IslamQA

Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

IslamQA: Mindfulness in Islam

What is “mindfulness” in Islam?

That refers to being in the moment and clearing one’s mind from thinking about the past or the future. In Islam the best way to pray (perform salah) is to practice mindfulness while doing it. I like to focus on my soul while I pray, which immediately makes me focus on God’s much greater presence, and in that way I can focus on the prayer and enjoy it without getting distracted. I guess you can call that mindfulness.

IslamQA: Is seeking scientific and empirical knowledge obligatory on Muslims?

assalamu aleykom, i truly hope my questions is going to be clear and reach u in good health. i would like to know what's the position of reading (the act of reading but also the act of seeking all sorts of knowledge) in islam. is it truthful to say that islam in itself is the love and the will to seek knowledge and (the ability) to read is fundamental? I believe Allah (swt) told our Prophet (pbuh) to read 3 times, is that accurate? jazakAllahu khayran

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The Quran constantly tells us to look into the world, the heavens, and the history of the nations before us. So seeking empirical knowledge is one of the fundamental commands of the Quran:

Many societies have passed away before you. So travel the earth and note the fate of the deniers. (Verse 3:137)

Say, “Travel the earth and observe the final fate of the deniers.” (Verse 6:11)

And it is He who sends down water from the sky. With it We produce vegetation of all kinds, from which We bring greenery, from which We produce grains in clusters. And palm-trees with hanging clusters, and vineyards, and olives, and pomegranates—similar and dissimilar. Watch their fruits as they grow and ripen. Surely in this are signs for people who believe. (Verse 6:99)

Have they not observed the government of the heavens and the earth, and all the things that God created, and that their time may have drawn near? Which message, besides this, will they believe in? (Verse 7:185)

Say, “Look at what is in the heavens and the earth.” But signs and warnings are of no avail for people who do not believe. (Verse 10:101)

Do they not see how We deal with the earth, diminishing it at its edges? God judges; and nothing can hold back His judgment. And He is quick to settle accounts. (Verse 13:41)

To every community We sent a messenger: “Worship God, and avoid idolatry.” Some of them God guided, while others deserved misguidance. So travel through the earth, and see what the fate of the deniers was. (Verse 16:36)

Have they not observed what God has created? Their shadows revolve from the right and the left, bowing to God as they shrink away. (Verse 16:48)

Have they not seen the earth, and how many beautiful pairs We produced therein? (Verse 26:7)

Do they not see that We made the night for them to rest therein, and the day for visibility? Surely in that are signs for people who believe. (Verse 27:86)

Have they not seen how God originates the creation, and then reproduces it? This is easy for God. Say, “Roam the earth, and observe how He originated the creation.” Then God will bring about the next existence. God has power over all things.” (Verses 29:19-20)

Do they not see how We conduct the water to a dry land, and with it We produce vegetation, from which their livestock eat, and themselves? Do they not see? (Verse 32:27)

Do they not reflect upon what lies before them and behind them, of the heaven and the earth? If We will, We can make the earth cave in beneath them, or make pieces of the sky fall down on them. In that is a sign for every devout servant. (Verse 34:9)

Seeking religious knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim, and seeking empirical/scientific/historical knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim community. This is known as a farḍ kifāya, which means that it is sufficient if only some members of the community carry it out. So not every person has to be a scientist or historian, but some members of the global Muslim community are required to be involved in every field of knowledge. So whatever field of knowledge you study, you are carrying out God’s command. Not every Muslim is required to be a scientist or historian, but it is an obligation on the global Muslim community to be involved in every field of knowledge, having some individuals who are scientists, others who are medical researchers, or historians, or astronomers, and so on.

As for the Prophet PBUH being told to read three times, the word used was iqraʾ, which means both “Read!” and “Recite!”. So this is not necessarily related to general reading, it seems more likely that the command was to the Prophet PBUH to start reciting the Quran as Gabriel started teaching him.

IslamQA: Are atheists or mushriks (idolators) worse?

