IslamQA

Answers to questions on Islamic topics. Ask a Question.

IslamQA: Sleeping with feet pointing toward a book of Quran

It was brought to my attention by a relative that I shouldn't be sleeping with my feet facing towards a quran. I have a bookshelf facing the foot of my bed. Is it a big deal?

As long as the mushaf (book of Quran) is on a shelf then there is no issue. It’s only a problem if it is at the same level as your feet.

References:

IslamQA: Can a brother and sister sleep in the same bed?

Assalamu Alaikum! can a brother and his sister sleep on the same bed? Someone has recently told me that it's haram.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is one hadith in Abu Dawud and the Musnad in which the Prophet PBUH says brothers and sisters should not sleep in the same bed after the age of ten: 

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and beat them for it (prayer) when they become ten years old; and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately. (Sunan Abi Dawud 495)

This hadith, however, is very low-quality and Imam Abu Dawud himself says the hadiths of this transmitter (Amr b. Shuayb) are not to be used as evidence for legal rulings when he transmits from his grandfather through his father (like in this hadith). So the common Muslim belief that the Prophet PBUH recommended beating 10-year-old children if they do not pray is based on very weak evidence that Islamic law rejects. The same applies to the command to have them sleep separately. But it is common sense not to let adolescent boys and girls sleep together even if they are siblings.

IslamQA: Can ghusl be delayed after intercourse?

Must one do ghusl right after intercourse? Is it Ok do work around and inn the house within the state of impurity, does touching things, do they become impure? Also should one do wudu if he does not want to do ghusl right away, is that mandatory? Can you go to sleep while in major state of impurity without ghusl or wudu. thanks you.

Delaying ghusl is permitted until the next prayer, since you cannot pray unless you perform ghusl after intercourse. There is no issue with touching things in the house (except for books of Quran that have the original Arabic text, touching translations is permitted). Sleeping after intercourse without ghusl and having intercourse again without ghusl are both permitted.

There is no need to make wudu after intercourse, that doesn’t change anything.

IslamQA: Is secularism haram?

Is secularism harām? More specifically the kind of secularism espoused by the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi of Turkey. And is it harām for a Muslim to vote for such a party?

It depends on what is meant by secularism. It would be haram for a Muslim to become a “secularist”, meaning they abandon Islam and support living life according to secular principles.

Muslims should vote for whatever party is most likely to do the most good and the least evil. Personally I would be unwilling to vote for Islamists who believe that they should force Islam on the country for the greater good. If such a party is opposed by a secularist party that truly believes in justice, civil rights and religious freedom, then the secularist party may actually be the more “Islamic” choice. Just because a person or party claims to be Islamic doesn’t mean they will be better for the population than the secularist party. As Muslims we should keep in mind both the interests of Muslims and non-Muslims, and we should never support support a Muslim who dehumanizes non-Muslims and thinks their rights and freedoms should be restricted.

I am not familiar with the party you mention so I cannot comment on it. In my experience most Middle Eastern secularist parties are extremely anti-religious and would happily ban hijabs and demolish mosques if they could get away with it. So just because a party claims to respect democracy, human rights and religious freedom doesn’t mean that they really believe in these principles. We should look at the party’s leaders and their track record. A party leader who claims to respect religious freedom yet has many anti-Islam speeches, or thinks hijabs are ugly and should ideally be banished, should never be trusted to respect religious freedom.

The ideal system of governance in the modern world, as far as I know, is to have a constitution that ensures the rights and freedoms of all citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim. Then there should be an Islamic government within that that only applies to the Muslims. So Islamic laws should never be applied to non-Muslims unless they freely choose it. And Muslims should have the right to leave Islam so that Islamic law would no longer apply to them.

This is the most “Islamic” way for a Muslim population to behave: to respect their non-Muslim and irreligious neighbors and to never want to force anything on them. They should all work in good faith toward a constitutional system that ensures the rights of everyone. And then if Muslims want Islamic law, they should be allowed to have it for themselves.

