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.

IslamQA: The Islamic ruling on laser hair removal

Salamualaykum Is laser hair removal permissible for men? And if it is, in that case, only for those purposes, is it okay if people see the naval button?

According to fatwas by the Qatari Fatwa Authority, the Jordanian Fatwa Authority and the Egyptian Fatwa Authority, laser hair removal is permitted, whether for men or women. The Egyptian fatwa adds that this is permitted despite the fact that it may permanently remove the hair (it is unclear whether the other fatwas are aware of its permanent nature).

As for showing the navel: the navel is not part of a man’s ʿawra therefore it can be shown without issue.


IslamQA: The Islamic ruling on watching gay anime

You can decide for yourself when something is spiritually bad by these criteria:

  • It causes doubt in your heart
  • You do not want the people you respect the most to know you are doing it
  • When you feel very spiritual (for example if it is Ramadan and you have been reading a lot of Quran) you want to avoid that thing.

The ideal Muslim is the one whose private life and public life are the same so that there is nothing secret in their lives that they would not want others to find out about.

As for your specific question, if the anime has erotic elements, then that is forbidden to watch (as discussed here).

If it is not erotic, homosexual relationships are still obscene (fāḥish) and the Quran says:

and do not come near obscenities, whether outward or inward... (from the Quran, verse 6:151)

Watching a show that celebrates homosexuality is a way of “going near obscenities” which the above verse strongly discourages. Therefore the admirable and pious thing to do is to avoid such shows.

IslamQA: A Muslim’s view of climate change

What are your thoughts on climate change? I feel like a lot of the warnings of how climate change will affect the world is similar to the way the End is predicted in Islam. The drying up of the river, earthquakes, a large wildfire driving away people. This question was prompted after reading your optimistic view of the future. I tend to read that we are past the point of no return in regards to climate change and feel very saddened at how much suffering is to come.

Since the 1980′s newspapers have been publishing articles saying we only have 10 years to go before catastrophic climate change takes place. One of the most respected living climate scientists is Richard Lindzen who says it is “climate alarmism” what news sources keep promoting about the dangers of climate change.

I love clean energy and believe that we should do everything possible to stop burning oil even if it has no effect on climate since it still creates a lot of unhealthy pollution. I am also worried about the effects of increasing carbon in the atmosphere because it increases the amount of glucose in foods like wheat, making them less nutritious and more full of empty calories that cause obesity and diabetes.

But I am also very suspicious of climate alarmists because they are not scientifically respectable. They claim there is a “consensus” and pretend people like Richard Lindzen do not exist. Whenever someone claims consensus, whether in Islam or in science, when there is a respected scholar or scientist who disagrees with the supposed consensus, you know the claim of consensus is a falsehood made for propaganda purposes.

I am also very suspicious of the anti-climate change crowd since they seem mostly funded by oil companies and other corrupt sources. So personally I do not trust either camp and believe that there is no conclusive evidence for being pessimistic about the future of the earth. As technology improves we will find more and more ways to reduce carbon emissions and maybe start taking carbon out of the atmosphere. I know many say we have already reached the point of no return, but I do not trust such alarmist claims. We simply do not know about the earth’s climate to say whether the point of no return is now or in 500 years.

As a Muslim, I believe God is in charge of history and will not let humans get in the way of His plans. Humans cannot destroy the earth unless God wishes it and allows it. And if God’s plan is for humanity to continue for the next 100,000 years, then there is no power to prevent that plan. I do not recommend a naive optimism that says we can do anything we want and get away with it because God is in charge. Rather, I believe that if there is really a great danger in climate change, and if God’s plan is not for humanity to destroy the earth, then He will enable humanity to come up with ways of stopping damaging the climate and restoring it. It is like we are actors in a film that is directed by God. We have to do our part in the best way possible, and if that means supporting clean energy and ways of reducing carbon from the atmosphere then we should do it.

At the moment, there is undeniable evidence for the harms of pollution, so for me this is quite sufficient to support clean energy. I love the fact that electric cars seem to be taking off with companies like Tesla.

IslamQA: Do Muslims believe in karma?

