Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

IslamQA: Are there misogynistic stories in the Quran?

assalamu alaykum, I do respect the Quran very very much! Lately though, I've found my heart a little disturbed by the notice that in most valuable stories, the women are usually the targets for the men to start sinning.. I know it is the devil's wrongdoings which makes the man kill, steal, cheat etc. - it just happens to be that the woman is the leading cause in most stories. How can I deal with this knowledge? Aren't women worth more than to teach a lesson? Peace be upon you!

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I have seen no such pattern in the Quran. In fact I cannot think of a single story that fits that description except the story of Joseph. If that story makes women look bad, it is counterbalanced by the story of Mary some chapters later; the whole chapter is named “Mary” in her honor.

If you will mention specifics then I will be happy to answer.


Hey, so I wanted to name some specifics regarding the display of women in the Quran. One story would be about Qabil & Habil (sons of Adam) and the beautiful versus ugly sister. Another would be of Marut & Harut, the angels sent to eart who were good judges but started sinning after seeing a beautiful woman. Another would be of Barsisa, where the monk should take care of the little sister but starts to have sinful thoughts... to name few, but thanks for your answer!

The Quranic version of the Qabil and Habil and Harut and Marut stories have no mention of women. The Barṣīṣā story is one of the Isrāʾīlīyāt, stories transmitted from ancient non-Muslim sources that are inherently unreliable.

So the things you refer to are not in the Quran. They are in commentaries and hadith narrations that are associated with the Quranic stories and that are inherently unreliable unless they are marfūʿ (directly transmitted from the Prophet PBUH) and multiply-transmitted (heard by three or more Companions). Almost nothing in these stories matches such a standard.

If you keep to the Quranic versions of these stories then you will find none of the misogynistic themes that you referred to earlier. As for the non-Quranic additions to the stories, skepticism toward them is always necessary unless they match the highest standards of hadith transmission (which they almost never do).

IslamQA: Is nikah engagement or marriage?

Isn't Nikkah actually a marriage? If nikkah is dissolved, isn't the couple going through divorce and the woman has to observe the iddah? Why call it engagement when the Quran uses nikkah to mean marriage?

Because there is a space between engagement (nikah) and marriage (consummation) that Islamic law acknowledges. If the couple separate after the nikah but before the consummation, the Quran requires the man to only pay half the alimony to the woman, while telling the woman and her family that the pious thing to do is to not accept any of the alimony (2:237). Therefore Islam makes it easy to break engagements/nikahs that have not been consummated, similar to the way in the West breaking an engagement is nowhere as serious as a divorce.

The nikah therefore is more correctly called an engagement rather than a marriage. Some cultures do not differentiate between the two, and that is fine, since to them the nikah is always immediately followed by consummation. But other cultures separate the nikah and the wedding and consider the nikah only an engagement. This too is perfectly fine and Islamic law supports them in this, and it is practiced by millions of Muslims, both Sunni and Shia.

IslamQA: Is it permitted to show the neck when wearing hijab?

assalamu aleikum, i heard a lot of women believe Allah told us to cover only our hair, so they wear a turban instead of a full hair, chest and neck covering hijab. do you know which texts these people follow?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I know of no respectable scholar who permits showing the neck. As far as I know such people are following their own personal preferences. For more on the evidence for the hijab as it is worn by mainstream, conservative Muslims see: Why the hijab is still obligatory (and why it is not only a vestige of 7th century Arabia)

IslamQA: The Islamic ruling on women wearing perfume

Are women allowed to wear perfume?

There is no issue with women wearing perfume before close relatives (those known as maḥrams) and other women. As for women wearing perfume in public, there are differences on it.

The great Maliki scholar Ibn Rushd the Elder (grandfather of Ibn Rushd) permits the wearing of perfume publicly by women provided that her intention is not to attract men’s attention.

Aisha (may God be pleased with her) says:

We were proceeding to Mecca along with the Prophet (ﷺ). We pasted on our foreheads the perfume known as sukk at the time of wearing ihram. When one of us perspired, it (the perfume) came down on her face. The Prophet (ﷺ) saw it but did not forbid it. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 11, Hadith 110)

Shaykh Ibn Amin al-Dimashqi has performed a study of the relevant hadith narrations and concludes that the evidence for forbidding women to wear perfume in public is not conclusive and it is contradicted by narrations like the one quoted above.

