Monday, December 31, 2012

Is it allowed to have a crush in Islam?


Is it allowed in Islam to have feelings for someone. What are the boundaries and restrictions?


In Islam, it is not a sin if you feel a special affinity or inclination towards a certain individual since human beings have no control on such natural inclinations. We are, however, definitely responsible and accountable if we get carried away by such feelings and take specific actions or steps that might be deemed as haram (forbidden).

As far as male and female interaction is concerned, Islam dictates strict rules: It forbids all forms of 'dating' and isolating oneself with a member of the opposite sex, as well indiscriminate mingling and mixing.

If, however, one does none of the above, and all that he or she wants is to seriously consider marrying someone, such a thing itself is not considered haram. In fact, Islam encourages us to marry persons for whom we have special feelings and affinity.

Islam recommends that potential marriage partners see one another before proposing marriage. Explaining the reason for such a recommendation, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "That would enhance/foster the bonding."

We are advised against getting carried away by merely the outward appearances of a person; these may be quite misleading. Marriage is a life-long partnership and a person's real worth is determined not by his or her physical looks, but more so by the inner person or character.
After having mentioned that people ordinarily look for beauty, wealth and family in a marriage partner, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to consider primarily "the religious or character factor" over and above all other considerations.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Is mingling between men and women allowed at university?

Answered by the Grand Mufti of Egypt.


I request a fatwa on the ruling for the mingling that occurs between the sexes in educational institutions, bearing in mind that friendships may sometimes exceed colleagueship.


There is no objection to mingling between males and females in schools, universities or other institutions provided:

- It does not transgress the boundaries of decorum and Islamic teachings.
- Females must dress decently; their clothes should not cling to the body nor be transparent and they should cover the body. Females must also lower their gaze and stay away from being alone with a member of the opposite sex, whatever the reasons.
-Both sexes are required to mindful of Allah with regards to their eyesight (lowering their gaze), hearing and feelings. Allah said:

Tell the believing men to reduce (some) of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is aquainted with what they do. [Quran 24:30]

The Ruling

 Mingling between the sexes is prohibited if they do not adhere to the Islamic teachings and decorum and if it incites desire and leads to prohibitions.

What does Islam say about polygamy? Part 6


As-salamu `alaykum I was asked a question about marriage in Islam and why it allows four wives. I told them that the reason is that the ratio of women to men was great and other rational reasons, but then they asked me why Allah created only one woman Hawa' (Eve) for Adam (peace be upon him). I would very much like it, if you gave me a logical answer to this very question I was asked. Jazakum Allahu khayran


Salam, Amina.

Thank you for your question.
There are three parts to your question:
  1. The question of why Allah created one woman only for Adam (peace be upon him).
  2. The claim that polygamy in Islam is related to the non-balanced ratio between men and women.
  3. Whether polygamy is necessarily part of the law that people have to practice.
First of all, in the Muslim scripts (Qur'an and Hadith), we do not have answers for the question of "why polygamy?" stated clearly. This means that the answer anyone gives to the question of polygamy, including my answer here, is a matter of speculated interpretation.
And when we give answers based on such interpretations, we should make sure that we inform the people we talk with (especially if they are not Muslim) that we are giving our own interpretations and not what Allah stated in His book as His own reasons. And the rationale is clear: If the facts, which we based our interpretations on, turn out to be inaccurate, then people will think that Allah's scripts, not our opinions, are inaccurate. So, we have to make a clear distinction between Allah's reasons and our own.
Similarly, we can answer a question of "why" in Allah's creation with certainty, only if He reveals His reasons to us. There are no direct reasons given in the scripts for "why" Allah created only one mate for Adam.
However, if we refer to the verses that mentioned the creation of a "mate" for Adam, we will notice certain implications of the words and expressions used in the verses. And yes, the following is a matter of interpretation.
Read the following verses
*{O mankind! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity, and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women.}* (An-Nisaa' 4:1)
*{It is He who has created you [all] out of one living entity, and out of it brought into being its mate, so that man might incline [with love] towards woman. And so, when he has embraced her, she conceives [what at first is] a light burden, and continues to bear it. Then, when she grows heavy [with child], they both call unto God, their Sustainer, "If Thou indeed grant us a sound [child], we shall most certainly be among the grateful!"}* (Al-A`raf 7:189)
*{He has created you [all] out of one living entity, and out of it fashioned its mate.}* (Az-Zumar 39:6)
The expression that is consistently used in the verses is "zawjaha" (Adam's mate) and not "zawjan lahu" (one mate for Adam), and the second verse quoted above states that "so that he (Adam) might incline to her with love". This means that the "natural" situation for a human being (nafs, whether man or woman) is to incline and love one mate and not more.
This is how Adam was created, and it is certainly more accurate to refer to Adam's creation for discovering the nature of human beings more than any other statistical reference that could differ along the dimensions of geography and history.
In fact, "nature" and "naturally" are such complex words because they are often confused with the words "culture" and "culturally". So you find some people claiming that certain things are human "nature" and they are only really referring to their own "culture" as a reference for this "nature".
The point is that the default and natural creation of human beings is to incline emotionally to one person and "out of the two spread men and women" as the verse is saying. This is the default and natural family structure: man, woman, and their children. Any other form of "family" is a matter of culture that is formed despite humanity's natural inclinations.
In my personal view, many of the "reasons" that people mention behind the Islamic law allowing a man to marry more than one wife are unfounded, apologetic, and even men-serving.
For example, people say that, "men are "naturally" inclined to sexual activities more than women", "the number of men is statistically more than the number of women", "the second is meant to be a friend for the first wife, and the whole family will live happily ever after", and so on.
If we examine these claims mentioned here via modern social sciences tools, we will realize that they are simply inaccurate; and if they happen to apply to a certain society or community in a certain country or time, they do not apply as "universal" human facts based upon what a law could be based on. Here, "universal" is also as big a claim as "natural".
There is another dimension to polygamy that we have to consider, which is the dimension of `urf (tradition or culture). Speaking from a jurisprudential standpoint, traditions of the people do have an effect on Islamic rulings and do affect people's contracts and worldly dealings in general as long as they do not contradict the rules of Shari`ah.
In Islamic law, the rule goes that what is default according to tradition is a default condition in the contract. This means that if the tradition of the people (or perhaps the agreement of the couple before marriage) indicates that the man will not marry any other women, then it goes as a "legal condition" in the marriage contract that is abiding to that man, unless his wife (or perhaps a judge in certain cases) willfully allows this default to change.
The question now is: Could Muslims add conditions such as monogamy to legal contracts? And the answer is yes, according to all Islamic schools of law.
Therefore, if the tradition of the husband and wife view monogamy as the normal and default, then they should apply it, because as we said, what is a default according to tradition is a default condition in the contract.
Some societies, especially in the West, do not accept polygamy and find it harmful for the make up of the family and society. Therefore, it is unfair to Islam to tell these societies that polygamy is part of "Islam" that they have to practice!
We do not want to tie people's acceptance of Islam to practicing polygamy, because they do not have to. It is mentioned in the Qur'an, which is true, but practicing it is subject to people's perception of the family. Our legal evidence is that the first family of Adam and Eve, according to the Qur'an, was monogamous.
I hope this answers your question.

