IslamQA: How do you know the person is the one you should marry?

How do you know the person is the one you should marry? It’s just that there are so many options and I don’t want to regret this major decision that is going to change my life.

There is no criterion that you can use to know with absolute certainty who the right person is. So the way I would go about it would be half intellectual and half based on my heart.

The intellectual part is to think clearly about the person’s attributes, his family and his life condition and to speak with your own family and friends and ask about their judgment of the person. This can help you form an idea of the men that are better fits for you than others.

Once you do this, you will likely still have multiple men that may be eligible and that you cannot easily decide between. This is where the heart’s part comes in. Pray, read the Quran, and try to get the person better, and see where your heart takes you. It may take many months of this before you are able to form a clear idea about the man you prefer.

If you eventually settle your mind on a particular man but remain unsure if that is the right man for you, you could consider going forward with an engagement (nikāḥ) without a wedding. This would enable you to date the man in a ḥalāl way without becoming his wife (as discussed here). Some Muslim cultures practice this form of dating, but others have no concept of it. But from an Islamic law perspective it is perfectly wholesome and permissible.

After that you can take things slowly. Create occasions for your family to meet the man and interact with him (for example by setting a particular day or two of the week for him to come to your parents’ home and have dinner there). You can also go out with him on dates with your family’s permission. Since you have performed the nikāḥ, spending time alone with him is permitted in Islam. This will help you gain an idea of what marriage to him would be like.

At some point you will likely feel content in your heart that this is the person for you and you can then plan the wedding. And if you discover that you do not like the man, you can break off the engagement. In such a case Islamic law only requires the man to pay half the alimony that is promised during the engagement if it is broken off before the wedding (i.e. before consummation of the marriage, i.e. sexual intimacy), but the Quran strongly recommends that the woman’s family should take no alimony from the man in such a case.

I hope you find this helpful. Best wishes.

IslamQA: The chronology of the Quran

Salamalaikum, in regards to the ayahs and surahs of the Quran, is there a known and agreed upon chronology?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

We do not have enough information to build a complete chronology. But we have evidence here and there that tells us which verse or sura came before which. For example we know Surat al-Muzzamil is one of the earliest suras, while we also know that the Medinan suras all came afterwards. But sometimes a Medinan sura contains a verse or more from the Mekkan period, so just because a sura is considered Medinan is not sufficient to tell us that all of it is Medinan.

Check out this page for a list of the suras and their chronological order.

IslamQA: Books I recommend

You have mentioned some books like In the footsteps of the prophet, and the Quran by Abdul Haleem, are there any other Islamic books you would like to recommend?

Please take a look at the new page on our site The Modern Islamic Studies Curriculum. These are books that I strongly recommend to all Muslim intellectuals and students of Islamic studies.

[Updated April 8, 2019]

IslamQA: Why should we ask God for guidance and purification if it makes our lives difficult?

Salamalaikum Brother, Have you ever asked god to guide you to the right path? And have you purified yourself? I did and it was the most difficult time of my life. I never want to do that again.Why do muslims need to purify themselves? It ruins your life by getting more problems.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray for those things everyday. The reason one prays for them is that they prefer the the eternal life of the Hereafter over the present life. Why should I care if I spend an extremely difficult year or two if it ensures that I will have a very high place in Paradise for eternity?

The brave and intelligent thing to do is to prefer guidance and purification, accept the hardships that come with it, and keep your hope alive in the bliss of the Hereafter. It is not brave or intelligent to prefer ease in this life and throw away your high station in the afterlife.

It is also wrong to think that it makes your life difficult permanently. In fact once the purification is over your life can become easier than ever before. When you walk with God’s guidance and remembrance in your heart then you get a sense of peace and confidence that makes you not fear any hardship or difficulty, and that makes you feel good and happy inwards regardless of what happens in the outside world.

IslamQA: My favorite book

What’s your favourite book?

There are four books that are my favorites, I do not really prefer one over another:

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Evelina by Frances Burney
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

IslamQA: What should one ask God for?

What should one ask God for?

These are the things I ask God for daily:

  • Guidance
  • Forgiveness
  • His easing and facilitating my doing of good and beneficial things.
  • His putting His blessings (baraka) in my time and in my works.
  • Freedom from need (poverty).
  • His increasing my knowledge.
  • His giving me and my family good in this life, in the next life, and His protection from the Hellfire.

IslamQA: Praying on a car, bus or airplane (salah)

Can I pray while sitting? For example if prayer comes while I’m sitting in the bus.

There are different opinions on that, but the general opinion is that performing the sunna (non-obligatory) prayers is permitted while riding on a horse or camel or riding in a car, bus or airplane.

