Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Can a Muslim woman study in a non-Muslim university environment?

This is a continuation of fatwas on male-female interaction. Please see the rest as well, by clicking on the "male-female interaction" tab at the bottom of the article, or you can search it up by using the search box on the right hand side.


Is it permissible for Muslim women to seek education in medicine in a non-Muslim environment where non-Muslim men do not lower their gazes?


In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.
Dear Sister,

I pray this message finds you in the best of health and iman. Thank you for your question.
The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, "Seeking knowledge is encumbent on every Muslim." [Ibn Majah]

As Muslims, we are required to learn what is necessary to make our faith and worship valid, sound and proper.

According to Reliance of the Traveller, a book of Sacred Law according to the school of Imam al-Shafi'i, there are three types of knowledge.

The first type, personally obligatory knowledge, is required of every Muslim male and female who has reached puberty and is of sound mind.

Personally obligatory knowledge includes knowing the basic tenets of faith, such as the attributes of Allah Most High, His Oneness, His transcendence and His absolute dissimilarity to created things. One must also affirm the fact that Allah Ta'ala sent prophets and messengers, and that Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, was the Seal of Prophethood. One must believe in the books of Allah, the angels, divine decree, and the Last Day.

In matters of worship, one is required to know enough to make one's prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage valid, sound and proper.

In matters of interpersonal relationships and business dealings, one is required to know what makes these relationships valid and invalid. For example, if one is seeking to marry, then one should learn the rulings of marriage and divorce and understand the scope of one's obligations to one's spouse.
The second type of knowledge is communally obligatory. If some members of the community undertake this responsibility, then the obligation of seeking this knowledge is lifted from the rest.
However, if no one seeks this type of knowledge, then the entire community is accountable. Examples of communally obligatory knowledge include specialized disciplines of Sacred Law such as Qur'an memorization, hadith classification, the science of methodological principles, and Arabic grammar.

Reliance specifically mentions,

"As for learning which is not Sacred Knowledge but is required to sustain worldly existence, such as medicine and mathematics, it too is a communal obligation." [Reliance, a5.2]
The third type of knowledge is recommended. It is the type of knowledge which extends beyond the communally obligatory and involves, for example, "in-depth research into the bases of evidence..." [Reliance, a6.1]

To reiterate, learning medicine is considered a communal obligation. What this means in your case, dear sister, is that some members of the Muslim community must seek this knowledge, otherwise the entire community is remiss.

With so many Muslim communities widely dispersed across North America, each community should, ideally, have individuals who are pursuing this type of knowledge. As Muslims, we have a responsibility to serve our own communities, as well as the society at large.

In your case, if you truly feel that there is a need in your community for a Muslim woman physician, then, by all means, you should pursue your goals. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Muslim community is in serious need of sisters who are in the health care professions, including -- but not limited to --doctors, midwives, nurses, psychiatrists, therapists, and natural practitioners.
Another very important consideration is that Sacred Law requires persons seeking medical treatment to be treated by same-sex health care providers. Many Muslim sisters end up going to male doctors because there are simply no female doctors available. In some cases, cultural taboos restrict women from going into higher education, thus further contributing to the lack of qualified female health care professionals.
Specifically, Reliance tell us,

"A Muslim woman needing medical attention must be treated by a Muslim woman doctor, or if there is none, then by a non-Muslim woman doctor. If there is none, then a male Muslim doctor may treat her, while if none of the above are available, then a male non-Muslim doctor." [Reliance, m2.10]
On to the issue of lowering the gaze:

Lowering the gaze is an injunction from Allah Ta'ala to believing men and women. [Surat an-Nur, 24:30-31]

As far as non-believers are concerned, one must deal with them with the same etiquette as when one deals with believers. This means lowering one's gaze even if they do not reciprocate. This also means refraining from idle conversation, which is a common occurrence in mixed-gender settings, and, when unchecked, can lead to innuendo and flirtation.

For sisters especially, it is best to exercise caution when dealing with non-Muslim men. Be aware of your surroundings and your environment. If someone makes you uncomfortable, leave the room or put some distance between you.

Know your rights in the workplace. You don't have to tolerate sexually suggestive or explicit language being used in your presence. Likewise, you don't have to put with people denigrating your religion or religious practices.

