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

IslamQA: Organ donation is permissible in Islam (with conditions)

According to a fatwa by sheikh Dr. Ikrima Sabri (mufti of Palestine), the following points apply to organ transplantation and donation:

  1. Sales of human organs is not permitted
  2. Transplantation of organs is permitted if it does not threaten the donor’s life.
  3. Transplantation of sperm or egg-carrying organs (testicles and overies, for example) is not permitted due to causing the confusion of lineages.
  4. It is not permitted for a dead person’s family to donate his/her organs unless the person had stated their desire and willingness to do so while alive.
  5. Organ transplantation should only be used as a last resort.
  6. Organs grown inside pigs are not permitted to be transplanted into humans.

Source (Arabic PDF): Fatwa from IslamOnline

IslamQA: Is placing patients on life support (and taking them off when brain dead) permissible in Islam?

Is it haram to have someone on life support? Since their bodies only are living of a machine

The sources I have looked at all approve of it. The sources do not consider that a matter of debate, what they debate is whether taking a brain dead or almost brain dead patient off life support is permissible or not. Some sources allow it (the Saudi fatwa says if three doctors pronounce the patient brain dead or almost brain dead and say that there is no hope of recovery, then life support can be ended). The Qatari fatwa however considers it unjustifiable and forbidden regardless of whether there is hope or not for recovery. The Kuwaiti fatwa has the same opinion as the Qatari fatwa and says that a person must not be pronounced dead until all their tissues are dead.

According to Dr. Mashhur Fawwaz’s fatwa a patient can be declared dead and taken off life support if their brain function is known by experts to have been completely and irreversibly damaged so that there is no hope of regaining function or consciousness.

I do not know of any respected scholar who is opposed to life support. As for taking patients off life support, due to the disagreements on the issue, it is best if it is avoided.

Sources (Arabic): Fatwa 1 (Qatar Islamic Affairs Ministry) | Fatwa 2 (Saudi Fatwa Council) | Fatwa 3 (Kuwait Fatwa Council) | Fatwa 4 (the Palestinian scholar Dr. Mashhur Fawwaz)

IslamQA: Is it haram to have a non-Muslim girlfriend?

My boyfriend is Muslim and I’m not. Is it haram for him that we’re together?

If you are marriageable according to Islamic law then what I say below on secret romantic relationships applies:

Secret romantic relationships in Islam

The conditions that apply to a Muslim man marrying a non-Muslim woman

And if you are not marriagable, then he is doing something that could be considered sinful.

And if you two are sexually intimate, then Islam considers that adultery, which is one of the greatest sins.

You may also be interested in this answer: A non-Muslim woman who was impregnated by her Muslim boyfriend

IslamQA: A non-Muslim woman who was impregnated by her Muslim boyfriend

Hi. Assalamalaikum. I have a boyfriend who is a Muslim. Im not.. And now I got pregnant. He is not ready to tell his parents. So we are keeping everything in a secret. I don’t know what to do 😔

A boyfriend-girlfriend relationship is just a highly primitive form of marriage that lacks most of the protections and privileges that a married couple enjoy. The best thing to do is perhaps for him to marry you in secret if he is unable to shoulder the responsibility of telling the truth to his parents. However certain conditions apply (see: The conditions that apply to a Muslim man marrying a non-Muslim woman). If you do not satisfy the conditions now, you can “repent” and re-embrace your faith (if any, or embrace Islam) so that you satisfy them. Otherwise there is no way except for the two of you to separate. He will, however, be required to provide financial support for the child and for you too during your pregnancy and nursing period.

