My Son Died by Drowning. Is It True He Is a Shahid (Martyr)?

Answered by Ustadh Sharif Rosen

Question: Assalam alaykum

My son died recently by drowning. I have accepted Allah’s will with patience. Our local imam told us our son will have the reward of a martyr and that parents who endure a child’s death with patience will have a special reward in Paradise. Is this correct?

Answer: as-Salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatulLah.

May Allah bless you and your entirely family with continued patience and increase your reward therein. And may Allah Most High have mercy on your son and forgive him.

I encourage you to have every confidence that your son will enjoy one of the elevated stations in the next world, insha Allahu ta’ala. This is not vain hope, but possible through approaching the promises of Allah and His Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, with the certitude that is the bedrock of faith. Given the circumstances that have unfolded in your life as of late, you may find solace and trust in both your son’s security and your promised reward through these prophetic teachings, the first two of which are rigorously authenticated:

عن أبي هريرة أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال :(يقول الله تعالى ما لعبدي المؤمن عندي جزاء إذا قبضت صفيَّه من أهل الدُّنيا ثمَّ احتسبه إلا الجنَّة). رواه البخاري

On the authority of Abi Hurayra, Allah be well pleased with him, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

“Allah Most High says, “I have no reward except Paradise for a believing servant of Mine who shows patience and anticipates My reward when I take away one of their favorite people from the inhabitants of the world.”” (related by al-Bukhari).

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم:(الشهداء خمسة:المطعون، والمبطون،والغريق،وصاحب الهدم،والشهيد في سبيل الله) رواه البخاري ومسلم

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

“The martyrs are five: the one [who died] from plague; intestinal illness; drowning; building collapse; and the martyr who died striving in the way of Allah.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

وعن أبي موسي الأشعري رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال :(إذا مات ولد العبد قال الله تعالي لملائكته : قبضتم ولد عبدي ؟
فيقولون : نعم ,
فيقول : قبضتم ثمرة فؤاده ؟
فيقولون : نعم ,
فيقول : فماذا قال عبدي ؟
فيقولون : حمدك واسترجع , فيقول الله تعالي : ابنوا لعبدي بيتا في الجنة وسموه بيت الحمد) رواه الترمذي وقال : حديث حسن

On the authority of Abi Musa al-Ash’ari, Allah be well pleased with him, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

“When the child of one of Allah’s servants dies, Allah Most High says to His angels, ‘Have you taken back the child of one of my servants?'”

The angels reply, “Yes.”

Allah says, “Have you taken back that which was precious to my servant’s heart [i.e. their child’s soul]?”

The angels reply, “Yes.”

Allah says, “And what has my servant said?”

They say, “He has praised you and declared “Inna lil-Lahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un”/”We belong to Allah and to Him we return””

At which point, Allah Most High will say, “Build for My servant a wondrous house in Paradise. Name it ‘the Abode of Praise'”” (related by al-Tirmidhi).

Our Lord does not send the events of our lives except that He is manifesting a meaning that pertains to our guidance and salvation. As Sidi Ibn ‘AtailLah said, “When He [Allah Most High] bestows upon you, He reveals to you His graciousness and when He withholds [or takes away] from you, He shows you His omnipotent power. In each condition, He is disclosing Himself to you, and drawing nearer towards you with His loving kindness” (al-Hikam al-‘Ataiyya, no. 93).

May Allah grace us all with the gift of patience and certitude in the wisdom and mercy of the Divine plan.

Please pray for us.

[Ustadh] Sharif Rosen

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sharif Rosen is the Muslim Chaplain at Williams College (in the Northeastern United States).  His formative Islamic studies in Amman, Jordan for five years, and ongoing, have been at the hands of scholars connected through unbroken transmission to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.

Can We Accept Miracles Ascribed to the Pious?

Answered by Ustadh Sharif Rosen

Question: Assalam alaykum

I have heard many incidents of pious individuals performing miraculous feats, such as one scholar who pointed at a pile of chicken bones and it became alive and another scholar who would remember Allah with his limbs detached from his body. Would it be necessary to accept such occurrences despite them going against logic?

Answer: as-Salamu ‘alaykum.

Jazakum Allah khayran for your question.

Religion itself is founded upon the presence of miraculous acts and events. As we will see, miracles are established by the Quran and the Sunna. By definition, a miracle breaks conventional norms [khariq lil-‘adat] and bewilders the rational mind. Its appearance indicates to a spectrum of possibilities; from a divine sign of grace and support, to its opposite, as a mark of humiliation that exposes a claimant to a high spiritual rank as fraudulent.