IslamQA: Who is right: Early Islamic scholars who praise fighting and martyrdom, or modern ones who denounce war?

As-salâmu 'alaykum. ….. ….. Most, if not all, modern scholars of Islâm seem to denounce war of every kind. And this is a good thing. Yet, many earlier scholars regularly mention the value of jihâd and martyrdom. It is easy for us Muslims, who have never experienced anything close to war, to denounce the militant Muslims in many countries whose lives have been destroyed by the heartless and tyrannical West. Can we blame them for being upset?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The issue is not at all about supporting war versus opposing it. All scholars, ancient or modern, have the same opinion, which is that Muslims do not have the right to take the law into their own hands and fight against their ruling states. So scholars support jihad/martyrdom as long as it is launched by a sovereign state in self-defense. When we oppose terrorism it is not because we oppose Muslims fighting against oppressors, it is because we oppose individuals taking the law into their own hands. Warfare, jihad and martyrdom are only legitimate when they are conducted in the context of a sovereign government acting in self-defense.

There is no support for violent revolution in Islam because revolutions cause far more destruction and death than tyrants nine times out of ten. A good modern example is Syria. No matter how oppressive the Syrian government was, the revolution caused more destruction, oppression and bloodshed in a few years than the Syrian government had committed in decades.

So it has nothing to do with whether the militants have a just cause to fight for or not. It is about keeping the peace knowing that revolutions are some of the most evil things in the world due to all the destruction and death they cause. They are much worse than tyrants, so Muslims have to choose the lesser evil, which is to remain peaceful and work to change things without violence. We are allowed to engage in political activism, we can do investigative journalism against tyrants and risk our lives to tell the truth and oppose them peacefully. What we are not allowed to do is taking the law into our own hands.

IslamQA: Can Muslims shop at the Salvation Army or other Christian stores?

salam brother, is it haram to shop at places like salvation army thrift store? the money goes towards drug rehab centers i believe but it's a christian organization (thst helps a lot of ppl) & i was wondering if it would b haram since it might b used for preaching christianity.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no issue with it because it’s not your responsibility what a person does with the money once you buy something from them. The Prophet PBUH bought and borrowed things from the Jews of Medina. Buying things from Christian organizations is probably even better than buying from random people because they will likely be using the money for more principled things. And if it becomes a cause to guide people to God through Christianity, then that’s a good thing too. We should never consider converts to Christianity as competitors to Islam. We should think of them as people who went from a worse to a better state.

The same applies to people who convert to Shia Islam. We should be happy that they found God. The choice for them wasn’t between Shia and Sunni Islam, it was between being lost and being guided. Even when people convert to “Sufism lite” where they try to be spiritual without praying or abiding by Islamic law, this should be considered a blessing. They went from a worse state to a better state, and it’s God’s business if He wants to take them further.

IslamQA: Can we make dua for specific things?

I have one desire in my life that could lead to open many possibilities for me. Regardless of what god has in mind for me, This is what I THINK is best for me. Is it okay to ask god for this in my prayers, or should I go and say you know what’s best for me I trust you, even though I really want this in my life (moving to another country). Thank you

It’s quite alright to ask for specific things. The Prophets peace be upon them asked for specific things they desired, for example Zakariyya asked to be given a son, even though he was extremely old and his wife was infertile. God answered his prayer and gave him Yahya / John.

But you have to keep an open mind and be willing to love God even if He doesn’t answer your prayer. 


IslamQA: Can Muslims use utensils in which pork or alcohol were cooked or stored?

If a non muslim cooks pork or anything that has alcohol using our kitchen utensils such as pan, can we muslim still use it or do we have to throw it away?

It’s sufficient to wash it thoroughly, then you can use it like any other utensil.

Reference:

IslamQA: Should Muslims always obey their parents’wishes?