If you are marriageable to him according to Islam but he refuses to marry you, then if you want to have a wholesome relationship and a good foundation for a future marriage then you should refuse to be intimate with him and should keep the relationship formal (difficult as it is). Allowing him to enjoy the benefits of marriage without marrying you will take away his incentives for wanting to marry you. You, as a human, should have enough self-respect to refuse to live in such a situation. You deserve to be known to his parents and family and respected and cared for by them. You are making yourself vulnerable to an extremely abusive dynamic by allowing him to enjoy being with you without shouldering the responsibilities of a husband. You are responsible to your future child and they deserve to have a proper father. If you let the present situation continue, you will be responsible for it and for the negative consequences on the child.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: The conditions that apply to a Muslim man marrying a non-Muslim woman

According to the respected mainstream Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the following conditions apply when a Muslim man is considering marrying a non-Muslim woman:

  • She must have faith in the Abrahamic God, the Day of Judgment and must follow one of His religions (i.e. Christianity or Judaism). He cannot marry an agnostic even if she was born to Christian parents. She must take her religion’s items of faith (God, the Day of Judgment) and main commandments seriously.
  • She must be the type of person who believes in the importance of loyalty and fidelity to the marriage. A woman who thinks it is OK to flirt with other men while married, for example, is not considered worthy of marriage.
  • The must not belong to a nation that is in active war against Muslims. This means, for example, that a Muslim man today cannot marry a Jewish settler or Zionist due to their aggressive, anti-Muslim agenda. Marrying a Jew who does not identify with Israel’s expansionist plans may be considered acceptable (although in al-Qaradawi’s opinion every Jew is a potential Zionist. This, while generally true, does have exceptions, therefore I believe that there is a minority of Jewish women who can be considered acceptable according to Islam)

Source (Arabic): Archived essay from IslamOnline

IslamQA: Singing and playing musical instruments is permissible in Islam

assalamu aleikum, is it haram to play instruments? like violin or the piano

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Since there is no irrefutable evidence banning singing and playing musical instruments, the mainstream opinion is that they are permissible. There is some evidence that certain early authorities strongly disapproved of them or prohibited them, but that evidence is counterbalanced by strong evidence of early jurists and hadith scholars approving of it. Since this is a matter of debate, and since there is no conclusive evidence for a prohibition, and since both singing and playing musical instruments can have wholesome and beneficial uses, the reasonable conclusion is that they should be permitted.

In this article I will only mention the evidence that supports the permissibility of singing and playing musical instruments. I use an essay on IslamOnline (a website belonging to the famous mainstream scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi) as the source for these opinions. See the essay (linked below, Arabic) for discussion and refutation of evidence that supports prohibiting these things.

Among scholars who permit singing and playing musical instruments are: the Shafi`i theologian Abu Mansur Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi (d. 1037-1038 CE) who lived during the time of Ali bin Abi Talib [ra]. According to al-Shawkani (d. 1839 CE), some early Medinan jurists also approved of singing and playing instruments.

According to al-Shawkani, among the jurists who approved of singing and musical instruments are:

  • al-Qadi Shurayh (important judge in Kufa during the reign of Ali bin Abi Talib)
  • Saeed b. al-Musayyab (a great early hadith transmitter and one of the most revered figures among the Salaf / Pious Predecessors)
  • Ataa bin Abi Rabah (d. 732 CE), important early jurist and hadith scholar
  • Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri (d. 741-742 CE), important early Medinan jurist (born the year that Aisha–wife of Prophet Muhammad PBUH–died, may God be pleased with her)
  • Aamir bin Sharahil al-Shaabi (d. 723), a jurist, hadith scholar and member of the Pious Predecessors.

According to Imam al-Juwayni (d. 1085 CE) and Ibn Abi Dunya (d. 894 CE), the young Companion Abdullah b. al-Zubayr (d. 692 CE), nephew of Aisha, had musical instruments.

Ibn Hazm (d. 1064 CE) mentions narrations that mention Ibn Umar (son of Umar b. al-Khattab) approving of musical instruments.

The Shafi`i scholars al-Ruyani (1100-1101 CE) and Abu Mansur al-Azhari (d. 981 CE) mention that the Malikis approved of musical instruments.

It is mentioned that al-Minhal bin Amr (early hadith scholar, d. c. 729-733 CE) listened to music.

According to Ibn Tahir al-Qaysarani (d. 1113 CE), all Medinan jurists agree that playing musical instruments is permissible.