Salam! Which is worse according to Islam: an atheist, or a mushrik?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

They are the same thing actually. An atheist is someone who thinks there is another power other than God that is in charge of the universe, it’s just like believing in any other false god.

And I believe it is an axiom that active rejection of God = passive acceptance of Satan. Whenever someone rejects God, Satan becomes their guide, because they will no longer enjoy God’s protection from the thoughts that Satan inspires in them. This perhaps explains why so many atheists are so extremely bitter. Maybe they unknowingly reflect Satan’s bitterness.

I have of course met extremely moral and principled atheists. One of my favorite authors is Terry Pratchett, an atheist.

IslamQA: Is it permissible to pray for death?

What if I pray to Allah SWT that I wanna die. Would he listen to me? Cux I'm in so much,mental pain from years and it's been a long time now but my life isn't changing. Things are becoming worse and worse. No idea how to keep living even when all I see is dark.

I’m so sorry about your situation, and I have been in similar ones, sometimes for years. I suffer from multiple chronic conditions and have to take over 10 different drugs every day just to function. Whenever you wish for death, you can know that you are on the proving ground. That’s when you prove your patience and loyalty toward God. 

I highly recommend that you read my essay: Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide

IslamQA: Is it permissible to earn interest to give it away in charity?

Assalamualaikum, most reputable banks near me gives interest for a savings account, there are 2 Muslim banks but they don't have the best customer service reviews. I need to open a savings account but I don't want any Interest attached. A Muslim friend of mine with the same issue opened an account but records the amount of interest added each time and doesn't spend that amount. Is this allowed? Jzk

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Why not just keep it in a checking account? Unfortunately even when keeping money in a checking account, we are still involved in usury because the bank uses the money to make interest-bearing loans to other customers. So ideally we should use Islamic banks if this option is available at all.

It is not considered a good thing to do anything that earns interest even if you give away the interest in charity. But if a person has no choice, then it is permitted to do so and give the money away.

Another option would be to keep the money in a mutual fund that earns money from Islamic bonds, such as the Azzad Wise Capital Fund (WISEX). This in general has higher earnings than savings accounts and helps fund halal projects, but it is slightly riskier, although nowhere as risky as investing in stocks. To invest in WISEX, you just need a free account from a site like TD Ameritrade, then you can deposit money into the account and “buy” shares in the mutual fund. It can all be done online.

References:

IslamQA: Are humans just snippets of a book written by God?

Are we just snippets of paragraphs and chapters, written from the best of writers in a book so vast and deep beyond comprehension of the characters the author created?

That is one way of looking at it, except that we are not just characters being written by the author. We are also co-authors. So it is as if the author is writing a book where the characters are free in what they do. The author can always set things up the way he wants and make things happen to the characters, but he lets the characters have the freedom to do their own thinking, and he lets them make decisions that affect the story. So we are both characters and co-authors in the story.

IslamQA: Is it permissible to listen to music when someone has recently passed away?

I'm sorry, i really dont want to ask a really dumb, stupid question, but I'm genuinely wondering, someone i know has passed away, is it right to not listen/play music either when im on my own or of my own accord? I am the only person who knew them, their family are really far away, but I feel like in my heart it doesnt feel right. Is this valid??

No worries. That’s not a religious issue as far as I can tell. You feel it is inappropriate to enjoy yourself when you are supposed to be mourning that person. It is up to you whether you want to mourn them for a few weeks by avoiding such activities.

IslamQA: On the authenticity of the hadith “if anything could overcome qadar/God’s decree”

Salam o alaikum. This hadith: "If anything could overcome The Decree then the evil eye would overcome it." Is this an authentic hadith? Thank you

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The hadith you mentioned comes through two chains, neither of which is very strong. Therefore from my perspective it is not proven that the Prophet PBUH said that.

Ibn 'Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

The influence of an evil eye is a fact; if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of an evil eye, and when you are asked to take bath (as a cure) from the influence of an evil eye, you should take bath.

Sahih Muslim 2188

Below is a diagram of the chains of the two hadiths that contain that statement:

Their combined authenticity is 16.5% according to the probabilistic verification method, which is far below the 30% needed for authentic hadiths. The hadith is not strong enough to be considered authentic, and not weak enough to be considered clearly fabricated. In everyday terms, the hadith is not strong enough to take into consideration.