According to Dr. Ali Gomaa (Grand Mufti of Egypt from 2003 to 2013), it is permitted for women to wear perfume in public as long as the scent is muted and does not attract attention.

Dr. Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Samīʿ (Egypt’s Grand Mufti as of early 2018) has a similar opinion. He also adds that it is recommended for women to use perfume and deodorant if it is necessary for masking body odor in order to avoid disturbing others.

IslamQA: Hating a sibling for abusing her family’s trust

Assalamualaikum. I wanna ask something, how not to hate your own sibling who really made a big mistake that affecting people around her especially our family? I feel really mad at her because she's really made a really huge mistake and also she had misused the trust that we put on her, like my family really trusted her but then a whole thing is a lie. I'm really sad seeing my parents lose their appetite and sleep. I really can't see her face right now but she's my sibling.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

How you feel is a natural human reaction to that situation. Islam does not expect you to stop being human, it only expects you to keep your impulses under check and to do what you know to be right and kind whether you feel like it or not (to the best of your ability). Just give it time and maybe you will start to feel better toward her, especially if she works to regain your love and trust. If she approaches you and asks to be forgiven and be given another chance, then the pious and admirable thing to do is to accept it and go along with it even if you are still too upset to consider forgiving her.

You may also be interested in this previous answer, it is about parents but it somewhat applies to siblings too: Is it sinful in Islam to not love your parent?

Best wishes.

IslamQA: The ruling on the prayer of an alcohol-drinker

Beginning of summarized translated fatwa from the Jordanian Fatwa Authority

Question: There is a hadith that says the prayer of an alcohol-drinker will not be accepted for forty nights. Should such a person wait for forty days before coming back to the prayer?

Answer: Our advice to this alcohol-drinker is to fear God and to not let the faith he has to die out from his heart. His heart which desires prayer is a believer’s heart which feels the danger [of abandoning the prayer]. As for the hadith on the prayer of an alcohol-drinker not being accepted for forty days, it is narrated by ʿAmr b. al-ʿĀṣ [ra] that the Prophet PBUH said: “A man of my umma does not drink and have his prayer accepted for forty days.” (Narrated by al-Nasāʾī).

In this hadith there is no prohibition on the alcohol-drinker when it comes to praying. It is actually obligatory on him and required of him. The hadith tells us that he gets no reward from the prayer as a punishment for engaging in such a sinful thing. He is still required to pray and commits a tremendous sin by abandoning the prayer.

End of summarized translated fatwa

Source (Arabic PDF)

IslamQA: On which hour on Friday are prayers accepted?

It's hadith that on Friday there is an hour in which we can ask Allah tala for anything and He will give it us unless we ask for something haram. So, I wanted to ask if the hour is between as and maghrib?

There is a difference of opinion on this matter due to the differences in the hadith narrations, but the most common opinion is that it is the hour before the maghrib prayer.

'Abdullah b. Umar said to me: Did you hear anything from your father narrating something from the messenger of Allah (ﷺ) about the time on Friday? I said: Yes, I heard him say from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) (these words):" It is between the time when the Imam sits down and the end of the prayer." (Sahih Muslim, Book 7, Hadith 25)

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Friday is divided into twelve hours. Amongst them there is an hour in which a Muslim does not ask Allah for anything but He gives it to him. So seek it in the last hour after the afternoon prayer. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 2, Hadith 659 and al-Nasa'i, Vol. 2, Book 14, Hadith 1390)

According to Imam Ahmad, as quoted by al-Tirmidhi in Sunan al-Tirmidhi (Shakir editition, no. 489):

Most of the hadith narrations on the hour on which the acceptance of prayer is expected say that it after the asr prayer, and that it is [most] expected when the sun starts to get low [when it is close to setting].

According to Ibn al-Qayyim in his Zad al-Ma`ad:

In my opinion the hour of the prayer [i.e. from the Friday call to prayer until the prayer is performed] is also an hour in which the acceptance of prayer is to be expected. Both of them are hours of acceptance, even if the specified hour is the final hour after the asr prayer [i.e. the hour before maghrib] ... because  the gathering of the Muslims, their prayer, their submission and their entreaties toward God will have an effect on the acceptance of their prayer, therefore the hour of their gathering is an hour in which the acceptance of prayer is to be expected.