What does Islam say about polygamy? Part 5

This was my question. I forwarded it to them because Islam QA ridiculously said it was mandatory for Muslim males to by polygamous (see here: ). I attacked Islam QA in the original question but they edited it. But it's not a problem since I was relieved that they (IslamQA) was dead wrong on this.


I've heard from many scholars that polygamy has rules and restrictions, and that it is not for everyone, and not recommended either because the Quran says to marry only one. However I recently came across an Islamic web site and this is what they said on polygamy: "According to the hadith narrated by al-Bukhaari from Ibn ‘Abbaas, the best of this ummah are those who have most wives." Sorry, but I've NEVER heard that hadith before in my life. What is the reliability of this hadith? And are Muslim men really encouraged to take more than wife? I live in Canada, and if I tried to apply this principle it would be against the Law. What do you advise Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to do in such cases?


Salam Ali,

Thank you for your question.

Let me first clarify that the Hadith you referred to in your question is actually a saying attributed to `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him). Sa`id ibn Jubair is reported to have said: Ibn `Abbas said to me: “Did you get married?” I replied in the negative. So Ibn `Abbas said: “Then get married, as the best of this Ummah (Muslim nation) had the most wives.” (Al-Bukhari)

According to Ibn Hajar, the famous Hadith commentator, Ibn `Abbas refers to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he had multiple wives. And this Ummah means the Muslim nation which followed the Prophet and not previous nations as Prophets David and Solomon had more wives than what the Prophet had. (Fath al-Bari, 9:114)

Therefore, Ibn `Abbas’ saying cannot be interpreted to be a general rule that the best Muslims are those who have the most wives. Ibn `Abbas was just encouraging Ibn Jubair to get married. This is what al-Muhallab said on his commentary on this hadith. (Ibn Battal, Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:164)

This is the Islamic stance on marriage in general. It is highly recommended to get married in order to have a family that can contribute greatly to the progress of the community. Marriage is not an invention. It has been practiced by Islam by all people including Prophets themselves. We read in the Quran:

{And verity We sent messengers (to mankind) before you, and We appointed for them wives and offspring…} (Ar-Ra`d 13:38)

Marriage is a sacred bond which must be based on love and respect. Muslim men are highly urged to be fair with their wives and never abuse them. Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said:

"The best among you are those who are best to your households; I am the best among you to my household." (Al-Bukhari)
Muslim scholars view that marriage is subject to the five categories of Islamic rulings. It can be obligatory, recommended, permissible, forbidden, or prohibited according to the circumstances of each case.

As for the issue of polygamy, I am not going to delve into why it is permitted. This is because there is no clear answer to this question in the Quran, which Muslims believe is the word of God, or the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Whatever reasons people give are just human interpretations which might be accurate or inaccurate. But it is important to state that the Quran is the only divine book that tells its followers to marry one wife and the reason for that. This is when one cannot establish justice among more than one wife. In this case, he is recommended to marry only one woman.

We read in the Quran what means:

{… but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then (marry) only one.} (An-Nisaa’ 4:3)

All other scriptures give man the right to marry as many women as he wishes. Recently, some religious groups restricted the number to one wife.

Polygamy is there in the Shari`ah. It is an option. It is not a sixth pillar of Islam that every Muslim has to practice it. Polygamy is not the norm; it is the exception. In no way can it be said that a man with two, three, or four wives is better in the sight of Allah than a man with one wife only.

Given the above, polygamy is not an issue that you should busy yourself with. It is not a priority in Islam. It falls within the category of the permissible things in Islam. You will not be asked on the Day of Judgment why you did not marry more than one woman.

What is more important is to integrate in the Canadian society and be an active member. Act as an ambassador for your religion. Be a role model for your neighbors, colleagues, friends, etc.
We thank you, Ali, for your concern not to break Canadian laws. This point takes us to a very crucial issue which should be given due attention. This issue has to do with the duties of Muslims living in a non-Muslim context. Muslims should be law-abiding people, and they should give a good image of Islam. Muslims have to cooperate with other community members and work for their welfare.

At the same time, Muslims should keep their identity and should not give concessions on core issues. Muslims have to take care of their families and raise their children according to the teachings of Islam.

I hope this answers your question.

What does Islam say about polygamy? Part 4


I am a 37 year old male married with 4 kids. I live in Canada but I want to be polygamous. Doesn't God's law over-rule Canadian law? Also doesn't my wife have to accept this as part of me?


Marrying more than one wife is not a permission granted to everyone, for Allah says:"If you cannot be just then only one." So you should ask yourself the question: am I being just to my wife by taking a second wife? Justice has many dimensions. One of the most important one is to be able to fulfil your responsibilities as a husband and as a father. Based on my decades long experience in marital counseling in Canada, I don't think even a man who has one wife and 4 kids (by the way, I am a father of four) can do justice to them in this society, given the nature of work and stress one has to go through life here. Before you claim your rights, you need to ask yourself whether you have fulfilled your duties towards your existing wife and children. If you take time to think this issue carefully, you will realize that marrying more than one wife in a milieu and culture like ours in Canada is indeed a challenge that most people cannot handle.

Secondly, Islam teaches us that we have to be true to the terms of our marriage contract. And the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'there is nothing more worthy of observance than the terms of one's marriage". It is known that by terms he did not mean simply written contracts; they also include those conditions or terms that are simply assumed or taken granted in a particular culture or milieu. Now if, prior to marrying your wife, you had told her that you will be exercising the option of marrying a second wife, would she have agreed to marry you? If she wouldn't have, then you are bound by that tacit agreement. You cannot marry a second one now without her permission.

Finally, Islam does not say marrying more than one wife is a religious requirement; rather it is simply an exception. So practicing polygamy is not a religious duty in Islam. In other words, you can still be a Muslim without taking a second wife. Furthermore, as Muslims, we are also bound to obey the laws of the land as long as they are not opposed to our religious requirements.

What does Islam say about polygamy? Part 3


Salamu aleykom Shiekh Ahmad Thank you for your efforts to spread the knowledge.I have small question about polygamy. Is is required for husband to have his first wife permission to marry second time?Jazaka Allah


If you married your wife in a culture where monogamy was the norm, and you never mentioned to her about your option to marry a second wife, then you owe it to her to seek her permission to do so. For as the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us, we are bound by the terms of our marriage contracts. Since there is no reason to limit such terms to the written ones, they should also include those which are simply assumed or taken for granted in a particular milieu or society. If, therefore, your wife would not have married you--if she had the prior knowledge that you would exercise the option to take a second wife-- then it was a tacit agreement you had agreed to with her; as such you are bound by it.

What does Islam say about polygamy? Part 2


Why do some scholars say that polygamy is the exception and that the rule is one wife and other scholars say that the rule is up to four wives where polygamy is not necessarily an exception? Which one is it?