Examples cited in your question, when true, would be part of the category of miracles called karamat given to the elect of Allah [auliya]. As Imam al-Laqqani stated in his seminal text on Islamic creed, Jawhara al-Tauhid, “And affirmed for the Auliya are miracles, so whoever refutes them, discard their words” [wa athbitan lil-auliya al-karama, wa man nafaha fanbidhan kalamahu]. Moreover, these occurrences are deemed by the majority of Islamic orthodox scholarship as plausible during and after the life of a wali (al-Bayjuri, Tuhfa al-murid ‘ala Jawhara al-Tauhid, 252).

To place karamat in their proper context, one should understand how the ‘ulema have differentiated between the six categories of miracles:

1) Prophetic miracle [mu’jiza]

A mu’jiza comes to incapacitate skeptics and verify the truthfulness of the one delivering the Message. Such are the miracles manifest by the permission of Allah on the hands of His prophets and messengers, as with those given to Noah (refer to the Quran 11:36-49); Moses (refer to the Quran 7:107-119; 10:65-70); Jesus (refer to the Quran 5:110-113; 19:30-33) and Muhammad (refer to the Quran 2:23; 10:37-38; 17:88), upon them be peace and blessings.

So, too, with the narrated traditions of the pebbles supplicating in the blessed hands of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings (related by Ibn ‘Asakir, al-Tabarani, al-Bayhaqi); the tree stump which wept when he took to his new pulpit in the masjid of Madina (related by al-Buhkari); the multitudes who made wudu’ from the water that flowed from his blessed fingers (related by Muslim and al-Bukhari); and the tree which uprooted itself and spoke declaring the shahada (related by al-Darimi, al-Bayhaqi, and al-Bazzar).

2) Preparatory miracle [irhas]

These miracles appear before the appointment to the station of prophecy. Examples abound in the life of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, from the events surrounding his blessed birth (related by al-Bayhaqi, Tabari, ibn Abd al-Barr, Tabarani); the visitation of the angels to him as a youth whence his noble breast was opened and his blessed heart cleansed (related by Muslim); and, when, during his travels to Syria, Bahira the Monk witnessed the caravan containing him being shaded from the sun’s intensity and upon meeting young Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, Bahira recognized the signs of prophecy on him (related by al-Timidhi).

3) Saintly miracle [karama]

Karamat are preternatural occurrences on the hands of the elect friends of Allah. Allah discloses a karama as a means of glad tidings to His auliya or salihin. As testified by the Quran, Maryam the mother of Jesus, upon them be peace, was given miracles, from her provisions appearing before her in other than their usual time and method (refer to the Quran 3:37), to her bearing the penultimate prophet without consort (refer to the Quran 3:45-47). In the Quranic account of the Companions of the Cave who lived for generations without food or drink is also evidence of the reality of karamat, all of which only occur by the permission of Allah.

4) Helping miracle [ma’una]

A miracle that is manifest upon a common Muslim, ostensibly to strengthen their spiritual certitude, is termed ma’una.

5) Exposing miracle [ihana]

These “miracles” reveal not divine favor, but humiliation, with emphasis on their bearer being patently false in their claim to prophecy. Musaylama the Liar [al-Kathhab] is the most famous early example. His claims were rendered a heinous lie given that the Quran had already confirmed that prophethood ended with the arrival of the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. Musaylama’s ihana was made clear on more than one occasion, including, when, in an attempt to make a well’s water gush forth, he spat in it, and the well dried up.

6) Misleading miracle [istidraj]

Like the previous category, such occurrences appear upon, or to those who have brought about the divine wrath through either disobedience by way of their corrupted religious doctrine, or sinful acts.

(Salman, al-Mukhtasar al-mufid fi sharh Jawhara al-Tauhid, 154-155)

We glean from the above classifications that a convention-defying act or event may be a sign of Allah’s good favor or proof of one’s misguidance. Their actual meaning may be inferred by consideration of the moral and spiritual standing of their bearer, typically as evidenced by their chosen creed and works.

And Allah knows best.


[Ustadh] Sharif Rosen

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sharif Rosen is the Muslim Chaplain at Williams College (in the Northeastern United States).  His formative Islamic studies in Amman, Jordan for five years, and ongoing, have been at the hands of scholars connected through unbroken transmission to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.

Why Are Those Who Commit Suicide Punishable in Islam? (Video)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Why are those who commit suicide punishable in Islam?