As for the obligatory prayers, the general opinion is that it is not permissible to perform them like that unless one has an excuse. The person should delay the prayer until they are able to perform it normally. The exception is when a person fears that they will not have the opportunity to perform the prayer normally, in such a case it is permitted to perform the obligatory prayers in that way while sitting (if they cannot stand).

According to Imam al-Nawawi if the obligatory prayer is performed while riding, the person should redo the prayer once they are able. However other scholars believe that it is not necessary to make these prayers up.


IslamQA: Making a Hawramani app

Salaam. Brother, would you consider to make an app to access your website via mobile (iOS or Android) in the future? I would love to access and read your latest posts like everyone usually do to access Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but it's your website. You can name the app "Hawramani" 😀

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Thank you for the suggestion. InshaAllah I will consider doing that. I have a brother who makes Android apps and it should not be too difficult for him to make an app for the Hawramani website.

IslamQA: How do you face your fears?

How do you face your fears?

There are two aspects to dealing with fears. The first one is the medical aspect. Some people suffer from anxiety disorder which makes them much more fearful of things and situations than is normal. Such people will greatly benefit from medical help since there are many effective drugs that can strongly reduce anxiety and help such people lead a normal life.

The other aspect is the spiritual aspect. The closer you feel to God the easier it becomes to face your fears. By fully relying on God and keeping His remembrance alive in your heart constantly you will feel as if nothing can harm you unless God wants it, so you will feel much braver in facing your fears.

Please see this page for articles on feeling closer to God: Guides on Becoming a Better Muslim

IslamQA: Fixing people’s negative view of you due to your past deeds

Salam Brother, I hope you're doing well. I was reflecting the other day and I think I am on the right path now, but I had a past life that isn't the greatest. I noticed that people have not moved on from my past life even though I have. It's like I have changed completely but their perception of me is not the best. People tend to not forget the negative things when an individual does something wrong. What can I do to make things right?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry about your situation. Fixing people’s view of you is going to be a slow process that will take years. If you reach out to them and try to show them that you are different now they may not believe your sincerity immediately.

The best way is therefore to try to be the best Muslim you can be, and to try to do nice things for people without coming off as too eager to please. InshaAllah they will slowly appreciate the differences in you and start to think better of you.

IslamQA: Improving your relationship with your parents

I don’t have a great relationship with my parents. How can I improve it?

I believe the best way is to achieve a high character and a selfless, generous and forgiving attitude. Dealing with people when having such a personality will naturally make them like you more. So work on yourself first and constantly ask for God’s help and guidance and inshaAllah your relationship with your parents will start to improve.

For more on becoming a better Muslim please see: Guides on Becoming a Better Muslim

Advice to my younger self

“There is no god but You! Glory to You! I was one of the wrongdoers!” (from the Quran, verse 21:87)

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

I would give myself two pieces of advice:

1. You cannot guide yourself

Even if you spend years reading the best available books, without God’s help and guidance you will never be able to achieve guidance.

Whomever God guides is the guided one. And whomever He sends astray—these are the losers.

The Quran, verse 7:178

The proper attitude toward guidance is to desperately desire it from God the way a person dying of third desires water. This was one of the most difficult lessons I have learned in life and possibly the most important one.

2. You cannot benefit yourself without God

Nothing you do can ever succeed if God does not want it to succeed. Success should first always be sought from God. All good things come from God and we have no power to do anything that benefits us except through God’s will and approval. So it is from God that we should seek all benefit.

Whatever mercy God unfolds for the people, none can withhold it. And if He withholds it, none can release it thereafter. He is the Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom.

The Quran, verse 35:2

In short, both when it comes to guidance and success, God should be our center. He should be the King from whom we desperately seek these things, knowing that nothing we do will have any benefit unless He desires it.

The lesson I have learned is therefore that I must lead a God-centered life; to throw away all my illusions that I am capable of benefiting or guiding myself.

IslamQA: Islam and magic

Salamalaikum, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer the questions posed to you with so much in depth research (my earlier ones included). May Allah reward you. To my questions, what are the signs/indications of magic done on a person or household. And if black magic is something we Muslims believe can happen? If so, is a general dua and asking for Allah's help the prescribed remedy or are there specific surahs? Jazakallah khair

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The most important hadith we have on magic is the following:

Narrated Aisha:
that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was affected by magic, so much that he used to think that he had done something which in fact, he did not do, and he invoked his Lord (for a remedy). Then (one day) he said, "O Aisha!) Do you know that Allah has advised me as to the problem I consulted Him about?" Aisha said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! What's that?" He said, "Two men came to me and one of them sat at my head and the other at my feet, and one of them asked his companion, 'What is wrong with this man?' The latter replied, 'He is under the effect of magic.' The former asked, 'Who has worked magic on him?' The latter replied, 'Labid bin Al-A'sam.' The former asked, 'With what did he work the magic?' The latter replied, 'With a comb and the hair, which are stuck to the comb, and the skin of pollen of a date-palm tree.' The former asked, 'Where is that?' The latter replied, 'It is in Dharwan.' Dharwan was a well in the dwelling place of the (tribe of) Bani Zuraiq. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) went to that well and returned to Aisha, saying, 'By Allah, the water (of the well) was as red as the infusion of Hinna, (1) and the date-palm trees look like the heads of devils.' Aisha added, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) came to me and informed me about the well. I asked the Prophet, 'O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), why didn't you take out the skin of pollen?' He said, 'As for me, Allah has cured me and I hated to draw the attention of the people to such evil (which they might learn and harm others with).' " Narrated Hisham's father: Aisha said, "Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was bewitched, so he invoked Allah repeatedly requesting Him to cure him from that magic)." Hisham then narrated the above narration. (See Hadith No. 658, Vol. 7)

Sahih al-Bukhari 6391

I conducted a study of all existing versions of this hadith. Below is a diagram of the result:

The result is that this hadith has a 28.3% chance of authenticity which makes it fall between ḥasan and ṣaḥīḥ (ṣaḥīḥ starts at 30%) according to my methodology (which I discuss here). So this hadith has a high chance of being true and authentic, although it is far below 85% which is necessary to establish a hadith beyond doubt (making it mutawātir or widely-transmitted).

So my personal opinion is that this hadith is not strong enough to worry about (too much). But it is strong enough to convince us not to completely discard the possibility that magic may befall a person in this way.

The Quran also alludes to the possibility of being harmed by magic in chapter 113:

1. Say, “I take refuge with the Lord of Daybreak.

2. From the evil of what He created.

3. And from the evil of the darkness as it gathers.

4. And from the evil of those who practice sorcery (literally "those who blow on knots.")

5. And from the evil of an envious one when he envies."

As for signs that show that someone has been harmed by magic–I have not been able to find any hadiths that mention it. Muslims should always seek medical help for their illnesses since we can never be sure that an illness has a mystical or natural basis, and since we have no guidance on how to distinguish between the two, and since we do not have many hadiths or Quranic verses about it, this tells us that magic is not something we should worry about as an everyday thing.

As for protection, the best thing would be to recite the Quran daily and strive to be a good Muslim in order to enjoy God’s protection from all harms.

IslamQA: Are we responsible for bad things that befall our families?

Assalamu Aleykom Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu, is it legitimate to think that one's actions can bring affliction to one's family? am i crazy to think that me misbehaving or sinning or straying away from Allah can have a direct impact on my family? the reason why every wrong thing happening to them, in their own personal life is solely my fault? that it couldn't be their own actions that lead them to be so miserable? is it a little bit of both? should i only pray for their wellbeing?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is possible that our sins can negatively affect our families, just as our good deeds can positively affect them. The Quran says:

And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphaned boys in the city. Beneath it was a treasure that belonged to them. Their father was a righteous man. Your Lord wanted them to reach their maturity, and then extract their treasure—as a mercy from your Lord. (The Quran, verse 18:82)

The above verse implies that one of the reasons why God took care of the treasure of the orphans was that their father was a righteous man. God decided to do something good for them because of their father’s virtue.

The Quran also says:

Would anyone of you like to have a garden of palms and vines, under which rivers flow—with all kinds of fruit in it for him, and old age has stricken him, and he has weak children—then a tornado with fire batters it, and it burns down? Thus God makes clear the signs for you, so that you may reflect. (The Quran, verse 2:266)

In this example, the parent’s sinfulness causes suffering to their children.

So our fates are connected. Our families can be sources of both tests and blessings for us, and our sinfulness and righteousness determines how we are tested.

But it is incorrect to think that the bad things that happen to your family are solely your fault. Think of your family’s fate as a shared pool of water. The good things you do improve it and the bad things you do pollute it. But if another family member has a great share of their own virtue then they will enjoy God’s protection and may not be harmed. God does not unjustly punish someone for another’s sins. But if your child was going to have an accident, then whether God protects them and prevents the accident or not may partly depend on whether you deserve the protection or not. The child is innocent of your sins and if they suffer God can always make it up for them in the future with other blessings. But the suffering caused to you because of what befalls your family members may or may not be repaid by God to you depending on whether you deserve such repayment or not. The child may enjoy great blessings because of their suffering while the blessings may be prevented in one way or another from reaching you and benefiting you.