The most important point is to maintain professionalism. Be courteous to those around you. Hopefully, if you develop a respectful professional relationship, then it will be easier to educate others about various aspects of Islamic etiquette.

Finally, remember the example of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who was the most excellent of us in conduct.

Lowering one's gaze and refraining from idle conversation does not give one the license to be discourteous. Rather, one should observe the limits of gender interaction, while maintaining a polite, pleasant demeanor. Remember that one's behavior can be powerful da'wah.

And Allah alone knows best.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Is Islam compatible with democracy?


Is Islam and democracy compatible?

If your question is whether Muslims can decide and run the affairs of their country through consultation and consensus among the people the answer is yes; but if, while exercising this authority, they were to legislate on matters on which God and His Messenger have pronounced decisive judgments, then that is not acceptable in Islam. A case in point is legislation to legalize homosexuality, fornication, adultery, aggressive wars, discrimination based on race or ethnicity or language, liquor and intoxicants, etc. People have no authority to legislate on matters God has pronounced a decisive judgment. Nor are they allowed to tamper with them.

People, however, are mandated to make decisions on all matters that do not fall under the purview of the divine writ through mutual consultation and consensus among themselves. This area of legislation in Islam is at once immense and extensive whereas the first category where they have no freedom to exercise legislative authority is rather limited.

The vast area of legislation affecting public life and social relations are, therefore, subject to democratic practice so long as they are governed by the Qur'anic imperatives to establish Truth, Justice, Fairness and Compassion as best as humanly possible. People are not only permitted to achieve this through democratic process of consultation and consensus; rather they are mandated to do so according to the clear orders of God in the Quran:
"----And consult them in their affairs; then when you decide (matters based on consultation) put your trust in Allah (in implementing the same) for verily Allah loves those who place their trust in Him." (Qur'an: 3: 159)."
"And their affairs are run through mutual consultation!" (Qur'an: 42: 38).

The Prophet, peace be upon him, further warned rulers/leaders who betray the trust invested in them by people of terrible divine retribution.

Finally, the Quranic mandate for humanity is to establish Justice, Compassion and to strive against injustice, evil and aggression:
"Verily, God commands justice and compassion, and giving freely to the kith and kin, and He forbids lewdness, evil of all kinds and aggression; He admonishes you in order for you to remain conscientious." (Qur'an: 16: 90).
"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. Fear Allah. Allah is aware of what you do." (Qur'an: 5: 8).

To conclude: If anyone thinks Islam sanctions monarchy, dictatorship and despotic rule, and is opposed to democracy as stated above, they are simply contradicting the teachings of the Qur'an both in letter and spirit.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fatwa by the President of ISNA on the killing of an American ambassador in Libya

"The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) unequivocally condemns the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, and his staff, and condemns the attack on the US Embassy in Cairo. Reports indicate that those who killed them did so as a reaction to a video depicting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a profane manner. Although we believe that this video is hateful and bigoted, this could never be an excuse to commit any acts of violence whatsoever. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is loved and respected by hundreds of millions of people across the world, and no one can take this from our hearts. No one should fall into the trap of those who wish to incite anger. The Prophet (peace be upon him) should be our example in everything we do, and even though he was attacked and insulted many times throughout his life, he always reacted with compassion and forgiveness, never with revenge or violence."

Nouman Ali Khan, Islamic scholar, tells how to respond to blasphemers of Islam

Al Azher statement on the violence over the anti-muslim video

In response to the defamatory film insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Council (ASSC) condemned these attacks, urging in the meantime, the Muslim masses to keep away from exceeding the limits of Islam punishing the innocent for the sins of the guilty. Below is the ASSC statement on the incident:

Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Council (ASSC) has observed and is still observing the series of repeated abuses against Islam, its figures and sanctuaries, from desecration and burning of the Mus-haf, attacks against and demolition of mosques, and even abuses against the noble Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), who was sent to the entire humanity, confirming preceding Heavenly Scriptures and believing in all antecedent Prophets and Messengers. The ASSC has also reviewed - and is still reviewing - both wise and angry reactions against such abuses in the Arab lands and the Islamic world. On this occasion, the ASSC would like to address peoples of the Muslim Ummah and all wise persons in the world as follows:
First: The source of all these abuses is not common people, either in the East or the West, but colonial, hegemonic institutions, which Islam encounters with the purpose of overcoming its hegemonic, colonialist and exploitative attitude in many countries in the Islamic world. These institutions are aided by Zionist political bodies and media that live on the manufacturing of lies and false images about Islamic figures and sanctuaries.
Second: Islamic reactions should be marked by judiciousness and should enhance illustration of Islamic facts, sanctuaries and figures, and should avoid punishing the innocent for the sins of the guilty.
Third: The Muslim mentality should maintain awareness and objective vision regarding the essence of this ongoing problem. For, the "falsification of the image of Islam, its figures and sanctuaries" is an old one that dates back to the emergence of Islam". Rather, it is one of the cosmic laws of Tadafu` (gentle conflict-interplay) between truth and falsehood, which is addressed in the Glorious Qur'an:
{And thus have We made for every prophet an enemy from among the criminals.} {Al-Furqan 25: 31}
History has proven that escalation of this enmity to Islam and distortion of the image of its symbols and sanctuaries was – and still is – connected to the rise and increasing spread of Islam, as is the case now, beyond the Islamic world.
Therefore, the ASSC calls upon Islamic academic institutions to convene for the purpose of addressing the phenomenon of enmity towards and abuse against Islam, its symbols and sanctuaries, and to pinpoint its sources, the factors stimulating and kindling it, the intellectual means through which good deeds are employed to repel evil deeds. Here, the Glorious Qur'an reads,
{Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.}{Fussilat 41: 34}.
The ASSC also recommends increasing the efforts of introducing the true image of Islam and communicating with the Islamic centers and communities in the West to convey this fact to the countries where such abuses are produced, knowing that ASSC itself will take the initiative in this regard.
It also urges the masses in the Islamic Ummah to make sure that their legitimate anger for the sake of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) does not involve exceeding the limits of Islamic properties and merits. Otherwise, we would be punishing the innocent for the sins of the guilty and damaging the national unity of the peoples in our Ummah, and in turn we would be – unconsciously – achieving the goals behind such malevolent abuses. Indeed, Almighty Allah is predominant over His affair, but most of the people do not know, and indeed:
{those who have wronged are going to know to what [kind of] return they will be returned.} {Ash-Shu`ara' 26: 272}.

Fatwa against the violence in Egypt, Libya and Yemen and killing of an American ambassador


As-salamu `alaykum. According to news reports, thousands of angry Egyptian protestors scaled the walls of the US embassy in Cairo yesterday in protest at a film being produced in the US that insults the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Protestors also tore down the American flag and burnt it outside the fortress-like embassy building in central Cairo. In Libya, deadly violent protests took place near the US Consulate in Benghazi. There are other reports about attacking the US embassy in Beirut. Are such attacks legal? How does Islam view attacking diplomatic missions and embassies?


Wa `alaykum as-salamu 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, thank you for your question and apparent interest in having a better understanding of Islam and its rulings.

In fact, the anti-Prophet film recently produced in the USA is a single incident in a series of measures within a systematic media campaign that aims at tarnishing the image of Islam and its Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). This media campaign is led by the people whose keen interest is to deteriorate the relations between Muslims and people of other religions.

Though the offensive film is not justified, Muslims’ reactions should be legal and peaceful. Muslims should use all legal channels to stop this campaign of hatred against Islam and Muslims. For Muslims, every prophet is worthy of utmost respect, and the Prophet Muhammad, being the final one, is dearer to Muslims than their own parents, children, and all people. However, attacking diplomatic missions or embassies is not allowed under any pretext.
Responding to your question, Dr. Wael Shihab, PhD in Islamic Studies, Al-Azhar University, and the Head of the Shari`ah Dept. of website, stated,

