ablutions we perform before each prayer, is not explicitly clarified for us in the Quran or Sunna, so it is something we can only speculate about. Showering and ablution are part of what we call ṭahāra (“purity”) in Islam. Purity requirements exist in Judaism and Islam, and it also existed in the Christianity of Prophet Jesus and his brother James before the Christians abandoned the Torah. Christianity maintains one aspect of ṭahāra, which is the baptism that is required for each Christian to perform once in their lives. As Muslims, we perform baptism (ghusl) every time we lose our state of ritual purity, as in the case of sexual intercourse.

Purity requirements seem to be designed to impress upon the believer the fact that they belong to God. It is a physical act designed to make you feel you are in a new and purer state. In this way we are made to feel that we belong to a special nation of God that is characterized by a state of purity that other nations do not possess.

It is also a way of showing our submission to God. God says that we must do this in order to be pure, and by submitting to this requirement, we show our obedience and submission toward God even if the act in itself does not seem to have a particular logic behind it. The logic of it is the very fact that God demands it. God demands it, we obey. It is an expression of love and submission toward God.

IslamQA: Laylatul qadr for menstruating women

Assalamu alaykum Wa rahmatullah. What does a woman in her Menses do in the last 10 nights in other not to miss a whole year of Laylatul qadr. Would supplication and recitation of the holy Quran (without touching it) suffice?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

According to a fatwa by the Qatari Fatwa Authority, a menstruating woman has the option of reciting the Quran from memory, performing dhikr and performing supplication. A woman can also read the Quran (without touching it according to most opinions), and they can also read the Quran on a smartphone or computer (as discussed in this previous answer), or they can listen to it.


IslamQA: The ruling on using lotions that contain alcohol

Assalamualaikum Is there any objection to using lotions that some of them have alcohol in them. Would that break ones wudu if you used them. thank you

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

As discussed in this previous answer, alcohol is only forbidden when there is a chance of getting drunk from using the alcohol-containing material. Since there is no chance of getting drunk by using alcohol-containing lotions, there is no issue with using such lotions and it has no effect on your wudu.


IslamQA: Why does the Muslim world no longer fight colonization?

Salamu alaikum. Brother, I wanted to know why does the Muslim World in the previous time wanted to fight against Western colonization? In today's modern world, I seldom find any news about the Muslim World trying to fight against Western colonization. Does Western colonialism still exist until now?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah

Colonization was the fact of Western people occupying and living in Muslim countries. Since that is no longer the case, then there is no longer a focus on fighting colonization. Of course colonization continues in more subtle ways these days, for example the United States considers the Persian gulf countries as its servants and it will likely invade any of these countries that tries to close US military bases in their countries or tries to refuse to sell their oil for US dollars (Iraq, Libya and Iran tried to avoid selling oil for US dollars. The US destroyed Iraq and Libya. And it now wants to destroy Iran).

So colonization these days is more subtle and most people do not understand how being forced to use US dollars for trade is a form of slavery to Washington’s interests. So fighting it is more difficult.

IslamQA: The proper way to position feet when sitting in salah

Selam what is the proper way of positioning feet during sitting/ kneeling aspect of prayer. I see some websites instruct to sit on the L foot and right foot is erect. I like to sit on top of my heel while my feet are next to one another keeling of course. It is easier position for me to maintain because sometimes I have pain if I hyperextend my foot. Is my prayer valid or do I have to follow what those websites instruct? thx

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The way of sitting you described is how the Prophet PBUH is said to have sat when praying. However, there is no hadith where the Prophet PBUH commands people to sit in this way. It is a way of copying the Prophet’s way of sitting, and we do not know with absolute certainty if it is the only correct way of sitting. So while we can consider it the recommended way of sitting, if you have difficulty sitting in that position then you can sit in whatever way is easiest for you. We know that Ibn Umar [ra] did not sit in the recommended way because it caused him pain due to an injury he had suffered in the past.