The Ideal is one wife and the permission to marry more than one is a an exception as can be inferred from the following verse:
Allah says, " And if you have reason to fear that you might not act equitably towards orphans, then marry from among [other] women such as are lawful to you - [even] two, or three, or four: but if you have reason to fear that you might not be able to treat them with equal fairness, then [only] one - or [from among] those whom you rightfully possess. This will make it more likely that you will not deviate from the right course." (Qur'an: 4:3)

Thus if there is a reasonable ground to suspect that he may not be able to do justice, then he is allowed to marry only one. It does not take much imagination to see that the stressful living conditions in the modern industrialized societies are not conducive to a plurality of wives; it is a fact that the vast majority of men are struggling even with one wife and children as they are unable to find enough time to give them the necessary, emotional and spiritual care that is essential for their development as responsible Muslims. In other words, life in the modern world has become so fast paced that it is next to impossible to do justice. This is why most scholars insist that we should keep to the ideal.

Moreover, we are also bound by the terms of our marriage contracts. In a milieu like ours where monogamy is the norm, one needs to get the permission of his first wife to marry another; for she had married him with the tacit understanding that she would be the only wife he will be having. So unless such an option had already been stipulated in the contract, he is not justified in marrying a second wife without her permission.

What does Islam say about polygamy? Part 1


Please answer sheikh. I am a married man with children. I have feelings for another women. Why do I have these feelings? Should I persue this other women as polygamy is allowed in islam. Are my feelings for this other person from Allah as a sign that I should marry her. She seems to be a better match for me than my present wife. What does the qur'an mean when it states that men may wish to replace one wife with the other..please advise.

You are not allowed to get carried by the inclination you feel towards another woman. If we were allowed to act in this way, then there won't be any family life. So we need to bridle our passions and focus on works that are productive.

Although polygamy was allowed in Islam, it is not a general permission applicable for all times and places. The Qur'an has already set monogamy as the norm, and hence polygamy is an exception. Allah says, "If you fear that you cannot do justice, then you may marry only one."

Now it behooves us to consider the specific conditions of the modern age. Stresses of life now are so overwhelming that an ordinary individual can hardly rice to meet the challenges of doing justice towards more than one wife. We can never exaggerate the fact that family life involves heavy responsibilities. It demands undivided attention to care for one's family and the children. Hence, given the conditions of the modern life, undoubtedly monogamy is the ideal to follow.
So, I urge you to curb this desire and be loyal to your wife.

We cannot take the Qur'anic verses out of context. The verse you have cited is applicable only when a person fails to resolve marital conflicts and therefore has no other option but to divorce his wife and marry another. That is not the case with you. If we were allowed divorce our wives every time we feel that there is a more beautiful one, then we would end up destroying the family life, and thus human civilization as we know would cease to exist.

Therefore, I urge you to curb your passions, take steps to put your marriage on the right track by being loyal to your wife and children, and focus on productive work.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Can Muslims take disbelievers as protectors? Part 2


What is meant by not taking the Jews and Christians as awliya? What were the reasons for these verses being revealed?


You are referring to the verse in surat al-ma'idah: 5:1, it is best translated as follows:

"O you who believe, do not take Jews and Christians as your closest allies, for they are only the close allies of each other. Whoever among you turns to them (for alliances, in place of believers,) is one of them, for God doesn't guide corrupt people." (Qur'an: 5:51).

The verse in no way implies establishing normal friendly and amicable relations with either Christians or Jews or anyone else (who is not a Muslim). It specifically refers to siding with them against Muslims, or joining with them on causes that are clearly detrimental to the interests of Islam and Muslims.

The above interpretation is confirmed by a close study of the context of the revelation of the verse: It was revealed, as stated by the great mufassirin (exegists) such as Imam Ibn Jarir and others, in the context of the alliance of Jews with the pagans in waging war against Muslims. When the Jews of Madinah did this, some Muslims from Ansaar, who had been formerly allies of Jews, declared their innocence of them, while others (apparently the hypocrites) still persisted in their alliance--in clear violation of the interests of Islam and Muslims.

Therefore, the above verse is specifically forbidding Muslims against forming alliances with others against the interests of their own community as well as siding with them on causes that are immoral or considered as unjust.

Seen in this light, it does not in any way forbid Muslims from having normal friendly relations with members of these communities or cooperating with them on causes of mutual benefit. Not only these are permissible but also clearly recommended in Islam: Allah tells us,

"...And never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and God-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity; and remain conscious of God: for, behold, God is severe in retribution!" (Qur'an: 5:2)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "(In pre-Islamic times) I attended a pact of virtue in the house of Abd Allah b. Jud'an: If I were called in Islam by anyone to join a similar pact, I would never hasten to join it!" 
Furthermore, it is an incontrovertible fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) turned his foes into his bosom friends by his mercy and friendly relations with them.

In conclusion: The word awliya in the verse referred to above means making them allies against Islam and Muslims.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Is the segregation of men and women an Islamic requirement? Part 4


Is it permissible for a woman or a man to eat at a restaurant where there is no gender segregation?


According to the practice of generations of Muslims from among the predecessors and successors, the mere presence of males and females in the same place is not prohibited in itself. Rather, the prohibition concerns the manner of their gathering if it contradicts the rulings of Islamic law. This includes, for example, women uncovering what they have been commanded to cover in Islamic law, gathering to commit an abominable act or sitting in unlawful privacy with the opposite sex. As for the prohibited mixing between the opposite sexes, it is that which involves touching and physical contact and not merely being present in the same place.

Ibn Batal on his commentary on al Bukhari said that the separation between males and females in places and dealings is not an obligation on Muslim women as it is was only a commandment on the wives of the Prophet.
In his commentary in Fath al Bari, al Hafiz ibn Hajar said that it is permissible for the wife to serve her husband and those he invites over to his home should she keep her dignity intact through wearing her hijab. In case of jeopardizing her dignity in any way or form, it is deemed impermissible for the woman to be surrounded with men.

In Sahih al Bukhari, it was narrated by Abu Juhaifah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he made alliances of brotherhood among the emigrants (al muhajereen) and the supporters (al ansar), Salman and Abu al Dardaa were allied so one time Salman went to visit Abu al Dardaa and he found his wife looking upset so he asked her “what is wrong with you” and she said “Abu al Dardaa has no desire in this world”. Form this narrative we conclude the permissibility of conversing between opposite sexes.

So we conclude that the sheer presence of men and women in one place does not render impermissibility as prohibition is only deemed relevant when the man and the woman seclude themselves in a place where no one can enter. Also the mere act of closing the door of an office or the like does not make it prohibited and is not considered an unlawful privacy because the door is not locked and anyone can easily go in and out of the room.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Can we give condolences to non-Muslims?


Is it permissible for a Muslim to send condolences to the family, on the death of a Christian friend/colleague or a neighbor? If so is there any authentic evidence from the life of the Prophet (SAW) that he did that?


