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 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.

IslamQA: What made me decide to be a scholar? Can women be Islamic scholars?

As salamu alaykum brother. What made you decide to pursue a path to become a scholar? Where do one start on such path? Is it appropriate for a girl to do it? Wont it make it difficult for me to find a husband?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Alhamdulillah it has always been easy for me to master any topic and get really good at it. I kept wondering what I should use my abilities for because I was interested in so many topics. I would love to have nothing to do but read endless books on economics, or philosophy, or history, or mathematics, or English literature, or the study of human behavior (ethology, genetics, and evolutionary psychology).

I realized that great discoveries in most fields would be made with or without me due to so many people being involved with them. If you don’t find the answer to an important question in mathematics, chances are another mathematician will find it sooner or later. But when it came to Islamic studies, I realized that the field didn’t have enough capable individuals working in it to revolutionize it. I had been studying Islam casually since my childhood, but at the end of 2017 I made my decision to fully dedicate myself to Islamic studies. 

It would be great for more women to get into Islamic studies. Any man who considers it a negative thing for you to be a scholar is not worth marrying anyway. 

As for where to start, you can check out this page on my site: The Modern Islamic Studies Curriculum. You can read anything that interests you and that will usually lead you to more interesting books. Regardless of what topic you want to study, the only important thing is to read what interests you. As long as a book or paper is interesting it means it has things to teach you.

IslamQA: Is alcohol in beauty products and make up haram?

I recently found out a make up product I use derives a fatty acid ETHYLHEXYL from an ethanol compound called 2-ethylhexanol, would that make my product haram?

Even if it was ethanol it would be permitted. Alcohol is only forbidden to use when it is consumed for its own sake and it has a chance of causing intoxication, so, for example, the alcohol in vanilla extract is halal because the point in using it is not to get the alcohol but the vanilla, and there is no chance of intoxication. Please see: Is alcohol in tinctures and drugs halal?

IslamQA: Building mental toughness and will power

Salam, do you have any advice on how to build mental toughness? I feel like reaching many of my goals lies on the other side of me being too easy on myself 🙁 I don't know how to accomplish my goals anymore, but I also got burnt out in the past and am afraid of repeating patterns that may lead me to be too hard on myself. I dont know if fasting is the solution? Any islamic advice on building mental strength to follow through with your goals?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are tons of articles online on this topic, and personally I am highly skeptical of them all. A person who supposedly has no mental toughness will get all the strength and focus they need if they take 20 mg of methylphenidate. Usually when a person is unable to focus on their goals it is because of an underlying problem, such as depression, anxiety and hyperarousal from trauma, or conditions like ADHD (there is adult ADHD, it’s not just limited to children).

So you could try finding articles online on these issues. But if you have something like depression, then no amount of productivity-enhancing practices may be able to help. Depression can be genetic and run in families, it causes extreme fatigue, demotivation and inability to focus, so unfortunately without getting treatment a person is not going to get far regardless of how hard they try.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Is it permissible to gather to eat and pray for a dead person?

Is it permissible for people to gather to eat and pray and make dua for someone who has passed away? Or is this wrong

That to me almost sounded like asking if breathing is permitted in Islam. And then I realized that you are probably asking because of all those people who go around saying this or that is a bid`a (false innovation).

My attitude toward all religious practices that were not practiced by the Companions and Successors is that they are permissible as long as they do not include making changes to the basics of Islamic practice. So we cannot start performing the obligatory prayers differently than how the Prophet PBUH and his Companions prayed. But we know that it is permitted to perform extra prayers at any time of day or night except for the few minutes when the sun is rising or setting. So we are free to start performing 8 rakats (in units of two) every day at 2 PM even if none of the early Muslims did that.

The root of the disagreement is that Salafis (except those rare ones who really take the time to understand Ibn Taymiyyah) often believe that Islam is a replacement for our humanity. It becomes a tribalist ideology where you have to act exactly according to their system to prove that you belong to their “tribe”. I discuss this more in my article on why I don’t recommend that website.

While to mainstream Islamic scholars, once you get the basics of Islam right then you have endless freedom to practice Islam as you like as long as you stick to the permitted things. So there is nothing wrong with gathering to pray for someone even if there is no record of early Muslims doing that. And Ibn Taymiyyah himself says those who gather to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday (peace be upon him) will have a “great reward” if they do it with sincerity and good intentions, despite this kind of celebration being non-existent among the early Muslims.

IslamQA: Struggling with materialism as a Muslim

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah, ive recently been struggling with materialism and its making me miserable. at school everyone i see seems to be either smarter, prettier, richer, or more pious than me and thats been distracting me a lot. i havent read salah or quran as often recently and i keep thinking about changing myself or buying more things even though i know that wont fill the inner void. do you have any advice on how to stop feeling this way? thank you, Jazakallah

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

It is natural to feel tempted to become materialistic when you are surrounded by such things. If you want to avoid it, you will need to do constant, daily work designed to help you maintain your balance. The best way is to spend half an hour to an hour of every day reading the Quran. This is the best way I have found for avoiding all kinds of character flaws. Performing tahajjud and sitting for a while after every prayer to do supplication are also helpful.