Answer: Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersGuidance Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersGuidance Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

Why Did Allah Create the Planets, Stars but Only Made the Earth Inhabitable?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

Why did Allah create the universe with galaxies, planets, stars, nebulas but only made the earth inhabitable?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for your question. Please forgive me for the delay.


Allah Most High says: “Indeed, in the alternation of the night and day and in what God has created within the heavens and the earth are signs for those who are pious.” (Qur’an, 10:9)

Allah alone knows the secrets of the known and unknown universe. Our responsibility is to reflect upon the signs He has placed all around as, and seek closeness to Him.

When registration reopens, I encourage you to undertake one of the many courses on belief on SeekersHub. I pray that studying the attributes of Allah Most High will grant you the clarity which you seek.

Please see:


[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.

Is a Convert Rewarded for the Good Deeds He Performed Prior to Converting to Islam?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

Do good deeds of a convert performed while he was a non-Muslim get accepted (and he receives benefits for them) when he becomes a Muslim?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

A convert is rewarded for the good deeds he or she performed prior to converting to Islam.

This is based on the literal understanding of the hadith, “You have embraced Islam with all the good deeds that you used to practice.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

Another hadith that supports this understanding is the statement of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), “If a servant accepts Islam and practices it well, God will record for him every previous good deed he performed.” [al-Nasa’i, Sunan]

For this reason, Imam al-Nawawi stated that, “The correct position held by the verifying scholars – and some reported consensus on this – is that if a non-Muslim performed good deeds, such as charity and maintaining family ties, and then embraced Islam and died a Muslim, the reward of these deeds will be recorded for him or her.” [Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari (1:99)]

And God knows best
[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

Will I Remember All My Husbands in Paradise?

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam alaykum,

If a woman was married more than one times, will she remember all of her husbands in paradise?

It is said that women will be virgins while having been married previously in paradise.

Answer: Wa alaykum salam

May Allah reward you for your question.

It is established in the Quran and Sunnah that the inhabitants of Jannah will recollect the days of this world. Imam al-Qurtibi when commenting on the verse, “The Day when man will remember that for which he strove,” [79:35] said,

“[He will remember] all his actions, bad and good. It has been narrated in reports and the books of Quranic exegesis that the the dwellers of Jannah will recollect their states and how difficult and challenging things were in this world. They would then thank and praise Allah for the comfort they have been given. As Allah says, “And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other.” [37:50]

Al-Bayhaqi narrated from Mu’adh ibn Jabal radiyaLlahu ‘anhu that Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam said, “The people of Jannah will only experience sadness for moments that has passed in this world wherein they have not remembered Allah.”

Further, one of the three positions the scholars have taken with regards to a lady whose husband passed on before her and she subsequently remarried, says (1) that she will be given the option to select which husband she wishes to be with in Jannah. The other two positions says (2) that she will be with the husband that had the most beautiful character and (3) that she will be with her last husband – the third position being the most preponderant.

All of the above clearly alludes to the fact that she will remember all of her husbands, and Allah knows best.

Finally, the Hadith you have referred to regarding deflowered women returning to virgins, in no way indicates loss of memory. The Hadith, as transmitted by ibn Hibban on the authority of Abu Hurayrah radiyaLlahu anhu, reads, “The Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam was asked, “will we have sexual relations in Jannah?” He sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam replied, “Yes, by the One in whose hands my soul lies … and when they have completed, she will stand up with her virginity restored and in a state of purity.”” Thus the narration speaks of honor and increased ecstasy and in no way suggest memory loss of spouses of this temporary world.

And Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Shaykh Abdurragmaan
received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

When Jesus Comes Again to This World Will He Come as a Follower of Prophet Muhammad?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: When Jesus (Peace be upon him) comes again to this World will he come as a Prophet or will he come as a follower of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)?

Answer: In the Name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate

When the Prophet Isa (Peace be upon him) returns to this world he will be a Prophet and implement the law of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

The Prophet Isa will judge and live according to the shariah of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘There is no prophet between me and him [Jesus Christ]. He shall descend, so recognize him when you see him. He is a man of medium height, [his complexion] is between reddish and white, he will be [dressed] in two yellowish garments. His head looks as if it is dripping water even though it is not wet. He will fight people in the way of Islam, will break the cross, kill the swine, and abolish the annual tax [Jizyah]. Allah will put an end to all religions except Islam during his time. He will slay the Antichrist and he will stay on Earth for forty years. Then, he will die and the Muslims will perform the funeral prayer over him.’ [Abu Dawud and Musnad of Ahmad]

It is clear from this hadith and other similar ahadith that Sayiddna Isa will establish Islam as the only accepted religion and govern by Islamic law.

