IslamQA

Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

IslamQA: On stopping having infatuation for a person

How do I stop having infatuation for someone?

People have been asking that for thousands of years and as far as I know no cure has yet been discovered. The best thing to do is to wait patiently, to read the Quran, to read other books, and to try to live life as best as you can until things slowly change for you. Five years from now you may be a completely different person who has moved on to a new and better life.

IslamQA: On avoiding looking at inappropriate images on the internet

I am a 20 year old lady, and I have this problem of constantly clicking on 'inappropriate images' and when I'm done, I feel bad and ask for Forgiveness, but it's become so repetitive! How do I remove sexual desire from within (just until marriage)? I don't even talk to the opposite sex, but what I'm doing is still not good.

There is no way to remove sexual desire. Fasting might help reduce it. The best solution is to reduce your opportunities for engaging in that, such as by only using your computer (if that is what you are using) in a public place, or not spending time alone at home.

At 20 years of age your brain has not fully developed and your power to control your impulses is weak compared to a 25-year-old. There are millions of others like you who wish to stop looking at such things but cannot because of their low impulse control until they get older. For now, don’t lose hope and make sure to carry out all of the obligatory acts Islam asks of you, and ask for God’s forgiveness every time you pray. Meanwhile, try to always come up with new ways of reducing your opportunities for engaging in that, by socializing, finding work outside, etc, and inshaAllah as you mature, it will become easier for you to control your impulses.

IslamQA: Learning to love God again

I want to know how to heal from the religious abuse I've been through in my life. I can't find any resources online for Muslims. Most people I have read had issue with religious abuse have left. I don't know how to heal that part. Maybe if I seek a professional they might tell me to leave the religion entirely. I'm not at ease, and I have been thinking a lot about leaving.

I am not an expert on abuse, so it is up to you to judge whether my suggestions are good or not. What you referred to as ‘religious abuse’ is actually the abuse of religion. Islam is a small religion that asks very few things of us; it asks to believe in God and the Day of Judgment, and to pray and to fast, and it asks us to be kind and forgiving. Beyond these, it leaves most aspects of life to our own judgment.

If you look at actual Muslims, you will find that among them are certain extremely cruel people, and others who are extremely kind, lenient and forgiving, and both groups may claim to represent ‘true’ Islam. Instead of letting people tell you what Islam is and is not, read the Quran for yourself and come up with a version of Islam that is as kind and civilized as you wish it to be.

As for getting over past abuse, the best solution I can recommend is to read books. Read the Victorian classics like Middlemarch and Pride and Prejudice. Think of the kindest and most admirable people portrayed in these books, and you will discover that these people could have been Muslim without becoming any worse. There are Muslims who are the same way, so if there is a problem, it is not with Islam, it is with humans and their cruelty and selfishness.

As soon as you get out of the small core of Islam (as defined in the Quran), everything gets fuzzy and contradictory. Almost anything negative you hear about Islam from this and that hadith narration or anecdote about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions is counterbalanced by other narrations that often directly contradict it. There is an ‘authentic’ hadith narration that says a woman, dog or donkey passing in front of a man who is praying will nullify his prayer. There is another ‘authentic’ hadtih narration in which Aisha (wife of the Prophet) gets angry when she hears this hadith, she thinks it is nonsense and is not afraid to say so.

Instead of thinking of Islam as a burden that is placed on you, think of it as a tool for worshiping God. Imagine if you are not Muslim and do not belong to any religion, but you believe in God and wish to worship Him in the best way possible and gain His approval. What would be the best way to do this? Read the Quran and you will find the answer in it. The Quran says in chapter 20:

2. We have not send down this Quran to distress you.
3. Only a remembrance for the one who fears.
4. Something sent down from the One who created the earth and the high heavens.
5. The Most Gracious established Himself upon the Throne.
6. For Him is what is in the heavens, and what is on the earth, and what is beneath the soils.
7. If you speak aloud, then He knows what is secret and what is hidden.
8 God, there is no god except Him, for Him are the most beautiful names.

Instead of thinking about leaving Islam, imagine that you are an irreligious person who believes in God. Approach the Quran this way and do the minimum it asks of you. As for Muslims who are abusive in the name of religion, they have nothing to do with you, and you have nothing to do with them. This is your own business and your own journey. Find your own meaning in the Quran.

If you believe in God in your heart, then there is nothing to ‘leave’. Islam is here merely to help you improve your relationship with God. If you have been taught that God is cruel, harsh and demanding, think of your favorite characters from the films and novels you have read, and know that God is kinder and more understanding than them. When a negative thought about God enters your head, think of Dumbledore, Gandalf, Aragorn or any other imaginary or real-life character you love and admire, and remind yourself that God is better than them. In this way perhaps you can slowly be healed.