Thank you for your question.
It is unfortunate that some biased anti-Islam individuals and movements are stirring up hatred against Islam and Muslims in every possible way. The recent anti-Prophet film is a single manifestation of a series of unfair and illegal attacks against Islam and Muslims. It aims at tarnishing the image of Islam and spoiling the relations between Muslims and peoples of the world.
In reaction to such biased and illegal attacks, Muslims must think deeply before acting emotionally and erratically. For overreacting to such campaigns will only make things worse. Overreacting includes using other than the lawful, peaceful means. Resorting to violence should never be an option.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the spirit of the Qur'anic teaching to {repel evil with what is better} (Fussilat 41:34), it is the duty of Muslims to prove to the world that Islam means peace. They could hold peaceful protests to show their valid objection to the biased film against Islam and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Muslim and Arab states should make use of all possible diplomatic means to stop offences against Islam and Muslims.
It goes without saying that Muslims are definitely NOT allowed to attack embassies or to react with violence. Attacking diplomatic missions or embassies is illegal in Shari`ah (Islamic Law) and all world conventions. Moreover, it is not Islamically justified to attack public or private properties for some individuals’ wrongdoings.
Given the above, I believe that the best course of action for Muslims in the current situation is-
1. to show their valid and legal objection to offending Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and Muslims through peaceful means,
2. to introduce the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as a role model in the modern world,
3. to avoid hurling insults against the people of other religions as a result of producing such a provocative film against the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), as Allah Almighty says: {Revile not those unto whom they pray beside Allah lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance. Thus unto every nation have We made their deed seem fair. Then unto their Lord is their return, and He will tell them what they used to do} (Al-An`am 6:108),
4. to make use of all legal and diplomatic channels to stop this campaign of hatred against Islam and Muslims, and
5. finally, not to react emotionally, but to follow the decisions of the responsible leading scholars in their communities. We must always be disciplined, peaceful, and organized in our approaches to such crucial issues.
May Allah accept your and our good deeds!
Allah Almighty knows best.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Is Yoga haraam in Islam?


Before some days ago I went a meditation course. I was facing some problem like anger resentment etc. I got a lot of benefit from meditation. I practice meditation regularly. My meditation is based on imagination. I don't say any mantras. To meditate I close my eyes and take deep breath some times. Then I think positive something. But we know meditation is very closed with Hinduism Buddhism. Now my question is that Can I practice meditation to get mind and health related benefits? Is it lawful or unlawful for Muslims. I ask you also about yoga. Does Islam permit practicing yoga as exercise? Please give me full information about yoga and meditation. Please click above to join my islamic group on fb. I will give message all of my group members about your online university insha Allah. Jajakallah khair


Before answering your question, let us consider the facts:

1) Yoga is a deep rooted discipline which has been practiced in India, as we are told, for almost 5000 years. Over the years, it has assumed various forms and shapes. If we can consider one thing as central to all of them, it is perhaps a discipline to control the mind and body, which helps its practitioner to lead a life that is at once in harmony with his own inner self and the environment. If this is the core outcome of yoga, there is nothing un-Islamic about it-- as long as one stays clear of questionable methods.

2) Not everything in Hinduism is contrary to Islam. Hinduism is definitely a great religious tradition with a deep spiritual and intellectual legacy. Muslims ought to look at it through the discriminating lens of the Qur'an. The Qur'an teaches us that God has guided all nations on the face of the earth through revelations communicated to prophets speaking different languages. We are only being fair to consider the Hindu Vedas as containing these revelations, albeit in a modified form.
3) The Prophetic Wisdom teaches us that wisdom is the lost article of the believer; so he must adopt it as his own, wherever he finds it.

4) Muslims are to shun at all costs the polytheistic practices, wherever he finds them. But having said this, it is a travesty of truth to consider all of Hinduism as being polytheistic or pagan. We should rather accept the verdict of the Muslim scholar of Hinduism, al-Biruni, often referred to as the pioneer of comparative religion, as he says, "The Hindus believe with regard to God that he is one, eternal, without beginning and end, acting by free-will, almighty, all-wise, living, giving life, ruling, preserving; one who in his sovereignty is unique, beyond all likeness and unlikeness, and that he does not resemble anything nor does anything resemble him."

5) Furthermore, the Qur'an does not sanction racism, xenophobia, or discrimination; rather it orders us to be just and fair in judging others, including all peoples and their cultures. Allah says,
"O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do." (Qur'an: 5:8).

6) Therefore, historically, Muslims flourished only when they successfully incorporated the best in other cultures and traditions, while rejecting that which were destructive and antithetical to the Qur'anic world view.

7) Yoga has been practiced by millions of people all over the world; its benefits have been scientifically established beyond doubt.

8) At the same time, there are many forms of yoga. Those that contain a lot of chanting and mantras --especially in a language you don't understand --are to be avoided. Focus on those that incorporate physical movements, relaxation exercises, flexibility, stretching, etc.