Hi, the Quran does it mention karma?

If you are referring to the technical meaning of karma as in Hinduism and Buddhism, meaning that your past lives affect your present life, then that is not part of Islam and no such concept is mentioned in the Quran since we do not believe in the transmigration of soul.

But if you are using karma in its informal sense (meaning destiny and fate, i.e. your bad deeds lead to bad consequences down the road and good deeds to good consequences), then that is an essential part of the Quran’s teachings. We believe that God is in charge of fate but that our goodness or wickedness determines the type of fate He will send our way. So, for example, if you are kind to someone today, we believe that this will lead to good consequences in your life some time in the future. If we are cruel, we will suffer cruelty in a different context. This is very similar to “karma” the way some people understand it.

IslamQA: Is it permitted for Muslims to work as lawyers of secular law?

Assalamu Aleykom Wa RahmatuAllah Wa Barakatuhu, I have a question: is it haraam to study law, work in the field of law as a lawyer or judge or else in a secular country?

According to a fatwa on IslamOnline (a website that is overseen by the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi) it is permitted for Muslims to work as lawyers and judges in secular legal systems. Below are the main points from the fatwa:

  • In most secular legal systems most of the legal code (such as that which applies to traffic regulations) does not conflict with Islamic law. They are part of ensuring the general good of the population, which is something permitted and recommended in Islam.
  • Muslims should not work on cases where they have to support something that goes against Islamic law, for example a Muslim lawyer should not work to defend a criminal and get him off when the person should rightly be punished, and they should not work on cases that cause something forbidden to be permitted, such as working to defend someone’s usurious gain, or working to defend a type of abortion that is forbidden by Islamic law.

Working in the secular legal field is never simple and a lawyer or judge will have to use their conscience to decide whether they are doing the right thing. The same also applies to working in most other government fields. As I mention in my book review Ibn Taymiyya and His Times, a man asked Ibn Taymiyya whether he should work for the government when he was sometimes forced to act in ways that conflicted with Islam. Ibn Taymiyya’s answer was that it was a good thing for him to work there and to work to reduce evil and promote good as much as possible.

Since the good served by Muslims working in the secular law field is greater than the harm that comes from conflicts of conscience, it is better for them to work in it and try to avoid unethical and evil things. The evil caused by Muslims completely avoiding the legal field would be greater than the evil caused by them working in it, and since in Islamic law we are required to choose the lesser evil when faced with two choices, the better choice is for Muslims to work in this field.


IslamQA: Did Umar set fire to Ali and Fatima’s house?

Assallamualeykum! 🥀 Are there any hadithes about Hz. Omar's (may Allah be pleased with him) burning Hz.Ali's (may Allah be pleased with him) home after out prophet (sallallahu aleyhi vesellem) died?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are no authentic narrations in Sunni sources that mention that story. The important Shia scholar Ayatollah Hussein Muayyad also rejects the story and says there is no authentic narration in Shia sources about it.

IslamQA: Is it necessary for a Muslim to learn Arabic?

Hi, I am 20yo I don’t know how to read Arabic, and cannot read Quran in Arabic. But I do read it in English translation. Do you think it is necessary for a Muslim to learn to read Arabic? Should I start learning as well? I’ve tried earlier but I find it very difficult.

The majority of the world’s Muslims do not actually speak or read Arabic. But if you have the ability and free time to learn it, then that is a good thing and will increase your ability to progress in your faith. You can take it easy and start with simple courses for beginners, or watch Arabic cartoons or TV shows (I learned Arabic from cartoons as a child–Arabic is my 4th language).

IslamQA: Does Islam restrict and oppress women?

I have questions to ask regarding verses in Quran. I'm confused if Islam actually promotes equality between genders like how it is said. There are verses about right-hand possession, hitting wife if she doesn't listen, being extremely strict about female's hijab, women not being able to go outside, being under husband's control, if she doesn't accept to have intercourse with her husband she will be cursed by the Angels and so on. I really don't understand why women are placed this way in Islam.