It is easy to think the best of God once you compare Him to your favorite humans and remind yourself than He is even better than these people. If these people could never hurt you, if you think they would show you infinite love and respect if you were around them, then think of God the same way, and in this way heal your relationship with Him.

IslamQA: Yoga is permissible in Islam if it is done for health

Is yoga haram? lets say my intention is not to pray like they do only to relax my mind etc?

According to the Azhar-educated scholar Dr. Ujail Al-Nashami1 if yoga is done for health (exercise and meditation) then it is permissible, while the mystical and religious parts of it should be avoided. He says that once the health-related parts of yoga are isolated then it becomes merely a sport like other sports.

Due to its association with Hinduism and Buddhism most scholars appear to have a very negative view of yoga. But there is no reason why a Muslim cannot take the beneficial parts of yoga and make use of them while rejecting the prohibited parts of it. Mosque architecture was largely inspired by pre-Islamic religious architecture from Central Asia, but Muslims took it, avoided the anti-Islamic elements of it (such as statues of gods) and made it part of their own architecture. There is no reason why Muslims cannot do the same with yoga.

IslamQA: Islam and cruelty-free products

Should we as Muslims go for cruelty free products? because I know its haram that animals are harmed, but I haven't heard anyone speak against it

Sure, the moral and ethical teachings of the Quran should inform our day-to-day decisions wherever possible. Companies known for cruelty to animals, pollution, anti-consumer practices and other unethical behavior should be shunned whenever it is possible in favor of better companies.

IslamQA: Makeup is permissible in Islam (with conditions)

I want to know if makeup is permissible? If you apply as natural and light as possible?

According to Dr. Ali Gomaa (Egypt’s Grand Mufti from 2003 to 2013), makeup is permissible as long as it is not overdone.

From a scientific perspective there are two ways of applying makeup. One of them is to enhance one’s appearance. This type of makeup cannot be easily noticed and is designed to enhance a woman’s natural appearance. This is permissible.

The second type of makeup is designed to attract men’s sexual interest, this type is immodest and can be considered prohibited. According to the book Conflicts of Fitness: Islam, America, and Evolutionary Psychology:

It turns out that when a woman becomes sexually aroused, certain physiologic changes take place. Among these changes are dilation of the pupils and the blood vessels in the cheeks and lips.

The book goes on to discuss how through applying makeup that recreates the impression of those physiologic changes (thick eye shadow, bright red lipstick, making the cheeks appear blushed), one creates the impression of being sexually aroused, and this attracts men’s sexual interest. The second type of makeup is immodest, similar to wearing a tight dress. It advertises a woman’s sexuality, for this reason modest women, whether Muslim or not, avoid it. There is not a clear line separating the one type of makeup from the other, it is up to her to decide whether she has put on too much makeup or not, similar to deciding on whether a dress is too tight.

IslamQA: The chaining of Satan and difficulties with Islam’s metaphysics

I have an issue when it comes to believing in metaphysical entities such as devil or angels. Sometimes I don't understand why Allah had these conversations with them. I think that if people do evil it's rooted in their psyche. Also the fact that I had depression and suicidal thoughts and was told that it was shaytan enforced this. Because there's no shaytan during Ramadan for instance but these thoughts didn't cease

The idea of shaytan being “chained” during Ramadan is questionable because it comes to us only through one Companion of the Prophet ﷺ (Abu Hurairah). According to Maliki and Hanafi legal theory such narrations are doubtful and cannot be used as a basis for establishing principles. We can also reinterpret the narration as saying that Satan is less powerful in Ramadan thanks to the fact that people are fasting and worshiping God more often, i.e. when the Prophet ﷺ says Satan is chained, he may simply mean that he is made less capable of doing what he does.

The idea that depression and suicidal thoughts are from Satan is nonsense, it is cultural superstition that is given an Islamic appearance and has no basis in Islam’s scripture. There are drugs (such as cholinergic drugs) that will make a person suicidal soon after taking them. For more on depression see my answer “I always feel depressed. What should I do?”.

As for believing in metaphysical entities, as a skeptic and lover of science I would be the first person to question them. But since the Quran is extraordinary, it can prove other extraordinary things. I explain this in my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis. You don’t have to understand the reason for God’s interactions with these characters. In a way they are more real than us; they existed before us and will exist after the world ends. They are characters in a story that started long before us, and we might be just a small part of it.