It is perfectly all right to do so, Islam commands us to be good to all people, and establish good neighborliness, reciprocating kindness with kindness, and recognizing the good in all people. Islam is all about justice and compassion; God commands us to be steadfast in upholding these virtues at all times. We are told, “O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity; and let not hatred of any people make you swerve from justice. Deal justly; that is nearer to God-fearing….” (Qur’an: 5: 8).

The Qur’an further tells us that there are among the Christians those who are full of love and compassion: “…And We placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him (Jesus)…” (Qur’an: 57: 27). And we are also told, “…And you will find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: “We are Christians.” That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud.” (Qur’an: 5: 82).

For instance, the late Pope John Paul 11 was undoubtedly known to all people with these qualities. Islam teaches us to recognize the good and virtue wherever they are found; and shun and abhor vice and immorality whoever practices them. Pope John Paul stood for justice and spoke against unjust, and immoral wars, and occupations, and extended and opened his arms to receive people of all faiths including Muslims; that is why as numerous Muslim scholars throughout the world have stated: In John Paul 11’s death we have lost a very good friend.

Prophetic precedents for reciprocating kindness with kindness and his magnanimity even with his foes are too numerous to count. He visited non-Muslims who were sick, he was extremely generous with his food and provisions to all of his neighbors including Muslims and non-Muslims; he welcomed the Christian delegation in his mosque and served them, he extolled the pact of virtue that the pagans had formed in pre-Islamic times, and said that he would gladly hasten to join to any similar ventures in Islam, no matter who takes the initiative. We also know from the traditions that the Prophet, peace be upon him, stood up to honor the funeral procession of a Jew. Inspired by these and other precedents, his companions used to attend the funerals of non-Muslims, including those of the People of the Book.

In conclusion, we are certainly allowed to extend condolences to our friends among Christians and others who have lost their family member or friend or a leader of their faith. We are also allowed to attend their funerals and memorials in order to extend our sympathies to the bereaved.

Can we go to a funeral of a non-Muslim?


A close friend of mine recently passed away as she was a christian there will be a church ceremony is it permissible for a Muslim women to attend the ceremony.


You are allowed to attend the funeral of your friend held in the Church.

Here is a more informative one:


My question is in regards to attending funerals of someone from a different religion. Are we allowed to attend the funeral of a non-muslim? If yes are we allowed to participate in their prayers and rituals knowing that we don't believe in what they're doing but we are there to pay our condolences? If no are we allowed to make duaa for them in our own way to bless them with jannah or anything of that sort?


Islam is all about compassion and good neighborliness. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, " Jibreel continued to exhort me about kindness to my neighbor to such an extend so that I even thought he would be eligible to inherit my property." It goes without saying that, if that is the case, then visiting your neighbor when he is sick or attending his funeral would certainly be a priority. This is why we know that the Prophet's companions used to attend the funerals of their non-Muslim relatives and friends.

While attending a non-Muslim funeral, we are not to participate in their specific religious rituals. It is best that we use the occasion to observe silence, and contemplate the mystery of death and pray for all of those who have died in good faith. In other words, you should not make a specific prayer for the person; rather you are only allowed to offer a general prayer for all good souls and leave the judgment to Allah to sort out the good souls from the bad ones. The reason for this is that human beings are free exercise their freedom of conscience and therefore each person is accountable for the choices he or she has made. For further details, here is a previous answer I gave on a similar question:

Dear scholars, As-Salamu 'alaykum. I am a convert. I always come across the following questions from the new converts: Is it permissible for us to make du'a' (supplication) for our parents, family members and relatives who are non-Muslims? What can we pray for them? What can we not? Jazakum Allah khayran.


"We are certainly allowed to make du'a' for our non-Muslim relatives and friends who are living; we can pray for them for their health, wellbeing and guidance. But the most important prayer that we can do for them is to pray for their guidance to the path of Islam; we must do so on a continuous basis. Our prayer for guidance for them should be complemented by our earnest efforts to persuade them to embrace Islam through wisdom and beautiful preaching. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "If a single person were to be guided to the right way through your efforts that would be better for you than owning the whole world as a treasure!"

As for our non-Muslim relatives or friends who have died, we are not allowed to pray for them if we know for a certain fact that they have died in disbelief:

Allah says, "It is not fitting for the Prophet and the believers to pray for the forgiveness of the polytheists, even though they may be near kin (to them) after it has become clear them that they are the people of Hell." (At-Tawbah: 113)

Since, according to Islam, every person is responsible for the choice he has made in life, and he has chosen the path of disbelief, we are not to pray for his forgiveness. If, however, we are not sure what kind of faith they died in, then we are allowed to offer the following general prayer which includes all believers. If they had died in faith they would certainly be included in it; let Allah be the judge:

Allahumma ighfir li al-mu'minia wa al-mu'minat, al-ahya' minhum wa al-amwat: (O Allah, forgive all believers, males and females, those who are living and those who have died).

We may also pray in the manner of Prophet 'Isa (Jesus-peace be upon him), who prayed to Allah concerning the Christians who associated him in the worship of Allah:

"If you punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, You are the August, the Wise." (Al-Ma'idah: 118)

How should couples handle disputes?


I am an Indian .I and my husband had a fight which was started by my husband .I asked an apology from my husband as he was responsible for the fight ( I wasn't agrresive at this time ) my husband refused to apologise and all the alders of our family were very angry at me that how can I ask such a thing from my husband as he is my mijazi khuda. ( some one in front of whom I should bow my head after Allah). Please advice me was I wrong to ask him an apology and is there anything like mijazi khuda .


While it is true that a wife should obey her husband, only Allah has the right to claim unconditional obedience. Islam, therefore, teaches us to recognize right as right and wrong as wrong. The prophet (peace be upon him) said, "No one has the right to be obeyed in disobedience to the Creator." In other words, if your husband is wrong, he has to apologize even as you need to do so if you do wrong.
This is the lesson we learn from the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he never demanded that his wives submit to him unconditionally. Thus, we learn that once when he had an argument with Aishah, his beloved wife, he suggested that they would have someone else to listen to the issue as an arbitrator. He offered her the chance to choose the person. When she insisted, he chooses, he mentioned a few names, all of which she rejected, and finally when he suggested the name of her father, Abu Bakr, she agreed hoping that he would take her side. This incident shows that the Prophet in spite of being a prophet did not think that he ought to be obeyed unconditionally by his wife. He also wanted to show to his community that neither husband nor husband should think they are perfect.

Allah and His Prophet teach us to recognize our faults. The caliph Umar said, "The best gift anyone can give me is to point out my faults to me." So, husband and wife are to serve as true mirrors helping each other to improve; neither one should think of himself or herself as perfect. Even the Prophet never thought of himself in this way. So, for anyone to suggest that husband should not be corrected if he does wrong and that a wife's duty is to obey is wholly un-Islam. It is paganism that Islam came to be replaced.

Therefore, there is no room in Islam to adhere to this false belief that a husband is a majazi khuda or a kind of divine being to be obeyed unconditionally.

