IslamQA: How to know which Islamic banks to trust

Salam brother. There has been a mushroon growth of islamic banks in the muslim world both arab and non arab countries. We as laymen, dont know if their mechanism are "really" islamic. We dont know behind the scence it is just riba by another name although they get fatwas from islamic scholars of the country who endorse those banks too. Is it ok to trust them and do banking on these banks??? Jazak Allah

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

You just have to research the specific bank to find out how good they are. If they have the support of many respected scholars then you can trust them. But if they only have one random scholar’s fatwa then I wouldn’t trust that. So Al Rayan Bank in the UK seems pretty legitimate due to all the scholarly support they have.

IslamQA: The story of how I met my wife

Tell us the romantic tale of how you met your wife 😊 Masha'Allah you seem so happy!

We met on OpenDiary, a social media site where we made diary entries daily. That was in 2007. We married when I was 19 and she 23. I was unfortunately extremely immature at the time, so it took me many years to become a reasonably good husband. This is why I recommend women should prefer men older than 25. With age men become more gentle and mature (hopefully). Alhamdulillah our relationship is almost perfect now, I cannot think of any way it could be better. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to always treat her the way I want to be treated. Since she has the same attitude, we can work through any problem. I don’t think we have had a single argument in the past many years. She knows I do not differentiate between her interests and mine, and I know she is the same way.

IslamQA: Children who remember past lives

Salam! Could you please watch the YT video called '10 Mysterious Kids Who Remember Their Past Lives' and explain how this phenomenon is explained from an Islamic point of view? Do you think there are jinn involved?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I have read about that, and there was this very interesting Reddit discussion where people mentioned their children remembering past lives. One child remembered someone’s plane crash who lived in a different state and had no relationship with their family.

Islam as far as I know has nothing explicit to tell us about this phenomenon. We believe our souls exist outside the universe. This is the only way to have free will, if we were parts of the universe we would have always responded to our instincts. But by having souls that are outside the universe, the souls can make brand new decisions that have nothing to do with their circumstances. So even if everything around us makes us want to commit a crime, we always maintain a bit of independence that enables us to overcome these forces and avoid the crime. So maybe these souls that exist outside the universe have a way of communicating together that we don’t know about.

IslamQA: When will end times be according to Islam?

Everybody keeps saying were living in the end times so when is going to be?

Personally I believe it could be tomorrow, or in 100,000 years. There is no way to know. We are “close to end times” if you compare humanity’s history to the age of the universe. Even 100,000 years is the blink of an eye compared to the billions of years the universe has existed.

IslamQA: Is it easier to be a faithful Muslim in the Middle East?

I'm a revert who grew up in a disbelieving family and no offence to anyone, but I'm always around disbelievers and their lifestyle. It's depressing me and im always slipping into bad and old habits. All I want, is to be around other muslims, in an Islamic society doin what I'm supposed to be doing g with good influence around me. Mecca or Medina would be a great start!

I have lived in multiple parts of the Middle East, and to me being around other Muslims has never had an important influence. In fact it’s a common phenomenon for people of my culture to become more religious when they migrate to Europe. I have many relatives who found faith that way, alhmadulillah. Being in the West somehow gives a person the freedom to re-invent themselves to be exactly the kind of Muslim they want to be. 

Being around other Muslims in the Middle East often creates a sense of inertia where you are happy to be like other Muslims who spend all day watching TV shows or the news, who rarely read Quran and who do not pray tahajjud. It’s quite rare to meet fellow Muslims who are really dedicated to their faith. I have a very large extended family and most of the people around me were good Muslims, but they never practiced Islam the way I practice it. My relatives actually include multiple Islamic scholars and even they are nowhere as dedicated to Islam as I am.

So personally I don’t feel any loss at living in the West nowadays. If I read the Quran for an hour every day and pray tahajjud then I feel as good and pious as if I lived in Mecca.

But I’m aware that family can be a strong negative influence, and I hope you will be in a better situation some time inshaAllah. Consider it part of your daily schedule to read the Quran for an hour, and make it a goal to do this for the rest of your life, and you should be perfectly fine inshaAllah.

IslamQA: Can you go to the mosque for prayer without calling first?

