Archive for the ‘Emotions’ Category

Is friendship between a man and a woman allowed in Islam?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

This question is actually the second of three very related questions:

  1. Can a man talk to a woman whom he can legally marry (non-Mahram)?
  2. Can non-Mahram men and women be friends?
  3. Can a non-Mahram man and a non-Mahram woman be alone together?

The reason these three questions are related, and the reason this is an issue at all, is because of the intensity of the physical attraction between men and woman, which, if not controlled, almost certainly will lead to sex. Sex between men and women who are not married to each other is a major sin in Islam. The Quran calls it a debauchery and lists it as one of the very few offenses for which it has set a legal punishment.

To answer the third question above, the Prophet (PBUH) made it unambiguously clear that the answer is no. He said, as narrated by Ibn Abbaas (RA), “Let not a man be alone with a woman, except if with them is a Mahram (a man whom she cannot marry)”, authenticated and reported by both Al-Bukhaari and Muslim.

Why is that? After all, if people are respectful of each other and are God-conscious, they can be trusted not to engage in sin, right?

Wrong! The best people sin, because they’re human and because Satan has taken upon himself to seduce them into sin with whatever means available to him. You will hear people say, in justification of falling into the sin of fornication, “We did not plan this. It just happened!” They did not plan it, but it did not just happen! It was what was sure to happen.

To illustrate this point further, think of this parable. You are going to walk down Baker Street to get to a grocery store. I know that there is a great deal of construction work being done on Baker Street and that there are no warning signs. I know that even if you were careful where you step, you are almost certainly going to fall into one of the many holes there. If you decide to ignore my advice and take Baker Street anyway, and then fall in one of its pits, whom would you blame?

Therefore, if you can say with complete confidence that being face-to-face friends with a woman will never result in the two of you having sex outside matrimony, then the answer to the second question is yes!

But can you? The odds are against you.

If the friendship is not face to face, then the odds improve considerably. That is because a man is visually stimulated.

Bear in mind too that human emotions, such as love and loneliness, and desires, such as lust, often develop in an irrational way.

Similarly, we can answer the first question: if talking one-on-one to a woman will never lead to the two of them having sex, then the answer to that question is yes. Many scholars have ruled against it though, because they fear the worst, do not trust human nature, or simply to be on the safe side.

So, in summary, you can be friends with a woman whom you legally can marry if you can fulfill all of the following conditions:

  • Neither of you will ever engage in a suggestive dialog,
  • Neither of you will ever make an advance at the other, and
  • The two of you will never be alone together anywhere.

That being said, knowing human nature, especially if you are a young man, and knowing the constant whispering of Satan, the above conditions practically rule it out.

Can we pray with hypocrites?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Let us suppose a person states they do not go to the masjid (mosque) because they do not want to pray with hypocrites. They would rather pray alone. I told the person that we do not go to pray with the hypocrites but go to pray to Allah. And I continued stating that our prayer may soften the heart of others.

What does one say to a person whose heart is hardened against fellow Muslims? These are serious questions. This person does not take well much hadeeth. This person does not trust scholars.

I honestly believe some of us are given the gift of joy in this life under all conditions. I feel this is one of my blessings. On the bleakest of moments I find something joyful in it. Even if it is the benefit of the experience in its darkest depths.

What a beautiful way you finished your question! A blessed person sees blessings in the bleakest moments, while a deprived person sees deprivation in the most opulent moments.

From the other things you wrote to me about this person, I’m getting the impression that they have grown cynical or depressed. I’m not surprised, given their illness, may God heal the sick as only He can and save us all from similar afflictions.

You are right in approaching this delicately. God teaches us in the holy Quran that the call to Him must always be done gently, even with an enemy. You recall how He instructed Moses and Aaron to call upon Pharaoh: “Then say to him a soft uttering perhaps he will remember or fear.” (20:44) Remember or fear, see? That is what you and I hope for your friend.

So, when you get a chance, remind your friend that they have an excuse to pray sitting down and explain how this is done if they don’t know how. Don’t press it. Let them sleep on it and keep praying for them. Also assure them that they can always make up for all missed prayers, and should, unlike what many fatwas have ruled.

Life is too short to waste on cynicism, apathy or despair. A true believer never despairs, “Verily, they do not despair of the grace of God but the disbelieving folk.” (12:87) Life can end at any time, and suddenly, and be replaced by the sobering reality of the Hereafter and Judgment. Cynicism would not be of any help then. Cynicism is an escape from unpleasant reality, but it achieves nothing but ill mood. Optimism and positive activity on the other hand, warm the heart and set the mind to find solutions to problems and fixes for what is wrong.