Before concluding this answer, I would suggest that both of you should try to settle this dispute amicably. The best approach is for both of you to be humble before Allah and ask forgiveness of Allah and of each other and pray to Allah,

"Our Lord, grant us true joy in our spouses and children and make us role models for the God-fearing."

Monday, December 3, 2012

What does Islam say about taking things to the extreme?


Asalamu-alikum warahmatullah Shiekh I have been called a fundamentalist meaning an extremist in their own religion. Why? I don't know what I have done! I am just worried about my religion this ummah. I was told that I shouldn't take islam in a serious way but I said "I fear my lord I want to pass this life time Why shouldn't I be worried about my religion". Then I was called a fundamentalist. Please help me


If you know that you are not an extremist, then you don't need to worry about what people may think or say about you. You should, however, stay clear of all forms of extremism in your words, manners and actions. Islam you should know is all about moderation, balance and harmony; it teaches us to shun rigidity and extremism. The Prophet said, "Woe to the extremists (who make things difficult for themselves and others)." (Reported by Muslim). He also said, "this religion of ours is easy and simple to follow; whoever makes it hard upon him will only be defeating himself (by such an attitude)." (Reported by Nasa'i).

If you know that you are not an extremist, and you adhere strictly to the sound beliefs and practices of Islam, then you need not worry about your reputation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "whoever works to please Allah-even, though he may have to displease people by doing that- Allah will take care of people for him. If, however, someone is trying to please people by displeasing Allah, Allah will abandon him to people." (Reported by Timidhi)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How does Islam view a woman's testimony?


Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. Does Islam regard the testimony of women as half of a man's just in cases of transactions or in every case? Who are the scholars that maintain the first view? What is the evidence of those scholars saying that her testimony is not accepted in cases of murder and adultery? Jazakum Allahu khayran.


Wa `alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Sister, first of all, we would like to say that we are impressed by your question, which emanates from a thoughtful heart. May Almighty Allah help us all adhere to the principles of this true religion, Islam, and enable us to be among the dwellers of Paradise in the Hereafter, amen.

In Islam, woman is not considered as an inferior gender and most Qur'anic references to testimony do not make any reference to gender. Some references fully equate the testimony of males and females. No reference is made to the inferiority or superiority of one gender's witness or the other's.

In his response to your question, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, president of the Fiqh Council of North America, states,
The word shahadah in its various forms has occurred in the Qur'an about 156 times. There is only one case (Al-Baqarah 2:282) where there is a reference to gender. Apart from this one reference, there is no other place where the issue of gender is brought in the context of testimony. According to the Qur'an, it does not make any difference whether the person testifying is a male or female; the only objective is to ascertain accuracy and to establish justice and fairness. In one place in the Qur'an, there is an explicit reference that equates the testimonies of the male and female (See Surat An-Nur 24:6-9).

Only in the context of business transactions and loan contracts, it is mentioned that if two men are not available for testimony, then one man and two women are to be provided for that particular purpose (See Surat Al-Baqarah 2:282). The reason is not because of gender; it is given in the Qur'anic verse: If one errs, the other may remind her. Some scholars have suggested that this was due to the fact that most women in the past and even now were not involved in the intricate business dealings. So the Qur'an accepted their testimony, but to insure justice indicated that there should be two.

It is also important to note that the Shari`ah emphasizes that we follow the law exactly in the matters of worship; in economic dealings, however, the issue of justice is the main factor. If a judge sees that there is a woman who is very qualified and has good understanding of business transactions, the judge may consider her testimony equal to the testimony of a man. This will not be against the teachings of the Qur'an.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Can women travel alone?


What is Islamic view on women traveling alone? Is having a mahram ( a close male relative or husband) a prerequisite even if the woman can take care of herself and take necessary precautions? I am planning to attend an Islamic program in New York for weeks but couldn't find a mahram or even a sister to come along. I have made the necessary arrangements with the organizer to even fetch me from the airport. My parents don't allow because I will be a way for more than days and without a mahram. Could I still attend the program without my parent's blessings? By the way, I'm yrs old.


If you have a genuine reason to travel, then you are allowed to travel without a mahram—provided that you have taken all the necessary precautions for your safety and security during the course of your journey. This can be done by making prior arrangements for a safe journey to and from the airport as well as for your stay with trusted Muslim friends or in a hotel under the guidance of the organizers of the conference. I assume that the conference you are attending is being organized by a reputable Muslim organization; if not, at least by a reputable organization or institution with integrity and acceptable ethical and moral standards.

Islamic laws are not whimsical dictates of a tyrannical master who is simply testing the obedience of his slaves; rather they are the orders of Allah who is All-Wise and All-Knowing; His orders have tangible purposes and objectives that are discernible for all rational minds. The Prophet’s interdict against a woman’s travel without a mahram is primarily intended to ensure that a woman’s honor, dignity and reputation are fully protected. This is why he is also reported to have made the following statement in the early years of his mission in Makkah, “I will continue to struggle with this mission until a woman can travel (all by herself freely) without any fear for her safety!” It is, therefore, only reasonable for us to assume that the Prophet, peace be upon him, while forbidding women from undertaking a journey of three days without a mahram, had in mind the perils of the journey in the wide expanse of the desert where there was no semblance of law and order; where in fact for all practical purposes it was the the predatory tribal life-style that prevailed before Islam established law and order.

It is also for this reason that we find Aishah, the beloved wife of the Prophet, peace be upon him, who while being fully aware of the above Prophetic interdict, replied when someone asked her, 'can a woman travel without a marham?': “Can everyone find a mahram always?” in other words, if a woman needs to travel, she can do so if she can be reasonably assured of her safety and protection. We also read that Imam Shafi’s mother traveled from Ghazza to Makkah carrying the Imam who was still a toddler at the time in her own arms in a safe company. It is for these reasons that we find that a number of eminent scholars from both the Maliki and Shafi schools have ruled that a woman can travel without a mahram as long as she can find a safe company.

Today in counties where law and order prevail we can be reasonably assured of a woman’s safety and security especially in airplanes and public transportation networks. As some scholars have rightly pointed out that these conditions are vastly superior in terms of safety and security than the perilous and unpredictable conditions of a remote desert especially in the bygone past.

So I do not find anything wrong for you to undertaking this journey if you have to; nor do I think that your parents should be particularly concerned about your safety in this case. Perhaps you should have a free and frank discussion with them on this matter; you should also give them the details of your booking and relevant travel details as well as your contacts in the city of your destination, including your stay/hotel arrangements, etc. May Allah grant us all rectitude in speech and action-aameen.

Can a woman go to another country for education without a mahram?


Can a woman go to another Muslim country for education without a Mahram...She already made a mistake by going and now she is in her final year and realized that what she is doing is wrong. Allhumdulillah...but her dad is really pushing her to go. and he is very sad as she has refused to continue studies without a mahram..She is confused and dosen't know what to do.