As for the issue of humans doing evil deeds, see my essays Islam’s theory of free will versus physical determinism and Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.

IslamQA: Will my past sins count against me after having returned to Islam?

I was born in a Muslim Asian family and wasn’t brought up with much islam and I left my religion as I never understood anything and now that I’m 19 I took my shahada again and I’m more on my deen now, will it be counted as a sin, I mean my past?

Not at all. In fact, the Quran says that those who repent and come back to faithfully worshiping God will have their past sins written as good deeds for them.

Except for those who repent, and believe, and do good deeds. These—God will replace their bad deeds with good deeds. God is ever Forgiving and Merciful. (The Quran, verse 25:70)

IslamQA: How and why does God seal people’s hearts?

How and why does Allah seal people's hearts?

From the Quran it appears that once a person crosses a certain line of evil, God blocks them from coming back to the good side.

When a person dies, their fate is sealed, they can no longer repent and do good deeds to change their fate. It appears that when a person commits certain acts of evil, it is as if they have died. One such act is premeditated murder, which “rips the soul apart” (as it is described by some people) so that it cannot be made whole again, and the person who commits it becomes irreparably evil and broken.

This does not happen by accident. A person has to make evil choices day in and day out for years on end, until the point of no return is reached. Murder is not an ordinary crime, a person has to be already really evil to commit it, and committing it puts them beyond the point of no return so that their hearts are sealed and they are not allowed to return to the good side again.

IslamQA: “Will the Sunni and Shia killing ever stop?”

Will the Sunni and Shia killing ever stop? I don't understand why we Muslims cant accept each sects differences. You can choose to not agree with what they say but I don't understand the killing between these sects. Beside that nothing historical will change. We Muslims today are so quite on this subject, the only time someone brings it up is when they want to slander the other.

Sunni and Shia Muslims generally live peacefully together throughout the world, there is actually very little violence, and the cases of violence are almost always due to foreign influence. US, Israeli and Saudi intelligence arm and train Sunni terrorists in Iraq in order to weaken their political rival (Iran), and Iran does the same for the Shiite in Iraq in order to fight back against its enemies. It is nearly always about politics, not religion.

Religion is one of the favorite tools used by intelligence agencies when they want to attack their enemies. The United States funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Sunni jihadists in Afghanistan in order to weaken the Soviet Union, as I explain in my essay Why Most Terrorists are Muslim.

In my experience most educated Shia and Sunni Muslims do not care about sectarian differences and are quite happy to live peacefully together. I grew up in Iran and speak Farsi so I am familiar with Iranian Shia Muslims and their culture.

IslamQA: Why Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims

Why are Muslim men allowed to marry a non-Muslim but Muslim women are not allowed?

One theory is due to genetic and psychological differences between men and women, Muslim men will be better able to  remain practicing Muslims and to bring up devout Muslim children even if their wives are Christian or Jewish, while Muslim women will be less likely to accomplish these.

Scientific studies are needed to prove whether the above is true, but it seems to be true from anecdotal evidence. It is probably true that some Muslim women will be perfectly capable of remaining practicing Muslims and bringing up practicing Muslim children when married to non-Muslims, but these will be the exceptions, not the rule. It is similar to drinking wine; some people are able to enjoy it without becoming drunkards, but Islam forbids it to all Muslims since this is better for everyone. So that fact that I or you can drink wine without it causing us noticeable harm does not mean that it is halal for us and haram for others. It is haram for everyone.

If Muslim women who are married to non-Muslims are twice as likely to stop practicing Islam compared to Muslim women married to Muslim husbands, and/or if their children are twice as likely to abandon Islam, then these can be considered sufficient justification for prohibiting it.

So in this case, as in the case of wine-drinking, a person has to refrain from it for the sake of the greater good.

There might be many other reasons for forbidding such marriages, I’m mentioning only two potential explanations.

In Islam, everything is allowed unless explicitly forbidden. In the matter of sex, however, the Quran reverses matters; everything is forbidden, as numerous verses say, unless explicitly allowed. The Quran commands the believers to “guard their privates” (abstain from sex) in five places (23:5, 24:30, 24:31, 33:35, 70:29), then in the contexts of two of these verses it makes exceptions for cases of lawful relationships (23:6, 70:30). The picture that the Quran draws is that all sexual activity is forbidden, except when it is expressly allowed. Since the Quran expressly allows men to marry non-Muslim women belonging to God’s other religions, while it does not expressly allow women to do its counterpart, this can be considered strong evidence for considering the latter forbidden.