IslamQA: Triple talaq (divorce) counts as only one talaq

Assalamualaikum I want to know what is the Islamic stand on triple talaaq. Also,can a woman include a condition which forbids her husband from taking another wife while he's married to her in the marriage contract?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

On the issue of the “triple talaq” where a man says or writes “you’re divorced” three times to his wife, I prefer Ibn Taymiyya’s opinion that this counts as only one divorce. Regardless of how the talaq is worded, a man can only divorce his wife once.

Also note that talaq is not valid if the woman is menstruating, or if she is not menstruating but her husband has had sexual intimacy with her after her menstruation. The only way to make a valid talaq that counts in Islamic law is to say it during a period of “purity”, meaning:

  1. The woman should not be menstruating
  2. They shouldn’t have had sexual intimacy since her last menstruation

So if a man utters a triple talaq, or one talaq, at a time that does not satisfy the above two conditions, then no talaq has taken place.

As for the question of adding to the marriage contract the condition that the husband should not get another wife while married to her, then this is permitted. If he gets another wife, this does not nullify the marriage, but it means the wife has the full right to demand divorce and get her full dowry.

References:

IslamQA: On being unable to read

Brother Ikram, I was reading your IslamQA page and I came across that you were unable to read. I also could not read for some time. What did you do to recover from that? I am now able to read but it’s still overwhelming for me. Can you share what you did?

Sorry about your situation. I couldn’t read due to a number of conditions I suffer from. I found the right treatment after experimenting with hundreds of supplements and going to multiple medical professionals. If you email me at contact@hawramani.com then inshaAllah I can suggest various things you could try.

IslamQA: Similarities between Islam and Buddhism

As-salaamu 'alaykum, wa rahmatu-llaah. Would you be so kind as to talk about similarities between Buddhism and Islam? Jazak-Allahu khayran.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

I haven’t studied Buddhism in any detail, so I cannot properly answer your question. But if you search online then there are many articles that deal with your question.

IslamQA: Is ghusl necessary every time one masturbates?

I have a really bad masturbation problem that causes me to do it mutinies times a day, do I still have to make ghusl every time?

Sorry about your condition. Ghusl is necessary if you want to pray after masturbating (if you are a man). You cannot pray until you make ghusl.

For help on avoiding masturbation, please see the articles on this page: Islam and Masturbation

IslamQA: Is the hadith mentioning women as deficient in intelligence and faith authentic?

Assalamualaikum Are the Hadith mentioning women as deficient in intelligence authentic?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The following hadith which mentions that women are deficient in religiosity and intelligence is extremely strong. It is one of the most authentic hadiths I have found in my studies and reaches the rank of ṣaḥīḥ al-ṣaḥīḥ, meaning that it is an order of magnitude more authentic than the average authentic hadith.

The Prophet PBUH said: I did not see more defective in respect of intelligence and religion than the wise of you (women). A woman asked: What is the defect of reason and religion ? He replied: The defect of reason is the testimony of two women for one man, and the defect of faith is that one of you does not fast during Ramadan (when one is menstruating), and keep away from prayer for some days.

Sunan Abi Dawud 4679 (Sahih)

But keep in mind that that is the Prophet PBUH himself speaking. He was simply expressing his observation about the women of Arabia at the time. So the women around him at the time were highly deficient in religiosity and intelligence according to him, but that does not mean all women will be like that for all time. The culture of that time kept women away from education and responsibilities, so that they grew up to be highly ignorant and catty as some women are today.

It is likely that any intelligent and well-educated woman would make the exact same observation about the women of that time and culture if she were to travel back in time and meet them.