A woman may travel for the purpose you have mentioned as long as she has taken all the necessary safeguards to protect her religion and honor. This is the sound ruling of many scholars of the past and the present-including 'A'ishah, the mother of the believers, and the beloved wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him). According to them, the Prophet's interdict against woman's travel without a mahram was because of his fear for her safety.
Therefore, there is no need for us to make this religion so rigid in order to restrict the movement of women.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How does Islam view pluralism and democracy?


Dear Sheikh! Some people keep on yelling that Islam is the religion of one political party meaning that when Muslim activists come to power, they will never allow the existence of any other political party, a thing that marks a defeat of all forms of democracy. Please comment!


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All thanks and praise are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner! Thanks a lot for your question and the interest you show in having a clearer view of the true teachings of Islam. May Allah help you get the right understanding and stand firm on the Straight Path! Amen!
First of all, we would like to highlight the fact that pluralism is something known to Islam and Muslim scholars a long time ago. Islam does not say that only one party should run the affairs of the whole state or seize power; rather, it leaves the matter to be determined according to the rules of As-Siyasah Ash-Shar`iyyah (Shari`ah-Oriented Policy) that vary according to time and place. Muslim scholars accept the articles of the democratic system that cope with the teachings of Islam.

Making this concept clear, here is the fatwa issued by the eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, vice President of the European Council for Fatwa and Research:

“To claim that Islam advocates monocracy is untrue. It is well-established that since the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, Muslims have known different political parties that have constituted in shaping political structure of the Muslim societies.
The Emigrants (Al-Muhajirun) and the Helpers (Al-Ansar) acted as if they were two parties, still they were far remote from enmity known among the fans of each party. They (the Emigrants and the Helpers) differed concerning choosing the Caliph. This was the first political difference of its kind occurring among Muslims. Each party demanded that the Caliph was to be chosen from among them. This is not far different from the demand of any contemporary political party.
Yet, the emergence of real partisanship was remarkable after the assassination of Caliph `Uthman ibn `Affan, may Allah be pleased with him. The assassination itself was a form of a military coup against the ruler, another act that can be carried out by a political party.
Later, the Kharijites appeared during the reign of Caliph `Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, and were known as a political party as well as a sect. Many dynasties that appeared later including the Abbassyds, the Turks and the Mamlukis were no more than political parties taking power.
In fact, forming political parties or gatherings that call for political legal goals is completely Islamic. Muslim activists who hold the view that Islam allows one party are very few and even have no effect on the mainstream. Muslim activists who can win elections all believe in pluralism within the framework of Islam. In case those peaople come to power, there will be no fear of any political despotism.
As for the true concept of democracy, it is not our main concern. We, Muslims believe in pluralism and political freedom as part and parcel of Islamic teachings. It is worth stressing here that we accept the articles and the principles of democracy that cope with the teachings of Islam and reject those principles that are non-Islamic. Our main reference is Islam when deciding whether to accept or reject any new ideology.”
Allah Almighty knows best.

Can women be rulers in Islam?

This was my question that I forwarded.


Salaam dear scholars, I understand that women have special duties, but if they are taken care of or something like it, can she be the ruler of a state? I've read biographies of some Muslim women who ruled places like India and Morocco. Thanks


Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

Thank you brother Ali for your good question.

In fact, I wonder why some people still imagine that Muslim women face unnecessary restrictions or discrimination in Islam. Though women’s position in Islam is unique, unprecedented, and highly appreciated, some writers, mostly from the West, attempt to cast doubts over it. Among the points that seem to be controversial and debatable in this regard is women’s eligibility for leadership and holding pubic positions in Muslim communities. To fully perceive Islam’s stance on this significant issue, let’s consider the following essential points:
1. Men and Women: Equal, Not Identical
In fact, both women and men are equal in Islam. So, Islamic Shari`ah never discriminate between people, men and women. Women enjoy as equal rights as men. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a hadith, "Women are men’s counterparts" (Abu Dawud, Sunan, hadith no. 236)

Also, the Quran unequivocally emphasizes that men and women are equal: (O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.) (Al-Hujurat 49: 13)

In his well-reputed book, Islam in Focus, Hammudah Abdalati Abd Alati says,
The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no problem. It is almost impossible to find two identical men or women.
This distinction between equality and sameness is of paramount importance. Equality is desirable, just, fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights - but not identical - shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality.
Following are some manifestations of equality between men and women in Islam:

a) Both women and men are equally addressed by religious ordinances of Shari`ah such as prayer, fasting, hajj, zakah, decency, etc. For instance, we read in the Quran, (Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest.) (An-Nur 24: 30-31)
b) Both men and women are Islamically encouraged to pursue education. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) said, “Seeking knowledge is a duty of every Muslim.” In another version of the same hadith, it is said, “…on every Muslim, male and female”.
c) Both men and women have the equal right to participate in the public life. History bears witness that Muslim women, throughout centuries, used to participate in different aspects of the public life. They used to go out with the Muslim armies to nurse the wounded and prepare supplies. Women used to discuss rulers’ decisions as happened in the famous incident when a woman publically objected to `Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s proposal to decrease dowries where the latter accepted the woman’s opinion and nullified his decision.

2. Leadership is Based on Qualifications

In Islam, eligibility for leadership is based on qualifications and skills. So, if a woman or a man possesses the sufficient qualifications to lead his or her community, company, institution, etc., then he or she should be the leader, the manager, or the head of the office. When it comes to running people’s affairs, Islam fully considers people’s pubic interests, which take precedence over individuals’ personal benefits. Therefore, qualifications and capabilities are the main requirements in choosing rulers and leaders. In this context, the well-known Maliki jurist, Shihab ad-Din al-Qarafi says,

In every post or authority, a priority should be given to the one who is the most capable to run it properly. In wars, for example, those who are more experienced in leading armies and fighting plans should take priority in leadership. In judiciary, those who are more aware of legal rulers and intelligent enough to deal with people’s complaints should be judges. Those who are more capable to take care of the orphans and their money should take the responsibility.
The Quran confirms this principle when narrating the story of prophet’s Shu`yab’s daughter who asked her father to hire Prophet Musa owing to his distinctive capabilities (power) and noble character (trustworthiness):

 (One of the two women said: O my father! Hire him! For the best (man) that thou canst hire is the strong, the trustworthy) (Al-Qasas 28: 26).

3. Context of the Hadith on Women’s Leadership

Some people misunderstand the hadith that Imam Al-Bukhari reports from Abu Bakrah that: "Allah provided me with considerable benefit during the battle of the camel with one word (or one statement). When news reached the prophet (peace be upon him) that the Persians had appointed Chosroe's daughter as their ruler, he said: ''A nation which placed its affairs in the hands of a woman shall never prosper!'' (Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami` as-Sahih, hadith no. 4425)

So, this hadith has a special meaning and an occasion that should be considered when interpreting and understanding its contextual connotation. That hadith signifies that the Prophet (peace be upon him) foretold his Companions that the Persian empire would come to an end.
Some people literally interpret and rely on the above hadith to say that a woman cannot be a leader. However, the fact is that there has never been unanimity on this matter among Muslim scholars, past and present.