Regarding slavery/right-hand posession, please see: Understanding Islam’s Sophisticated Approach to Slavery

As for wife-beating, please see: A new approach to the Quran’s “Wife-Beating Verse” (al-Nisa 4:34)

Women’s hijab is meant to serve a social function. It is not about restricting women. For details please see chapter 6 of my book An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims (you can download it for free here).

Women not being able to go outside is something practiced by some Muslim cultures and not others. It is not something that Islam forces upon us.

As for “being under a husband’s control”, please again see the essay on the “wife-beating” verse. A woman is not under a husband’s control, both of them are under God and the husband’s freedom to act however he likes toward his wife is greatly restricted by Islamic law.

As for “if she doesn’t accept to have intercourse with her husband she will be cursed by the Angels”, that hadith comes from a single Companion (Abu Hurayra). Hadiths that come from a single Companion are known as āḥād (“singular”) hadiths and are inherently doubtful even if they are technically authentic. According to scholars like the great Egyptian scholar Muhammad al-Ghazali (d. 1996 CE), āḥād hadith does not establish certainty; it is only a hint or suggestion by itself unless there are other narrations that support it. We have the example of Umar b. al-Khattab [ra] who when he heard a hadith narration that sounded strange or unreasonable he would verify it by asking other Companions. We should follow the same method, always requiring multiple Companions to establish important points. When a single Companion says that such a woman is cursed, this is only a weak hint or suggestion; it does not establish a fact.

For more articles on women in Islam, please see the page Women in Islam.


IslamQA: Can a woman lead male family members in prayer if necessary?

Assalamu alaykum. My father started to pray alhamdulillah. He knows nothing but Ikhlas so I'm guiding the prayer since he had struggles even remembering the number of rakaas and the words to say. Is the Salah accepted since I'm guiding and I'm a girl? Jazak Allahu khairan.

May Allah reward you both and increase you in guidance. There is an authentic hadith narrated by Imam Aḥmad, Abū Dawūd and others that mentions a woman named Umm Waraqa who was allowed by the Prophet PBUH to lead her family in prayer. The hadith in Abū Dawūd’s collection (vol 1, no. 218) mentions that there was an old man who gave the adhan and who presumably prayed behind her. Based on this hadith, some scholars permit women to lead men in prayer in times of necessity, for example when there is no man or boy who can do it out of a lack of knowledge.

Based on that hadith some scholars such as the 20th century Ḥanbalī scholar ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Qāsim say it is permitted for a woman to lead her family in prayer when it is necessary. Therefore what you are doing is acceptable according to their opinion until your father learns how to perform the prayer correctly.


  • ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Qāsim, Ḥashiyat al-Rawḍ al-Murabbaʿ, no publisher listed, 1397 AH (1976-1977 CE), vol. 2, 311.

IslamQA: On Lot’s wife

Assalamualaikum, my question is in regards to Prophet Lut's wife. It says in the Quran that she was of "of those who lagged behind" (7:83). How can we know if we are of those who lag behind? It suggest she was off those who were deceived by sin and wickedness. How could it be so as she was the wife of a Prophet? Did she secretly accept lewd acts as okay in her heart? Many thanks for any clarification. May Allah bless your heart. Ameen.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

May Allah bless you too. We do not have much information about Lot’s wife, but the reason the punishment also included her was that she was just like the rest of the Lot’s people who deserved punishment. We do not know whether she was like that openly or secretly, Quran exegetes such as al-Baydawi say she was so secretly. The Quran also mentions Noah’s wife as being a wicked person.

As for why a Prophet would stay with a wicked wife, we do not know.

If you believe and do good deeds, then you can be sure not to be of those who “lagged behind” since this refers to her choosing to stay with the wicked people rather than take Lot’s advice to leave their town.

IslamQA: Are women permitted to take off the hijab if necessary for work?

assalamu aleikum, is it permissible for a woman to take off her hijab for work?

Taking the hijab off is not permitted unless it is absolutely necessary, for example if it is a matter of life and death. If there is any way a woman can survive without that work then it is not permitted for her to take the hijab off; she must avoid the work even if this means her income is greatly reduced.

However, if a woman has no income and no one else to support her, she is permitted to take the hijab off if her work requires it and if she cannot find any other work.