As for the Prophet PBUH saying that it is a defect in women’s intelligence that their testimony is equal to half a man’s, and that it is a defect in their religiosity that they cannot fast or pray when menstruating, I admit that it sounds highly sexist. But keep in mind that the Prophet PBUH was simply expressing his own personal opinions, as a man living at that time. It made sense to him that women were deficient in these things because of the women he saw around him, and he used the issues of testimony and menstruation to justify why they were inferior. This was his personal reasoning. This wasn’t a revelation from God telling us that women are inferior. This was an Arabian man thinking for himself. We know that the Prophet PBUH made a number of serious mistakes when he was acting on his own, and the Quran mentions many of them. There is a chapter of the Quran titled “He frowned”, which strongly reprimands the Prophet PBUH for his behavior:

He frowned and turned away. When the blind man approached him. But how do you know? Perhaps he was seeking to purify himself. Or be reminded, and the message would benefit him. But as for him who was indifferent. You gave him your attention. Though you are not liable if he does not purify himself. But as for him who came to you seeking. In awe. To him you were inattentive. Do not. This is a Lesson. (The Quran, verses 80:1-11)

Another mistake is mentioned in the following verse:

May God pardon you! Why did you give them permission before it became clear to you who are the truthful ones, and who are the liars? (The Quran, verse 9:43)

This was on the issue of letting some people in Medina stay behind when they should have accompanied him on a war campaign.

Another mistake is mentioned below:

It is not for a prophet to take prisoners before he has subdued the land. You desire the materials of this world, but God desires the Hereafter. God is Strong and Wise. Were it not for a predetermined decree from God, an awful punishment would have afflicted you for what you have taken. (The Quran, verses 8:67-68)

Yet another time when the Prophet PBUH was about to make a mistake and God had to intervene is mentioned below:

Had We not held you steady, you were about to incline towards them a little. Then We would have made you taste double (torment) in life, and double at death; then you would have found for yourself no helper against Us. (The Quran, verses 17:74-75)

So the picture that the Quran paints for us is that the Prophet PBUH was just a fallible man, a normal human, trying to carry out the mission God had given him, a man who occasionally made mistakes. The Quran tells us:

Muhammad is no more than a messenger. Messengers have passed on before him. If he dies or gets killed, will you turn on your heels? He who turns on his heels will not harm God in any way. And God will reward the appreciative. (The Quran, verse 3:144)

We never sent any messengers before you, but they ate food and walked in the marketplaces. And We made some of you tempters for one another—will you be patient? Your Lord is always Observing. (The Quran, verse 25:20)

The Quran reminds us that the Prophet PBUH is not an angel or perfect being. He was just a man, just like the prophets before him. I know that it is common for Muslims to think of the Prophet PBUH as a perfect being, and I’m sure if the Quran had not so constantly reminded Muslims that the Prophet PBUH is just a man, people would have started to worship him as God’s son just as Jesus was turned into a son of God.

So what we can conclude about this hadith is that it was the Prophet PBUH expressing his own opinion and using his own reasoning to justify it. I wish the Prophet PBUH hadn’t said that, but we can accept it and forgive him, knowing that he wasn’t an angel or a son of God, but just a man trying to carry a message.

The Prophet’s traditions (hadith) are there to help us apply the Quran better in our lives. When it comes to tangential things like these that do not have a basis in the Quran (the Quran never tells us women are inferior), we do not have to consider his opinions revelations from God. He may have been simply expressing his personal opinion. If there had been numerous other hadiths that constantly told us that women are inferior, then we would have been forced to accept them as true religious teachings. But since it is just one isolated hadith and there is no hint that the Prophet PBUH is transmitting God’s words or opinions, we can consider it simply his own opinion.

I know this is an extremely sensitive matter because it may seem like it can lead us to doubt everything the Prophet PBUH says since we cannot be sure if it is merely his own opinion or if he is acting according to God’s own words and teachings. But in reality the issue is quite simple. We judge things based on how much support they have in the Quran and in authentic hadiths. This particular hadith is isolated from the rest and has no basis in the Quran, so we can be reasonably sure that here the Prophet PBUH was acting as a man expressing his own opinions. We should keep in mind that he was sometimes merely a man speaking his own mind. We should always be eager to follow his teachings when the evidence suggests he is acting as a prophet, and this is something that is usually very clear. But we should not rule out the possibility that at times his sayings are merely his own opinions. When he says something that does not sound perfectly reasonable and justified, that is not supported by Quranic teachings, and that is not repeated in other hadiths, then that is a clear hint that he is acting on his own as a human expressing his own opinions.