Those who want to legalize marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men say that such marriages are in a gray area, even though they are not expressly allowed, they are not expressly forbidden either. The reasoning offered by such people is that it is in the best interests of Muslim women to be allowed to marry outside the faith, that this is more likely to ensure their long-term good, and that the prohibition may have made sense in certain societies, but does not make sense in Western-style diverse and multi-religious societies.

But as I mentioned above, if such women and their potential children are more likely to abandon Islam, then that is a very good reason for prohibiting such marriages, and it is a weak argument to say that it is materially better for women to marry outside the faith if their spiritual and eternal life is harmed by this.

Islam is not forced on people, so a Muslim woman should be free to marry outside the faith from a civic law perspective, so it is ultimately a matter between the woman and God. Marriage is one of the most important decisions in life, and a Muslim woman who truly fears God and wishes to please Him will never base her marriage on what is at best in a gray area, since she cannot be sure if God will be pleased with her.

Reader question

I am in no hurry to get married anytime soon, and when I do decide to get married I value Islam so much I’d definitely marry in Islam but in the instances I’ve read that you spoke about out of Islam marriage concerning women you are dismissive about it. (Part 1)

You even called it prohibited even though you previously called it a gray area. Growing up I didn’t even know out of Islam marriage was allowed for Muslim women and I think girls deserve to know that it’s not haram (even if it’s better not to) (part 2)

I think it’s a traditional thing that people are unwilling to let go of so they miseducate girls on it which isn’t just unfair but in the long run only makes things worse. This quote “And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al‑Mushrikoon till they believe (in Allaah Alone) and verily, a believing slave is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolater), even though he pleases (part 3)

you. Those (Al-Mushrikoon) invite you to the Fire, but Allaah invites (you) to Paradise and forgiveness by His Leave, and makes His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to mankind that they may remember” is common for saying Muslim women can’t marry non Muslim men but (Al-mushrikoon) is polytheist and men marrying polytheist women is ALSO not allowed (part 4)

And do not marry Al-Mushrikaat (idolatresses) till they believe (worship Allaah Alone). And indeed a slave woman who believes is better than a (free) Mushrikah (idolatress), even though she pleases you” Since the polytheist example doesn’t make marrying non Muslim women haram it also can’t make marrying non Muslim men haram. (Part 5)

Hii, the women cant marry non Muslim men anon. I totally get that since in Jewish/Christian households men have higher authorities in families which is why it’s easier for a woman to be influenced by a mans religion I just think that it’s miseducating how people just refer to it as prohibited (like drinking alcohol) even though it isn’t actually explicitly haram and could be argued for

There’s no evidence from the qur’an that states It’s haram for Muslim women to marry non Muslim and since it is clearly not haram for men and not clearly haram for women, women are “forbidden” from marrying non Muslim men shouldn’t be used. Also Christian/Jewish men and women are both Christians, and if a woman isn’t considered mushrikaat a man isn’t mushrikeen either. (Part 7)

Another excuse is that men have bigger roles and the woman’s sense of religion is weak so he will make her change but that’s misogynistic and I’m not “historically localizing” it because it wasn’t in the qur’an to begin with. The fact that It was specifically stated that marrying mushrikeens for both genders is haram but Muslim women not being haram to marry non Muslim men wasn’t stated shows it’s not haram. (Part 8)

The idea that only men can marry out of Islam needs to go but that doesn’t mean it can’t be voiced that it isn’t recommended for neither men nor women to marry out of Islam. (By non Muslim I mean Christians/jews) (last part, so sorry this was long) hope u’r doing well!!!

The idea that only men can marry out of Islam needs to go but that doesn’t mean it can’t be voiced that it isn’t recommended for neither men nor women to marry out of Islam. (By non Muslim I mean Christians/jews) (last part, so sorry this was long) hope u’r doing well!!!

The Quran originally prohibits all marriage with mushriks (those who assign partners to God, does not mean merely polytheist). a mushrik is any person who believes in God in their hearts but is not happy to submit to Him and follow Him. Their submission is divided between Him and other things, in this way they “assign partners to God”. A mushrik can be a Muslim who out of the desire to appear modern and liberal throws away the Quran and says Islam should only be about ethical and spiritual things.

The Quran, in another places, says that Muslim men can marry Jewish and Christian women as you mentioned.

On the one hand, marrying mushriks is not allowed. On the other, men marrying Jews and Christians is allowed. The case of a Muslim woman marrying a Jew or Christian is a bit ambiguous because Jews and Christians are not mushriks, at least not all of them. But since the Quran mentions only the permissibility of Muslim men marrying Jews and Christians, this has been taken to mean that Muslim women cannot marry Jews and Christians.