Assalamu alaykum, I am the Anglo-American convert that messaged a few days ago about my heartbreak. Thank you for your advice. I have been reading the Qur’an daily again (something I lapsed in doing). I want to get involved with my local community center, but am fearful to be shunned due to the color of my skin, as was the case with my partners family rejecting me. May I just go for Friday prayer, or should I call first and ask the Sheikh? (I’m still learning how to pray properly also)

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I am really sorry that you had such a bad experience. Think of going to the mosque as similar to going to the library. No one cares who you are and what you look like. I have pale skin and blond hair and people sometimes mistake me for a European. I’ve never had any issues with other Muslims here in the US. They’ve all been extremely kind and accepting. You can go to Friday prayer (and you should, it’s obligatory on men), and like I said, it’s like going to the library. 

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Some reasons why Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims

A random thought occurred to me a few days ago: perhaps one of the reasons as to why muslim women aren't to marry non-muslims has to do with preservation of their Islamic rights and protection? A non muslim man wouldn't necessarily be obligated to abide by Islamic standards of marital conduct, divorce protocols, nafaqah etc., all of which insures the wife. In the case an interfaith marriage goes south, the lines would get blurred. I'm just speculating and throwing this out there. Any thoughts?

That makes sense, and I’m sure it is one aspect of it. Another is the financial issue. A non-Muslim can always get usurious loans to have a house and car ready, while a Muslim man will usually be forced to work much harder for these things, so it will lead to an imbalanced situation where non-Muslim men, in comparison to Muslim men, will find it much easier to build families with Muslim women.

IslamQA: Is the best salah the longest?

Assalamualaikum. I want to ask that is it true that the best salah is when you stand the longest… Is it true? And why is that?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The reward for a good deed depends on the effort and sacrifice we put into it. So standing longer in prayer is better because we spend more time and effort and we sacrifice more of our leisure for its sake.

IslamQA: What kind of person deserves Hell in Islam?

Salam! If someone died a disbeliever (after hearing the message of Islam), is there any chance for them to be in heaven?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

You cannot randomly stroll into Hell. It has to be a very conscious and knowing rejection of God that is repeated over and over again, day after day and year after year. Here is how C. S. Lewis explains it:

Evil begins, in a universe where all was good, from free will, which was permitted because it makes possible the greatest good of all. The corruption of the first sinner consists not in choosing some evil thing (there are no evil things for him to choose) but in preferring a lesser good (himself) before a greater (God). The Fall is, in fact, Pride. The possibility of this wrong preference is inherent in the very fact of having, or being, a self at all. But though freedom is real it is not infinite. Every choice reduces a little one’s freedom to choose the next time. There therefore comes a time when the creature is fully built, irrevocably attached either to God or to itself. This irrevocableness is what we call Heaven or Hell. Every conscious agent is finally committed in the long run: i.e. it rises above freedom into willed, but henceforth unalterable, union with God, or else sinks below freedom into the black fire of self-imprisonment. That is why the universe (as even the physicists now admit) has a real history, a fifth act with a finale in which the good characters ‘live happily ever after’ and the bad ones are cast out. At least that is how I see it.

While Lewis appears to believe the Paradise or Hell might just be metaphors, I of course believe in their literal reality. But the important point here is that entering Hell is a conscious choice. People have to work hard for years to build themselves sufficiently into the kind of person who deserves Hell.

So regarding someone who receives the message of Islam but does not become believer, whether they will deserve Hell or not depends on their conscious experience. The only case where a person seems to undeniably be the kind of person who might enter Hell is if they fully accept Islam as true in their minds, and with full knowledge and consciousness decide to reject it day after day and year after year. The kind of person who deserves Hell is one who lives a lie. They know the truth and they know how they should be acting, but they choose to act against their knowledge. This is why the Quran uses the word “kufr” to refer to the kind of disbelief that causes a person to deserve Hell. Kufr literally means “to cover”, as in covering a seed with soil. A person chooses again and again to cover the truth and to live a lie until they die.

So when a person dies in a state of disbelief after receiving the message of Islam, we can never be sure if they deserve Hell or not. The only way to be sure would be to find out if they were living a lie or not, and only God knows that.

Follow-up question:

I don't understand, if someone fully knows that Islam is the truth, why would they reject it in the first place? To me, it seems that all disbelievers are simply not convinced or are too blinded by their own faith or lack of thereof.

Thankfully those of us who are a pious and conscientious (like many non-Muslim Westerners also are) cannot imagine knowing the truth and acting against it for the rest of our lives. But that’s exactly what kufr/”disbelief” means. It means to knowingly live a lie. The biggest example of a disbeliever is Satan, who knew perfectly well that God exists and stood in God’s presence yet disobeyed Him. A human disbeliever is the same. They know in their hearts that God exists but they act against this knowledge.

