Not Fasting in Ramadan to Study for an Important Exam

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: I have a really big and important exam to study for and my time is really limited for it. With having to fast, it is more difficult to study and I am maybe not getting as much done as I should because of the difficulty of fasting. Is there any way I can be excused from fasting this month?

Answer:

Seeking a Permissible Income or Career

Allah has ordered that we struggle to pursue a income that is permissible and at times this means establishing a career or an education that requires examinations. But, the importance of those examinations does not overshadow the importance of the obligations of our faith. Thus, taking an exam or studying for it are not valid excuses to break the fast. The books of law (fiqh) give us extensive lists of what is and what is not considered a valid reason to break a fast.

We Are People Who Believe in the Unseen

Remember that we are people that believe in the unseen and part of that is that we believe in blessing (baraka). This blessing can be in our time or our efforts. So while some people make sure to fulfill every possible outwardly apparent means to gain something, as Muslims we believe that we can do less and Allah puts blessings to fill whatever deficiency may outwardly be in our effort.

Remember Those Who Came Before Us

As an example of blessing, we should remember the noble Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) who in the month of Ramadan, defeated the polytheists at the battle of Badr. Those noble men were fasting during the summer of Arabia and yet it was their fasting that was one of their reasons for victory.

Struggling to Maintain Faith and Practice After Opening the Door to Doubts

Answered by Dr. Bano Murtuja

Question: I struggle to to practice Islam and to keep my faith for an extended period of time. There were a few years of my life when I prayed five times a day and believed truly in God, but I opened the door of doubt and have not been able to close it since. At the same time, moments of grief over take me when I long to connect to Allah, or I’ll be fully emerged in my hedonism and I’ll hear mentioned the name of our Prophet, and my eyes will well with tears. So I will try to practice again for a while only to awake one morning and find it gone. This cycle repeats itself a few times a year, and I am finding it more and more unbearable, to the point of utter despair.

Ever since I opened the door to doubt my rational and analytical self dominates. In these past few years I’ve read and studied lots of philosophy and social theory, read a lot of literature and history, and science and psychology. All of it though, points to void, and an uncaring universe, and other than personal interest and comfort—I can see no “rational” reason to do anything.

Sometimes it’s all so dark that only the strength of the biology that hardwired me to feel my responsibility as pater familias keeps me from cashing out now. I indulge in sinful, hedonistic, and high-risk behavior to try to wipe all this from my mind. Unless I am in a good period, where I am praying and believing, I can’t go more than a day or two without getting high on pot, or drinking, or taking some drug if I can get my hands on it. I write nihilistic poetry, and debate people who believe in things, perhaps so I can try to make myself sure of the meaninglessness of life—and feel content, and superior even.

Then it’s all not enough. I fall into depression and long to fear Allah again, to have hope in Him. And I miss the guidance of our Nabi Kareem. But I don’t have the energy to do much about it, or if I do for a while, it will weaken with poor company or out of wanting to feel a part of my non-Muslim family. Or I’ll just awake one morning and I would rather do anything than pray.

As of the past few weeks I am praying, and have sincerely re-said my shahada, but I’m afraid I am totally lost… I would love to be able to fully believe again.

Answer: As salam alykum

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

The first thing to mention is that acting against the prescripts of Islam does not itself take you out of the fold of Islam. As your belief in God and His Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) remain, then you remain a Muslim. With this in mind, your question in relation to your marriage and children does not apply.

When it comes to our faith, it is very common to experience highs and lows in the level of faith you have and the degree of connection you feel to God. Often the lows in our faith are an opportunity to re-double our efforts to attain a connection. As our reward is proportional to the struggle, the motivation to regain the connection is a genuine blessing.

There are a number of practical steps you can take to assist you in maintaing consistency:

[1] Keep your acts of worship to the required acts. When we are experiencing a high in our iman we can set ourself targets that become difficult to maintain when we are experiencing difficulty. When struggling to maintain consistency we should aim for small acts that we are able to do so continuously.

[2] When you miss a consistent act at a particular time, make it up during the day. This will help train your self. If you’re going to perform the act regardless then it may as well be performed at the allotted time.