Islam functions according to democratic consensus (as I discuss in this essay). No one is forcing a particular interpretation on you or on anyone else in most societies. You are free to try to gather evidence and maybe write a paper or book defending your opinion. And people are free to either agree with it or reject it. Since most people are unable to judge religious debates on their own (due to their lack of scholarly training), they have to go by what their favorite scholars and preachers say. So anyone who tries to change or reform a part of Islam should make an effort to convince the scholars. If your argument is intelligent and well-supported enough by the evidence that it can convince a few respected scholars, then that can be considered a valid alternative to the majority opinion. But if out of 100,000 (or however many) scholars and researchers you cannot convince even a single one that your opinion is valid, then Islam’s democratic consensus decides that the opinion is invalid.

So like I have said, even if a Muslim woman’s marrying a Jew or Christian is in something of a “gray area”, that is sufficient for pious Muslim women to avoid it. They would not want to build the most important part of their lives on something that is a in a gray area and that is universally considered forbidden by the scholars.

Maybe future generations will think differently about it, and maybe they will not. Many women are willing to accept the justifications offered for the prohibition, even if a few do not accept them. We should not say that these tradition-accepting women are ignorant or mis-educated. Women have as much right to to be conservatives as they have to be liberals. It is common to pathologize conservative women by saying they lack education or are not intelligent enough to be liberals. But the same attack can be used on liberals; maybe liberals lack the proper religious upbringing and the proper spirituality to be conservatives. My point is that if you find that most women tend to disagree with you, you should be willing to accept their opinion at least as equal to yours.

We should learn to transcend the Western argument between conservatives and liberals, where each side dehumanizes the other. Only if we respect the human dignity of those who disagree with us can we consider ourselves enlightened and civilized.

My first criterion for deciding whether an intellectual is respectable is if they respect those who disagree with them. Richard Dawkins likes to demonize the biologists who disagree with him (on issues like group selection), so he is not very respectable. But the evolutionary biologist David Sloane Wilson respects those who disagree with him, so I have great admiration for him even if I disagree with him on many things.

IslamQA: Daughter wants to distance herself from her abusive parents

What has made my emaan weaker is that I became traumatisied from a bad childhood. My parents played part in this. Sometimes they used islam against me to manipullate me. Also I wasn't allowed to get help, and my mom labelled my depression as kufr, which made me feel bad and try to suppress the despair . All scholars and everything I've read is about parental rights, and that it is a huge sin (akbar kabair) to cut family ties. I am not an adult and much better but I still want distance from them

Do not let other people’s mistakes affect your relationship with God. Read the Quran as if it was sent down to you personally, and follow its teachings and philosophy wherever you can in your life. If people misuse Islam to attack you, ignore it, knowing that God is better than them.

Regarding cutting family ties, that refers to treating family members as strangers, i.e. permanent estrangement where a child treats their disliked parent as if there is no relationship between them.

If your parents mistreat you, you have the right to keep your distance. What you do not have the right to do is cut off your relationship with them completely. Remain in their lives, help them where necessary, and be dutiful as much as you can, Islam doesn’t ask you to do more than this, it does not ask you to subject yourself to them if they constantly mistreat and humiliate you. Both you and your parents have your human rights, and if they neglect your human rights, they have sinned.

Salam . I'm the one who wrote that I'm traumatized and that I need to distance myself from my parents. I made a typo last time, its supposed to be I am now* an adult. You said that I will still have to stay with them. But I told you I am traumatised and I'm not allowed to get any help. Having PTSD has been beyond hell, and I don't understand why Allah wants me to stay in touch with them. Its easier said than done that my relationship with God shouldn't be affected. Even Quran is triggering

Even when I pray Its a struggle, because It feels like I am giving up to something evil. Being abused through religion is not easy. I won’t cut ties with them permanently, maybe few years until I recover fully and can find myself again. Every sensible person has told me to do it. I don’t understand the reason for keeping in touch with them, I feel as if death is much easier than keeping conntact with people who ruined me

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

At its root, this is a matter of conscience between you and God. Can you in good conscience cut off ties with them for this bad things they have done? Isn’t it a higher ideal, more admirable, more honorable, to be kind and forgiving toward them?