IslamQA: Dealing with daily work during fatigue and depression

How do you go about with your daily work when depression and fatigue comes. Meanwhile waiting to get treatment, the two affects me so badly that I would usually feel bad about myself if I am unable to do my work.

I’m sorry to read that you are going through those things. When I suffer them, I usually cannot do any creative work (programming or writing, which are the two things I do when I work). Instead I read. There used to be a time when I couldn’t even read, but alhamdulillah through the right treatments I am now able to read consistently. Email me at contact@hawramani.com and inshaAllah I can recommend many potential treatments for you. There are many supplements and non-prescription drugs that can help immensely.

IslamQA: Can jinns possess human beings?

Assalamualaikum I'd like to know what we know about Jinns from the Quraan and the authentic hadiths. Can they possess human beings?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The Quran refers to jinn possession in a few places, for example:

Those who swallow usury will not rise, except as someone driven mad by Satan's touch. That is because they say, “Commerce is like usury.” But God has permitted commerce, and has forbidden usury. Whoever, on receiving advice from his Lord, refrains, may keep his past earnings, and his case rests with God. But whoever resumes—these are the dwellers of the Fire, wherein they will abide forever. (The Quran, verse 2:275)

And also:

Do they not think? There is no madness in their friend. He is but a plain warner. (Verse 7:184)

The above verse uses the sentence mā bi-hi min jinna (literally: “there are no jinns with him / possessing him”). Whether this literally refers to jinn possession or it is just using a common idiom for “madness” we cannot tell.

The Quran tells us that Satan has no power over humans:

And Satan will say, when the issue is settled, “God has promised you the promise of truth, and I promised you, but I failed you. I had no power/authority over you, except that I called you, and you answered me. So do not blame me, but blame yourselves. I cannot come to your aid, nor can you come to my aid. I reject your associating with me in the past. The wrongdoers will have a torment most painful.” (Verse 14:22)

And also:

[God speaking to Satan] “Over My servants you have no power/authority, except for the sinners who follow you.”

So it appears that jinns have only power when a person opens themselves to them by abandoning God’s obedience and remembrance.

The idea that jinn can simply possess a good person and turn them mad has no support in the Quran or authentic hadith. They only have power over those who open their hearts to them by completely turning away from God.

Some hadiths mention jinns interacting with the physical world, as in a hadith of Abu Huraira that mentions a “devil” being seen at the mosque. But I’m highly skeptical of those hadiths because they are not widely transmitted. The Quran also mentions jinns doing physical work for Prophet Sulayman [as], but that appears to have been an exception made especially for him. The Quran never mentions anywhere else that jinns can interact with the physical world, and there is no widely transmitted hadith that supports such a notion.

Also note that there is very little support for the Islamic practice of ruqya (a kind of exorcism) when done for jinn possession, as discussed in the following article. The most authentic hadith on ruqya says Muslims will not use it: Is ruqya part of Islam? A study of the hadiths on ruqya using probability theory

IslamQA: Number of hadiths in the six major collections

As-salaamu 'alaykum, wa rahmatu-llaahi wa barakaatuh. Which of the six well-known Hadith collections contain the largest number of Hadith? Jazak-Allahu khayran.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

The number of hadiths that are mentioned in both Bukhari and Muslim are 2514 (excluding repetitions).