  • Fatwa 1 by Dr. Khalid b. al-Munim al-Rifai (Arabic PDF)
  • Fatwa 2 by Dr. Khalid al-Mushayqih (Arabic PDF)
  • Fatwa 3 by IslamWeb (Arabic PDF)

IslamQA: The difference between sunna and nafl

Asalamalaykum, I was wondering if Tahajjud is permissible without first sleeping. As a student, who usually is busy studying during the night, can I still pray Tahajjud even if I have not slept to wake up? Also, when I make the intention of my Tahajjud namaz, are they followed as sunnat or nafl intention? Please let me know.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Yes, that is permissible. People use “sunnat” to refer to voluntary good deeds and acts of worship. Nafl means voluntary act of worship. So the two in their common usage have generally the same meaning when they refer to acts of worship like prayer or fasting. There is no need to worry about intention; if your intention is to pray tahajjud, then that is sufficient for it.

Technically whether something is obligatory or voluntary, it is sunna because it is part of the Prophet’s tradition PBUH. But in common usage, people only use sunna to refer to voluntary deeds. When they use it like this, a sunna act of worship has the same meaning as a nafl act of worship. All nafl acts of worship are sunna unless they have been invented later, such as the communal tarāwīh prayers on Ramadan nights, which are nafl  prayers but since the Prophet PBUH did not perform such prayers communally, the communal part is not sunna.

For more on tahajjud please see my essay: Mysticism without Sufism: A Guide to Tahajjud, Islam’s Meditation Practice

IslamQA: Fearing that you will never find your true love

Aselam Aleikum I am a young sister who fears she will never find the right spouse in life 🙁 I believe it’s easy to find a spouse (if Allah wills) but it is hard to find the right spouse who in love with you. Your “true love”. Do you you have advice?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Men and women are created by God in a way that any reasonably attractive and decent man can fall in love with any reasonably attractive and decent woman if they spend much time together. So there is little to fear; as long as your spouse is not a horrible person, you will fall in love. I have seen couples who disliked each other at the beginning of their marriage, for example because they married for convenience rather than love and found out that their personalities did not agree with each other. But years later they started to adapt to each other and fall in love, so that now they are as in love with each other as most couples can be.

While love stories and fairy tales tell us that there is only one person who can truly make us happy, in my experience the reality is the opposite. Most people can make us happy. Love always develops if there isn’t a serious problem that prevents it. Humans are designed to fall in love, it is incredibly unlikely that a reasonably good man and woman can live together for years without falling in love.

Follow-up question:

What do you think about Quranic ayat 78:8? In your last post you said decent men and decent women can be happy with each other, but what about pairs? About the theory that each one of us has someone who complements them- a pair. Can you please explain this?

That verse may simply be referring to the fact that God created humans as male and female. I have read some people’s writing who believe the Quran supports the idea of soul mates. But there is no firm evidence for that; they just interpret certain verses in the way they like. The reality is that there is nothing in the Quran that clearly supports the idea that there is only one person for us.

IslamQA: Muslim women are permitted to sing in public

According to a fatwa by the respected Egyptian scholar Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars), women are permitted to be singers in Islam provided that Islam’s other commandments are respected. For example, singing songs that promote un-Islamic and immoral things is not permitted.

Many other scholars prohibit women from singing even though there is no clear Quranic or hadith text that forces such a prohibition. Their prohibition is based on general considerations. They believe that it is a danger to a woman’s moral character if she sings, since men may be attracted to her voice and since singing often involves dealing with many male strangers who work in studios.

Some scholars think of women as constant sources of moral hazard to society (sources of “fitna“), therefore they always prefer restrictions on their freedoms in order to minimize what they consider to be a risk. Other scholars, however, start with the principle that women are humans and are respected as such by Islam, therefore it is up to each woman, her family and social circle to decide what is appropriate behavior and what is not. While a very young and beautiful woman who spends time alone in the company of male strangers can be in great danger of sexual harassment and abuse, there are also women with strong personalities who can deal with males while suffering little such dangers. Therefore the moderate stance is to avoid paranoia about women’s moral character and recognize that it is quite possible for a woman to work as a singer or actress and to maintain as good a moral character as any other woman. Being a human with reason, she can arrange her circumstances in a way that reduce the risks, for example by having a male relative accompany her in risky situations.