As for someone who is not convinced that a religion is true, then their fate depends on what’s exactly in their hearts. A person can always have a feeling that God exists and that a religion might be true, but they may turn away from it in fear of what that might entail. This poem by Francis Thompson beautifully illustrates the mindset of that kind of person:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

Up vistaed hopes I sped;

And shot, precipitated,

Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

But with unhurrying chase,

And unperturbèd pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

They beat—and a Voice beat

More instant than the Feet—

‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,

By many a hearted casement, curtained red,

Trellised with intertwining charities;

(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,

Yet was I sore adread

Lest having Him, I must have naught beside).

C. S. Lewis also had a similar experience. He always felt a calling toward God, but rejected it using all kinds of clever arguments, until one day he finally decided to submit:

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?

IslamQA: Can women go to umra without a mahram?

السلام عليكم Ur timely replies mean so much to so many ppl. I thank u on behalf of them all. My qs is:: 2 middle aged women undertake 4 hr plane journey to saudia for umrah Will sincere& جائز dua made during this visit to Kaaba be considered for acceptance?

In my previous qs just asked i forgot to write they traveled Saudi w/o mahram. Will this dua be acceptable???

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no issue with women going on Hajj or umrah without a mahram if their safety is ensured. The wives of the Prophet PBUH went to Hajj together without a mahram during the caliphate of Umar b. al-Khattab RA. Prayers made during Hajj or umrah are more likely to be answered since a person is doing what God loves.

For more on the travel issue see: Women may travel without a mahram for three days and nights: A study of the hadiths

Best wishes to all of you.

IslamQA: Should a wife obey a husband who doesn’t support her financially?

Salaam alaykum Can i ask ur opinion? Surah An nisa says "Men are protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other &because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women re devoutly obedient & guard in absence what Allah would have them guard" If a husb doesnt ever pay نفقه &isnt around to protect his wife, does he still have the right to b obeyed?If wife doesnt ask his permission in this case is she blameworthy

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

If a husband doesn’t carry out his duties then he loses the right to be treated according to the Islamic framework of qiwama in which a man is the head of the household. The wife has the right to look out for her own interests independently and to seek divorce, the husband would no longer be the head of her household. But the most admirable and pious thing for a woman to do in that situation would be to continue to fully embody her role as wife until she gets the situation resolved, either by seeking divorce or by convincing her husband to act responsibly. She will not need the husband’s agreement to get a divorce. She can go to an imam or scholar and explain the situation to them, and if they agree that the man is not acting as a proper husband, then they can officially divorce in the presence of witnesses without the husband needing to agree or to be present.

Islam has a zero-tolerance policy toward in-between situations where a husband or wife is only partly committed to the marriage. Either they should be fully committed or they should divorce.


IslamQA: Dealing with heartbreak

Assalamu alaykum. I am dealing with significant heartbreak. I had been dating a Muslim Lebanese American woman for two years. I am Anglo American and converted to Islam. We had discussed spending our lives together and getting married, but her family disapproved as I am not Lebanese. Her mother made her decide between continuing with me and losing her family, or breaking it off with me. She chose to leave me and I am devastated. Any advice to ease the pain or dua’s to heal? Thanks,

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I’m so sorry about your loss. May Allah make things easier for you. Heartbreak is similar to losing any other loved one. It takes our minds a great deal of time to get used to going on with our lives without them. There is unfortunately no way to avoid the suffering, this is just the stuff life is made of. I recommend reading the Quran daily for an hour or so, I find it to be the greatest consolation. You do not need any special duas, just speak earnestly with God in any words you wish, or even without words.

The best way to get over a breakup is to find someone new, although I know it can be very hard to make the decision to move on, since it feels like sacrilege toward our former love. If possible, I recommend spending more time around your family. Just their presence in the same room with you can be very comforting.

Best wishes inshaAllah.

IslamQA: Can one pray in bed or through writing?

Assalamualaikum, thank you for this wonderful platform that allows us muslim to ask various kinds of questions. So my question is, are we allowed to pray from our bed while we get ready for bed? Or is it allowed to pray by writing down our prayers as if we are writing a letter to Allah? Thank you ❤️

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah.

You are all very welcome. Yes, absolutely. You can talk to God in any way you want if by that you mean ordinary supplication/dua.

IslamQA: Is it permitted to put flowers on graves?