As for your other question, none know who is hypocrite and who is not. A fellow Muslim is not a hypocrite just because one doesn’t like what they say or do! God told the Prophet (PBUH) that there are hypocrites around him, that He will tell him the names of some of them but will withhold the names of others! (see 9:101). And the Prophet (PBUH) did likewise when Huzhayfa ibn Al-Yamaan (RA) asked him to tell him who were hypocrite. The Prophet (PBUH) made him promise not to tell anyone.

Why is that? Because being a hypocrite many not be the end of the story. A hypocrite may become a good, committed believer later. Affairs of the heart constantly change and God is the “turner of the hearts.”

When you escape a dire straight, don’t revisit it!

Monday, June 10th, 2013

I am in, as the cliche aptly states, dire straights. It is dark outside. This naturally intensifies the feeling of isolation. And the example of Hajar is an excellent source of strength. Her situation captures all our fears. Thus, we have to really rely on the inner source. When we use the expression digging deep it sums her dilemma.

Yet, it is during trials like this that we have to dig deep. It does not make one a welcome guest at a party. The need for reflection and contemplation overrides the need for social activity. Sometimes social activity takes too much energy that is better spent to dig deeper.

I am looking for balance. My path at the moment is very steep. I am looking for the moss between a rock and a hard place; to rest for a minute.

Please understand that there is no negativity in what I am writing. I am not a negative person. This is a learning curve.

Yes, the inner journey is difficult. It seems that Satan is very busy with one on that path. And our hearts betray us constantly. The journey is riddled with struggles. It often seems that the other path is so much easier.

One of the reasons why the Prophet (PBUH) experienced dire straights was to teach the rest of us what to do when we are in a similar situation. We follow the Prophet’s example. What did he do?

He had just lost his only remaining physical protector, his uncle Abu-Taalib and the one person in this world whom he loved the most, his wife Khadeeja, may God have been pleased with her. The polytheists of Mecca had cornered the believers in a ghetto for three years: No trading, no contact. Muslims had to eat leaves to survive. Those economic sanctions were probably what killed Khadeeja and Abu-Taalib.

During that tough period, God had not revealed any Quran to the Prophet (PBUH), so even the spiritual joy and reassurance was withheld, to the point that the polytheists of Mecca mocked the Prophet (PBUH) saying, “Muhammad’s Lord has abandoned him!”

Anyone would have given up at that point, consoling himself that he had done all he could but it didn’t work out. Not Muhammad ibn Abdullah! He figured that Mecca may be a lost cause, so let him try At-Taa’if. He traveled to it, on foot, and when he got there he called them to God. No one gave him the time of day. They even let loose their kids and slaves to make fun of him, throw stones at him and force him out of the city. Some of the stones hit him and he started bleeding from his feet.

Can things get worse for someone? As he was leaving that wretched town, he paused and made the most beautiful supplication to God that was ever made! (If you don’t know it, ask me and I’ll include it in my reply). God’s response was immediate and flooding. Quran revelation resumed, with the reassuring Chapter 93, God sent Gabriel down to let the Prophet (PBUH) retaliate against the people of At-Taa’if. As you know, he chose not to. God sent the Jinn to listen to the Quran for the first time, recited by the Prophet (as mentioned in Chapter 72) and when the Prophet (PBUH) arrived in Mecca, he experienced the grandest and most reassuring miracle of all: Israa’ and Mi`raaj.

No matter how dire your straights, how deep your path, or how dark it seems outside, you know, by the example of the Prophet (PBUH), what to do.

I’m glad you reassured me that you’re not a negative person. That said, may I advise you not to disengage socially? The Prophet and his fellows were sociable and active in their communities, each in his own way. Sometimes, your social effort will be appreciated and other times it won’t be. Don’t let that sway you. The reward of God, not of people, is what you’re after.

Wisdom does not come easy. In retrospect it is simple…but that journey is a mini-hajj.

I am looking forward to moving back home. I love the peace there. I have a little community that needs some life. I have made much dua. InshaAllah, I will be able to move there soon. The other day, I took the Quran and asked Allah subhana wa taala to give me a little hope. I randomly opened the Quran. And the ayats were Musa (ra) going to the Madyan people. InshaAllah, my move home is imminent.

I do not wish to complain. I am not unhappy. I am growing ten-fold in faith daily. The reliance on Allah subhana wa taala totally is a reality.

You know Sura 93 is one of my favorites. It is reassuring. I love the words of not being displeased. It is a strong sura.