The Quran does not recommend paranoia toward women’s supposed dangers to society and leaves it to each society to come up with its own methods for determining appropriate behavior. So the views of some scholars (especially Saudi ones) where they always prefer restrictions on women is more a reflection of their own cultural beliefs than Islamic commandments.


IslamQA: She rejected a suitor due to uneasy gut feeling toward the man

I don't know where to crash and I think you're the one I could trust on this matter. I was in the brink of depression and don't know what to do to figure out my future. I quit university and went back home in 2016 and months ago found someone who asked to marry him, to which I agreed. I told my parents, they gave their blessings. Something happen months after and I broke his proposal that ended up canceling the marriage. I told my parents and them to my siblings and one of the big family 1/2

And I found out that all this time my parents are hesitant to give their blessings, for the man who asked for my hand (before he even got here and meet my parents) sounds suspicious, no matter how good I explained to them. We haven't met, but the thing that got me cancel the marriage is the uneasiness I've been feeling right after me and my parents went to my mother's older sister to tell them of the news and ask for their blessings. My aunt said things that offended me, some kind of I'm 2/2

Some kind of like I only want to get married to get away from my situation. My older sister also knew what my aunt said to me and she said that I'm not decent enough to get married. I know myself enough to think if I'm reasonable enough to get married. I took the decision because I have prayed tahajud one night and asked for a way out, and thought maybe marriage would change my current state. I was devastated, and I wonder if my decision that I based off of my gut feelings is justified? 3/4

I canceled my marriage out of the uneasiness I felt in my gut feeling. I felt like my family would look down on and despise me after having such decision. The man also asked to rush the marriage and promised to take me on an overseas honeymoon, but he himself delayed the appointment to meet me and my parents in my country many times, to which made my Dad doubt his commitment. Some of his attitude while chatting bothered me too, so that's also the reason why I broke his proposal. 4/4

Pardon me it got long. I intended to make a 2/2 ask, but ended up 4/4. Hope you don't mind reading it. I need your point of view about it. Thank you very much for taking your time. Bless you.

That is a complicated situation and I cannot really give any specific advise. I recommend that you wait patiently until your situation changes or a better suitor appears. I know it can be difficult to be patient when you feel stuck in your situation and wish to escape it, but keep in mind that God can change your situation in an instant if He wished. Realize that God is in charge and that nothing happens without His approval. Rather than trying to seek an escape from your situation by making major life decisions like marriage, seek the escape from God. He can grant you the best possible solution when the time is right. Dedicate yourself to Him and try to always have a close connection with Him and leave it to Him to take care of your future. Try to be content and find useful ways of spending your time and stop worrying too much about the future.

Also please check out these two essays:

God has not abandoned you

Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide

Best wishes.

IslamQA: On deciding which madhhab to follow and the multi-madhhab approach

Do you hold certain school or mahdhab in Islam? If so, which one? Also, how do you pick one of them, or you don't pick one at all and just go with what's acceptable for you? Thank you.

The concept of the madhhab is somewhat outdated because scholars are starting to have a multi-madhhab approach. When books were expensive and scarce and only a few percent of Muslims could read and write, madhhabs were important educational institutions that preserved and taught Islamic learning according to the scholars they respected. Today, since knowledge has become so easy to access scholars are starting to study the opinions of scholars who did not belong to their own madhhabs and in this way sometimes they recommend an opinion that is from a different madhhab than their own. The madhhabs are more like historical references and records on how Islam was thought of and practiced in the past. Today’s living mainstream Islam, as it is taught by the best-educated scholars (such as those of al-Azhar University), often combines opinions from many madhhabs to reach the best and most sensible opinion.

In the past, belonging to a madhhab was like belonging to a political party. People’s allegiance was to a particular madhhab and they only chose opinions from that madhhab to follow. But things have changed greatly in the past 100 years. Today the barriers between the madhhabs have broken down and scholars are starting to follow opinions from many madhhabs at the same time while also considering the opinions of early Muslim scholars who were ignored by the madhhabs.