What is the ruling regarding putting flowers on graves?

Some scholars say it is forbidden because it is a “waste of money” and because it is adopting a non-Muslim practice. Personally I see nothing in Islam to forbid it. Adopting practices to honor the dead can encourage us to pray more for them. Also a fatwa from Al-Azhar University’s fatwa council permits planting things on the grave because this is something the Prophet PBUH did.


IslamQA: Dealing with a Muslim father and husband who watches pornography

Assalamualaykum. May Allah bless you and your family for your efforts to help this ummah, aameeen. I want to ask your advice about my dad who secretly watched porn videos on his phone. Me and the whole family, especially my mom, were devastated. We thought he already made a توبة, but this morning my mom found out apparently he was still looking for those bad videos. He is religious actually:( what am I suppose to do?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I’m very sorry to read that. His watching pornography is not a very major sin although I know it can be a great shock when you initially find out someone does that. I believe the best way to deal with the situation is to understand that he is probably as eager as you are to give it up, but due to the extreme ease of accessing pornography on his phone, he may not have the willpower to avoid it when the desire hits him.

You and the rest of your family should be on his side, wanting to help him as much as possible to avoid it. Maybe make him give up his phone and get him a very basic phone that doesn’t have web browsing. You could also make him install a parental controls and tracking app, such as FamilyTime, which will track the websites he visits. Maybe if he knows he can’t do it secretly then he will be forced to give that up.

When a man is sexually aroused his higher brain functions and his will power become weakened so that it becomes very easy for him to convince himself that what he is doing is harmless. The best long-term way, as far as I’m aware, to avoid pornography is for him read the Quran for an hour every day. That makes it second nature to avoid all sinful habits without actually needing any will power.

So as far as I’m aware the best way to deal with the situation is for all of you to show him that you still love him and that you want to support him become a better person. Do not try to shame him and make him feel bad, that may only backfire.

You could also send him my essay The Philosophy of Pornography and Masturbation. Maybe if he understands why pornography is “wrong”, he will be more able to avoid it. I don’t use religious reasoning in the essay, it’s all based on Western philosophy.

Best wishes inshaAllah.

IslamQA: Where to start when studying Islam for the first time

I don’t come from a religious family but after certain circumstances, I have found myself wanting and needing to know more about my religion. Do you know where to start? I feel a little overwhelmed. I’m assuming establishing prayer is first. Thank you!

I recommend you start by reading The Study Quran. Give it a chance to speak for itself; assume it is really from God then try to decide whether God would really say such things. If after one reading you are not sure what to think of it, read it a second time. The first time is usually not enough because all the new information will distract you from judging the book. The second time around you will know what to expect and you will be able to judge it much better.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Why I believe the Quran is truly from God

Is there anything that contradicts itself in Islam

There is nothing in the Quran that contradicts itself. I have read it over 100 times and have never been able to detect a single contradiction or unwise saying in it. I have never had the same experience with any other book. I read the Harry Potter books over 40 times (because I listen to them in Stephen Fry’s calming voice for half an hour or so every night as I try to fall asleep) and each time I read them I detect new mistakes in them. Check out this page on my site where I list over 80 serious errors in them. I know Harry Potter may not be a great comparison, but the same applies to the hundreds of other books I’ve read.

The Quran is the only book I’ve ever read where the writer is always wiser and smarter than me. And that is the greatest sign of its truth for me. When it comes to human-written books, I quickly match the author’s level of wisdom and start critiquing him/her to find weaknesses and mistakes in their thinking, or infelicities in their style of writing. I’m never, ever able to critique the Quran. I can never find a single place where I think something could have been stated better. It’s like looking at a perfect work of architecture, or a perfect flower, where you can never suggest an improvement.

But there are many hadiths that contradict each other or contradict the Quran, but in those cases the issue is of course the fact that the hadiths were not perfectly transmitted, or that some of them were fabricated, and there are also rare cases where the Prophet PBUH was simply stating his own personal opinion rather than transmitting divine knowledge, so we have to study the hadiths and find out which ones are the most authentic and most compatible with the Quran and Sunna’s philosophy.

So as a whole, Islam as I understand it contains zero contradictions. Everything makes sense once you look into it deeply enough.