IslamQA: Can jinns possess objects or show themselves?

assalamu alaykum, can jinns posess inanimate objects like dolls?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

As I explain in my answer The Islamic Case for Scientific Empiricism and Skepticism toward Supernatural Phenomena, the Quran’s theology strongly supports having a skeptical view toward supposedly supernatural phenomena, because the Quran often suggests that we will never see evidence for the Unseen world until the Day of Judgment. Anything that is provably supernatural can be said to be evidence for the Unseen, which contradicts the Quran’s position that the Unseen will remain, well, unseen, until the world ends.

From what I gather, jinns have only one power: to inspire thoughts in humans. They have no power over the physical world. In the story of Prophet Sulayman we have mentions of jinns/devils building things for him and carrying out other tasks. That appears to have been an exception that was specifically made for Sulayman, similar to magical-sounding powers he was given by God. There is not the slightest hint in the Quran that jinns can interact with the physical world as a general rule. There are many hadith narrations of varying authenticity that mention the jinns. Some of them fit the Quran’s view that jinns can only interact through inspiration, while others mention them doing physical things. Such hadith narrations should be treated with great skepticism since hadith scholars like al-Bukhari used lax criteria when dealing with hadiths that did not contain legal doctrines. On the issue of jinns interacting with the physical world, since this is apparently against Quranic doctrine, we should demand extremely high standards of authenticity before believing in them (one high standard is to require three separate Companions to transmit the same hadith). I have not done a thorough study in all the main books of hadith, but my short study of some sources did not turn up any hadiths that mention jinns interacting with the physical world that matched the three-Companion standard.

Their ability to inspire thoughts is counterbalanced by God and the angels who protect faithful humans from such thoughts. The farther that a person strays away from God, the more unprotected they become and the more vulnerable to evil inspirations.

The devils inspire their followers to argue with you; but if you obey them, you would be polytheists. (The Quran, verse 6:121)

God is the Lord of those who believe; He brings them out of darkness and into light. As for those who disbelieve, their lords are the evil ones; they bring them out of light and into darkness... (The Quran, verse 2:257)

Some He has guided, and some have deserved misguidance. They have adopted the devils for patrons rather than God, and they assume that they are guided. (The Quran, verse 7:30)

11. They will say, “Our Lord, you made us die twice, and twice you gave us life. Now we acknowledge our sins. Is there any way out?”12. That is because when God alone was called upon, you disbelieved; but when others were associated with Him, you believed. Judgment rests with God the Sublime, the Majestic. (The Quran, verse 40:11-12)

IslamQA: Islam’s solution for a woman who lost her virginity due to rape

If a girl is raped as a child and thereby loses her virginity, then that would make marriage difficult for her later if her future husband values virginity as very important. What is Islams view/solution for this?

I know of no technical Islamic solution for such a situation. There is, however, a spiritual or common sense solution that I am sure many women in such a position already know. A man who firmly believes in human dignity and who sees her as a person rather than an object, and who is willing to think the best of others, will accept her explanation and will not count it against her even if she has no proof she was raped. Of course, many “Muslim” cultures will consider marrying such a woman a questionable thing. This is a case where the most religious can be the most open-minded.

Cultural Muslims who know little about religion and spirituality will judge things according to their cultural traditions (which often value virginity very highly). Spiritual and devout Muslims will judge things according to their religion’s spiritual ideals. From a spiritual perspective, if such a woman’s present manners and reputation support her story, then her lack of virginity is going to be a complete non-issue.

She must share the fact of her lack of virginity with suitors before the marriage, but after she judges that the suitor is worth trusting. She can try to find out each suitor’s mindset and personality. If she discovers that a man is narrow-minded and judges things mostly by cultural tradition rather than spiritual ideals, that is a good indication that she should reject him without sharing her story. Sharing that story puts her in a very vulnerable position (if the man talks to others about it).

So it just depends on the particular man. After getting to know a suitor and speaking to him many times perhaps she will be able to judge whether he is worth trusting. If he seems open-minded and pious, then that indicates that he might be the type of person who will not mind her lack of virginity and who will be willing to accept her as she is.

