IslamQA: What to do if you forgot to perform a sajda in salah?

I think I forgot to perform sajdah when reading specific parts of the verses after reading the Quran. What happens if you don't perform the sajdah? Can a person still perform sajdah at any time to make up for it?

When you are in doubt and think you may have made a mistake, you can make two sajdas at the end of the prayer (before or after saying the final salam). This is known as sajdat al-sahu. This is not obligatory according to some scholars, which is the opinion I prefer, so even if you do not do it your prayer is still valid. If some time has passed since you prayed, you can still perform these sajdas when you remember.

IslamQA: The difference between religion and ideology

As Salaam Alaikum. Brother, I have a question for you. What is religion and what is ideology? Are they the same? I am a former Hizb ut Tahrir recruit and they used to teach us recruit that Islam is an ideology. I was buying to what they said that time, but later on when I came across one of your Q&A here and read your answer to the question that if Islam is an ideology, I think what you're saying makes total sense. Islam is far more superior to ideology, which is man-made. What I want to find out is, what is the fundamental difference of both of them? By the way, thank you for running this blog, brother. It really enlightens my mind about Islam. Thank you very much, may Allah Bless you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

An ideology offers explanations and solutions for certain problems. A religion can contain many different ideologies. So technically any explanation and solution that religion offers can be considered an ideology.

The fundamental difference is just that in common usage, ideologies are man-made, recent, and small. They focus only on a small subset of the world’s problems. Religions like Islam are divinely inspired, ancient, and large.

Another difference is that ideologies are focused on the short-term; many of them rely on the belief that if they gain power they can immediately make the world a better place. But religions are focused on the long-term (generations and centuries).

Islamist ideologies like that of Hizb ut Tahrir are inspired by Western ideologies and suffer from the same problems. They think that by seeking power and focusing on the short term they can make the world a better place. The reality is that seeking power is like seeking wealth. It corrupts and it attracts corruptible people.

IslamQA: If Islam believes in religious freedom, why does it call people to become Muslim?

Salaam. Islam says that religion is not to be compelled upon people, but why does in the early days of Islam Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), when Gabriel revealed him God's revelation, he is calling upon the people of Medina to tawheed (to worship only one God)? What are your thoughts on this? Jazakallahu khayr.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

We believe Islam is God’s true religion. We also believe in religious freedom. So we believe people would be better off in this life and the next if they were Muslims, but we do not wish to force them to become Muslims. This means that we like to tell people about Islam and we recommend it to others, but we do not use force. So the Prophet’s behavior PBUH makes perfect sense in this regard; he calls people to what he knows to be better, but he does not use force.

IslamQA: What is an essay?

Salaam alaikum. Would you kindly explain what is an essay and how do you make it? I have read your essays and I have no idea how it works. It looks just like another form of writing to me. Thank you and your respond is very much appreciated.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

An essay is just a long article and can be turned into a book chapter.

IslamQA: The right way to end an argument

Salam, the Prophet PBUH said there is reward to leave an arguement even if you are in the right, so when My mother tried to argue with me about giving food to the cat (that would otherwise go in the trash). It was v late at night and she was increasingly getting angry and I repeatedly said I will not argue and when she did not stop I went outside until she stopped yelling. Now she is not talking to me. This behaviour, especially in Ramadan is upsetting. Did I act wrongly by walking outside?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Not arguing does not mean stopping in the middle of the argument while holding onto your own position. The other person will still feel like you are arguing, since you are not ending the argument just pausing it, and they can feel insulted by that. Leaving an argument means to put a quick ending to it in a polite way, and this usually means giving in to the other person’s position. The point is to sacrifice your own desire to win the argument and make the other person feel like they have won. If they do not feel like that, then the argument has not ended.