Al-Mawardi mentions that some Shafi`i jurists approve of playing the oud. According to him the Companions and Successors were all agreed on the permissibility of singing.

Source (Arabic): Archived PDF

Assalamualaikum warrahmatullah wabarakatuh. Regarding the musical instruments, since it is in a "grey" area (i.e. some prohibit, some don't ), isn't it better to just stay away from it, then?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

If it was in a gray area according to the Quran or Sunna, it would have been good to avoid it. But it is only in a gray according to the culture of the Muslims that came after the Prophet PBUH.

Some of them had a very negative view of musical instruments because they knew of no wholesome use for them. To them it was always associated with dancing and drinking alcohol, for this reason they considered them evil by association.

In Islam we should not blindly follow the opinions of past scholars. We should instead try to work out the evidence that they relied on for their opinions. When we do such a study, we find that it was all a matter of cultural biases.

Generally, according to my understanding, to put something in a gray area there needs to be two things: first, evidence from the Quran and Sunna and second, something in our reason and conscience that tells us that thing is not good. When it comes to musical instruments both of these are lacking. There is neither enough evidence to put it in a gray area, nor is there anything in our reason and conscience that makes musical instruments repulsive in themselves.

As a person who enjoys both classical Persian and Western music, I tend to agree with Bach when he says:

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.

All beautiful music celebrates God (as I discuss here: The two salvations: How erotic beauty is a false category of beauty) according to my theory of Islamic aesthetics. So music is not just neutral, it actually has positive value in helping us connect with God (I am not referring to religious music specifically, any music whose beauty moves us helps us experience God).

Music can also have utilitarian benefits that give it a positive value, such as music that a programmer listens to to enhance focus (I personally listen to certain video game soundtracks when programming, such as that of Half Life and Medal of Honor Underground) or that is used during exercise.

Of course singing and music can be taken to excess or be done in inappropriate ways. And the celebration of beauty causes too many people to think that their appreciation for it somehow takes away their duty to submit to God and abide by His restrictions. But what I am saying here is that it is possible to be a devout and conservative Muslim who reads the Quran daily and who has a place for music in their lives.

IslamQA: Are student loans, mortgages and credit cards haram in the West?

Are student loans haram? what if one is unable to pay for school? are credit cards/mortgages in the West haram?

Yes, they are all haram unless a person is unable to avoid them. Ideally a Muslim who is able should avoid all of them. They fall on a spectrum when it comes to how bad each of these things is. It depends on a person’s situation. For example using a credit card to buy a bigger television is unjustifiable and therefore extremely disliked by God. But a person whose family is hungry and needs to buy groceries and has no money except credit may use it and God can be expected to forgive it.

So, in general, all interest-bearing loans are a way of dealing with usury, which Islam forbids. It is an evil thing that may be excused due to great need. Ideally we should always try to reduce our use of them and plan to completely avoid them if possible.

Mortgages may be considered to be on the “extremely evil” side because a person takes out a mortgage in expectation of gain and avoidance of loss, rather than due to immense need. They always have the option of renting. (Today there are companies like Guidance Residential that offer halal mortgages).

As for a student loan, because a degree is so important for one’s future, it may be considered “moderately evil”. Since they are so necessary for a good career, it can be argued that they are justified. This is a choice that each person should make for themselves, but personally I do not condemn someone who uses them.

Car loans depend on a person’s need for it. If that is the only way they can get to work or get to the places they need (for example if they live in certain US suburbs where the closest store is many miles away) then that is justifiable. But a person who does not have a strong need for it is spiritually better off if they use public transport. And a car loan is especially bad if a person uses it to upgrade their car when there is no strong need for it.

IslamQA: Secret romantic relationships in Islam

Hello, i have a question.I have a boyfriend and he loves me i also love him and he wants to marry me and he has told this about his family. I'm not really sure about get married but i also can't share this with my family because they are sooo strict. And this problem makes me so anxious. What am i supposed to do please give me some ideas. Thank you!

I understand the difficulty of your situation and hope that you will find a satisfactory solution.