IslamQA: Dealing with people looking down on housewives

Peace be upon you, I am a Muslim woman living in the West who someday hopes to become a housewife and stay-at-home mom; it's something I'm heavily inclined towards. I've been feeling dejected and humiliated about it since even my well-guided religious relatives look down on me for it and others saying I'll become a heavy burden upon my husband (referring to the need for 2 income families in the west). What do you make of this and is there any supportive or empowering material on this I can read?

This is a matter that has more to do with culture than religion. Islam does not strictly define a wife’s duties, leaving it to each culture to decide what is best. Wives in nomadic cultures have extremely different duties compared to wives in agriculturalist societies, and such women in turn have different duties compared to city-dwelling wives.

Rather than considering it an Islamic obligation to be a housewife, it is best to think of it as a role to be fulfilled if and when necessary. Many wives in the West have part-time jobs since once the children grow up a little there is not much for them to do at home and they find it more enjoyable to have something to do outside.

It is true that legally Muslim men are required to provide full financial support for their families. But that is only the legal structure that can be enforced during court cases. As for the how marriages actually work, that is left to the culture’s own practices and the family’s circumstances. If the only way that the family can get by is if both the husband and wife work, then that is what they should do.

I am aware that the culture promoted today often considers women of little worth unless they have accomplishments. Feminists often define a woman’s worth according to her abilities and accomplishments; more ability and accomplishment equals more worth, which is part of why female CEOs and scientists are so celebrated. But by this same logic, less ability and accomplishment equals less worth. To them therefore housewives are of little worth since they do not aim for (male) accomplishments. In the name of equality they create a world where a woman is wholly judged by how good she is at competing with men. She is not allowed to just be a woman and enjoy her life the way she wants, defining her worth on her own terms. She must define her worth with men as her standard.

Meanwhile, according to Islam a woman’s worth is intrinsic and has nothing to do with competing with men. She doesn’t have to do anything to prove her worth. It is not her abilities or accomplishments that define her worth; it is her dignity as a human and her relationship with God. In Islam all humans start out as spiritually equal, but some attain more worth through their relationship with God. The worthiest people are the most God-fearing, so a saint-like “soccer mom” can be far worthier than a female CEO or world-renowned scientist.

It will do little good to keep telling people that housewives are just as good as everyone else. One person cannot change a culture’s worldview. It is best therefore to respect others’ opinions while keeping your own independence of mind. Insulting others for having wrong opinions only causes them to dislike you. For your own good and the good of those around you, try to fit in and try to avoid unnecessary clashes, while doing what is best for you and your family.

I do not know of any specific supporting materials on this matter. I recommend working on having a close relationship with God (as I describe here), this makes it easier to deal with all of life’s challenges.

IslamQA: Is it permitted for Muslim girls to post their photos on social networks?

Are girls allowed to post their photos in social networks?

It is the same as a girl showing herself in public. If she observes the proper Islamic manners of public behavior (dressing modestly for example) then there is no issue with it.

IslamQA: The Islamic ruling on celebrating national holidays (such as New Year’s Day)

Beginning of translated IslamOnline fatwa

Question: What is the opinion of our religion on the fact of certain countries celebrating holidays such as Victory Day, Workers' Day or New Year's Day and others?

Answer: In the second part of a long study in the book Bayān li-l-Nās min al-Azhar al-Sharīf [A Proclamation to the People from the Noble al-Azhar] it is mentioned that the word ʿīd [Eid or festive holiday] is used to refer to that which repeats annually and is communal, whether at the level of families, villages or regions.

To celebrate these festive holidays means to give them attention. Such holidays can either be entirely worldly or may be religious or contain religious elements. Islam does not forbid celebrating worldly holidays as long as their purpose is a good and the celebration does not contain elements that Islam disapproves of.

As for religious holidays, they may be mentioned in Islamic law, as in ʿĪd al-Fiṭr and ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā, or they may not be mentioned in Islamic law, such as the Prophet’s Night Journey and his birthday. Whatever is mentioned in Islamic law should be celebrated according to the law and should not be done otherwise. As for what is not mentioned in the law, people have two opinions on them. Some prohibit them because they consider them bidʿa [false innovation], while others permit them due to the lack of scriptural evidence prohibiting them.