So the right way to have dealt with your mother in the situation you mentioned would have been to either let her win the argument or reach a compromise that satisfied her.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Islam, ghosts, paranormal activity and jinns

assalamu alaykum, what is the islamic point of view on ghosts and on paranormal activity in general? recently someone i know had a paranormal experience but they always believed that when it happens it’s jinns mocking humans but it happened during ramadan and jinns are locked up in hell so i dont know what to think of it.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Islam gives us no criteria for distinguishing mere hallucinations and delusions from paranormal things, so whenever someone says something paranormal has happened, our stance should be skepticism. In Islam we do not believe in ghosts; the souls of the dead have no relationship with the physical world, although there might be exceptions where God allows a dead soul to communicate with a living person by appearing to them in a dream, as in the case of seeing the Prophet PBUH in a dream.

The hadith mentions devils being locked up, not jinns. Not all jinns are devils. For more on jinns see: Jinns in Islam.

IslamQA: The ruling on failing to make up missed fasts until the next Ramadan starts

AOA last year i found out the fasts that are missed have to be made up at a later time but bcoz i cant cook and no one in my household really makes up missed fasts i couldnt get around to it even tho i always wanted to, i wanted to know if i could make them up this year? or is there no longer time, also is there a specfic time of year in which fasts can be made up or is it allowed all year long Thank you

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is obligatory to make up missed fasts. If the next Ramadan starts before you are able to make them up, wait until Ramadan finished then make up those fasts. There is no specific time of the year for making up fasts, you can do it whenever.

The Māliki, Ḥanbalī and Shāfiʿī schools believe that a person who fails to make up fasts before the next Ramadan starts should pay a kafāra for each day of fast they have failed to make up ($10 donated for each day), while also being required to make up the fasts when Ramadan ends. Some of the Ḥanafī school, however, believe that no kafāra is necessary and this is the opinion I prefer.


IslamQA: The Quranic definition of Muslim, Jew, Christian, People of the Book, Believer and Kafir

According to Qur'an, can you please let me know the exact definition of the following people ? 1. Muslim 2. Jew 3. Christian 4. People of the book 5. Believers 6. Kaafir.

Muslim: Muslim has two meanings in the Quran. The first one is what we understand by the word “Muslim”, someone who follows Prophet Muhammad PBUH and believes in the Quran. The second meaning refers to anyone who follows any of God’s true prophets. For example, Prophet Ibrahim is also described as a “Muslim”.

Jew: The Quran uses two different terms for Jews. The first one is Banū Isrāʾīl (“Children of Israel”), which refers to genetic Jews, meaning Jews descended from other Jews–whether they are religious or not, whether they follow Judaism or another religion. The second term is yahūd, which refers to Jews who identify with Jewish culture and religion. So a Jew who converts to Islam is still a member of the Children of Israel, but they are no longer a member of yahūd. In English the word “Jew” mixes up both meanings, but the Quran uses this superior terminology which helps make a distinction between the Jewish race (Children of Israel) and the Jewish culture-religion (Judaism, yahūd).

Christian: A Christian is a person who believes Jesus to be the Messiah and who follows the Gospels.

People of the Book: People who follow one of God’s true pre-Islamic revelations (whether the revelation has been corrupted or not). These include Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Sabians (followers of Mandaeism).

Believers: Anyone who believes in the true God regardless of their religion.

Kafir: A person who believes in God deep in their heart, knows His revelation is true, yet rejects it out of arrogance, greed or some other base desire. The exemplary kafir is Satan, who believes in God, has stood in God’s presence, yet rebels against God. For more on this please see this previous answer.

IslamQA: What are the things that invalidate the fast?

Salaam alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu. Is it okay to watch movies in Ramadan? What all things are forbidden in the month of Ramadan?

The things that invalid the fast are the following:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Sexual intimacy and masturbation to the point of ejaculation
  • Intentionally causing oneself to vomit
  • The start of menstruation and confinement for their duration (the start of confinement is bleeding accompanied by contractions).
  • If a person makes a firm intention to break their fast (whether they succeed or not).