Assalamualaikum. I had a general question regarding what is required of us in terms of our duty to our parents. I am in a situation where I am in a certain career path basically only because my parents want me to be. I'm doing well enough in it, but I'm always stressed and tired from the work and lately I've really been feeling that this isn't the career I want for the rest of my life. If I quit though, I would definitely be upsetting my parents and going against their wishes. (1/2)

I know we should be as obedient, and kind, and dutiful to our parents as possible but in this situation, would it be a sin for me to disobey my parents by switching career paths? I’ve been feeling really lost lately. They’ve sacrificed a lot for me and I don’t want to let them down but I also don’t know if I am capable of continuing in this career. (2/2)

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Islam asks us to “humor” our parents the way our parents humored us when we were children, so that even if sometimes they are unreasonable or make unnecessary demands we should try to go along with it rather than asking them to be reasonable.

But we are not required to become slaves to their demands. You are a person just like they are, and the relationship should include compromises from both sides. So you have every right to switch career paths and good parents should empathize with your wishes and put your happiness first.

If you abide by their wishes, then it will be an act of charity toward them and God can always reward you amply for that. And if you do what you want, I’m sure God will not blame you. So Islamically the choice is entirely yours. You are not required to spoil your parents by always doing what they want, just as parents are not required to spoil their children.

IslamQA: Modern examples of Muslims being munafiqs (hypocrites)

Assalamualaikum, "In the Quran Allah talks about hypocrites and munafiqs. Many muslim's unknowingly practice both of these transgressions. The term munafiq describes a person who is "two-faced" inasmuch as he always tries to find arn easy way out of any real commitment, be it spiritual or social, by adapting his course of action to what promises to be of practical advantage to him in the situation in which he happens to find himself." what are some examples of how everyday Muslims are munafiqs?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Any statement or deed designed to make others think of you as more pious and devout than you really are can be considered nifaq/hypocrisy. So a person who says they go to the mosque for every prayer when they do not is a munafiq. Or someone who goes to the mosque in order to be seen rather than going because they want to. Or when someone gives charity in order to gain fame rather than to please God. Whenever we pretend to be pious and devout to manipulate others, that’s nifaq. Whenever we show a level of piety in public that we lack in private, that’s nifaq.

IslamQA: On distrusting people after bad experiences and heartbreak

Hello. Is it natural that we tend to have a distrust in people when we got our hearts broken over and over again because of their words or actions? I have bad experience by interacting closely and intimately with people in the past and until now, that I feel like I'd become a misanthrope at this rate. Do I have to avoid being close to people to not break my heart and be disappointed again, or do you have any insight for me to understand life and people even more?

Hello,

Sorry about your bad experiences. We have two ways of responding to life’s hardships, including heartbreak. We either accept our fate and accept that this is the way the world works, or we reject our fate and grow bitter. The right way is of course to always work to maintain the sweetness of your soul, to always be loving, kind and open regardless of how others behave. This is how saints distinguish themselves–they always treat others with love and goodness regardless of whether those persons deserve it or not. Try to treat every person with a blank slate, as if you were created today and this is the first person you have ever met.

Reading the Quran daily is a great help toward maintaining the sweetness and innocence of your soul. Personally it’s hard for me to imagine how anyone could hold onto grudges, bitterness or hatred, it feels like such a terrible burden to carry.

Also see my essay: The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Is it sinful to curse or swear when startled or angry?

Hello, i want to ask, is it a sin if i swear/curse when i'm angry or startled? Thank you in advance

Hello,

The Quran says:

God does not like the public uttering of bad language, unless someone was wronged. God is Hearing and Knowing. (The Quran, verse 4:148)

So speaking curses aloud is not recommended, so if you have to curse, it’s best to do it only in your head.