Those who prohibit them use the hadith mentioned in al-Nasāʾī and Ibn Ḥibbān with authentic chains of transmitters from Anas [ra], who said the Prophet PBUH came to Medina, whose people had two days in which they played/celebrated. He [the Prophet] said:

You had two days when you would play, but Allah (SWT) has given Muslims something instead that is better than them: the day of Fiṭr and the day of Aḍḥā.

According to them everything other than these two days is a false innovation.

The reply to them is that the hadith did not restrict the holidays but merely mentioned the superiority of the Islamic holidays over the holidays of the people of Medina that they had acquired from the Persians, such as the Eid of Nowruz at the beginning of the new year in spring, and the Eid of Mihrajan in the autumn, as mentioned by al-Nuwayrī in his Nihāyat al-Arab. A piece of evidence is that he [the Prophet] refers to the day of Friday as an Eid [meaning that the hadith above does not restrict the meaning of “Eid” to those two days alone].

There is no text that prohibits joy and celebration on days other than those two. The Quran records the celebration of the Muslims at the victory of the Byzantines over the Persians at the beginning of Surat al-Rūm.

Another reply to them is that not every innovation is blameworthy. ʿUmar said regarding making the tarāwīḥ prayer communal: “What a great innovation this is!”

In summary, there is no issue with celebrating any wholesome occasion if its intention is legal and its manner is within the bounds of the faith. There also no issue with calling such days “Eids” [as Arabs do] since the matter has to do with the named objects rather than the names themselves.

End of translated fatwa

Source: Arabic PDF (archived from IslamOnline)

IslamQA: Proposing to a man as a Muslim woman

I am in love with a man who lives on the other side of the world and does not even know about my existence. He is a very good and God-fearing Muslim. Besides, he's a blogger. I can not just write to him because I think that this is not correct. What should I do?

Islam does not forbid women from proposing to men. If he is not married and if that is the only way a relationship can possibly be created then it might be worth giving it a chance (with your family’s knowledge if necessary), but you should take into consideration what I mention below. Proposing to a man puts you in a vulnerable position. Young and immature men would be likely to abuse such a trust and think lowly of a woman who approaches them, so it depends on the man’s age and maturity whether it is a good idea to do that.

Some families will be strongly prejudiced against the idea of you just finding someone on the Internet and wanting to marry them. It may take a very long process of gentle persuasion to make them consider the idea seriously. Other families will be open-minded enough to give such a relationship a chance. And while some families may approve of the idea of you politely approaching a man when there is no other way, others may think of it as a scandalous betrayal unless you fully involve them in every step. This is a case where culture is more important than religion for many. Families that are best educated about religion may be far more open-minded about this than families that merely judge things by how things are done in their culture, because they realize that Islam doesn’t really have much to say on these issues and leaves a wide space for doing whatever is necessary.

Depending on your specific family and culture, it may be best to get someone involved before approaching the man. You can perhaps speak with a family member you like and trust (mother, aunt or sister), let them know your feelings, and perhaps gain their approval of the idea of you approaching the man. In some cultures even this may not be sufficient and you may be expected to get everyone in the family involved.

As I have explained elsewhere, secret romantic relationships are never a good idea. Therefore if you contact him and find out that he is interested, you should get your family involved as soon as you can to make things official.

If you believe the relationships is impossible or fear there might be other issues, then the articles on my Islam and relationships page may help.

IslamQA: Does God reward involuntary charity?

Salam, I was wondering if we get ajur for things that we might not necessarily do willingly. my father is financially abusive & I was wondering if the money he takes from me could count as ajur for me? it would make me feel better if it did but I know that generally in Islam your good deeds come with intentions. similarly what about money you give to your family bc u feel obligated? thank you in advance.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry to read about your situation. It is mentioned in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim:

Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Never a Muslim plants a tree, but he has the reward of charity for him, for what is eaten out of that is charity; what is stolen out of that, what the beasts eat out of that, what the birds eat out of that is charity for him. (In short) none incurs a los!k to him but it becomes a charity on his part. (Book 10, Number 3764)

Since the money that your father takes from you is similar to money that is stolen, the above hadith can be said to apply to it. If you are patient for the sake of God then He, in His justice and mercy, will be sure to reward you in this life and the next.

As for money that you give to your family out of a sense of duty, then that can be considered a form of worship. Even if it is a duty, God can still reward it: all actions we take in this life out of consideration for our duties as believers and agents of God on earth will be rewarded by Him as forms of worships.

