Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

IslamQA: What to do if you cannot pray on time at school or work

Salam. I live in a non Muslim country where prayer space is not provided in buildings and stuff. I have a job that makes me skip two prayers. Is there some other way I can pray my prayers?

According to a fatwa on IslamOnline (which is overseen by the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi), a person may combine the ẓuhr and ʿaṣr prayers and the maghrib and ʿishāʾ prayers if they have no other choice. You could perform the first two prayers at noon and the other two prayers at night. The prayers should be performed in full rather than shortened as is done when traveling.

Fatwas by the Qatari Fatwa Authority and the UAE Fatwa Authority also permit combining the prayers if a person has no choice.

IslamQA: Does bleeding from the gum nullify wudu or fast?

Salam brother, does swallowing blood break fast/wudu? what if it’s only a small amount? I have a tooth that constantly bleeds and it’s frustrating worrying about it all the time.

According to a fatwa by the Qatari Fatwa Authority bleeding from the gum does not nullify wudu, but a person should avoid swallowing it as much as possible. As for fasting, a fatwa by the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi states that bleeding from the gum does not nullify the fast as long as a person does not intentionally swallow the blood. If some of the blood mixes with the saliva and a person swallows some of it unknowingly or because they are unable to avoid it (since it may not be possible to remove all blood from the mouth), then there is no issue with this either.


IslamQA: Is it permitted to eat and drink while standing up?

Salaam. I was wondering if Muslims are allowed to eat food and drink while standing up?

There are hadiths mentioning the Prophet PBUH and the Companions eating or drinking while standing up, walking and while riding animals. For this reason it is considered permitted. There is however one hadith from Anas b. Malik that suggests eating and drinking while standing up is disliked if a person has no good reason for it. But this is not a prohibition (since the Prophet PBUH himself did it) and is considered a recommendation for sitting down while eating and drinking.


IslamQA: Is alcohol in tinctures and drugs halal?

I was wondering if grain free alcohol in tincture supplements is halal? Thank you

The general rule regarding alcohol is that any alcohol-containing liquid that can cause intoxication is forbidden to drink. So beer is forbidden despite containing a small amount of alcohol. However, vanilla extracts that are dissolved in alcohol are permitted (according to some scholars) since it is nearly impossible to get intoxicated by it since the amount of vanilla extract used in foods is so small. The same principle applies to types of vinegar (such as Balsamic) that contain trace amounts of alcohol that has no possibility of causing intoxication since it is humanly impossible to drink sufficient vinegar to cause intoxication.

Regarding a tincture or drug, if the amount used is so small that there is no chance of intoxication from it, then it would be closer to the permitted side. It depends on the specific tincture or drug. If the alcohol amount is high and the drug is dilute so that a person can easily abuse it and get intoxicated, then that is closer to the forbidden side. But if it is similar to vanilla extract where the chance of intoxication is almost non-existent, then the presence of alcohol would not be an issue.


IslamQA: Feeling guilty about sexual fantasies

SelamunAleykum! I'm 19 years old boy,sometimes I'm thinking of very very bad things,that things mostly are sexual fantasies,I'm thinking that things about anyone but I don't wanna think things about like that,Sometimes I feel like these thoughts take me over and move me, I think too much bad, but I don't hurt anyone, I don't want to think about it, I don't want to think about such disgusting things,I feel so bad, what do I have to do to prevent bad thoughts?Sometimes it makes me forget who I am.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sexual fantasies are a natural byproduct of the body and brain’s functioning. There is no way to shut these thoughts down because they are not voluntary. What you can do is avoid acting on them as you mentioned. Putting an end to your sexual thoughts may impossible until you get older and your hormones calm down. Consider this a test like any other. Your task is to do your best to remain a good Muslim and maintain a high character by controlling your desires and not letting them cause you to sin. We cannot always be perfect, but admirable and pious young Muslims are those who go back to God as soon as they can after a sin and do not let their sins dishearten them from seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness, even if they have failed a thousand times in the past.

For more on sexual fantasies in Islam please see this page: Islam and sexual fantasies

IslamQA: The ruling on breaking a fast that you are making up for Ramadan

Is it haram to break a fast that you’re making up for Ramadan?