Islam does not ask you to do more than you can bear. If today the pain of contact with them is unbearable, and you decide to avoid contact, then that’s forgivable. But what about tomorrow, or next year? What matters above all is to not harden your heart against people. If you maintain a soft heart, if you are aware of the Quran’s teachings, and you reexamine your decision to avoid contact ever day, and you keep reaching the same conclusion that avoiding contact is best, then perhaps you are right. But there is always also the great danger of being harder on people and less kind than we can be. So you would be walking a fine line.

The reason why God wants us to not cut ties with our relatives is the same reason why God prohibits us from lying. Maintaining relations and telling the truth ensure that society functions well. Cutting ties and lying causes breakdown. In exceptional circumstances one can justify lying, for example to save their lives or the life of someone they love. And in exceptional circumstances, one can justify cutting ties.

So it is part of your social responsibility to tell the truth and to maintain ties. Doing the opposite requires great justification, and it is for this reason that scholars speak strongly against cutting ties. You would be doing something that goes against your social responsibility. Is it justifiable? No one can answer this question except yourself. It is something between you and God. And if it is justifiable today, it may not be next week or next year.

In the West people will simplify your decision for you by saying that you can do whatever you want, since it is how you feel that matters. Social responsibility is something that very few people worry about. So I understand that people will be telling you to do it, to cut ties, since you need it and your parents deserve it. Islam doesn’t say this is necessarily wrong. It however says to take your social responsibility seriously.

Reply from a reader:

I thought you were more rational but when you told that anon to accept to stay with her parents although she clarified that she's traumatisized you're not so far from the salaf you condemn. How far do we have to go with social responsibility? Isn't emotional trauma enough? Or sexual trauma? What about a woman who's abused by her husband? Does she have to have a social responsibility to stay? How do we make sure that children can grow up functioning with the idea of social responsibility?

If you read the answer again you will see that I did not tell her to stay with her parents, but to make up her own mind. You have your own human rights, and you have social responsibility. The two concerns must be balanced. You shouldn’t let people abuse you, but you shouldn’t neglect your responsibilities toward them either.

People, using their intellect and conscience, and guided by the Quran’s moral philosophy, can decide what is the best course of action in each situation.

The idea of social responsibility simply means that one shouldn’t selfishly focus on their own rights to the exclusion of other people’s rights. “Don’t be selfish” is something that all good parents teach their children. But they should also teach them to resist abuse and injustice.

IslamQA: Are men allowed to show their emotions in Islam?

Can a man according to Islam show his emotions?

Prophet Yaqoub cried when he lost both his sons. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him cried when his son Ibrahim died. There is no general prohibition on showing emotions. Harmful shows of emotion, such as breaking things out of anger or sadness, are forbidden, but you don’t need religion to tell you that. Islam teaches us to aim for the greatest good and avoid things that are harmful to ourselves and humanity, using this principle, you can determine which shows of emotion are acceptable, which ones are disliked and which ones are clearly forbidden.

IslamQA: Can prayer change your fate and destiny in Islam?

Is that true that dua has so much power that it can also change what's written in your destiny (I read it somewhere).

The Quran says that if Prophet Yunus [as], had not been among the musabbiḥīn (those who make it a habit to perform God’s remembrance), God would have not have saved him from the belly of the whale (verses 37:142-144 of the Quran).

This story suggests that what you do now can affect what destiny God chooses for you. If you do good, God will cause more good to come to you, and if you do evil, God can punish you with bad things happening in your life:

Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while being a believer, We will grant him a good life—and We will reward them according to the best of what they used to do. (The Quran, verse 16:97)

But whoever turns away from My Remembrance, for him is a constricted life. And We will raise him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” (The Quran, verse 20:124)

The Quran mentions that God helped prophet Musa (Moses) acquire knowledge and wisdom as a reward for being a virtuous person, meaning that if he had not been virtuous, he would not have had this reward:

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)

The same would apply to dua/supplication in its ability to change what future God enables us to have. If you pray for knowledge, God can arrange the circumstances for you to acquire it, but if you had not prayed, perhaps you wouldn’t have acquired that knowledge.

There are various schools of thought on these issues and you will get very different answers depending on who you ask. But the picture we get from the Quran is of a dynamic world in which we are constantly rewriting our destinies. God is always in charge, but depending on our choices, He can change what happens to us next. If we sin, He can remove His blessings and protection from our lives. If we resist temptation then He can arrange matters favorably for us.

IslamQA: Did God destroy the People of Lot for rape instead of homosexuality?