IslamQA: Dealing with fraud without legal recourse

This is a bit of a particular question, but how are Muslims to deal with fraudsters and malicious cons? How are transactions, trade, or deals initially agreed upon supposed to be enforced when legal institutions aren't a viable option (for example in remote villages, an informal loan or deal made between people in civil society, or simply because legal action would be too costly)? Are we expected to turn the other cheek and allow such people in those circumstances to get away with it scot-free?

While Judaism teaches justice and Christianity teaches forgiveness, Islam gives us both as options. It gives us the right to do what fair and just, but it also recommends to us to do what is compassionate and generous regardless of justice. For example, it may be just to take vengeance on someone, but to forgive them is better. Islam tolerates both options, recommending forgiveness as the higher ideal while acknowledging that not everyone can attain the ideal.

When we are defrauded, Islam would approve of all means to restore justice as long law and custom is not broken. A villager who is sold a counterfeit good by a traveling salesman could rally other villagers in his support so that they detain the man to get the villager’s money back (if no police or government is present to do it). There are no clearly defined courses of action for us. We can do what is necessary to restore justice, we can forgive if we wish, and we must not break the law.

IslamQA: Dealing with a mother who likes horoscopes

Assalamualaikum, my mother really likes horoscopes. It's actually a cultural thing from her home country. When she was young she and other Muslims she knew would read and talk about it. Now that I know its wrong to believe in that stuff I don't know what to do. She really likes palm reading etc too. I think I've brought it up before but usually im wary of bringing it up bc I can anticipate her distaste and discomfort in my telling her. What do I do?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Parents do not usually take religious advice from their children, since they think they themselves know better. Since it has little benefit to tell her not to do those things, the best way is probably to tolerate it (to not tell her directly that she should stop), while making your own dislike clear (refusing to talk to her about such things, if she brings it up, then you can mention your dislike). Instead of making it a matter of you trying to change her, by expressing your own dislike she may be motivated to avoid it out of consideration for you. One thing that will greatly help with this is if you study Islam a lot so that your family begins to respect your knowledge and piety. That will make them take you more seriously.

If there is going to be any change, it can take time (maybe years), therefore do not be in a hurry on this issue.

IslamQA: The Islamic ruling on dyeing hair (for men and women)

Summary: Dyeing the hair is permitted in Islam as long as pure black is avoided. Dark shades are permitted.

Beginning of translated fatwa from IslamOnline

Question: Is it permissible for a man to dye his hair when it becomes gray? What about a woman?

It mentioned in a hadith of the Prophet PBUH [that he said]: “Whoever has hair should honor it.” (narrated by Abū Dawūd and supported by other narrations. Considered authentic by some scholars.) The ways in which hair can be “honored” are many. It applies to both men and women, each according to what fits their hair, such is combing, using oils, or dyeing in order to hide grayness.

Scholars in the past spoke of dyeing the hair using black dye and most of them forbad it. However, their evidence only applies to men and to cases of deception, such as when a woman dyes her hair black in order to appear younger so that men may want to marry her. As for a married woman whose age is already known by her husband, then there is no issue with her dyeing her hair according to whatever she and her husband like. Ibn al-Jawzī even permitted it for men.

What has been mentioned against dyeing relates to the issue of the seeking of glamour and lack of respect for the obedience toward God that an old person should show as a preparation for meeting their Lord.

Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbdallāh b. Mufliḥ al-Maqdisī al-Ḥanbalī (d. 762 AH [1360-1361 CE]), a student Ibn Taymīya, in his book Al-Ādāb al-Sharʿīya wa-l-Minaḥ al-Marʿīya:

The way of the Ḥanbalīs is to follow the tradition of changing gray hair. Regarding this there is the hadith in the Ṣaḥīḥayn [referring to Ṣaḥīh al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīh Muslim]: "The Jews and Christians do not dye their hair, so do otherwise than they do." It is recommended to use henna and katam [a substance used for dyeing hair a reddish black  color], due to the Prophet PBUH doing so as is narrated by Aḥmad, Ibn Māja through reliable chains of transmitters, and due to the actions of Abū Bakr and ʿUmar whose authenticity is agreed upon.