From the earliest days of Muslim scholarship, even those jurists who implicitly accept the hadith above as containing some injunction have differed on the meaning of ''placing affairs in the hands of a woman''. While some prohibit women from all public duties, others hold the opposite view. Abu Hanifah, for instance, permits a woman to be a judge in matters in which her testimony is admissible. Ibn Jarir Al-Tabari, as Ibn Hajar reported in his Fat-h al-Bari, does not only support the unrestricted appointment of women to judgeship, he permitted also her appointment as Head of State. A similar view is reported from Imam Malik Ibn Anas and adopted by some Maliki jurists (although the popular view in the madhab, juristic shool, is contrary to this).

Given the above, it becomes evident that a qualified woman may be elected or appointed in any leading position in the Muslim community or state. She could be a head of a government, a university, a company, etc. A qualified woman can be a minister, an MP, a lecturer, a teacher, a doctor, community leader, etc. The position of the Caliph, which is non-existent nowadays, is debated by scholars owing to the tough responsibilities and heavy burdens that early Muslim caliphs used to shoulder, among which leading people in congregational prayers and delivering Friday sermons which are peculiar to men. However, many Muslim scholars see that a woman can hold any public position if she is well-qualified to. What matters, then, is promoting people’s public interests and adherence to the dictates of Shari`ah.

Hopefully, my reply meets your expectations.

Please keep in touch.
Wa salamu `alaykum.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Can Muslims take disbelievers as protectors?


Allah commands us not to take the disbelievers as awliya. Does this mean that in my college i cant ask questions from teacher? I'm in UK and not a in Muslim college and possibly can't move right now to a Muslim school or country.


You are free to seek beneficial knowledge and wisdom from any source, regardless of whether they are Muslims or non-non-Muslims. This is an irrefutable principle of Islam; it is amply proven by the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him), his companions, caliphs, savants and scholars of Islam, throughout the ages.

It is wrong to say that we cannot take help from non-Muslims. How can we say so when the Prophet the caliphs as well as others have sought help from non-Muslims in various capacities? It is a well-known fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) appointed a non-Muslim as his guide during hijrah to Madinah while he was being pursued by his pagan oppressors who had sworn to assassinate him.

Likewise, in the aftermath of the battle of Badr, the Prophet (peace be upon him) freed the pagan captives of war who were literate to teach ten Muslim children how to read and write-as a pre-condition for setting them free. The Prophet's wife 'Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) tells us that the Prophet would consult physicians coming to Madinah (many of them were non-Muslims) on treatments. Aishah would listen to their prescriptions, thanks to which, she became an expert in the medicine as known to the Arabs at the time. Examples like these abound in the sources.

Furthermore, Umm Salamah (who was married to the Prophet, later) was escorted to Madinah by a non-Muslim. It is also a historical fact that the Islamic civilization as we know it was the result of Muslims learning freely from the non-Muslims in the countries they conquered. They thus followed the Prophetic wisdom: "Wisdom is the most cherished wealth of a believer; he appropriates it from any source." 
Therefore, the verses you have referred to are specifically related to taking those who oppress and wage war against Muslims as helpers and friends. It cannot be applied as a general principle.

Can Muslims take non-muslims as friends? Part 3


What is meant by not taking the Jews and Christians as awliya? What were the reasons for these verses being revealed?


You are referring to the verse in surat al-ma'idah: 5:1, it is best translated as follows:

"O you who believe, do not take Jews and Christians as your closest allies, for they are only the close allies of each other. Whoever among you turns to them (for alliances, in place of believers,) is one of them, for God doesn't guide corrupt people." (Qur'an: 5:51).

The verse in no way implies establishing normal friendly and amicable relations with either Christians or Jews or anyone else (who is not a Muslim). It specifically refers to siding with them against Muslims, or joining with them on causes that are clearly detrimental to the interests of Islam and Muslims.

The above interpretation is confirmed by a close study of the context of the revelation of the verse: It was revealed, as stated by the great mufassirin (exegists) such as Imam Ibn Jarir and others, in the context of the alliance of Jews with the pagans in waging war against Muslims. When the Jews of Madinah did this, some Muslims from Ansaar, who had been formerly allies of Jews, declared their innocence of them, while others (apparently the hypocrites) still persisted in their alliance--in clear violation of the interests of Islam and Muslims.

Therefore, the above verse is specifically forbidding Muslims against forming alliances with others against the interests of their own community as well as siding with them on causes that are immoral or considered as unjust.

Seen in this light, it does not in any way forbid Muslims from having normal friendly relations with members of these communities or cooperating with them on causes of mutual benefit. Not only these are permissible but also clearly recommended in Islam: Allah tells us,

"...And never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and God-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity; and remain conscious of God: for, behold, God is severe in retribution!" (Qur'an: 5:2)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "(In pre-Islamic times) I attended a pact of virtue in the house of Abd Allah b. Jud'an: If I were called in Islam by anyone to join a similar pact, I would never hasten to join it!" 
Furthermore, it is an incontrovertible fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) turned his foes into his bosom friends by his mercy and friendly relations with them.

In conclusion: The word awliya in the verse referred to above means making them allies against Islam and Muslims.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is a woman's voice considered awrah?


Salam Shaykh I'm planning on having an assembly at my school. We're thinking about having a Qur'an recitation at the beginning of the assembly. It is an all girls school but there are some male staff members. Would it be appropriate for one of us to recite?


There are some scholars who consider women's voice as awrah to be hidden and concealed; they are of the view that her voice may arouse lustful thoughts in men. However, this view has been rejected by the majority of scholars. It is simply unacceptable based on evidence of scripture and reason. The Qur'a and the Sunnah are replete with examples of women speaking to men and vice versa. The mothers of the faithful used to teach and lecture to men and women as is well known from the precedents of Aishah as well as others.

Furthermore, we learn from the authentic traditions that Prophet (peace be upon him) allowed girls to sing on a number of occasions, and he objected to those who condemned and disapproved of it on the Eid day. He attended a wedding reception where he heard the singing. As they saw him, they added the phrase, 'among us is a prophet who knows what happens tomorrow', upon hearing it, he told them, to cut out the phrase and continue singing as they were.

If girls are allowed to sing in a mixed gathering, then there is no reason to forbid them from reading the Qur'an, which is indeed an act of worship.

Having said this, it is important to point out that both women and women are required to observe the Islamic etiquettes and adhere to acceptable standards of interaction (between males and females) on all occasions, including avoiding expressions and mannerisms that arouse carnal desires and emotions.

What is the Sharia punishment for homosexuality?


Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. Recently, we heard from the news that Gambian president Yahya Jammeh threatened to behead homosexuals, and two persons were arrested and are being held for trial. What is the Shari`ah stance on this? Jazakum Allahu khayran.