As for watching movies during Ramadan, they have the exact same ruling as during other times. All other things besides what is mentioned above has the same rulings, it is just that it is strongly recommended for a person to try to be more pious and observant when fasting.


IslamQA: Is there a reward for listening to the Quran without understanding?

unfortunately i don’t speak Arabic. I have memorized a few surahs (used in salah) and duroods but otherwise read the Quran in english. If I do things like play youtube videos of duas and surahs in Arabic is there still Sawab?

There are no Quranic verses or hadiths that directly deal with your question, but according to a Saudi fatwa a person will be rewarded for listening to the Quran even if they do not understand it. I would say that if a person sacrifices their time to listen to such things in order to feel closer to God then they will be rewarded for this sacrifice.


IslamQA: Why do Muslims kiss the Black Stone?

Salaam why muslims kiss the black Stone ?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The Prophet PBUH did it, which is why people think it is something beneficial to do. Some hadiths mention that it is a stone that comes from Paradise. Maybe kissing it is just a way of trying to feel closer to something that has some sort of relationship with Paradise and God. Umar ibn al-Khattab [ra] is mentioned in a hadith as saying the following before kissing the Black Stone:

By God I know that you are only a stone, and if I had not seen the Prophet PBUH kiss you then I would not have done it.

IslamQA: Can a Muslim pray where Hindu idols are kept?

Assalamalaikum, My question is Can I offer prayer in a room where Hindu idols are kept? I am a student staying in a hostel and sharing my room with my Hindu friend. And, I don't face the idols while praying as it is kept on another side and I don't get distracted. I can't even cover the idols because it's not my personal room. Is my prayer valid? or is it Haram? and I also heard that Angels of mercy do not enter in such room. Kindly clarify on this…I really need an authentic clarification on this….Jazzal Allah Khairan !!!

The Prophet PBUH prayed inside the Kaba while it still had idols inside it, which shows that this is permitted. Some scholars also permit praying inside churches where there are religious icons (which are considered holy and are somewhat similar to idols from the Islamic view).

So praying in that place should not be an issue. Regarding angels not entering such a room, some scholars believe that it only applies to the angels of revelation that come to prophets. This likely has no relevance to an ordinary Muslim’s daily life.


IslamQA: Does smoking and vaping break one’s fast?

Does smoking and/or vaping break one's fast?

Yes, they both break the fast. Smoking and vaping have the same rule since the issue is with the smoke, which causes chemicals to be transmitted into your bloodstream.


IslamQA: Being plagued with fear of displeasing God and becoming misguided

Salam brother. Jazak khair Allah for this blog. It has helped me greatly. My question is that sometimes I am plagued with terrible thoughts. I am afraid of kufr and arrogance and Allah being displeased in me. I pray 5X Salah and read the Quran daily. I have increased reading surah Nas and say istaghfirallah. I am afraid my heart will be hardened. Any advice?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is a good thing to doubt your own piety and fear for your fate. This in itself is a sign of being on the right path. Becoming misguided or arrogant is not something that can happen in a day. It is something that comes about out of thousands of choices over months and years. And God always leaves the door open for us to repent and seek guidance again. If you seek God’s guidance in all sincerity then He will guide you. There is no way you could magically become misguided despite sincerely seeking God’s guidance; God will not let that happen.

Also, realize that Islam is meant to give you a stable foundation that you can build upon. Rather than obsessing about your own piety and fears, once you have God’s guidance and do sufficient worship every day, then that is when your work begins. You are a servant of God, a representative of God on earth, so what is your task? Your task is not to be obsessed with yourself but to be an agent for good in the world like the prophets were (peace be upon them). You are on a mission and obsessing too much about yourself will only distract you from that mission. Our mission is to perfect ourselves then go on to make the world a better place in whatever way God has made possible for us.