[3] Make dua and remembrance. God Most High says, “Truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find rest” (The Qur’an, 13:28). He also says, “And if My servants ask thee about Me – behold, I am near; I respond to the call of him who calls, whenever he calls unto Me: let them, then, respond unto Me, and believe in Me, so that they might follow the right way.”

[4] Make sincere repentance for your actions. Once you have done so you should have complete faith in His forgiveness. Have a good opinion of Allah. Know that if He has inspired you to ask for forgiveness He will forgive. Allah loves those who ask for repentance, and tells us as much. To be loved by Allah is an incredible station. To be one who asks for repentance and joins that fold is a true blessing. The trial of people knowing your sins should not be taken as the removal of protection.

[5] Do not allow lapses in consistency to cause you to lose hope in God. The important thing is that you sincerely intend to step away from bad action. Sidi Salman gives a very comprehensive answer on how reliance on needs can impact the hope you have in God. This can be found here: Good Deeds & Salvation: Putting Our Works Into Perspective

[6] Once you have stepped away from your post mistakes, you should also step away from the company you kept, and those who consistently remind you of the mistakes. Good companionship is an essential step in ones spiritual development. I am not suggesting a permanent break. It is difficult to do so when one is emotionally vested. However, until you are strong enough to be the one who influences and not the one who is influenced, it is important you protect yourself.

May Allah (Exalted be He) grant you ease and facilitation in all your affairs.

Ma’salam

Bano

Marrying a Hindu Woman and the Islamic View on Eating Meat

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Assalam alaikum. I have one close non Muslim friend who wants to marry me but she is Hindu. Her religion doesn’t allow her to become Muslim.  She wants me to change my religion as well. Also, she has a problem with eating animals as she is vegetarian and reveres certain animals we eat. I want to convince her about Islam and the Islamic view on eating animals. Please advise me.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum,

Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question.

It’s really important to try to separate one’s personal feelings from the larger question of accepting Islam. If the young woman is truly interested in Islam, she needs to investigate it on its own merits (and on its own terms) and leave off the marriage talks.

Marriage talks require a clear-headed focus and it’s hard to achieve that if she’s caught up in the “why do Muslims eat meat” question.

There is a lot of good information about Islam out there, some of it is available right here at SeekersGuidance.

Islamic law allows the consumption of certain animal products, including beef, provided the animal is slaughtered in the name of God and humane slaughtering practices are followed. Islam is an Abrahamic faith and, as such, it does not believe in reincarnation, hence there is no particular dimension to the existence of the cow that would prevent a human from consuming it.

The cow, like other permissible animals, was created to sustain the human and, as such, should be viewed as a blessing and provision of God, who has given the animal life and has given humans His permission to take that life only in His name.

If the young woman can’t accept your way of life, then it might be worth reconsidering your compatibility.

May Allah make things easy,

Zaynab Ansari

Related Answers:

What is Islam’s Stance on Muslim Men and Women Marrying Non-Muslims?

Can a Muslim Man Marry a Sikh or a Hindu?

Advising My Father to Keep a Beard

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: I know it is disrespectful to tell your parents to do thing, 
but I also know it is sunna to keep a beard and it is highly disliked to shave the beard. Is there a way that I can tell my father to keep his beard without being disrespectful.

Answer:

The Sunna of the Beard

Before answering your specific question, it is important to understand that the scholars have valid difference in regards to the obligation of keeping a beard. Some of the madhabs, including the Maliki and Hanafi, have considered keeping a beard on the entire jawbone to be an obligation. Other scholars, such as some of the Shafi’is, have considered that it is a Sunna and to shave it would be disliked but not prohibited. Because this valid difference of opinion exists, one would have to be gentle in advising of keeping a beard.

Enjoining Righteousness (Hisba)

One of the three conditions to enjoin righteousness (hisba) is that there be consensus on the matter that is being enjoined. If there is a valid difference of opinion, then one must take a different approach which is called advice (nasiha) and must use more gentleness in the method (Dardir, Hashiyatul Sharh al-Kabir). For more on the conditions of Hisba see the following answer: The Criteria of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

Hisba with Parents

Imam Malik was asked about how a person goes about enjoining righteousness with a parent and he said, “He does so but also lowers the wing of humility” referring to verse 17:24 (Mawlud, The Rights of Parents). Normally, not angering a person is not a condition of Hisba but in the case of the parents, it is. Imam al Ghazzali in the Ihya, when speaking about enjoining righteousness, also mentions that a condition of this when dealing with the parents is that they do not become angry.