It is disliked to dye hair black as there is a text from Aḥmad on it. He was asked: "Is it disliked to dye hair black?" He said: "Yes, by God, for the Prophet's saying PBUH as transmitted by the father of Abū Bakr: 'Avoid [dyeing] black.' (Narrated by Muslim).

The reason, as some jurists have mentioned, is that if an old person dyes their hair black they will be mutilating their appearance [or causing themselves to be like the young]. However Abū Isḥāq b. Rahawyh permitted it for a woman who does it to beauty herself for her husband. It is also not disliked for war [referring to camouflage?]. According to the Shāfiʿites: It is recommended for gray hair to be dyed yellow or red, but black is forbidden according to what they consider to be the most reliable opinion.

In addition to what is transmitted by the father of Abū Bakr, there is also this narration: “There will be in the End Days a people who will use black to dye their hair like the breasts of pigeons. They will not smell the scent of Paradise.” (Narrated by Abū Dawūd and al-Nasāʾī with a jayyid chain of transmitters [not “authentic”, but considered of relatively good quality])

End of translated fatwa

Source (Arabic PDF): IslamOnline

Second fatwa (not translated above) from IslamWay.

assalamu alaykum, i know it is forbidden to dye our hair pure black, but what about dark blue? so dark that it looks black from afar but you can see that it isnt when you look closer?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is mentioned that the Companion Abu Bakr [ra] used a dye made of henna and something called katam (a reddish black dye). But since he mixed the two dyes, the result would not have been so dark as to appear black. As far as I know there is no text that deals specifically with extremely dark shades. The Maliki opinion and the opinion of Imam al-Ghazali (who was a Shafi`ite) is that it is disliked, but not forbidden, to use a black dye (whether male or female). Possibly the same would apply to very dark shades.

Due to the disagreements on this matter, it would be best to not use very dark shades.

Sources: Third fatwa from IslamWay

IslamQA: The Islamic ruling on building new churches in Muslim lands

Ideally, Muslims should treat Christians in Muslim-majority lands the way they want Muslims to be treated in Christian-majority lands. The following fatwa by the widely respected Islamic scholar Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi finds it unproblematic for Christians to build churches in Christian-majority villages and cities where they have a need for it. He also supports the right of the leader of the Muslim community to judge church-building in Muslim-majority areas on a case-by-case basis, allowing it when the good of the public, both Muslims and Christians, is served by it.

Beginning of Translated Fatwa from IslamOnline

Islam requires non-Muslims to respect the feelings of the Muslims and the dignity of their faith, so that they do not put their religious symbols and crosses on display in Muslim cities, and so that they do not build new churches in Islamic cities where no church existed before. These requirements are there because they challenge [the] Islamic feelings [of the population], which can lead to public discontent and trouble.

As for villages and places that are not of the Muslims [apparently meaning that they are not Muslim-majority], they are not prohibited from displaying their religious symbols, renewing their old churches and building what their needs require out of consideration for their increasing numbers.

In this question there are also other opinions, the crux of which is that it is permissible for the leader of the Muslim community to allow the building of new churches in the cities of the Muslims if he sees a public good in that.

Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi says:

Islam protects the places of worship of non-Muslims and respects the dignity of their religious symbols. In fact, one of the reasons that the Quran uses to justify fighting is the protection of the freedom of religion, as God says: ”

Permission is given to those who are fought against, and God is Able to give them victory.

Those who were unjustly evicted from their homes, merely for saying, “Our Lord is God.” Were it not that God repels people by means of others: monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques—where the name of God is mentioned much—would have been demolished. God supports whoever supports Him. God is Strong and Mighty. (The Quran, verses 22:39-49)

We have seen how the treaty of the Prophet PBUH with the people of Najran mentioned that they enjoy God’s closeness and the Prophet’s protection on their properties, practices of faith and places of worship.