According to science human sexuality is on a spectrum and same can be said about gender identity. As you answered someone's question here and advised them to read the Quran . You said that we have different psychology. I wonder then why Allah said in the Qur'an that people of Lot were approaching men instead of woman (if they are wired differently, then it makes sense that they would approach men). I find many Muslim blogs giving really simplistic answers and many of them have no background in gender studies. My second question about the topic is why do everyone interpret it as same-sex what lot’s people did? It’s obvious that’s it’s rape, because the angels were hiding at his house ? Why did he tell them to approach woman or the fact that he wanted to give his daughter in marriage. Rape is wrong regardless if it’s same or opposite sex. Tbh I feel very confused. What I’ve noticed here on Tumblr is that the only ones who sees it for what it is (rape) are Muslim lgbt

The understanding that the People of Lot’s chief sin was homosexuality comes from the Quran. In the places where their sins are mentioned, the main one is clearly stated as homosexual acts:

54. And Lot, when he said to his people, “Do you commit vile obscenity in full awareness?

55. Do you approach men sexually instead of women? You are truly ignorant people.”

56. But the only response of his people was to say, “Expel the family of Lot from your town. They are purist people.” (The Quran, verses 27:54-56)

And in other chapter:

80. And Lot, when he said to his people, “Do you commit vile obscenity no people anywhere have ever committed before you?”

81. “You approach men sexually rather than women. You are an excessive people.”

82. And his people’s only answer was to say, “Expel them from your town; they are purist people.” (The Quran, verses 7:80-82)

The above two passages do not mention anything about rape or other crimes they may have committed. Prophet Lot’s main criticism of them them is that they “approach men sexually”.

This third passage expands on their sins:

28. And Lot, when he said to his people, “You are committing a vile obscenity not perpetrated before you by anyone in the whole world.

29. You approach men sexually, and cut off the way, and commit vile obscenity in your gatherings.” But the only response from his people was to say, “Bring upon us God’s punishment, if you are truthful.” (The Quran, verses 29:28-29)

If you do a fair-minded reading of the Quran, you cannot escape the conclusion that the vile obscenity referred to is the fact that they were men who had sex with other men. A strong piece of evidence in this regard is the verse you referred to:

And his people came rushing towards him—they were in the habit of committing sins. He said, “O my people, these are my daughters; they are purer for you. So fear God, and do not embarrass me before my guests. Is there not one reasonable man among you?” (The Quran, verse 11:78)

Lot’s attitude appears to be: “If you are going to be raping people, then do not do it in a homosexual way, because that is doubly evil.” He is also concerned with his honor before his guests. In the Middle East, one principle of hospitality is that one’s guest is placed above one’s family. So Prophet Lot has two reasons for offering his daughters: Raping them would not be doubly evil, and it would help him avoid breaking the all-important hospitality rule that requires him to protect his guests.

Note that the angels tell Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim) that they have been commanded to destroy Lot’s people before they actually enter Lot’s city. So their destruction is not something decided on the spur of the moment by God for trying to rape these male-like angels, their destruction had been decreed before the angels enter the city (The Quran, verses 51:32 and after). It is true that Lot’s people are rapists, but since the Quran’s main criticism of these people centers around the fact that “they approach men sexually instead of women”, it is natural to conclude that they were destroyed for this, rather than for rape alone.

The obvious conclusion is that they were destroyed for engaging in homosexuality, rather than merely for rape. I know that there is a strong desire to interpret these verses as saying the destruction was due to rape, but this is a far-fetched interpretation.

I am aware that gender identity issues exist and I have every sympathy for a person who feels they were born into the wrong sex or who feel that they do not fit into the traditionally accepted roles that society determines for them. Islam does not say that these issues do not exist; it says that one should give preference to God’s laws as opposed to their own personal fulfillment, because God has the best interests of humanity at heart. It is true that psychology and genetics plays a part in making a person homosexual, but this does not make it OK. I explain the reasons why in detail in my essay On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims.

IslamQA: Dealing with sexist hadith narrations as a woman

There are endless of hadiths that ridicules us woman. That says that we aren't rational, intellectual etc. Many of them are of sahih. For instance the hadith in which asmaa bint Yazid was talking to the prophet sws and he and his companions were amazed that a woman could express herself as she did (which means that they normally doubt woman's intellect). Then you got the straightforward ones that says woman are stupid, inferior etc...

Our conceptualization of Islam comes from the Quran. The Quran is our program and our guide in life, and it doesn’t contain any of the things you describe.