Noble Speech

Allah ordered us to speak kindly to our parents and to use “noble speech” when speaking with them (Quran 17:23). Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib was asked what constitutes noble speech to which he responded, “The way a meek slave who has committed a crime would speak with his harsh and majestic master” (The Rights of Parents, Mawlud). So, imagine you are that slave and you wanted to advise you master about following the sunna of keeping a beard, how would you approach the topic? Or would you approach it at all?

In conclusion, if advising one’s father to keep a beard will make him angry, then it is prohibited to do so. And Allah knows best.

Can I Be the Godmother of My Christian Friend’s Daughter?

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: I am in a conundrum. I was just asked by a childhood friend to be the godmother of her daughter who will be baptized tomorrow. I wear hijab, so I’m assuming she knows I’m Muslim, but perhaps she doesn’t know what Islam is all about. I am a revert, but I haven’t had much contact with this particular friend since I reverted. So I was surprised by the request and I don’t know how to respond.  I’m honored, and I’d like to be able to say yes, but only if I can do it in a way that doesn’t compromise my beliefs or displease Allah. Please advise!

Answer:

The Prohibition in Taking Part in Rituals of Other Religions

The common understanding of a godparent is that a person be involved to a certain extent in certain rituals associated in bringing children into the church community, such as baptisms. If this is the case, then it is not permissible for a Muslim to take part in the rituals of other religions.

Taking part in those rituals is prohibited if done without reverence for the rituals. If reverence is held in the heart for those rituals, then that act would constitute apostasy. The reason for this is that we are ordered to only revere the rituals that Allah ordered. Allah almighty has said, “And whoever honors the sacred ordinances of Allah it is best for him in the sight of his Lord” (Quran 22:30).

Taking Responsibility for the Child

If the person is merely asking for you to be a person who can take responsibility for the child throughout her life if the mother was not to be able to take care of her, then this is a permissible and praiseworthy thing. The term that is used for this in Arabic is wakeel which means the person responsible for someone’s matters. Perhaps through your concern for your friend’s child it may be a means for them to see the beauty of Islam.

What to Say to Your Friend

Thus, my advice would be that you gently explain to your friend that your faith does not allow you to take part in the rituals of other faiths but that you would like to be a part of her daughter’s life and that you are overjoyed, honored and elated that she would ask you to do this. If she understands this, then you can be her daughter’s wakeel.

No Effect on Marriageability

One final note is that this position would not make the child a mahram (non-marriageable relative) and so your husband, brothers and sons would not be able to treat the girl as a mahram when she is older in terms of hugging, shaking hands, being alone with her and so forth. You should pray istikhara before making your final decision.

Rami Nsour

Is There a Supplication for Saving My Marriage?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Please give me a dua to save my marriage and to develop love and peace in my husband’s mind for myself and my daughter.

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

Of the best of supplications are those from the heart, even if using your own words, in the late hours of the night. Ask Allah with sincerity, love, gratitude, and in turning to Him wholeheartedly. See the following excellent article for the etiquettes of supplication:  Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a

You can also perform the Prayer of Need (salat al-haja), the details of which are provided in the link below.

Please see: How Does One Perform the Prayer of Need (Salat al-haja)? and: Brief Prophetic Supplication for Difficulties

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam

Tabraze Azam

Are There Any Chapters of the Qur’an that Should be Recited Daily?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: I wanted to ask that I’ve always been told that after Fajr namaaz you should read Surah Yasin, after Maghrib you should read Surah Wakiah and after Esha you should read Surah Mulk? Are there any other surahs to read after other namaaz?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

Yes, it is from the sunna to recite some chapters (surahs) of the Qur’an daily. You should strive to introduce these into your routine gradually, and ideally memorize them completely.