Rather than thinking of yourself as a Mālikī or Ḥanafī, think of yourself as a mainstream Muslim who follows all the respected scholars and tries to take the best from all sources. Try to find scholars you can love and respect and follow their teachings. Their opinions will likely come from multiple madhhabs if they are modern and well-educated. Rather than thinking “I will only follow Mālikī scholars”, think “I will follow all intelligent and well-educated scholars”. And if you converted to Islam, follow the Islam that was taught to you by the Muslims around you. As you read and learn more, you will discover scholars you like more than others. Many people like Yasir Qadhi so if they have a question on how to do something or whether something is permissible, they can try to find out Yasir Qadhi’s opinion and follow it regardless of what madhhab that opinion comes from.

Muslims are generally born into a family that follows a particular madhhab and they continue following it, which is fine. Where I come (Iranian Kurdistan) people follow the Shāfiʿī madhhab. Personally I believe in taking what is good and sensible from all the respected scholars regardless of their madhhab. For example on the issue of whether accidentally touching one’s spouse breaks one’s state of ablution (wudu), I follow the Mālikī opinion, which is that touching between spouses or strangers does not nullify wuḍuʾ unless the person does it with erotic intent or gains erotic pleasure from it (see this article).

I believe that choosing to follow a particular opinion is a choice we are responsible for. We cannot simply say “that scholar said this thing is fine” if our conscience objects to the thing. For example on the issue of whether meat and poultry in the West that is not halal-certified can be eaten by Muslims, I have read various opinions that say poultry is fine but meat is not. But since a study by the European Fatwa Council discovered that an important percentage of poultry is dead before it is slaughtered, this finding overrules any scholar’s opinion, so my opinion is that neither meat nor poultry is halal to eat in the West unless it is certified halal (or kosher, all kosher-certified foods are automatically halal).

A Muslim person cannot research every single aspect of Islam to decide which opinion to follow on every matter. So what they should do is follow the Islam that was taught to them by their parents, the clerics around and famous scholars they know (for example from the Internet and books).

Personally I like the Mālikī school more than any other because it does not merely follow the Quran and hadith, it also follows amal, which is a record of how the people of Medina practiced Islam during the time of Imam Malik, who was only separated from the Companions of the Prophet PBUH by one generation. Since there were thousand of the descendants of the Companions around Imam Malik, it is extremely unlikely that anything in amal is incorrect or unauthentic because it does not rely on hadiths, it relies on the Islam practiced by thousands of devout Muslims in Medina. It is incredibly unlikely that all of these people could somehow start practicing Islam in the wrong way when they lived continuously in Medina and all were taught Islam by their parents and Companion grandparents.

The Mālikī school is also the most cosmopolitan and “Western” because many of its great scholars lived in Spain and Sicily alongside Jews and Christians, so they often had a very open-minded approach to how Islam should be practiced. They had a far more modern and multicultural attitude compared to the scholars who lived in the Middle East and thought of the world always as “Muslims vs. infidels”.

For converts, I recommend beginning their learning with the Mālikī school because it is often the simplest and most logical, and because many important Western intellectuals follow it. There is a great book titled Being Muslim: A Practical Guide which teaches how to practice Islam according to the Mālikī school. And as they progress in their learning and come to know more scholars they respect, they can follow their opinions on some matters even if they conflict with the Mālikī school.

IslamQA: Is raising the hands obligatory for dua?

Do we have to cup and raise our hands to supplicate or does only saying it in our heart do count as supplication? I always find myself lying on the bed with my mind roaming to every place I can be and suddenly I think about something or someone and make dua for it. So, I wonder.

Actually according to a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari it was extremely rare for the Prophet PBUH to raise his hands in prayer:

Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (ﷺ) never raised his hands for any invocation except for that of Istisqa' [praying for rain] and he used to raise them so much that the whiteness of his armpits became visible. (Book 15, Hadith 26)

So the normal thing to do is actually to not raise your hands. But raising the hands is considered permissible or recommended by many scholars, so it is a matter of personal choice.