So I believe ideally one should find a balance between worrying about themselves and worrying about their mission. We cannot ignore either of these. If you are plagued with doubts and fears, then this means you are not giving sufficient attention to your mission. Imagine that the Quran has been sent personally to you; imagine that God has given you a task to perform in the world. What would your attitude be in such a case? You will realize that you have a great number of opportunities for doing God’s work that He has assigned to His servants, whether it is planting a tree, volunteering, learning or doing whatever else that may have a benefit and make the world a better place.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: How to dispose of human hair in Islam

Assalamu alaykum What should a Muslim woman do with the excess hair that falls out during combing; is it to be disposed, buried or kept? Jazakallahu khayran

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are no authentic narrations that prescribe any particular way of disposing of human hair, so it is left to personal choice. The Prophet PBUH however recommended that human blood should be disposed of in a way that takes it away from people’s sight, and based on this some scholars believe the same would apply to hair. So human hair should not be thrown away on the street where people can see it. It can be placed in a bag then thrown in the garbage.


IslamQA: What happens to the souls of animals after they die?

Assalamualaikum brother, I wanted to ask you if you know anything about what happens to the souls of animals when they die. I wonder do Angels come to them when their souls depart?do they have a place in the hereafter? I read somewhere that on the day of judgement even the disputes between animals will be settled but then they will become dust… that just doesn't make any sense to me… I really care for animals and the question comes to me alot. Jzk, may Allah bless you

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I have not seen any authentic and widely-transmitted narrations that can answer those questions. So we have almost no knowledge on this issue and we have to leave the answers to God. As for disputes among animals being settled, I do not recall seeing any hadith that mentions that.

IslamQA: The Islamic ruling on watching movies

Aoa could you tell me the ruling on watching movies? Even innocent ones? Whenever i look up rulings on this people always say things like all movies are filled with nude women and corruption and it confuses me what am i supposed to do in all my free time if most things young people do are grave sins?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

This is an area where there is great disagreement among the scholars since there are no clear texts that apply to most aspects of films. I have looked at many fatwas and each scholar seems to rely on his own reasoning and cultural beliefs in order to arrive at rulings.

At any rate, my view is that it is up to each Muslim to decide for themselves what films they want to watch (which is already the view that is being practiced by the majority of Muslims), except for films that are centered around eroticism, which I believe should be avoided by all Muslims. As for films containing nudity or sex scenes, a person can just skip those parts. However, teenagers may not be able to resist the temptation to watch such scenes even if they wish to be good Muslims since the ability to control our impulses only completely matures after the age of 25. So parents should not let teenagers watch films unsupervised. (See my essay The Philosophy of Pornography and Masturbation for a discussion of why watching nudity and sex scenes is morally wrong, even without reference to religion. Also see: The ruling on watching uncovered women on television.)

As for other “immoral” aspects of films such as violence or the promotion of criminal acts, I believe films have the same ruling here as stories. Many great Islamic scholars, such al-Tabari and Ibn al-Jawzi, recorded all kinds of violent and immoral stories in their history books since they did not believe that transmitting such stories is prohibited.

However, stories and films can affect us negatively, so it is up to us to work on maintaining our moral integrity. The balanced attitude is to not reject films wholesale, to realize their entertainment and sometimes educational value, and to realize that their harms can be counterbalanced through acts of worship, especially reading the Quran. The more time we spend in worship the easier it becomes to resist the negative influences of things like films. I would find it incredible if someone reads the Quran for an hour every day yet somehow becomes corrupt and misguided due to watching a lot of films. I don’t think such a thing can happen, or at least it is extremely unlikely.

It is also important to mention that parents who completely forbid their children from watching films in order to protect them from negative influences will likely do them more harm than good. The children will feel oppressed and demeaned by this treatment and will likely develop a dislike for Islam–considering it an oppressive religion that is out of place in the modern world. It is much better to have a moderate attitude, to tolerate most films except for the worst ones, and to make sure the children are exposed to enough good influences to counterbalance any bad that comes from modern cultural products like films and novels. Being too controlling is bad and being too lax is also bad, a person should try to find a balance.