[1] Surah al-Sajdah (32): Jabir ibn `Abdullah said that, “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) would not sleep until he recited Alif Lam Mim Tanzil al-Sajdah and Tabarak Alladhi bi Yadihi al-Mulk.” [Tirmidhi]

[2]Surah Yasin (36): Jabir ibn Samura related that “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to recite Surah Yasin in the morning.” [Tabarani] This is an authentic narration as Haytami clarifies in his Majma` al-Zawa’id.

[3] Surah al-Mulk (67): Abu Huraira said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) saying, ‘There is a Surah in the Qur’an which contains thirty Ayat which will keep interceding for a man until his sins are forgiven. This Surah is: Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion. (al-Mulk).’” [Tirmidhi]

General Encouragements and Performing a Regular Khatm

Other encouragements made by scholars are often specific applications of the general virtue of reciting the Qur’an, and can sometimes be based upon weaker reports indicating a virtue found in its recitation. However, it is more virtuous to have a regular completion (khatm) of the whole Qur’an, as well as keeping up with the daily recitations mentioned above.

Nawawi relates in his Adhkar that it is authentically established that the early Muslims would gather at the completion of the recital of the Qur’an saying, ‘mercy is descending.’

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported to have said, “Whosoever prays an obligatory prayer, has an accepted supplication. And whosoever completes a reading of the Quran, has an accepted supplication.” [Tabarani, al-Mu`jam al-Kabir]

Darimi authentically relates that Mujahid, an Imam in the Qur’anic sciences amongst the Followers of the Companions, once sent for someone, and when they arrived, he told them, “I only called you because we wanted to complete a reading of the Qur’an, and it has reached us that the supplication is accepted after a completed reading of the Quran.” Then he said, “So supplicate, all of you, with [many] supplications.” [Darimi, al-Sunan]

It is also of the proper manners upon completing a recital of the Qur’an to begin another recital immediately through recitation of the Fatiha and the opening verses of al-Baqara. Nawawi notes that this is a recommended practice as the early righteous loved this. [Nawawi, al-Adhkar]

See also: Are Supplications Made After the Entire Qur’an Has Been Recited Considered Accepted By Allah? and: Prophetic Supplication For Moving to a New House

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam

Tabraze Azam

What is the Islamic View on the Gospel of Barnabas?

Answered by Ustadh Ali Ataie

Question: As salamu alaykum,

I have heard about the Gospel of Barnabas for quite some years and even have a copy myself. I understand that the critics dismissed the document as being falsified, but what is the view of the ‘Ulema in regards to the genuineness of the document?

Answer: As-salam alaykum,

The vast majority of Muslim academics and scholars of comparative religion have deemed the so-called Gospel of Barnabas as pseudepigraphical, meaning that it is a forgery, probably a pious fraud, that was written for polemical reasons and dubiously attributed to the apostle Barnabas, the traveling companion of Paul according to the Book of Acts in the New Testament.

Textual Criticism

From the standpoint of textual criticism, there is no extant manuscript of the gospel that predates the sixteen century of the common era (CE); while the oldest extant manuscript dating from this period was written in Italian. The entire Italian manuscript was translated into English by Lonsdale and Laura Ragg in 1907 along with a lengthy introduction.

Although much of what is written in the gospel agrees with the Islamic theology/Christology, such as the presence of many clear predictions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as well as several denials of Christ’s divine sonship and deity, there are also several problems with the gospel.

Inaccuracies in the Gospel

First of all, the gospel denies the messiahship of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) thus putting itself into clear conflict with the Qur’an, a definitive proof-text; there are also many anachronisms found within the gospel which suggests a much later date of composition; such as the gospel’s claim that Jesus was born during the rule of the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate or the reference to an annual “forty day fast,” – a apparent reference to Lent, a practice not attested before the fourth century CE.

That being said, we know that there was indeed a Gospel of Barnabas (Evangelium Barnabe) that was in circulation among Christian communities in the fifth and sixth centuries CE which prompted Pope Gelasius I to issue the Decretum Gelasianum listing the gospel as apocryphal (spurious). We do not know what this gospel actually contained, only that it was deemed heresy by the decree of papal authority.