Also see my essay: God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely and meaningless

IslamQA: Will God have no mercy or rewards for a woman who does not wear the hijab?

Alslam alikum I’ve been wondering for a while ,Allah forbid his mercy and rewards from a Muslim girl who doesn’t wear hijab?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It’s like any other sin. It’s not an ideal situation to be in since we get the most mercy from God when we are most obedient. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t have any rewards or mercy. Please see: Can you be a good Muslim woman without wearing the hijab?

IslamQA: Is it haram to not speak with your father for the rest of your life?

Is it forbidden to not talk to my father for the rest of my life? I haven't seen or talked to him in 7 years and me and family are better off without him. He's unreliable and has shown no interest in any of ours life even when he was here. The first only reason him and my mother were even married was because it was arranged.

Sorry about your situation. Unfortunately that is forbidden. We are not allowed to cut ties with blood relatives, it is one of the major sins the Quran warns us against many times. You can try to be polite and dutiful even if you don’t have any good feelings toward him. You may be interested in this previous answer: Is it sinful in Islam to not love your parent?

IslamQA: Benefiting from a parent’s haram income

Salam, My parents are seperated, when I see my dad and he takes us places or buys us food I'm pretty sure his income isn't halal so I feel awkward about letting him take me and my siblings places and paying for us, is it wrong if I let him (I've tried to raise it with him he just says Allah will understands and dismisses it… :/) jzk

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is permitted for a child to benefit from a parent’s income that is a mix of halal and haram, as discussed in this previous answer: The income of a father who works in a usurious bank

IslamQA: Repenting from not speaking with a fellow Muslim for more than three days

what do you mean it is forbidden to not speak to a fellow Muslim for more than three days?? is it sunnah or is it written in quran?? how can i seek forgiveness?

It is an authentic hadith that says Muslims shouldn’t stop talking to other Muslims for more than three days. All you need to do is repent and try to reconcile with the person. If they refuse to reconcile, you don’t have to worry about since you have done your duty.

IslamQA: The Islamic view of cutting ties with a stepfather

Is it sinful for me to refuse to see my stepfather after he cheated on my mentally ill mother?

The Islamic prohibition on cutting relations with relatives only applies to blood relatives, not in-laws, stepparents and children, so you are free how you decide to treat him. It is of course best to forgive him if they are still together. Islam also forbids not speaking to a fellow Muslim for more than three days, if you are both Muslims you can try to maintain a polite relationship using your phone and social media while avoiding him in person.

IslamQA: What is the wisdom in mahr (dower) and how much should a woman ask?

What is mahar and what is the requirement for me to decide how much mahar should I ask from the groom?

Mahr is a payment that the groom promises to give to the bride at the time of signing the marriage contract. The payment can be immediately or it can be in installments. Scholars say the wisdom in it is to impress upon the groom the seriousness of the marriage contract. It also makes divorce more difficult for him because it means he would lose that wealth if he were to divorce her. This makes it less likely for him to divorce her for frivolous reasons.

I would say another benefit is to give the woman a safety net in case of divorce, so that she is not left destitute. A woman with a mahr of $50,000 will be able to live comfortably on her own for a year after the divorce. This will give her the time she needs to prepare for the next stage of her life. It also helps make divorce easier for her, so that she is not forced to remain with an abusive man, for example, just because she’s financially dependent on him. The mahr will allow her to enjoy some financial independence.

How much you ask in mahr is entirely a personal choice. A man who is eager to be with you will likely be willing to agree to a year’s median salary (maybe $35,000 USD in the US). This is something that can be negotiated between the two of you (or between your families). If the man is rich you can ask to be given the payment immediately, while if he isn’t, if you trust him, you can agree to delay the payment, so that it becomes like a debt on him.

Followup question

Sorry brother but I strongly disagree with your mahr question response. I think it should be answered in full, establishing the problems with expectancy and unrealistic proposals of mahrs in today's islamic society. If a wedding/mahr is judged or depended on by how much a man can give his possible future wife with underlying tones of materialism.. then it should be approached with caution… to be continued

Continued…. There’s brothers out there going broke trying to impress a muslimah and her high demands and also falling into sin, by dealing in usury and Riba JUST to give her a large sum. This current Ummah has many many issues with this particular subject.

I’m quite aware of that, but I believe that each society and couple can find their own balance. If a woman demands a mahr that’s too high, a man can always find another woman. Of course in gender-unbalanced societies like India things can be very difficult due to the scarcity of women. But I believe things will get easier as Muslim cultures start to take in the Western culture of romantic love.

IslamQA: Why did God create depression and anxiety?

Why do you think Allah created things like depression and anxiety? I want a refund on my current life.