IslamQA: Getting tattoos as a Muslim

Dear Mr.Ikram Hawramani Salam brother, i hope you find the question in good health. I have benefited from some of your blog post and i find that you have a poetic way of explaning things so here i am asking for your advice. To put in perspective i am 19 years old and i have just started praying again. I would like to apologise for tge long post, and i am sorry for being rude but can i ask what are your qualifications i.e what institue you graduated from? I know i am in no position to ask this, i have already benefited from your blog but i humbly would like reasurance and i am also curious. My question is: What to do with a tattoo obsession and ways to stop this obsession I have this obsession with tattoo, it was something that i will research/(browse on the internet), on for almost 2-3h everyday it has been going on for 6months or more. Alhamdulillah i now am getting better at not look at tattoos online, controling this obsession and i realise that it will bring me no benefit whatsoever but i still have this deep desire to get tattoo even though i recognise that it will bring me no benefit. What should i do, and what is the consiquence if i do get a tatoo.I have already rationalise why i should not get a tatttoo aside from it being haram in the points bellow: 1. I also understand that getting a tattoo is a open rebellion towards Allah S.W.T as it is a sin. 2. if people see me with tattoo it is similar to dishonoring myself as people may see me as a sinner. 3. I also understand that i may find difficulty in finding a wife in the future and also in the future if i have children it may degrade me in front of my child as he may see me as a sinner and how can i ask my child to be a good muslim if i have commited a permenet sin on my body. 4. Allah S.W.T curse thoose who get tattoos. 5. Permanently changing the creation of Allah S.W.T 6. In the process of getting a tattoo that may take multiple session as i am commiting a sin and this may weaken my iman and make me leave my prayers 7. It is defying the wishies of my parents I personally feel that maybe the desire for tattoo is more of a sympthom for a deeper sickness, maybe some insecurities in myself. As i rationally understand that there are no benefit in it apart from a delusion of it being "cool" and maybe honestly its because the people whom i Previously hung out with have tattoos and my brother have tattoos, having no farther figure in my life i look to my brother as the central male figure in my life and he has tattoo maybe this may also cause me to want tattoos. And what if i do get tattoos, and forgive me for saying this i am trying to be as honest and sincere as possible in asking this question. " I want to get a body suit japanese style tattoo, thus it may take a full year to get tattoo with 2 or 3 session every week ranging from 2-5h per session." This is a extremly long proccess isit delusional for me if i hope god can forgive me, and this surely this tattoo will bring me away from the worship of Allah S.W.T. I want to point out a hadith an a article, first the hadith bellow, i know this hadith does not justify doing sin but what if i do get a tattoo will doing good deeds balance out my sins? On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junadah, and Abu 'Abd-ir-Rahman Mu'adh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: "Be conscious of Allah wherever you are. Follow the bad deed with a good one to erase it, and engage others with beautiful character." Refering to the articale bellow if i do get a tattoo, because it take up to a year maybe even longer isit delusional to jope for Allah S.W.T forgivness? I am excited to hear your reply. Hope you have a blessed ramadan

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Regarding your question about my qualifications: I am self-educated. You can view a list of books I have studied on the about page.

Regarding getting a tattoo, unfortunately there is no way to do this while ensuring God’s forgiveness and mercy. The Quran says:

Repentance is available from God for those who commit evil out of ignorance, and then repent soon after. These—God will relent towards them. God is Knowing and Wise.

But repentance is not available for those who commit evils, until when death approaches one of them, he says, “Now I repent,” nor for those who die as disbelievers. These—We have prepared for them a painful torment.

The Quran, verses 4:17-18.

I recommend that you wait until you are older before you make the decision to get the tattoo. Our ability to control our impulses only completes its maturity after the age of 25. Once you reach this age you will be able to decide things for yourself in a mature way.