So when something bad befalls a family member, it is always good to think of your own sins and use that as an encouragement to be better. But do not go to extremes in that. There are all kinds of reasons why bad things befall someone, and we can never be sure if we have a share of the fault for its happening. But you can be certain that your goodness and virtue will positively impact your family. The family of Mary (mother of Jesus) was a good family, so when her mother prayed for her child to be blessed and protected, God accepted the prayer:

And when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female,” and God was well aware of what she has delivered, “and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Mary, and have commended her and her descendants to Your protection, from Satan the outcast.”

Her Lord accepted her with a gracious reception, and brought her a beautiful upbringing, and entrusted her to the care of Zechariah. Whenever Zechariah entered upon her in the sanctuary, he found her with provision. He said, “O Mary, where did you get this from?” She said, “It is from God; God provides to whom He wills without reckoning.” (The Quran, verses 3:36-37)

IslamQA: Does Izzah mean slave girl?

I have seen in many sites that izzah means might and power.but in some sites and name apps they provided that izzah means slave girl ..with a note (daughter of Umar Bin mumal was named jariya..before he had become Muslim she was the slave of Umar(ra) and he used to trash her very harshly that she might revoke Islam ..but she ddnt and finally he himself become a Muslim ..) does izzah really mean slave girl??how that note related to this name ? I have heated that in Islam izzah is one of the familiar word with the meaning honour.. Pls rply … We want to choose the name if it doesn’t mean slave girl ..or can us choose the name ?

I have looked at the Arabic dictionaries and as far as I can find there is no relationship at all between the word izzah and slavery. It looks like those sites copied that information from the SearchTruth website which in the past showed the meaning of Izzah as “slave girl” (apparently by mistake). Most baby name websites copy their information from SearchTruth. But currently SearchTruth appears to have corrected this error, so now it shows only “Power, Might” as the meaning of Izzah:

So I wouldn’t worry about those sites. The name Izzah is clearly “power” and “might” and this is what all of the respected Arabic dictionaries show.

IslamQA: Islam and a husband’s rape of his wife

Asalam Walikum, why is it not considered rape if your spouse raped you? People have told me Islam does not consider that [rape]

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no clear statement in the Quran or hadith on this question, so scholars have simply used their own personal and cultural opinions about it. Since they think a husband has a right to sexual intimacy with his wife, they do not think that the idea of rape applies in marriage.

But there is nothing to force us to accept their views. Personally I think forcing sexual intercourse on a woman is a disgusting and vile thing even if she is one’s wife. So my opinion is that sexual intimacy should only happen with the woman’s agreement and if she does not agree to it, then she should be left alone. If she always refuses sexual intimacy then the husband can seek divorce.

IslamQA: Birth control in Islam

People always said birth control is only allowed if the husband permits it, not in general (before marriage) and that Islam highly dislikes it. Is this true?

There is no need to make a big deal of a husband’s permission in such a matter. Whether you are a Muslim or non-Muslim wife, of course going on birth control should be a decision made after consultation with the husband and his agreement. If you do not consider your husband worth consulting in this matter, then there is a problem with your marriage.

As for Islam having a negative view of birth control, that is not true. As I discuss in this new blog post, the hadith in which the Prophet PBUH seems to express a negative view of birth control is not very firmly established. And even if we take it seriously, he mere says that there is no harm in not using birth control. He does not say that birth control is harmful.

IslamQA: How to think critically and creatively in solving problems

How to think critically and creatively in solving our daily problems as well as in the process of seeking knowledge?

I recommend reading as many books as you can, on any topic, whether fiction or non-fiction. Books can help you face various situations and scenarios before they happen to you in real life, and this enables you to build a data bank in your brain full of solutions and experiences that you can use in the future whenever you need it.

IslamQA: It is permitted for Muslim women to marry if their guardian wrongfully prevents the marriage

i am a virgin woman of 35 and and my burning desire to marry a man of my choice and luckily i have found that man…but my family my guardian who is my brother does not in anyway recommend me to marry him…the person i m willing to marry is holding an upright character ,he is a religious man and a goverment office,he is hailing from a noble lineage..he is handsome…i truly love him and willing to marry him….m i supposed to go for court marriage and solemnize my nikah in the presence of two witnesses and magisterate who would act like WALI on my behalf…

If the man you mention is able to take care of you financially and if your brother has no good reason for refusing the marriage, then he loses his right to guardianship because he does not have your best interests in mind. In such a case, if the Muslim judge (a judge can be any knowledgeable person, such as an imam) investigates and finds that your brother is truly wrongful in preventing the marriage, then he can find a better person to act as your guardian (such as another relative, or himself). In such a case the marriage would be valid according to Islam.

However, keep in mind that going against your brother’s wishes could forever destroy your good relations with him, therefore before you go forward with the marriage, try to get your relatives involved and any imams you know in order to convince him to agree to the marriage. The Muslim judge should also try to reach out to him to convince him to agree. If he still does not, then you can still legally marry with the judge’s approval.