While breaking optional fasts is permitted without issue, according to multiple fatwas it is not permitted to a break a fast that one is performing in place of an obligatory fast.

If a person breaks such a fast without having an excuse, they will have to make it up along with making up the original fast they intended to make up.


IslamQA: Can you start praying before all the athans are finished?

The area that I'm in has many masjids and therefore has many azans. When one is finished I heard a few more being called. Do i have to wait till all masjids finish call to prayer or just listen out for one to be completed?

According to the Qatari Fatwa Authority it is permitted to pray once the athan of one of the mosques has finished if the athan was said at its proper time.


IslamQA: Is it permitted to follow Sufi tariqas?

are Sufi tariqas haram to follow?

According to fatwas by the Egyptian Fatwa Authority, the Jordanian Fatwa Authority and IslamOnline (overseen by the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi), following Sufi tariqas is permitted.


IslamQA: Can you read Quran on a computer or smartphone without wudu?

Assalaamu Alaikum: I want to ask when you post Quranic verses and I'm not in Wudhu can I still read it? And while Quran is not to be touched by the unclean hands what about that, we scroll through it so it's a kind of touching... Please explain.

The necessity for wudu only applies to reading from a book of Quran. It does not apply to reading Quranic verses on a smartphone or computer. Everyone, including menstruating women, are permitted to read Quranic verses on computers and smartphones without performing ablution.


IslamQA: Can Muslims celebrate Valentine’s Day and Halloween?

I’m asking bc Halloween and I think Valentine’s Day have pagan beginnings and I wasn’t sure if it would mean you are participating in paganism

In my opinion the origins of these celebrations does not matter. What matters is what the celebration means today. A hundred of million Iranian Muslims, Sunni and Shia, celebrate Nowruz (the spring festival) despite it having originated before Islam, and the majority of scholars have no issue with it.

It is easy for Arab scholars to issue fatwas saying celebrating Nowruz is forbidden because it has pagan origins since it has no relevance to their own culture. But when it comes to Sunni Kurdish and Iranian scholars, the majority would not issue such fatwas because they know this celebration has some importance for the people and has no pagan element the way it is celebrated today. It is just an occasion for celebrating the national history and the coming of spring. Here is a fatwa by a union of Kurdish Islamic scholars saying the Nowruz celebration is permitted.

When looking at Valentine’s Day or Halloween, it is not the pagan or Christian origins that matters. What matters is how people today believe about these celebrations and how the celebrate them. There is nothing religiously harmful in using Valentine’s Day to express love for your wife or mother by buying them flowers or chocolate. While to an Arab living in Saudi Arabia this looks like copying the non-Muslims and watering down one’s religion, a Swedish convert to Islam who has always celebrated Valentine’s Day will be abandoning part of his culture if they had to give it up because they are now Muslim.

So the main question is whether Islam is a replacement for culture or whether it can live side by side with culture. My view and the view of the Sunni Kurdish and Iranian scholars is that Islam should not be thought to conflict with culture because this only harms Islam. It causes people to think Islam is a foreign and hostile element that is opposed to their way of life. It is much better for Muslims to confidently live within their culture without rejecting it, only working to avoid those things that are truly harmful and immoral.

To a Sunni Kurdish or Iranian scholar it seems incredibly ignorant and churlish to reject Nowruz and issue fatwas forbidding its celebration since it will cause anger against Islam in the population without achieving anything positive. Going on a picnic on Nowruz does not do anyone any harm and there is no reasons why Muslims cannot celebrate it in a way that also celebrates Islamic values.

The same applies to Halloween. Today it is just a silly celebration for children that involves candy and scary objects. There is nothing in it inherently opposed to Islam. Letting your children carve pumpkins, play with Halloween stickers, and listen to Halloween songs about monsters and vampires is neither Islamic nor un-Islamic. It is cultural thing that neither harms their religion nor promotes it. A parent who is concerned with teaching their children Islamic values can make it an occasion for teaching their children prayers that one recites when they feel afraid, or they can use other creative ways of helping their children feel both Muslim and part of their local culture.