Will the Prophet Isa follow one of the four legal schools (madhabs)?

Sayyidna Isa (peace be upon him) will be an absolute Mujtahid (able to independently derive rulings from the Quran and Sunnah). Therefore, he will rule according to his own ijtihad, not the ijtihad of any of the Imams of the four schools. This has been stated by the majority of the scholars, including Imam al Subki and Imam Ibn Hajr al Haitami and others [al Ishaa’ah li Isharaat al Saa’ah, Barzanji].

As to whether Sayyidna Isa will descend with the memorisation and knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah, there is no explicit text that mentions this. Ibn Hajr stated, and which is corroborated in other books related to the end of times, that:

‘The Prophet Isa (peace be upon him) is far above following another mujtahid Imam, rather he is better placed to make ijtihad. Furthermore, his [Isa’] knowledge of our shariah is either through the knowledge of the Qur’an alone, since nothing is amiss in the Qur’an except that we require other information [further sources and proofs] because of our own shortcomings [in encompassing the Qur’an], and certainly, all the ruling legislated by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) were derived from the Qur’an.

For this reason, Shafi’i stated (may Allah be pleased with him), ‘Everything that the Prophet legislated is from what he (peace and blessings be upon him) understood from the Qur’an, so it is not implausible to conclude that Isa (peace be upon him) would do likewise, or through receiving transmission of the Sunnah [directly] from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), for indeed, he met the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in his [Prophet Muhammad’s] lifetime, and so in this regard he [Isa] is considered among the companions [Sahaaba].

It is related by Ibn Adi from Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), ‘We were sitting with the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him), when we felt a chill and saw a hand. We asked, ‘O’ Messenger of God, what is this cold and this hand that we saw? He (peace and blessings be upon him) asked, ‘Did you really see him? We answered, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet explained, ‘That was Isa, Son of Mary, he came to give me greetings.’ [al Fatawaa al Hadathiyyah, Ibn Hajr].

The above quoted hadith from Anas, while weak, does correspond with other similar weak hadiths. Despite the weakness of such traditions, the meaning is sound, and as Ibn Hajr states, ‘That which the scholars have recorded, in fact, have unanimously agreed upon, is that he [Isa] will judge according to the Shariah of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

The Prophet Isa (peace be upon him) will remain a prophet and upon his message

Ibn Hajr further clarifies, ‘And Isa is a noble prophet who will remain upon his prophethood and his [original] message, not like some, who are not qualified to do so, state, that he is one of this community. The fact that he will be among the community, and rule by their [Muhammad’s community’s] shariah, does not negate the fact that he is still upon his prophethood and his [original] message.

This last point that Ibn Hajr makes is supported by the fact that on the Day of Judgement, Sayyidna Isa (peace be upon him) will be resurrected as an independent Prophet with his own community of followers (e.g. the true and faithful Christians), and not among the community of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the Muslims.

In conclusion, the Prophet Isa (peace be upon him) will not be a follower of Muhammad in the sense that he will be considered among the Muhammadan community, however, he will be a ‘follower’ of Muhammad in that he will live and judge according to the shariah revealed to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) during his final term on Earth.

Lastly, though well known, but worth mentioning, the second coming of Jesus Christ on earth does not in any way contravene the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), is the Seal of the prophets and the Final Messenger.

And Allah is Most Knowing.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Away from the Islamic sciences, Jamir is a qualified homeopath and runs a private clinic in Amman.

Does the Deceased Know What Is Happening to His Living Relatives?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I often think if my late father, God rest his soul, knows what is going on in the lives of my family. Does a deceased person know what is happening in his family’s life, the good and the bad?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

The deceased moves into another realm of being termed the inter-world (barzakh). Such a world and its details are from the unseen and we do not know what that life is like except what has come to us from revelation.

However, it is unlikely that a person knows what is happening in the lives of the family they left behind, and in reality, it will not affect anything in their own lives as their book of deeds has been closed– except for the good works that people send the reward of.

Practically, this is the best thing that you can do for them. For details, please see: Donating Reward to the Dead: A Detailed Answer

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Chongkian

Is My Faith Valid Even If I Can’t Answer All Doubts?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: My Mother is dealing with someone at work that is dedicated to making her doubt Islam by trying to find contradictions between Hadith and empirical science. What’s your advice to her?