In light of the above, there is no reason for Muslims not to make use of Yoga as long as they are clear in their minds of their firm belief in the unity and oneness of God. Islamic institutions should not shy away from incorporating exercise regimens such as yoga into their programs--especially beneficial with our aging populations.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Is marrying non-Muslims allowed in Islam? Part 2

Is marrying non-Muslims allowed in Islam? Part 1


Respected scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. What are the rules for the marriage of a Muslim man with a Christian woman, with her keeping her faith? Jazakum Allah khayran.


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu 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.

Dear sister in Islam, we commend your keenness on getting your self well-acquainted with Islam and its teachings, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.
Islam does not encourage the interfaith marriages. The general rule of Islam is that Muslims should marry Muslims. A Muslim male or female should not marry a non-Muslim male or female. The only exception is given to Muslim men who are allowed to marry the girls from among the People of the Book. However, a Muslim woman is better suited to a Muslim man than a woman of Christian or Jewish faith, regardless of her merits.

Elaborating on this, we'd like to cite for you the words of the eminent Muslim scholar Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in his well-known book, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam:
Islam has made marriage to Jewish or Christian women lawful for Muslim men, for they are Ahl al-Kitab, that is, People of the Book, or people whose tradition is based upon a divinely revealed Scripture. Although they have distorted and altered it, they do possess a religion of divine origin, and hence Islam has made some exceptions in dealing with them. The Qur'an says: "...And the food of those who were given the Scripture (before you) is permitted to you and your food is permitted to them. And (lawful to you in marriage are) chaste women from the Believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture before you, when you give them their due cowers, desiring chastity, not lewdness or secret intrigues..." (Al-Ma'idah: 6)

Tolerance of such a degree is a characteristic of Islam which is hardly to be found among other faiths and nations. Despite the fact that Islam takes the People of the Book to task for their unbelief and error, it permits the Muslim to marry a Christian or Jewish woman who may, as his consort, the mistress of his house, the mother of his children, the source of his repose, and his companion for life, retain her own faith—all this, while the Qur'an says concerning marriage and its mystique: "And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell with them in tranquility, and He has put love and mercy between you..." (Ar-Rum: 21)

However, a warning is in order here. In order of preference, a believing, practicing Muslim woman who loves her religion is preferable to a nominal Muslim woman who has inherited Islam from her parents. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Get the one who is religious and prosper." (Reported by al-Bukhari)

It is also obvious that a Muslim woman, regardless of who she is, is better suited to a Muslim man than a woman of Christian or Jewish faith, regardless of her merits. If a Muslim man has the slightest suspicion that a non-Muslim wife might affect the beliefs and attitudes of his children, it becomes obligatory on him to exercise caution.

If the number of Muslims in a country is small—for example, if they are immigrants residing in a non-Muslim country—their men ought to be prohibited from marrying non-Muslim women because, since Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslim men, their marriage to non-Muslim women means that many Muslim girls will remain unmarried. Since this situation is injurious to the Muslim society, this injury can be avoided by temporarily suspending this permission.

In this regard, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, adds:

Although religiously speaking, there is a permission granted for Muslims to marry women belonging to the People of the Book (i.e. the Christians and Jews), this permission cannot be generalized. Even during the time of the second Caliph, `Umar ibn al-Khattab, we read in the sources that he had forbidden some of the eminent Companions of the Prophet from marrying women of the People of the Book. He asked those Companions: “If everyone were to make use of this provision who would marry Muslim girls?

For Caliph `Umar then it was only a question of Muslim women remaining unmarried. For us today, there are other complications arising out of such marriages.

Our experience with such marriages in North America compels us to conclude that after the initial phase of honey-moon, problems, often intractable, may arise when the couples settle down to start the business of living together and founding a family: Such nagging issues include: Which religious festivals to celebrate; what type of foods should we eat, how the children are to be brought up—issues that pose serious challenges in marriage. It is not uncommon to see that sometimes a father is even prevented from praying in front of his own children, while they are regularly taken to churches on a weekly basis. It is therefore not at all surprising when we see that vast majority of such marriages do end up in court.

The heavy toll of such marriages on children need not be over emphasised: The absence of a unified spiritual vision is bound to produce a generation of confused people who are totally deprived of any religious vision or ideals. Thus in the final analysis: Such marriages cost dearly spiritually, financially and emotionally.