As for hadith, hadith exists on a second tier, it is there to provide us with an example of the Prophet’s efforts to follow the Quran. Everything in hadith is considered z̧anni, meaning of doubtful certitude. Imam Malik and Abu Hanifa recommend skepticism toward hadith, including authentic ones, whenever they deviate from the Quran or from well-established practices of the Sunna. Therefore, for example, Imam Malik refuses to act by various hadith narrations even though they were considered authentic, because the narrations go against the well-established practices of the people of Medina (see The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qur’an, the Muwatta’ and Madinan Amal by Yasin Dutton).

Imam al-Bukhari himself rejects an authentic hadith because it contains a prophesy that does not come true (the Prophet peace be upon him says this thing will happen, but 200 years have passed and it has not happened, so al-Bukhari concludes the hadith is false). For more examples of scholars rejecting authentic narrations see the (freely available) paper How We Know Early Ḥadīth Critics Did Matn Criticism and Why It’s So Hard to Find by Jonathan Brown.

There is an authentic narration (in Sahih Muslim) that says if a woman, black dog or donkey passes in front of a person praying, their prayer is invalidated. In a different narration, also in Sahih Muslim, it is recorded that when Aisha (wife of the Prophet peace be upon him), may God have mercy on her, hears this hadith (this is after the Prophet’s death), she angrily retorts “You have compared us to dogs!” Instead of sitting quietly and accepting the hadith, she challenges it because she finds it ridiculous and insulting.

You can do the same. Instead of submitting to other people’s visions about what Islam should be, do your own research and build your own vision of Islam based on a wide variety of sources. If someone uses some random hadith to belittle you, challenge them using the Quran’s principles, or research the hadith and you will usually find that there are other hadith narrations that contradict it.

IslamQA: It is permissible to celebrate Mawlid of the Prophet ﷺ

Neither rasool Allah pbuh, nor the companions, nooooor the predecessors congratulated for Mawlid ! Bidaaaaah bro, bidaah

What you are saying is based on the idea (mostly propounded by Wahhabis) that any type of worship or Islamic celebration that was not performed by the early Muslims is automatically an evil and forbidden thing. People who disagree with the Wahhabis and believe that celebrating the Mawlid is acceptable include: Yusuf al-Qaradawi (al-Azhar scholar), Imam al-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, al-Suyuti, Muhammad al-Hadhrami (Shafi`i jurist), Sadr al-Din al-Jazari (Shafi`i jurist).

I don’t celebrate the Prophet’s birthday myself ﷺ, but since some people enjoy it and get something out of it, I have no problem with them doing it. They have a desire to feel close to the Prophet and the mawlid celebrations fulfill that desire for them, and as the above list of scholars should show, there is no consensus on forbidding such celebrations. You are free to not celebrate it yourself, but you have no right to ruin it for others. If someone says mawlid mubarak, it is politeness to reply to them in the same kind.

IslamQA: “I always feel depressed. What should I do?”

I always feel depressed. What should I do?

Depression could be due to physiological causes (high blood sugar, for example), or life situation, or mental/psychological problems. There are also conditions like bipolar which cause recurring episodes of depression without end, and the person has to do their best to cope.

If possible, you should get medical hope, maybe the cause of your depression is curable or manageable.

As for the Islamic/spiritual side, please see my article God and depression.

IslamQA: House husbands in Islam

Your thoughts on House Husbands? I read that it is Haraam, unless the husband faces health difficulties, but then Islam is a religion that emphasized on "niaat", so what if they both agree to let the wife to be the breadwinner, and it wasn't a decision made because the husband is simply lazy?

I do not know of any clear Islamic principle that would forbid that. For example the wife may get a very good job while the husband stays at home to work on some project that does not earn him any immediate income, such as writing or scholarly research.

I guess those who oppose such arrangements fear that society will come crumbling down if every single husband decided to stay at home. But in reality the vast majority of men will not be content to stay at home, they will want to work regardless of religious considerations, so I don’t consider their critique valid, since it is based on an invalid slippery slope argument. Not all slippery slope arguments are invalid, but this one is, because it ignores the very important fact that men are genetically programmed to seek to gain wealth and status, and for most men this means they have a strong desire to work. So allowing men to be house husbands will not affect the fact that the majority of men will not want such a lifestyle.

IslamQA: How to pray on an airplane when you do not know the qibla

How do we actually perform our salah in the airplane without knowing the qibla?

You can pray in your seat facing directly ahead, since it is often difficult and inconvenient to pray out of the seat. And if it is possible and convenient, you can face in the direction of the qibla if you can determine where you are on the globe (some airplanes have a screen that shows your current location). If you know where you are, you’d face in the general direction of Mecca from that location.

Source: Ibn Baaz, fatwa 6293.