IslamQA: A Christian who enjoys reading the Quran

I am a catholic but I find it very comforting to read the Quran. I do it privately because in the west it can be a little problematic you know but my question is I am catholic is it bad to find god thru another religion

I am a Muslim and I listened to Alexander Scourby’s reading of the King James Version. It made me shiver and brought tears to my eyes in many places. To me the Bible and the Quran come from the same place, the Quran is just like a cleaner version of the same “drug”. So I see nothing wrong with you enjoying the Quran, it is very admirable that you are able to leap over theological differences and appreciate God’s words for what they are. I wish all Christians could do that.

The Quran says this about some Christians who read the Quran:

83. And when they hear what was revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears, as they recognize the truth in it. They say, “Our Lord, we have believed, so count us among the witnesses.”

84. “And why should we not believe in God, and in the truth that has come to us, and hope that our Lord will include us among the righteous people?”

85. God will reward them for what they say—Gardens beneath which rivers flow, where they will stay forever. Such is the reward of the righteous. (The Quran, verses 5:83-85)

Note that this doesn’t imply that they have to convert to Islam to appreciate the truth of the Quran. The Quran never says that Christians have to convert to Islam to be considered good and righteous people by God (despite what many scholars say). The Quran says to Muslims who like to think that only they will attain salvation:

123. It is not in accordance with your wishes, nor in accordance with the wishes of the People of the Scripture. Whoever works evil will pay for it, and will not find for himself, besides God, any protector or savior.

124. But whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and is a believer—those will enter Paradise, and will not be wronged a whit. (The Quran, verses 4:123-124).

The part where it says to Muslims “[i]t is not in accordance with your wishes” couldn’t be any clearer, but unfortunately some people ignore it. There are of course many scholars, especially those of al-Azhar University, who agree with my way of thinking.

Follow-up question

Hello again! I’m the catholic girl again! I’m on mobile so i don’t know if you have a faq section but can you please suggest some scholars reading or name some authors because I really want to get more invested into religion and particularly in the Quran. Thank you for being so understanding and always being so kind and thorough with your thoughts

Hello,

You are very welcome. You may be interested in Being Muslim and The New Muslim’s Field Guide, which explain the basics of Islam. My own book An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims explains in detail how Muslims really think and what Islam is about (free online versions here).

Many people have found my book The Sayings of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah very helpful in gaining a deeper understanding of the spiritual side of Islam (free online version here).

Books by Dr. Jonathan Brown (a convert to Islam) are all very good.

If you want to learn more about the Quran, many people highly recommend The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Are we patient if we complain silently to God?

If we complaint silently in hopes that God listen to our hearts, does that count as patience?

Sure. Complaining to God is what the Prophets did, peace be upon them, when they were being patient.

85. They said, “By God, you will not stop remembering Joseph, until you have ruined your health, or you have passed away.”

86. He said, “I only complain of my grief and sorrow to God, and I know from God what you do not know.” (The Quran, verses 12:85-86)

Best wishes.

Follow-up question

can we get back to the “complaining to god” conversation. if we are dealing with a frustrating situation where we are incapable of digest what’s going on, if I say in my mind “this is unfair I deserve better, when will the good things happen to me” isn’t it that ungrateful, am I not being a brat because so far god has been good to me isn’t it family-wise and health-wise. I mean he has favored me in other areas so if I complain wouldnt that be ungrateful

It depends on the tone of your conversation with God. You can state your situation to Him without blaming Him or acting as if He has wronged you. The Quran gives us a very beautiful example of the right attitude in the story of Prophet Ayyub (Biblical Job), peace be upon him:

83. And Job, when he cried out to his Lord: “Great harm has afflicted me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.”

84. So We answered him, lifted his suffering, and restored his family to him, and their like with them—a mercy from Us, and a reminder for the worshipers. (The Quran, verses 21:83-84)

Instead of asking for anything, he simply states his condition and tells God He is merciful. God treats his complaint as if it is a prayer and answers it by taking away his difficulty.

IslamQA: Are hadiths not in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim less authentic?