I am familiar with the dua of the Prophet (swas) at Al-Taa’if. Those are words of courage.

I’m a fan of Muhammad Ali. I bring that up because even in the ring there is a respite. I need a break.

It is also a difficulty process for the ordinary human being to understand that Allah subhana wa taala loves you enough to test you. In the world of sports there is always a period of training for an event. In the world of spirituality the event provides the need for us to seek guidance. The seeking of the guidance is the discipline needed to overcome the obstacles of the individual tests.

I wish to be of those that Allah is well pleased; I have a long way to go but the intention is there.

If I may ask I am assuming you have undergone some trials that have given you the knowledge to provide such words of compassion. I ask this not to pry. Rather, to gain understanding that the seeker of knowledge undergoes ego transformations in the process. The no pain no gain cliche.

When a believer passes a test of faith, it means two things; (a) that God is pleased with him and (b) that his character needed a boost. Thus, passing a trial means it had served its purpose and a believer should not dwell on it. Revisiting it means revisiting the pain, emotional and spiritual, which God has already delivered him from.

Excellent response. I am serious. What I see in the therapeutic milieu here ( our culture) is the very fact that recovery is dependent upon revisiting the pain. In a sense you have to go back and destroy the wall brick by brick, that has impeded your growth. Whereas, in Islam we overcome the wall by guidance.
Islam also demands that we do not purge our emotions. So difficult. Simple example would be anger. Many modalities of treatment for psychological illnesses suggest the patients take the time to examine the emotions and relive them. You always hear the: you have the right to be angry slogan. A persons spiritual health is dictated by an emotional balance. In Islam it seems that we have to get beyond the emotional balance to a spiritual balance that holds the reigns to direct the emotions.

It seems to make sense that wise persons are naturally quiet. A believer’s vision changes after a trial. It seems that we humans really do not have a place for anger.

Fascinating angle. The therapy method you describe may very well work, but I venture to guess that it will leave a spiritual void in the person. One can treat an emotional scar or a spiritual wound in a number of ways, including pharmaceutical, but that may not heal it. The person may find himself or herself resentful, cynical, grieving, regretful, less self-confident, less joyful. Sure the wound is no longer on the surface; it went deeper – into dangerous territory.

Only the connection with God can heal. The Prophet (PBUH) always said this in his ruqyas, “O God, heal. You are the Healer. There is no healing but Yours; a healing that leaves behind no ailment.” (Narrated by `Aa’isha, RA, and reported by Muslim). That is healing!

About anger, God says in the holy Quran, in praise, “And those who suppress frustration and the pardoners of people. And God loves the benevolent.” (3:134). It is their benevolence that earned them God’s love and it is God’s love that gives them the tranquility they seek.

Losing weight

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know three things: (a) That the way to do it is simple and well known, albeit easier said than done, (b) that it requires discipline and self control and (c) that when it succeeds, you feel unencumbered and happy. You know you’ve done the right thing for yourself. The same can be said about stopping any addiction, such as smoking or gambling. Even spring cleaning is the same way.

And so is soul cleaning. The Prophet (PBUH) commented one day on verse 83:14 of the holy Quran. The verse said, “Nay! Rather, what they have been earning [of sin] has formed a stain on their hearts.” (83:14). He said, “A person’s heart gets blotted every time he sins. If he repents, it is polished out. If he does it again, the blot gets bigger. Until his heart is blocked. That is the stain.”, narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported by At-Tirmizhi who rated it soundly authentic.

Cleaning of the heart is probably the hardest component of soul cleaning. It all starts with cleaning of the faith, such that no hint of “shirk” (associating others with God in worship) taints it. Then comes mind cleaning: cleaning of thoughts, such that you assume good until you see otherwise and when you do you forgive. Change negative thoughts to positive ones promptly and seek refuge in God from the whispers of Satan. Think twice before saying or doing things. Never act impulsively or on negative emotions. Stay away from negative people. Keep up prayer, supplication and charity. Read the Quran and reflect on it. Say good words and do good wherever you go and to whomever you meet. Clean your attitude, such that you deal with all with equal respect and courtesy.

When you boycott sin, it works for your soul like boycotting cigarettes works on your lungs and boycotting gambling works on your pocket book. The more you practice, and ask God to help and strengthen you, the easier it will get and the more likely it will be to succeed.

Is euthenasia allowed in Islam?

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

When my mother was in the hospital she was declared brain dead and was only being supported by the oxygen machine. When the doctor told us there was nothing they can do my father decided to remove the life support and let her go. The rest of us however refused to do so. A day after she died naturally. Is removing the life support considered euthanasia and if its allowed in Islam?