Personally I have never cared much about these celebrations, and I see no problem with a person avoiding such celebrations out of respect for Islam. But I see no good in condemning them and making them an occasion for expressing hostility and showing people that Islam is opposed to their cultures. Islam is not a replacement for culture or an enemy to it. It is a reformer that can live side by side with it.

Since there is no clear evidence from the Quran and hadith that such celebrations are forbidden, scholars use their own reasoning to judge whether such celebrations are permitted or not. And their reasoning changes based on their culture. A principle of Islamic law is to promote the common good and to choose the lesser evil when faced with two evil choices. Even if we are not perfectly comfortable with the history of Valentine’s Day and Halloween, the lesser evil is to tolerate them rather than fight them, leaving to each person to decide for themselves whether they celebrate them and to what degree.


IslamQA: The meaning of relying on God in Islam (tawakkul)

Salaam. Is it wrong if I depend on myself on so many things? I still pray my prayers and do Islamic deeds, but I was taught to depend on Allah about almost everything. I'm nore of a person of effort and will step back if things doesn't go the way I wanted it to, then question what's wrong and reflect in my prayers.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Relying on God (tawakkul) means to recognize that most things in this world are outside our control, so we acknowledge that God is in charge and that He can make things go smoothly for us if He wants, and if He does not want then even the simplest things (making it to your job on time) can be very difficult.

It is natural for us to rely on ourselves for the things that are easily within our power (such as making a cup of coffee). But the more pious we are and the closer we are to God, the more we recognize the importance of His help and blessings. God’s help can make the difference between having a nice, productive day and a complete waste of a day. So ideally we should seek God’s help and guidance with every one of our five daily prayers (at least). We already do that when we recite Surat al-Fatiha where we say “You we worship and You we ask for help.”

Relying on God does not mean that we expect Him to do miracles for us. It is a good thing to always do the most intelligent and rational thing and if you fail to step back and try to work out what you did wrong. But even in this God’s help is needed; God can make the difference between finding the right solution immediately or running around in circles for days and months without getting out of your difficulty. The more you read the Quran and understand God the more you realize your utter dependence on His help and support.

IslamQA: Can Muslims pray in a place that has statues and/or paintings?

salamu alaykom, at work, there are few places for me to pray. I noticed after praying in a back room that there are mask head sculptures hanging up on the wall. do I have to repeat my prayers bc of this?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) performed the prayer in the palace of the Persian emperor which was full of statues and paintings, so it should not be an issue.  Saʿd bin Abī Waqqāṣ even turned the hall into a prayer hall while leaving the statues and paintings intact. So it should not be an issue to pray in a place where there are statues and/or paintings.

And according to a fatwa by the Qatari Fatwa Authority, while praying besides statues is not recommended, it is not forbidden and does not nullify the prayer (source – Arabic PDF).

For more please see:

A Traditionalist Critique of the Islamic Prohibition on Taṣwīr (Making Drawings and Statues of Humans and Animals)

IslamQA: Is Islam an ideology?

Salaam, brother. I want to ask you if Islam is considered an ideology? Thank you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

An ideology is a man-made belief system that claims to explain certain aspects of the world and that makes recommendations for appropriate behavior.

Islam is also a belief system that claims to explain certain aspects of the world and makes recommendations for appropriate behavior. So it has everything an ideology has, but it is incorrect to call it an ideology because it is much more than that.

Ideologies are intellectually much smaller than religions (have much fewer concepts), are generally not generationally transmittable (it is often difficult to raise one’s children in the same ideology as oneself, while raising children in the same religion is relatively easy), and they expire quickly (while a religion may last for thousands of years, ideologies go through a short period when they are fashionable then they go out of fashion to be replaced by newer ideologies).

IslamQA: Is wearing fake eyelashes permitted in Islam?

assalamu aleikum, do you know if the prohibition of wig/hair extensions also applies to fake eyelashes?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are different opinions on that. According to a fatwa by IslamOnline (overseen by the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi) wearing fake eyelashes for decoration is permitted by some scholars like Salman al-Ouda and Shaykh Nasir al-Fahd who say that the ruling for wigs does not apply to them. Others consider them to be like wigs and only permit them for a person who has lost their eyelashes due to sickness or burn.


IslamQA: Are men permitted to wear rings, bracelets, necklaces or earrings in Islam?