There are good reasons why Muslim parents do not approve of such relationships, as I explain in my essay: The Point of Marriage in Islam (and the Problem with Romantic Relationships Outside of Marriage)

My general advice on such relationships is either to make them known to one’s family as soon as possible, or to end them and wait patiently until the time when he can propose to you formally. Some cultures allow the couple to get engaged (perform the nikah ceremony) without getting married. This allows the relationship to be halal, it gains the approval of their families, and the couple can wait years before they finally move in together and are considered married. But not every culture practices this (even though it is perfectly fine according to Islam). For more on “halal” dating see my answer Dating and Relationships in Islam: What is Allowed and What is Not.

It is not good for your soul to live in an in-between situation like this. If it is impossible that your family could approve of the relationship (maybe you are too young and they do not expect you to marry for the next few years) then the admirable thing to do is to end the relationship and wait patiently until you can marry / until he can propose publicly. This is what a respectable, pious Muslim person would do. We do not all have the same spiritual strength and patience, so I am not saying you should do this–just that this is the spiritually ideal thing to do (even if it leads to suffering). Whether we can live up to the ideal is a different matter and changes for each person.

Here are some words I wrote to someone else who asked a similar question. In their case the relationship was secret from both of their families:

The main point is that the relationship between a man and a woman is not meant to be only between the two of them--arranged privately by them. The families on both sides should be involved so that they can say whether they approve of the relationship or not, because if they do not, then your relationship can tear your family apart and cause lifelong estrangement from your family or his family. Even if both families get to accept the relationship and forgive the fact that it was kept secret from them, they may continue to hold onto the feeling of betrayal. This often reflects especially badly on each of you from the perspective of the other’s family.

The right way is to do things in a way that gains the approval of your family and his family, so that there are no resentments or hatreds or feelings of betrayal once the relationship is discovered or made public.

I understand that your situation is difficult and that you have an emotional need for this relationship. I cannot tell you what to do. It is true that you are not violating any strict rulings of the Quran or the Sunna as far as I am aware. But having such a relationship can end in disaster. It can also have a happy ending, you never know. But you are taking a risk and you can never be sure how it will work out. The more pious and dutiful thing to do is to abide by your parents' restrictions even though you find them narrow-minded and unsuitable. This would be the admirable thing to do.

The question therefore is whether you prefer your personal emotional needs or prefer doing the right and honorable thing. It is not an easy choice and will likely take you from one status of suffering to another. But this is life. We often find ourselves in situations where there is no satisfactory choice. We just have to do the best we can. And God will reward those most who prefer spiritual ideals to their immediate needs.

For more on dealing with difficult situations in general, please see my essay: The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

IslamQA: Is it haram to be embarrassed by your parents?

So sorry this is such a weird “question”, but I have an ill parent at my home and tomorrow my friends are coming over. But I am shy and kind of embarrassed to have my ill parent here while my friends are here because I will have to go check on her every 30 min and help her out with the smallest things.. is it haram to be embarrassed by your now sick parent?

As humans, it is perfectly natural to feel embarrassed by our relatives at certain times. But as Muslims, the more spiritual we are, the more we are able to transcend our human nature.

In your case, the closer you are to God, the less you will care what your friends will think and the more content you will feel with your parent being there. Feeling normal human emotions is not forbidden. Islam just points the way toward something better. Through things like daily Quran reading we can get close enough to God to overcome the base parts of human nature so that we can be something better and more admirable.

We all have a human nature that has its own instincts. God tells us not to be content with this and to aim to be something greater.

IslamQA: Is surrogation permissible in Islam?

Assalammualaikum, I wanna ask, is it haram for us muslim to do surrogation?'

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

As far as I can find it is unanimously prohibited by Sunni scholars for a husband and wife to use a surrogate woman to carry the conceived fetus or to use donated egg or sperm. I have looked at fatwa authorities from Jordan, Egypt and Qatar. I have also looked at the opinions of independent scholars.

Sources (in Arabic): Fatwa 1 | Fatwa 2 | Fatwa 3 | Fatwa 4 | Fatwa 5 | Fatwa 6 | Fatwa 7

IslamQA: How to convince parents to agree to marrying that person?