The treaty of Umar b. al-Khattab to the people of Ilya’ (Jerusalem) mentions their religious freedom and the dignity of their places of worship and religious symbols:

This is what God's servant Umar, commander of the faithful, bestowed on the people of Ilya' of safety and protection:

He gave them safety and protection for their selves, their properties, churches, crosses and all the rest of their items of faith (millatiha). Their churches shall not be inhabited [by Muslims], nor shall that be demolished nor reduced, nor anything within their perimeter, nor their crosses, nor their properties. They shall not be forced out of their faith, nor shall oppressive acts be carried out against any one of them. Nor shall any Jew inhabit Ilya with them. (As mentioned by al-Tabari, Egypt: Dar al-Maarif, vol 3, p. 609)

In Khalid b. al-Walid’s treaty with the people of Aanaat there is:

They may strike their church bells at any hour they wish of the day or night, except during the times of the formal Islamic prayer, and they may march with their crosses during their religious festivals. (Al-Kharaj of Abu Yusuf, p. 146)

All that Islam request of non-Muslims is that they should respect the feelings of the Muslims and the dignity of their faith, so that they do not put their religious symbols and crosses on display in Muslim cities, and so that they do not build new churches in Islamic cities where no church existed before.

But some Muslim jurists allowed the people of dhimma (non-Muslims living under a Muslim constitution) to build churches and abbeys and other places of worship in Islamic cities, and in countries conquered by Muslims after fighting (meaning that they did not peacefully surrender). The leader of the Muslims allowed them to do that [to build new churches], based on consideration for the public good, as Islam continued to respect their beliefs.

The Zaydis and Imam Abu l-Qasim (of the disciples of Imam Malik) had such an opinion (see Ahkam al-Dhimmiyyin wa-l-Musta’minin, p. 96-99).

It appears that this is how things proceeded in history of the Muslims from an early period. In Egypt a number of churches were built in the first century of the hijra, such as Mar Marqas [?] in Alexandria between 39 and 56 AH (659-660 CE to 675-676 CE). The first church in Fustat was built in Haarat al-Rum, during the governorship of Mukhlid between 47 and 68 AH (667-668 to 687-688 CE). Abd al-Aziz b. Marwan, when he founded the city of Hulwan, allowed a church to be built in it. He also permitted some bishops to built to abbeys.

There are many other examples. The historian al-Maqrizi mentions in his book al-Khitat many examples, then he finishes by saying, “All of the aforementioned churches of Cairo have been built during the Islamic period, there is no debate on this.” (See Al-Islam wa Ahl al-Dhimma by Dr. Husni al-Kharabuti, p. 139, also see The Preaching of Islam by Thomas W. Arnold, p. 84-86, third impression. Translated by Hasan Ibrahim and his colleagues.)

As for villages and places that are not of the Muslims [apparently meaning that they are not Muslim-majority], they are not prohibited from displaying their religious symbols, renewing their old churches and building what their needs require out of consideration for their increasing numbers.

This tolerance toward those who differ in religion, from a nation whose entire life was built on religion [i.e. the Muslims], after they were victorious and conquered, is something that the history of religions has not seen before, and the Westerners agree on this.

The great French scholar Gustave Le Bon says:

We have seen in the verses of the Quran that we have mentioned that Muhammad's tolerance toward the Jews and Christian was immense. Founders of previous religions did not have such a policy such as those of Judaism and Christianity. We will see how his successors continued in his tradition.

Certain skeptical European scholars, and the few Muslims who have deeply studied the history of Arabs, have admitted this tolerance. The related statements from many of their books show that our opinion in this matter is not unique to us. Robertson says in his History of the Reign of Emperor Charles V.:

The Muslims alone combined between zealous religious faith and tolerance toward the followers of other religions. Despite their eagerness to spread their religion, they allow those who were unwilling to convert to follow their own religious teachings." ([mentioned in a ] footnote on page 128 from the book The Civilization of the Arabs by Gustave Le Bon.)

And God knows best.

End of translated fatwa

Source: Arabic PDF archived from IslamOnline

IslamQA: It is permissible to assign particular nights for performing qiyam communally outside Ramadan

In answer to a questioner asking whether it is permissible for a group of Muslims to set a particular night to pray communally as a form of voluntary worship, sheikh Faysal Mawlawi (a respected mainstream Sunni Lebanese scholar) said (paraphrased and summarized):

Performing qiyam communally outside of Ramadan is something the Prophet PBUH did, as is narrated by Ibn Masud in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim.

As for setting a specific night for performing qiyam, this is not something the Prophet PBUH did, but it agrees with his Sunna in encouraging performing qiyam, therefore it is incorrect to consider it a bidaa (false innovation) since it has a basis in our religion and has been permitted by the majority of scholars except the Hanafis.

Source (Arabic PDF): IslamOnline Fatwa