Asalam Alayikum Is it haram for men and women to wear rings? Not only wedding rings but just rings in general?

According to a fatwa by the Qatari fatwa authority, Muslim men are permitted to wear rings, including silver rings. But golden rings are prohibited for men. Muslim men may not wear bracelets and necklaces and earrings meant for decoration due to the fact that these are meant for women. But bands on the arm and neck are permitted if they have a different purpose.

As for women, they may wear rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces, including gold and silver ones.


IslamQA: Why is abortion forbidden when it has to do with a woman’s personal choice?

Asalam Walikum, I was wondering why abortion is haram? I feel as if it's a woman's choice on whether she wants to keep it or not. Even if they kept it for society sake they would not really be as happy at all.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Abortion is permitted when it is necessary, as discussed on my Islam and abortion page.

The reason why abortion is not a simple choice is because it may involve another human life (the fetus). The Quran tells us that killing a single innocent soul is like killing all of mankind, which means that each soul is of infinite worth. When dealing with souls, we cannot decide to kill one when we like. As an example, even if a country can acquire all the wealth in the world by killing a single innocent person, Islam forbids them from doing it.

So if the fetus is a soul, then aborting it would be killing a soul. Since we have no certain information on the status of the fetus as a soul and the point where it really becomes a human soul, the pious thing to do is to avoid abortion unless it is absolutely necessary.

As for a woman not being happy with the child, that is a very minor matter compared to the issue of life and death. You cannot just murder a potential human child because the mother may not like it or find it a burden. This act could be similar to the pagans burying their infant daughters because they were ashamed that their wives gave birth to a daughter.

IslamQA: Advice for Muslims who suffer from mental disorders

I have a form of dissociation, what is the advice for Muslims who suffer from psychological disorders? I don't know why I have it and from what I've searched there isn't really a treatment for it right now. I pray all my prayers but I still know that my condition effects the use of time outside of that. Also the thought of trying to force myself to not be this way is also distressing.

Mental disorders are like any other illness. God holds us only responsible for what is within our power, so if a mental disorder makes it more difficult for us to carry out our religious duties then God will not blame us. And if it is more difficult for us to do good deeds and we still do them, our reward will be greater, since God rewards us according to our efforts and sacrifices. Imagine the most intelligent and kind person you can ever meet and how they would think of you and your condition. God’s view of you would be similar. Know that He understands you, sympathizes with you and does not expect you to be perfect.

Dissociation can be caused by a history of trauma during childhood or later. See The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, who also mentions many unique options for treatment that are not widely known. Try to research your condition and perhaps you will find treatments that work.

Also check out the Islam and mental illness page on my site.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: The Islamic view of following celebrity gossip

Is it sinful to read articles about celebrities or talk about them? Is that like backbiting? I know this question is a little strange but it just struck me.

It is only backbiting if you mention a negative fact about someone that would upset them if they heard it. So some types of celebrity gossip can be considered backbiting. But that gossip is public knowledge, it is not a very serious form of backbiting.

The Quran also forbids us from spying on others. Much celebrity gossip comes from journalists spying on them to find out facts about them.

Since there is often an element of backbiting and spying in celebrity gossip, it is best to avoid it and not seek it out.

IslamQA: What are some good books on al-Ghazali?

IslamQA: Her mother is abusive toward her little sisters

assalamu aleikum, since my mother gave birth to her first son she won’t stop demonizing my little sisters, she always shouts at them for the most meaningless things and constantly takes things away from them if my brother wants them. i always defend my sisters, and always remind her her attitude is unworthy of a muslim, what else can i do? because she doesnt seem to realize her behavior will create long term psychological problems in my little sisters

and i also fear that i’m disrespecting her in the eyes of Allah, because the more they grow the more they rely on me as a maternal figure instead of her.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I am sorry to read about your situation. It is a good thing to try to reduce an abusive person’s bad influence even if they are your parent. You have a duty to your parents and your siblings, and if the abuse is from the parents to your siblings, your duty to your siblings means that it is a good thing if you work reduce their suffering.

For more on dealing with parental abuse please see the articles on this page: Abusive parents in Islam

For more on dealing with such unsolvable situations, please see this essay: The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

Best wishes.