Below are the hadith counts from the major collections according to Wikipedia:

  • Sahih Bukhari, collected by Imam Bukhari (d. 256 AH, 870 CE), includes 7,275 ahadith (2,230 without repetitions)
  • Sahih Muslim, collected by Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 261 AH, 875 CE), includes 9,200 ahadith (2,200 without repetitions)
  • Sunan Abu Dawood, collected by Abu Dawood (d. 275 AH, 888 CE), includes 4,800 ahadith
  • Jami al-Tirmidhi, collected by al-Tirmidhi (d. 279 AH, 892 CE), includes 3,956 ahadith
  • Sunan al-Sughra, collected by al-Nasa’i (d. 303 AH, 915 CE), includes 5,270 ahadith
  • Either:
    • Sunan ibn Majah, collected by Ibn Majah (d. 273 AH, 887 CE), over 4,000 ahadith
    • Muwatta Malik, collected by Imam Malik (d. 179 AH, 795 CE), 1,720 ahadith

IslamQA: Avoiding negative assumptions about people

Assalamualaikum. I hope you're doing well. I want to ask something about making assumptions especially negative ones. How can I avoid from making this assumption and why exactly I am making all of these negative assumptions. I can't seem to understand and can't figure it out. If you can help me with this problem I would appreciate it. Jazakallahu kheir.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It may have to do with brain chemicals. For example, people with schizophrenia have very high dopamine levels which makes them make negative assumptions about people and build up whole imaginary stories about how those people are trying to persecute them and they actually believe it all.

As far as I know the best solution is to read the Quran daily. It will help you stop caring about what other people think of you and what they do toward you. It has helped me deal with every person in my life with a clean slate. Regardless of what they have done in the past, to me every day is a new day where I’m ready to treat them as if I have never experienced anything but good from them. If you try to force yourself to be this way, it never works because your emotions and attachments will get in the way. But once you are attached to God and not to the worldly life, then it becomes second nature to be this way.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: On writers similar to C. S. Lewis

Could you recommend authors who are/were similar to C.S. Lewis or maybe some Muslim poets whose poems are pretty decent and not too engaged in worldly love affairs. Thank You.

Why not C. S. Lewis himself? His 4000-page Collected Letters is wonderful. He also has about 20 books, all of which are worth reading. The only other authors I know who would be like him are Tolkien (they were actually good friends) and George MacDonald (a writer whom Lewis admired greatly). If you read Lewis’s Collected Letters, you will see hundreds of other books and writers mentioned in it that may be worth checking out.

I don’t know any Muslim writers who reach their level of sophistication and understanding, except for possibly Said Nursi.

As for poetry, you can check out this page on Amazon.com which has translations of many Persian mystical poets. Note that all the great classical Persian poets were Sunni (if you are worried about theological differences).

IslamQA: On today’s capitalist and materialistic making life as a Muslim more difficult

Assalamualaikum, what do you think about the fact that the world is becoming increasingly harder for Muslims to navigate. For example how capitalist society has designed peoples lives to be all work and any spare time they have is now to consume media and this kind of society is causing increase in mental illness which makes every day life even harder to handle and the consumerist life even more appealing. I just feel like the odds are against people

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

What we see around us is simply the aftermath of the decline of Christianity. Things will not last this way forever. When a civilization’s motivating force runs out, it is inevitably replaced by a new civilization. Japan’s population is imploding because once it embraced the Western way of life, fertility rates plummeted.

Cultures can be divided into two kinds. Sustainable cultures that enable the population to remain stable over time or grow, and unsustainable cultures that cause the population to decline over time. Japan’s major culture is unsustainable, but it also has 100,000 or more Muslims and perhaps other religious groups who do have sustainable cultures. What this means is that over time the unsustainable culture disappears and is replaced by the sustainable ones.

Egypt is a great example of a sustainable culture. Despite modernizing, fertility rates remain high, because most of the population is made up of practicing Muslims.

So if you think in terms of generations and centuries, then the current materialistic Western culture is just a small blip, a temporary aberration from the norm that is not going to last for long. Faithful Christians (such as the Amish), Muslims and Orthodox Jews continue to grow while the secular population declines. So far the US population has managed to grow due to the high rate of immigration. But that’s not going to be forever. Mexico will soon have a below-replacement fertility rate, meaning its own population will start declining soon, so that it will have fewer and fewer people to send to the US. The same applies to India and many other countries. All unsustainable cultures will decline and disappear over time. We will continue to have more and more faithful people working in business, so that they will change the nature of capitalism for the better. Wall Street used to have many extremely good and principled businessmen in 1900, and that state of things will come back again sooner or later.