May God have mercy on your mother.

Since removing life support escalates removal of life and keeping it slows that down, it is euthanasia. Euthanasia is a euphemism for “mercy” killing. That means it’s a killing. So, the question is “is killing a brain dead person allowed in Islam?”

To answer that question, one needs to understand when Islam allows killing. God says in the holy Quran, “And do not kill the soul which God has made sacrosanct except in truth.” (6:151). What does “in truth” mean? The Quran answers that. There are only three situations that the Quran has allowed killing: (i) self defense, which includes war, (ii) as punishment for first degree murder and (iii) as punishment for terrorism. Clearly euthanasia does not qualify.

Even calling it mercy killing is a euphemism, because in many situations the act is not done out of compassion for the sick, who may be in a coma, but in order to spare his loved ones the pain of watching him die slowly. It’s understandable why they are in pain, but that is no excuse for killing. Otherwise, suicide would be acceptable but of course it is totally forbidden.

There is a difference between deadening and killing. Deadening is when the soul departs the body naturally and that can only be done by the angel of death authorized by God. Killing is when the soul is forced out of the body. It preempts deadening and therefore it’s an infringement on God’s authority.

A disproportionate reward?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Hope you are doing good by the grace and blessings of Allah(SWT).

I was asked this question by one of my friends recently and he asked me whether life in paradise is finite or eternal? I gave him the answer saying eternal. But then he put forward a question saying, when this life we live for(say about 60-70yrs) is finite, then how come righteous people are rewarded with infinite time in the paradise? I had given it a thought and I did derive at an answer. But I would like to hear it from you too brother.

Secondly, I would like to know about Islamic rulings on Movies? And related to Music, Is melody, slow songs, love songs, songs that stir your emotions allowed?

Usually, this question is asked about the flip side: is punishment of the hellfire disproportionate? The answer to both sides of this question is no, for the simple reason that “God does not do a spec’s weight of injustice” (4:40).

One may look at a good deed and think that it is rather minor, but God sees it as fabulous, and because He does, He rewards it more generously than the person who did it ever hoped for. The flip side of this is also true: one may say or do something that he doesn’t think is too bad, but God sees it as a grave sin, and because He does, He punishes it far more severely than the person who committed it ever feared.

To give you an example. God says in the holy Quran, “Did you not see how God strikes a parable of a good word like a good tree: its foundation is firm and its branch is in the sky. It delivers its food every season with the permission of its Lord!” (14:24-25). Did you get the reason for the seemingly disproportionate reward? It is a deed that constantly breeds good deeds. Its benevolent effect does not only positively touch the lives of many contemporary people, but goes on and on for all generations to come. That is why God rewards it so much. And bear in mind that the good deed referred to in this verse appears minor. It is just a good word!

As for your question about music, songs and stirring of emotions, it depends on the environment where the music is played, the lyrics of the songs and the emotion that is stirred and what that leads to. Music is neither good nor bad on its own, as Sheikh Shaarawi once said, may God bless his soul. If it is accompanied by lewd or violent acts or lyrics then it’s forbidden. Otherwise, how can it be bad, when we know that it soothes the soul, puts one in a good mood, a romantic mood or a patriotic mood? Documented evidence is plenty that music speeds up healing of wounds and calms the nerves of patients about to undergo surgery! See the Music category for more posts about this.

Likewise are love songs and love movies. It depends on whether they contain indecent lyrics or scenes. The emotions stirred by music, poetry, motion pictures, or art works in general can be benign and can be malicious. Art is neither good nor bad in the absolute. Art stems from love of beauty and awe at God’s creation and it is in fact an unconscious desire to connect with God, as the late President of Bosnia, Alija Izetbegović wrote in his book “Islam and the West.”

Don’t be so sure

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Ever felt content with your worship of God and thought that you have done well for yourself and deserve to go to heaven? Let me tell you three stories.

A man observed Al-Hasan ibn Ali, may God have been pleased with both, supplicating hard and weeping. He approached him and said, “You cry out of fear of God when you have all the means to salvation?” He replied, “Like what?” The man said, “How about your lineage to the Prophet (PBUH)? [Al-Hasan was the Prophet’s grandson]. What about his mediation for Muslims? What about God’s vast mercy?”

Good points, right? Well, Al-Hasan answered him: As for my lineage, God says, “Then when the Horn is blown (on the Day of Judgment), there is no kinship between them!” (23:101) As for the Prophet’s mediation, God says, “Who is that who will mediate with Him except by His permission?” (2:255) As for God’s vast mercy, God says about it, “I will grant it to those who watch out [for Me].” (7:156) So, where is security, brother?