The Gospel and the Epistle of Barnabas

Many Muslim scholars erroneously conflate the Gospel of Barnabas with the Epistle of Barnabas; the latter is found in the oldest complete Greek manuscript of the New Testament on earth called the Codex Sinaiticus (circa 375 CE). The Epistle of Barnabas is completely different than the so-called Gospel of Barnabas of the sixteen century CE Italian manuscript. Therefore, serious academic inquiry into the gospel reveals that Muslims should approach it with extreme caution as it certainly appears to be of very dubious origins.

And Allah knows best.

Can a Young Man and Woman be Platonic Friends?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Is it prohibited for a Muslim girl and a Muslim boy to be best friends while studying in a co-educational institute when they have no interest in each other?To the extent that they can exchange text messages after school hours one of which is quoted below.

‘A very very Happy Birthday to my dearest, most awesome friend!
I wish you all the happiness in the world and that you may never ever have any reason to be sad and that you may always have that cute smile on your face all the time.

I feel very lucky to have the best ‘best friend’ anyone could have, who’s always there in times of sadness and gladness. who makes me feel better when everything seems to fall apart and most importantly who cares what goes on in my life and what I’m going through. You should know that you’re one of the most sweetest and most honest and good people that I have ever met and I hope that we stay best friends till the end! Stay happy, always! :)’ 

Answer: Assalamu alaikum,

Thank you for your question.

While the message exchanged appears innocent enough, one has to be realistic about human nature and the natural attraction Allah has created between the male and the female. One must also keep in mind that if the young people have reached adolescence, they are experiencing a life stage where the pull towards members of the opposite sex is quite strong, but the ability to critically judge the impact of their actions and anticipate consequences is diminished.

Islamic gender etiquette is strict, yes, but it is strict for a reason. Unfettered access to members of the opposite sex, including casual friendships, can lead to emotional dependency, infatuation, and the physical behaviors that are associated with falling in love.

Unchecked, these developments can have a devastating impact on young people, particularly if the relationship is broken off by one of the parties, or, in the worst case scenario, a physical relationship happens outside of marriage.

My husband teaches young people in a co-educational institution and he can attest to the many seemingly-innocent exchanges he’s witnessed that often result in life-changing consequences for the young people involved.

My advice is to err on the side of Islamic manners and limit unnecessary interaction with your friend. If you’re old enough, however, and you genuinely enjoy each other’s company, why not pursue marriage? After all, the strongest marriages often begin as friendships.

May Allah bless you,

Zaynab Ansari

Related Answers:

Can I Chat With the Opposite Sex Online About Decent and Moral Subjects?

A Reader On Gender Interaction

Guidelines for Interacting With the Opposite Sex

Can Parents Force Their Daughter to Wear the Hijab?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Assalamu Alaikum,

My teenage cousin does not dress immodestly, but she fails to wear hijab. She is a lovely girl. Initially, her mother had diplomatically spoken to her about the importance of wearing hijab, but my cousin has still refused.

Now, her mother has told her non practicing oldest son, who my cousin fears, to tell her to wear hijab. The situation has escalated where he has been monitoring what she wears and will not allow her to leave the house without hijab in a very threatening manner. She cries and feels resentful and upset each time. I feel this is making her hate the hijab and religion, especially since it is coming from someone who is very far from practicing Islam. Is this permissible? Should they leave my cousin alone until she decides to wear the hijab on her own?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum,

Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question.

Hijab is not just an outer act of devotion, but a reflection of an inner conviction in God and His law. Modesty can’t be legislated, particularly in an atmosphere of double standards, harshness, and criticism. This is not how to endear anyone to Allah Ta’ala and His religion.

What I will say, however, is that parents can have expectations. Any reasonable young person should understand that as long as he or she eats their parents’ food, sleeps in their bed, and lives under their roof, they ought to be willing to live up to their part of the bargain, which is respect for rules.

Once your family member is out on her own, how she dresses is her business. However, as long as she lives in a Muslim household that places certain expectations on its members, she should be willing to meet those expectations, her personal feelings aside.

Finally, this situation serves to illustrate the importance of instilling modesty in girls from a young age. It’s very difficult to embrace hijab as a teen when opinions are forming, obstinacy sets in, and peer pressure is intense.

May Allah make things easy,

Zaynab Ansari

Related Answer:

How Can I Convince My Family Members to Wear the Hijab?