Followup question:

Brother U wrote in one of ur answers that whike reading books such as harry potter etc u can pinpoint mistakes of yhe author but reading the wuran you feel is authoured by some genius or higher being. Something along these lines. Brother, plss can u briefly explain what makes the Quran superior than other books? The way words r used? their sequence? Rhytm, literature? Brother ur ans wud greatly help strenthen my imaan as some of ur others did. إن شاء الله

When you read a book often you start to get into the mind of the writer so that they become predictable to you. You know what they are going to say next. And you are sometimes able to see that they do not understand something as well as you do. There were books I enjoyed greatly as a teenager, such as the Shannara fantasy series, that I cannot enjoy now because the author’s thinking now seems so immature and unoriginal to me.

But when it comes to the Quran, nothing it says ever becomes predictable. It is as if each verse comes from an unimaginably complex being who can always take you by surprise. And the author’s thinking is always at the highest ideal, so despite all the times I have read it I still cannot find a single place where I think I understand something better than the author or where I think something could have been said better. And the author is always wiser than me, which is an experience I have never had with any other author. 

With human authors I quickly take in their thought processes and easily understand where they are coming from and what biases and blind spots they have. But the author of the Quran is literally impossible to encompass. I can never imagine what kind of thought process the author has because the author is not a human and does not think like a human, so he always takes me by surprise.

That is all about the intellectual content of the Quran. Then there is the whole other dimension of its beauty. I strongly feel that each page of the Quran would deserve a Nobel Prize in literature if it was written by a human. A human author would have written in Arabic, but the Quran writes into Arabic from a non-Arabic perspective. It bends the language around itself and redefines it. If you read any work of classical Arabic literature you quickly see the patterns in it and see how it reflects the culture of its time. But the Quran is in no way reflective of Arabian culture. You can see this very clearly when you compare the Quran with hadith. Hadith contains mostly statements made by humans, especially the Prophet PBUH, and it has no similarity to the Quran. After reading just a few hadiths you immediately know you are reading a human work that is the product of the culture of its time. The thought processes we see in hadith are very easily observable as human thought processes. Then you pick up the Quran and you immediately enter a wholly different world, it’s like moving from the world of humans to a higher and completely different world.

When you read the Quran many times it starts to become very clear that you are dealing with a being from a different world that is merely “translating” his thoughts so that humans can understand him. He is not restricted by the limits of the Arabic language or limits of the culture of Arabia, he completely bends the language into a new shape that forces it to yield a complexity and beauty that no power in our world could achieve.

Saying the Arabs of 600 CE wrote the Quran is even more unbelievable than someone finding a modern smartphone inside a cave in Arabia and saying the Arabs of 600 CE made it.

IslamQA: Losing hope in life due to depression

Assalam Alaikum, recently the experiences I’ve been going through made me realise this life is worth nothing, and so I yearn for the end of it. My question is, is this a good or bad thing? The saying “everything passes” has become my life’s standard but subconsciously this has stopped me from looking forward to potential good things & it’s making me depressed while on the other hand it’s making me more aware of the afterlife. Is my way of thinking incorrect/ungrateful?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It’s probably your depression that is giving you your thoughts, not the other way round. When your brain is in a depressed state, it will latch onto anything that seems to justify why you are feeling that way. A person with bipolar can be feeling like the world’s happiest and most successful person today yet overnight their brain can switch into depression and they will wake up feeling like their whole village has been slaughtered. They will feel utterly worthless and like everything they have ever worked on has been a failure. They will not be able to identify with any of the goals and dreams they had yesterday, and they will be completely apathetic toward the rest of humanity, including their loved ones.

A person who hasn’t been diagnosed will likely believe their depression and think that they really are failures and misanthropes. And yet the next time their brain switches out of depression they will again feel successful, happy and optimistic. Until the next switch.

So I recommend that you learn that you are not your depression. You are not your mental states. The right drugs can always easily bring back your joy, optimism and love for life and humanity. If you email me at, I can recommend many treatment options, non-prescription drugs and supplements that can help you.

As for whether it is a good thing if depression makes us lose hope in this life, I consider it actually a good thing as long as we keep steady and continue to carry out our duties. It’s similar to a person being tested with a crushing loss. It makes no difference what makes us lose hope in this world, whether it is the loss of a loved one or a change of our brain chemicals that makes us feel the same way as someone who has lost a loved one. If you look into the lives of the great scholars, all of them seem to have suffered some kind of great loss or depression that made them lose their attachment to this world. Some of them had healthy brain chemicals, like Rumi or Nursi, so that they continued to enjoy immense joy in life, but directed their energies toward loving God. Others seem to have been extremely depressed and to have continued to be extremely pious and dutiful through it.