For now, I recommend you busy yourself with ways of getting closer to God. Maybe this will help you avoid the temptation. For more please see: Guides on Getting Closer to God

Best wishes.

IslamQA: What to do when you feel distant from God

I’ve been starting to feel disconnected from Allah (SWT), and I don’t know what to do. I keep trying to pray, understand, stay close, but I feel that I’m drifting. My life has been going down an unfortunate path and I feel that God isn’t answering my pleas for help. I don’t know what to do. I want my bond to go back to the way it was and be even stronger, I just keep feeling it fade away.

I have been in similar situations and I have learned that the point is to learn to worship God, submit to Him and rely on Him regardless of how we feel. If your life feels meaningless and lacking in spirituality then the first thing to realize is that God can change your state in an instant if He wants. God could give all of His believers a constant warm fuzzy feeling of spiritual connectedness with Him if He wanted, but that is not the point of religion.

The point is to learn true submission and reliance. God wants us to live and act as if nothing can harm us or benefit us except through God. The path of spirituality in the Quran is not about seeking spiritual highs, it is about becoming God’s ideal servants and representatives. An ideal servant of God is a person whose will is completely submitted to God’s will. This does not require feeling spiritual or connected with God. Whether you are happy or sad, whether your life feels meaningful or empty, you can be an ideal servant and act according to what that means and gain God’s rewards.

Feeling spiritual and close to God is something that comes and goes. Our emotions are unstable and cannot be relied on. A person who is genetically predisposed to depression, for example, is going to feel bad during their depression episodes regardless of how hard they try to erase this bad feeling through spirituality. Religion is not meant to be a happiness drug, it is meant to be a program that is followed regardless of whether we are happy or sad. It can give us happiness and moments of feeling spiritually close to God, and these are great, but they never last.

So I have realized it is a waste of time and effort to worry about how I feel spiritually. I know my duties and I do them. I serve God regardless of how I feel, similar to a loyal servant of a king who serves the king loyally and devotedly regardless of how they feel and regardless of how the king seems to be treating them. We do not prove our loyalty to God by getting upset when we do not feel blessed or close to Him. We prove our loyalty by serving Him during all of life’s moments.

Rather than seeking a particular feeling (i.e. feeling close to God), seek to become the ideal servant and leave it to God to take care of you emotionally. He can solve your problems and bring you great joy. But none of this is meant to last since this world is not meant to be Paradise. There will always be moments of sadness and moments of feeling distant from God. It is during these moments more than any others that we can prove our true loyalty and dedication toward God.

Many believers are unfortunately “fair weather friends” of God, thinking that God only deserves dedicated worship and thankfulness when they feel good inside, and when things are bad they get upset and feel that God is not there for them. That is not how the ideal servant acts. God’s ideal servants are with Him during the good and the bad, during spiritual highs and during the deepest misery and depression.

When you feel distant from God, do your duties, worship Him, patiently wait for His support and relief, and express gratitude. And once this passes and you feel close to God again, do the same while realizing that this too will pass.

I recommend reading or listening to the Quran for an hour every day for a Muslim who wishes to be extraordinary. This is something that I do regardless of how I feel; I do not stop when I feel distant from God. It is a duty, a way of keeping God’s remembrance alive in my heart, and perhaps the times when I need it the most are exactly those times when I am least desirous of doing it. When I listen to the Quran for an hour even though I do not want to, I prove my loyalty to God, I prove that I am willing to stand up for my principles regardless of how life is treating me.

IslamQA: Does throwing up phlegm break the fast?

Salam brother, (trigger warning for gagging/throwing up) I was wondering; I threw up some phlegm today & at one point i forced myself to do it so that I could feel better (I have a bad cough & it’s been in my system for a bit) does this break my fast? I know vomiting intentionally does but does this count as vomiting? JazakAllahu Khairan in advance.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

That does not count as vomiting and does not break the fast since it does not come from the stomach.