Asalaamualaykum, how do I convince my parents to accept the woman I want to marry? The basis of their rejection is bc she has a different cultural background. She is a practising muslimah, and her family approve, but mine are being difficult? Any advice?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Parents can have good reasons for not liking the idea of their child marrying into a different culture, as discussed in this answer. The only course I can think of is to be patient. As the months pass, if they see that you are serious about her and that this is not just a passing infatuation, they will likely start to warm up to the idea. I know this can be very difficult for one who is eager for marriage. But there is no way force the issue; your parents are humans like yourself and have the right to form their own opinions freely.

Rather than thinking of forcing them to change their opinions, we should think of ways to persuade them. And persuasion is done far more by actions than words. Constantly speaking to them about the issue can actually harden their opposition to the marriage. It is best to be mostly silent unless they themselves bring up the matter, and to show them by your actions that you are patient and dedicated.

IslamQA: Can a Hanafi person pray the Asr prayer according to Shafii time?

I pray asr according to the hanafi time. Is it permissible for me to pray the shafi time if I know I will miss asr salah?

That depends on your beliefs. If you are convinced the Hanafi time is the only correct one, then the Shafi`i time will not work since it is much earlier. But if you study the matter and conclude that the Shafi`i time is correct, or if you ask a scholar you respect and they convince you the Shafi`i time is correct, then you can pray at either of those times without issue since the Hanafi time is later but still within the confines of the Shafi`i time.

But you want to limit yourself to the Hanafi school and wish to do everything their way, then you cannot use the Shafi`i time.

IslamQA: It is permissible to attend Christmas celebrations as a Muslim (with conditions)

assalamu aleikum, so my grandmother’s side of the family are christians and she lives in our home country and we live in europe, she rarely gets the chance to come visit us and so do we, but she came for the holidays season and she’ll spend christmas and new year’s eve here, she wants to celebrate and organize a family dinner because she does back home with the rest of the family, is it haram if we just do that not to break her heart?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is some difference of opinion on the permissibility of attending non-Islamic religious celebrations. Among the scholars who permit it are the Egyptian al-Azhar-educated sheikh Ahmad al-Shirbasi and the important Maliki scholar sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah. Egypt’s fatwa authority, which is run by al-Azhar-educated scholars and issues fatwas for all of Egypt, also issued a fatwa permitting celebrating Christmas with Christians. The respected European Research and Fatwa Council also issued a fatwa permitting it.

No alcohol should be present at the celebration while the Muslims are there (it is not permitted to sit in a gathering where people drink alcohol). The celebration should also not include anything else that Islam forbids, but this should be obvious.

Therefore since there are highly respected scholars who permit it, and since there is nothing in it that reason or conscience objects to, I would say it is safe to do it.

Sources (all in Arabic): Collection of relevant fatwas from various scholars | European Research and Fatwa Council’s fatwa

IslamQA: Does God reward good deeds in the worldly life too?

I’ve searched the web for tafseer on Surah 16, Ayah 97. Does Allah promises us good life here if we are believers? Can you explain, please?

Yes, it says that believers who do good deeds will have a good life. The Quran mentions worldly rewards in other places. For example when it comes to Prophet Yusuf:

When he reached his maturity, We gave him wisdom and knowledge. We thus reward the righteous. (The Quran, verse 12:22)

Since Yusuf was righteous, he was rewarded in the worldly life with wisdom and knowledge. It also speaks of giving Yusuf a position in Egypt’s government as a “reward” for his righteousness:

And thus We established Joseph in the land, to live therein wherever he wished. We touch with Our mercy whomever We will, and We never waste the reward of the righteous. (The Quran, verse 12:56)

And when it comes to Prophet Musa, we see the same dynamic:

And when he reached his maturity, and became established, We gave him wisdom and knowledge. Thus do We reward the virtuous. (The Quran, verse 28:14)

It also speaks in the same way about Prophet Nuh:

75. And Noah called out to Us, and We are the Best of responders.

76. And We saved him and his family from the great calamity.

77. And We made his descendants the survivors.

78. And We left mention of him among those who succeeded.

79. Peace be upon Noah among all people.

80. We thus reward the righteous. (The Quran, verses 37:75-80)

The Quran clearly indicates that being righteous in this life will have worldly consequences, not just consequences in the afterlife. A person will be rewarded for their righteousness with knowledge and guidance, and with a wholesome and meaningful life as the verse you mentioned says.