Most “contradictions” are very specific and would need specialists in those fields to determine accuracy.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

Obligatory Faith

We are obligated to believe everything that the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – delivered to us from God, and that he was truthful in transmitting what he did.

Does Failing to Resolve Apparent Contradictions Negate this?

Someone may point out apparent contradictions between certain narrations and empirical science, in an attempt to demonstrate the unreliability of the former. A Muslim’s faith is not impugned if they do not know how to resolve these apparent contradictions, or how others have sought to resolve it, even if they do nothing to find out.

Reasons for Faith Remaining Intact

This is for two reasons. One is that, as you have mentioned, many such resolutions require specialist knowledge, or at least a familiarity with Islamic or other disciplines. A layperson is not obligated to know such information for their faith to be sound.

The second is that a person is obligated to believe in a general framework that is internally coherent; this is the belief that I mentioned above, that the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – transmitted to us truthfully from God.

With that as the default, singular confusions or lack of understanding of the interpretation of specific traditions attributed to the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, cannot be said to render the entire framework of belief untrue.

This understanding of knowledge accords with the manner in which we normally see and operate in the world. For example, a person can have a general belief in the idea of gravity, which may be as unsophisticated as believing that things are supposed to fall down. That, as a default belief, is based on good evidence, namely, the vast majority of a person’s life experience. If, however, one comes across something that seems to militate against this – say, something that rises instead of falling down – one wouldn’t discard their belief in the general applicability of gravity, even if they don’t understand precisely how this exception fits into the entire system, or never bothers to find out.

A similar scenario plays out for faith beliefs, such as a person’s belief in the prophecy of Muhammad – peace and blessings of God be upon him. An inability to readily explain certain narrations, or even to access scholarly discussion on such matters, does not render the entire coherent framework of belief untrue.

This easily applies at the level of the layperson, because of the lack of access to scholarship. It can also applies at the scholarly level; this is why scholars, who by virtue of being human have access to limited knowledge, may at times indicate that they are not sure yet how to fit certain traditions into the overall framework of established belief.

How Scholars Deal with Difficult Traditions

That said, if one is able to, it is generally encouraged to seek out answers to anything one thinks might impugn their faith.

To this end, it is useful to know how scholars tend to deal with traditions that, while transmitted through sound methods, appear to contradict empirical truths. They usually do this in one of two ways.

The first is to interpret the text in a non-literal fashion when possible, according to linguistic and social convention. This is a preferred method, as it allows for scholars to conserve and continue to make use of the maximum amount of available evidence, as opposed to discarding it.

When this does not appear possible, scholars may consider the tradition fabricated; a general principle is that a sign of a tradition being fabricated is that it irreparably contradicts other clear evidence, whether it be established texts or principles, or empirical truth.

Understanding that there are hermeneutical principles at play in interpreting and dealing with traditions can – God willing – assuage the layperson in remaining content in their faith, especially if one does not have the time, means, or concern to delve into the issues raised. If this is not the case, one should seek out reliable scholarship in an effort to determine how others have specifically dealt with such apparent contradictions.

Shuaib Ally

Are All Non-Muslims Deemed “Kafir”?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Are all non-muslims deemed “kafir”?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

The term “kafir” refers to someone who is not Muslim—someone who does not believe in the guidance the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came with.

There are different types of non-Muslims:

(1) Those who merely do not believe;
(2) Those who reject belief;
(3) Those who dislike belief and believers;
(4) Those who actively oppose and fight belief and believers.

The verses about enmity to disbelievers refer to this last category.

The Term “Kafir” as a Derogatory Term

The believer is commanded by Allah and the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to be true, upright, and dignified in speech. Allah Most High says, “Believers, be mindful of Allah and speak only words that are upright.” [Qur’an, 33.70] And to, “Say only good to people.” [Qur’an, 2.83]

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say the good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Thus, the legal scholars of Islam mention that it is sinful to use terms like “takfir” in derogatory or insulting or hurtful ways. [Fatawa Hindiyya]

One must also be careful, spiritually, of the sins of looking down on others, pride, self-consequence, conceit, and similar.

The Fate of Non-Muslims?

A non-Muslim is held responsible for disbelief if the message of guidance reaches them and they reject it. See:

What is the Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife?

Are Non-Muslims Who Lived Good Lives Condemned to Hell?

We do not delve into the specific fate of individuals, whether believers or disbelievers—as their affair is with their Merciful and Just Lord, Allah Most High.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.


Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Joan Halifax