Good counter-points, don’t you think? If a saint whom the Prophet (PBUH) said was going to be a prominent youth among the people of Paradise isn’t sure, how can ordinary folks be sure?

Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may God have been pleased with him, once said, “If an angel on the Day of Resurrection, announced that all people will go to Paradise but one, I’d worry I’m the one!” This, coming from the second Caliph, a man renowned for his piety, whom the Prophet (PBUH) gave him the good news that he was one of ten who will go to Paradise, if he is not sure, how can the rest of us be?

One time the Prophet (PBUH) surprised his fellows sitting with him listening to his teachings when he said to them, “The work of any of you will not enter him into Paradise!” They asked, “Even you, O Messenger of God?” He replied, “Even me, unless God covers me with mercy from Him and favor.” Narrated by `Aa’isha and Abu-Hurayra and reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim in their authentic collections.

The Prophet (PBUH) was teaching that while faith and good deeds are necessary for admission to Paradise, they are not sufficient. It is God’s mercy and favor that gets us there. Faith and good deeds only make it likely.

This is not to dash the hopes of Muslims, but rather to balance their attitude. Imam Al-Ghazaali, may God bless his soul, brilliantly defined faith in Islam as “The balance between fear and hope.”

Divorce: Who’s Guilty?

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

In all the divorce cases (may Allah save us from them), we always hear from the wife’s side that the husband was not a good person, was abusive, he did this and that. When you talk to the husband, he says that the wife was this and that.

I recently saw a marriage destroyed becase the husband lost his job. If you ask the wife, she says that the husband was lazy and didn’t want to earn a living… etc.

If you ask the husband, he says that on top of being unable to find a job, the wife was making his life hell by taunting him daily.

So my question is, how do you find out what the real problem is?

I like the fact that you see that the real problem could very well be something else completely!

That is why God’s advice is so valuable when a divorce is imminent. He says in the holy Quran,

“And if you fear dissension between the two [spouses], send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, God will harmonize between them. Indeed, God is ever Knowing and Well Acquainted [with all things].” (4:35)

The word God uses for arbitrator is حكما which means “firmly rooted”, “balanced”, “judicious”. Thus, the two arbiters are not given to emotions, are not easily swayed or agitated, and can reach a sound judgement even if it was against their client.

This is how to know the real problem. When one is speaking out of emotion, one could be narrating all of one’s grievances instead of focusing on the question asked. Marriage counselors know this well. That’s why they are paid the big bucks 🙂

One very interesting aspect of this verse is its deliberate syntactic ambiguity! The phrase “if the two of them desire reconciliation” is ambiguous about who the two are: the two arbitrators or the two spouses! As always with syntactic ambiguity in the Quran, it is thusly stated in order to include both interpretations. That is, if the two spouses truly want to reconcile and save the marriage, God will help them save it. If the two arbitrators also want to do their job faithfully, God will make their effort successful.

I’m alone but I’m not lonely

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I’m alone a lot, and it’s easy to slip into feeling lonely, but I don’t. That’s because when I’m alone, it means that I’m only with God! It’s a chance to focus on Him instead of the constant daily distractions of people and self.

What a beautiful thing to say! You are delving into wisdom, may God grant it to you and me.

In addition, you have two angels, one on your right side and another on your left side, writing your words and deeds and praying for you! These are the two angels you say Assalaamu Alaykum (peace be with you) to at the end of each prayer.

Does everything have a life?

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I believe that everything is alive. If I were to stomp on the floor hard with the intention, on the Day of Judgment it will say that I did it. Am I off base?

No. Obviously the life of other creatures differs from our lives, like the life of plants is different from the life of fish, for instance. God tells us in the holy Quran that the sky and the earth “did not weep” for the people of Pharaoh when they drowned! (44:29)

And God tells us that rocks sometimes fall down “out of fear of God” (2:74)

In Chapter 18, the story of Moses and the sage is told. In that story, the Quran says that there was a wall that “wanted” to collapse! From this, some scholars said the wall has a will. Is this true?

And we also know the hadeeth where a palm tree trunk cried when the Prophet (PBUH) got a new pulpit. So, the tree too has feelings!

The wall wanting to collapse is a metaphor! The Arabs used metaphors liberally and frequently, and so does the Quran and the Hadeeth. The metaphor means that the wall was so unstable, it looked like it wants to fall.

Interpreting metaphors literally has been a cause for misunderstanding and even some strange beliefs.

The tree, being a plant, is alive of course. Modern research has shown that plants have feelings. I’m not surprised.