Assalamualaikum, if a hadith is not in the top authentic hadith books e.g Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi etc and instead says something like Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah should you feel comfortable in being especially doubtful of it?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Each scholar had their own way of verifying hadiths. Just because it is not in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim it does not mean the hadith is lower in quality. What many Muslims don’t know is that Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim are not meant to be encyclopedias of hadith. They are handbooks for legal scholars, making it easy to quickly look up hadiths on questions like fasting or Hajj. They intentionally did not include many high-quality hadiths that were not relevant to their aims. A book like Sahih Ibn Hibban is perhaps as good as al-Bukhari. Also note that Sahih al-Bukhari contains many low-quality hadiths that were criticized by other scholars, and Sahih Muslim is perhaps five times as bad when it comes to including low-quality hadiths, because Imam al-Bukhari had higher standards and was more knowledgeable about the reliability of hadith transmitters.

Note that some collections intentionally include many weak hadiths, such as the Musnad of Imam Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi’s collection. If the collection’s title does not have the word “Sahih” in it then it is likely to contain weak hadiths too, because the scholars’ intention was simply to collect as many hadiths as they could for research purposes regardless of their authenticity.

Personally I do not differentiate at all between different hadith collections, I combine chains from all the collections in my studies, determining the hadith’s authenticity by looking up the reliability of each transmitter.

IslamQA: When does religious belief become toxic?

In what condition does a religious belief becomes dogmatic and toxic to its follower?

When a person thinks that Islam is meant to replace their humanity. Below is an excerpt from my book An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims on this question.

George Orwell and George Eliot

George Orwell, in his Road to Wigan Pier, has relevant things to say about this discussion:

for the food-crank is by definition a person willing to cut himself off from human society in hopes of adding five years onto the life of his carcase; that is, a person out of touch with common humanity.1

In Orwell’s time, the food-crank was what the extremist vegan is today, someone picky about food and willing to inconvenience, insult and look down on those around them for the sake of their ideas about eating. His critique for the preference of ideology over common humanity among certain types of people extends to Catholics, in a passage that could equally apply to some Muslims today:

One of the analogies between Communism and Roman Catholicism is that only the ‘educated’ are completely orthodox. The most immediately striking thing about the English Roman Catholics – I don’t mean the real Catholics, I mean the converts: Ronald Knox, Arnold Lunn et hoc genus— is their intense self-consciousness. Apparently they never think, certainly they never write, about anything but the fact that they are Roman Catholics; this single fact and the self-praise resulting from it form the entire stock-in-trade of the Catholic literary man. But the really interesting thing about these people is the way in which they have worked out the supposed implications of orthodoxy until the tiniest details of life are involved. Even the liquids you drink, apparently, can be orthodox or heretical; hence the campaigns of Chesterton, ‘Beachcomber’, etc., against tea and in favour of beer. According to Chesterton, tea-drinking is ‘pagan’, while beer-drinking is ‘Christian’, and coffee is ‘the puritan’s opium’. It is unfortunate for this theory that Catholics abound in the ‘Temperance’ movement and the greatest tea-boozers in the world are the Catholic Irish; but what I am interested in here is the attitude of mind that can make even food and drink an occasion for religious intolerance. A working-class Catholic would never be so absurdly consistent as that. He does not spend his time in brooding on the fact that he is a Roman Catholic, and he is not particularly conscious of being different from his non-Catholic neighbours. Tell an Irish dock-labourer in the slums of Liverpool that his cup of tea is ‘pagan’, and he will call you a fool. And even in more serious matters he does not always grasp the implications of his faith. In the Roman Catholic homes of Lancashire you see the crucifix on the wall and the Daily Worker2 on the table. It is only the ‘educated’ man, especially the literary man, who knows how to be a bigot. And, mutatis mutandis, it is the same with Communism. The creed is never found in its pure form in a genuine proletarian.3

Many expect Muslims to act exactly like this minority of Catholics Orwell describes, seemingly eating religion for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Orwell contrasts this religion-obsessed mindset among certain Catholic intellectuals with the mindset of ordinary Catholics, who better represent real, embodied Catholicism.