For the same reason He created things like poverty and loss. God wants this universe to be a testing hall for humanity. The best humans prove their love and loyalty toward God by maintaining a close relationship with Him despite all their sufferings. While the worst ones start to hate God until their grudges against Him lead them to the point where they deny His existence.

Why did God allow Prophet Muhammad PBUH to suffer horrible injustices, failures and persecutions in Mecca for 13 years when He could have given him instant success? Because that’s how God has designed the universe. We need to suffer through time patiently to prove our characters to Him. You cannot prove your love and loyalty to a king by being obedient and dutiful for one day or one month. You prove it when you go through immense suffering for him, get all kinds of temptations to be disloyal toward him or to hate him, and yet maintain your love and loyalty. That’s the kind of friend that any king would love.

Please also see my essay: Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Getting over the loss of a loved one

As Muslims how should we grieve for a loved one that’s passed away. My grandmother returned to Allah on the 9th and I cannot stop crying. I can barely get out of bed in the morning and can’t seem to get on with daily life. No matter how much praying, dua and telling myself she’s gone to a better place I just can’t seem to feel better. She’s all I’ve be thinking about and just wish I could be with her, I’m utterly heartbroken.

I’m so sorry about your loss. When we lose someone important in our lives, our brains have to reorganize and rebuild our sense of self anew, since how we felt about everyone and everything around us relied on the presence of that person. This process takes months or years. The way to speed it up I believe is to focus your attention on the other people in your life, to socialize more and find new things to do with your time (such as volunteering).

May Allah ease things for you.

IslamQA: Dealing with a narcissistic mother

Assalamualaikum, what advice would you give someone who has an emotionally manipulative and narcissistic mother? I don't feel natural feelings of love towards her because it's clear to me that she doesn't like me. And when I need to help her with things it's not with a positive feeling, and that makes me sad because we are meant to honour our parents. But it is very hard when you know there is no love underneath any parental duties she is obligated to do for me.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry to read that. I would say do what you know to be right towards them and don’t worry about your feelings. We can’t help how we feel toward others. But we can be dutiful and kind regardless of how we feel. 

Please see the 25 articles on this page on my site for many answers to questions similar to yours: Dealing with parents in Islam

Best wishes.

IslamQA: An astrologer predicted the future accurately for their mother

Salam! Please help me I'm very scared! My mom went to an astrologer back when she was in college and didn't know better, and she never really believed in it! But she told me what was said to her, most of which became true and we often find ourselves saying in awe so and so happened just like the palm reader said, even though we also believe that astrologers lie even if they tell the truth! She was also told of some future things like me getting married and having a house abroad… (1/2)

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry to read that. It looks like the second part of your question didn’t come through. Thinking of it logically, considering an astrologer’s predictions regarding 1000 customers, they may get it completely wrong with 999 customers and right with 1 customer, meaning they have a 0.1% chance of getting the predictions right. This is just how probabilities work. So I wouldn’t worry about it.

Even if you were to see 1000 people and make predictions for them, you too may have a 0.1% chance of getting things exactly right for one of them.

IslamQA: Self-love in Islam: Is loving yourself an Islamic teaching?

Is there any verses in the Al-Qur'an, or in Hadith that's saying to love yourself? Is loving yourself important?

In Islam we believe that psychologically humans are made of two parts. There is the ego (nafs), which is controlled by our brains and genetic instincts. Then there is the soul (ruh) which is where our free will comes from. Adam was a humanoid animal until God breathed His own soul/spirit into him, which gave him his humanity.

[God speaking to the angels:] When I have formed him, and breathed into him of My spirit, fall prostrate before him. (The Quran, verse 38:72)

It is not recommended to love the ego part of ourselves, because this always leads to pride, arrogance and cruelty. Loving this part means that person can be selfish and consider their selfishness something right and beautiful. Without proper spiritual grounding a person’s love for themselves becomes a sort of self-worship where their negative qualities become good qualities.

As for loving one’s own soul, because our souls are in a way extensions of God’s soul, to properly love it one would include God and all other souls in this love. This is the mystical kind of love that so many traditions speak of, and in my opinion it is the only proper way of loving oneself. You direct this love at yourself and then you realize that what you are actually loving is just a small part of a much larger whole, like loving a drop of water and realizing it is part of an ocean.

Love directed at the soul leads to humility and obedience toward God, because it helps us realize our own smallness. While love directed at the ego becomes worship of the animal part of us. Love directed at the soul elevates us because it directs us toward higher ideals (it motivates us to embody those attributes of God that are proper to embody, such as His all-encompassing love and mercy), while love directed at the ego degrades us because it makes us content to be merely our instincts and bodies.

So loving yourself is a very bad teaching when this is mistaken for loving one’s ego. It turns people into narcissists who think they are unique and special and who demand love and attention without doing anything to deserve these. The whole point of loving yourself, if by it we mean loving the soul, is to realize our non-uniqueness, to realize that we are just drops in the vast ocean of God.