IslamQA: If loved ones go to Paradise after death, why do the religious cry for them?

Death is known to be the most natural thing to happen. Yet, why do muslims suffer when someone they love dies? I, myself wish soon and beneficial death to the person I love, so he won’t have to face sins anymore. But then, as far as I know, our Prophet (peace be upon him) cried when his uncle Hz. Hamza (radiallahu anh) died. Why would our Prophet (sallallahu aleyhivesellem) cry , if he already knew that his uncle was granted a place in the Paradise?

That is because Islam does not replace our humanity. When we lose someone we lose a source of love and comfort, and that hurts. It is true that spiritually we can tell ourselves that they are now in a better place. But that does not change the material facts. We rarely feel so spiritual that the worldly life stops affecting us.

So intellectually one can say that the death of a loved person is not a tragedy. But since Islam does not replace our humanity, we still feel what any human feels, but our spirituality prevents us from going to excess in our grief.

Also, a person is not necessarily better off spiritually if they die sooner rather than later. The remaining years of their lifetime can offer them many opportunities to raise their spiritual status much higher than it is now. Since what we do in this world decides the qualify of our life in the afterlife forever, a person could wish to have as much time as possible to do good deeds and ask for forgiveness. It is therefore best to leave it to God to decide the best time for someone to die. We can never say with certainty that a person will be better off if they die now rather than later. Maybe God has great plans for them to help them attain His forgiveness and rewards.

IslamQA: Dealing with a toxic work environment as a Muslim

(Part 1): Salaam, I am currently in a toxic work environment at my new job. My coworkers, teachers who are Muslim women, have been gossiping about me and spreading rumors. What is your advice to rise above it, Islamically? Are there any duaas I can make to relieve the worry I feel when they talk about me?

(Part 2): Also, our work requires collaboration. Despite my treatment I find myself wanting to be kind and share my work with them. Would this be okay for me to do, Islamically, or should I be doing something else because of my treatment? I am very conflicted. Thank you for your help.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The ideal way to behave (although it is very difficult at times) is to be kind, compassionate and generous regardless of what other people do. The way to rise above any worldly situation is to keep a strong connection with God, and this requires constant, daily work. I recommend an hour of tahajjud every night for this who are able (as I discuss in this essay). Reading the Quran without tahajjud for an 30 minutes to an hour every day can also have powerful similar benefits.

When we have established a close connection with God and work on it daily, then we will require no willpower to be kind, to avoid being rude toward those who are rude toward us, or to avoid sinning. All of these will become almost automatic for us. So it is a close relationship with God from which all these other benefits come.

Regarding sharing work with them, that sounds perfectly fine and God will reward you for it even if they do not appreciate it.

I should mention that Islam does not require us to be martyrs when it comes to abuse. Islam allows us to try to counter the abuse and to hold the people responsible. But it also tells us that while this is fair and just, we can aim for a higher ideal (generosity, meaning to forgive and be kind despite their abuse and cruelty). It is up to each person to decide between justice and generosity, sometimes justice makes more sense. But those who are closest to God will always try to be closer to generosity even if justice is more satisfactory to their human instincts.

34. Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with good, and the person who was your enemy becomes like an intimate friend.

35. But none will attain it except those who persevere, and none will attain it except the very fortunate. (The Quran, verses 41:-34-35)

It is not necessary to memorize any specific prayers for dealing with fear and worry. Having a close connection with God, and sincerely talking to Him, is all that is required. Some people recite the three very short final chapters of the Quran (112-114) in times of fear and worry.

Best wishes.