For the average Catholic living in a Catholic society, religion is not something to bring into every discussion. It is, in fact, something that is very rarely talked about. Real Catholics embody Catholicism as humans, rather than ignoring common humanity, things like politeness and decency toward others, in the name of religion. A religion-obsessed Catholic, similar to a recent convert to an extremist form of Islam, tries to make their religion replace their humanity, making it explain everything and be everything to them. This causes them to join a class of bigots that are out of touch with the rest of society.

A Catholic like that, instead of enjoying the loving atmosphere of Christmas morning at a relative’s house, uses the occasion to lecture the family about how Christmas is really pagan. A Muslim extremist, too, if one makes the mistake of inviting her to a birthday party, will likely end up giving her friend a lecture on how a true Muslim should not celebrate such heathen practices. In this way, those who make religion replace their humanity insult many other people around them due to their belief that their being religious exempts them from common decency and make themselves a nuisance in society. This is not merely a problem of the religious; the same scenario is repeated whenever a person embraces any ideology strongly enough. A “true believer” in Marxism is going to be perfectly happy to offend everyone around them in the name of fighting capitalism.

Orwell contrasts the self-conscious, recently converted Catholic intellectuals with the millions of Catholics who have been practicing this religion for centuries. The first is a tiny minority that has a total view of religion as a replacement for common decency and culture. The second group forms the actual representative group of Catholicism, which very much respects common decency and culture. The first group is radical and wants to abolish everything in the name of religion. The second group is conservative and is happy enough to enjoy life as it is. The first group thinks mankind is raw material that can be remade. The second group understands that humans by and large remain the way they are no matter what one tries to make out of them.

The majority of Muslim men and women are like that Catholic majority. Tell any educated Muslim that their love for science fiction films makes them less “Muslim” and they will either be insulted or laugh at the foolishness of the statement.

Many Western writers about Islam are unfortunately often incapable of conceiving of a faithful Muslim who is as intelligent and independent-minded as themselves, believing that a proper Muslim is one who is a nuisance in polite society just like an extremist vegan. It is inconceivable that a man or woman of their own caliber could enter into a covenant with God to abide by His commandments and ethics, acting as His steward while maintaining a fierce individuality and independence of mind. To them, being a devout Muslim is always associated with some sort of sickness of the mind; the most devout is the most stupid because he or she is going to be the one who is best at acting like a scripture-controlled robot. They think that the only reason a Muslim can be intelligent and independent-minded is if they abandon parts of Islam.

Thus in books like Lost Enlightenment by S. Frederick Starr4, the writer does his best to stretch the evidence so that all Muslims who accomplished some great work are dismissed as actually freethinkers who did not take their faith seriously, while also having a rather snarky attitude toward great Muslim thinkers like al-Ghāzalī who were clearly orthodox. A Muslim must supposedly first give up the stupidity-promoting total religion that is Islam in order to become partly human and achieve something of human worth. Al-Ghāzalī, despite his great achievements, is worthless because he made the unforgivable sin of defending orthodoxy, which to Starr is proof that he was subhuman and twisted, since no proper human could ever be fully religious in his view.

1 George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1958, 136.

2 A popular communist publication at the time.

3 Ibid., 209-210.

4 See S. Frederick Starr, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press2013. See Frank Griffel’s devastating review in Die Welt des Islams 56, no. 2 (2016): 272-278.

IslamQA: Are selfies sinful or haram for women?

Salam, people say posting selfies is a sin (they tend to focus this exclusively on females tho) is this accurate? And is it a sin for the person who liked the picture? Thank you jzk

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is nothing inherently sinful about that. Women are allowed to show their faces and hands in public, whether in pictures, videos or real life. If there is anything wrong with selfies then it fully applies to men too.