Wa`alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Brother, thank you for your question and concern to know the rules of Islam. May Almighty Allah enlighten our hearts and minds with His guidance.
The issue you raised in your question is a thorny one. For sure, homosexuality and lesbianism are heinous crimes against humanity that deserve a deterrent punishment. Muslim scholars have various views regarding the punishment of this abhorrent crime. It is high time for juristic counsels in the Muslim World to tackle this issue to reach an agreed-upon law that does suit our complicated contemporary life and situations.
Responding to your question, Sheikh Mohamed El-Moctar El-Shinqiti, director of the Islamic Center of South Plains, Lubbock, Texas, US, stated,
I agree with president Jammeh that homosexuality is a grievous sin that a Muslim must find repugnant, and that its perpetrators do not deserve to be respected or accepted in the Muslim society. This sin represents retrogression in the sound and natural human disposition and destruction to the structure of family, which is the original unit in society.
The relation between this sin and HIV/AIDS, which has killed millions of people and has caused suffering for many other millions, indicates that those promoting this sin are in fact committing a crime against humanity. This also shows that their loud protest against Jammeh's remarks is a mere hypocrisy.
However, the Gambian president, like any other president, is neither judge nor jurist, and does not have the right to prescribe a legal punishment. Punishments in the Shari`ah are not for political disputes, but they are part of a judicial system, which is maintained by an impartial independent courts. Because the Gambian president is not a jurist, and it is not expected from a man of political and military background like him to be a jurist, he does not know that his threat to behead homosexuals is based on a very weak basis in the Shari`ah.
The juristic view on which president Jammeh threatened to behead homosexuals has no basis in the glorious Qur'an or the authentic Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). This will be explained as follows:
a) No legal punishment is stated in the Qur'an for homosexuality; all what is stated in this concern is the condemnation of committing it in the context of the story of Prophet Lot and the divine punishment his people received for committing such a hideous sin.
 b) It is not reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has punished somebody for committing homosexuality, a fact that Ibn Al-Qayyim has explained by saying that "this (sin) was not known among Arabs" during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

c) There is no authentic hadith reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prescribing a punishment for the homosexuals. However, the Qur'anic description of homosexuality as a fahishah (Arabic for: abomination), which is the same description of zina (Arabic for: adultery or fornication), hints that both sins entail inflicting the same legal punishment.

d) Scholars of Islamic schools of jurisprudence have different views on the punishment to be inflicted for committing this sin: Some say that the punishment is the killing of the perpetrator, others say that it is the same as in the case of zina, and a third party are of the opinion that the judge may afflict a lower discretionary punishment, such as imprisonment.

However, punishing the homosexuals by stoning them to death is supported through only two weak hadiths, on which the scholars who adopt the views of stoning and killing build their opinions.
The first hadith is narrated on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "If you find anybody committing the act of the People of Lot (i.e. sodomy), then kill the one doing it and the one with whom it is done."This hadith is recorded by Imam Ahmad, Imam Abu Dawud, and Imam At-Tirmidhi among others. However, Al-Bukhari, Yahya ibn Ma`in, An-Nasa'i, and Ibn Hazm impugned the authenticity of this hadith.
The second hadith is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said about the one committing sodomy, "Stone the upper and the lower (i.e. both persons committing it)."This hadith is recorded by Ibn Majah, Abu Ya`la, and Al-Hakim; however, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hazm, among others, impugned the authenticity of this hadith. In his book Ahkam Al-Qur'an, judge Abu Bakr Al-Jassas commented on this hadith stating that the narrations of two of the narrators of this hadith "are not reliable by any means, and no legal punishment can be prescribed based on them (i.e. on their narrations)."
There are some similar traditions in this concern, among which a hadith narrated by Jabir ibn `Abdullah that reads "kill whoever commits the act of the people of Lot,"and another narration in which `Ali ibn Abu Talib adopted the opinion of stoning the sodomite. However, these traditions are even weaker than the ones discussed above, according to the scholars of Hadith.
Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar summarized the whole issue in the chapter of hudud (Arabic for: punishments prescribed by Islamic Shari`ah) in his book Fath Al-Bari, saying, "The narration reported on killing the one doing it and the one with whom it is done or stoning them is weak."
In fact, no scholar of the science Hadith deemed authentic the aforementioned two hadiths except Ibn Habban among the early scholars and Al-Albani among the contemporary ones. Ibn Habban deemed the hadith of Ibn `Abbas authentic, while Al-Albani deemed Abu Hurairah's hadith authentic. However, it is known among the scholars of Hadith that Ibn Habban's views are unreliable if not substantiated by other scholars of Hadith in deeming hadiths authentic. In addition, Al-Albani's opinion cannot stand against the doubts Al-Bukhari, Ibn Ma`in, Ibn Hajar, and other prominent scholars of Hadith raised as to the reliability of the narrators if these hadiths.
In brief, if these hadiths were not weak, no disagreement was to be among scholars on the punishment of sodomy since the time of the Prophet's Companions till now.
I would like to conclude this discussion by stating some important points on the historical context we are experiencing now.
First, it should be stated that sodomy (or homosexuality) is a wicked and grievous sin and a crime against society, but beheading or stoning those committing it are punishments that have no foundation in the Qur'an or the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). All what can be said is that sodomy is a fahishah, the same way the Qur'an described zina, so it has the same legal punishment — the lashing of the perpetrator one hundred times in a public place as stated in Surat An-Nur, or imprisoning and punishing him as stated in Surat of An-Nisa'.
Second, all the juristic views stating that the homosexuals are to be killed, burnt, or thrown from a high place, have no sound legal foundation, though they show how much the early Muslim society was disgusted with such a wicked, immoral practice. However, legal judgments are based on divine revelation not on the tendencies of societies.
Third, it should be stated that Islam is a religion of mercy, and the society has the duty of giving the guilty an opportunity to repent and correct his or her way. In the crime of murder, which is the most heinous crime, Islam opens the door to forgiveness and paying blood money before afflicting the qisas (Arabic for: retribution). Thus, jumping directly to the punishment indicates that the societal system has failed, and that there is a disorder in the educational thinking in the society.
Fourth, reviewing the Islamic criminal jurisprudence has become a must, because some of the punishments commonly stated in the books of jurisprudence are based on weak traditions, such as stoning the adulterer and killing the apostate. Without a serious review of these punishments, we would always find some enthusiastic persons who hurt the image of Islam using weak juristic views, though intending the good for Islam.
Fifth, independence of judiciary has become an urgent matter that should not be delayed. This is because legal punishments are the work of independent, impartial legitimate judiciary; politicians have nothing to do with such punishments.
Sixth, legal punishments need to be codified through constitutional texts and laws approved by parliaments. This also should be based on legal foundation, scholarly study, and a scrutinizing review of the rich jurisprudential Islamic heritage. By doing this, we will save Islam from the political and legal chaos it is experiencing now.
In conclusion, Gambian president Jammeh deserves respect for his enthusiasm for Islam and virtue in his society. However, before iterating his threats, he needs to wait and make sure of the legal foundation of them; otherwise, his enthusiasm may prove counterproductive, as happened with others, and, thus, harm the Muslim societies, defame the Islamic message, and contradict the Islamic concepts of justice and punishments.