Mixed Schools and Talking to Other Students

Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan answers a question about how to deal with having to sit next to a person of the opposite gender in a mixed school.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I go to a school that is mixed and in one of my classes, I sit near a boy. I do my very best to avoid him, but is it okay if I talk to him now and again – obviously staying in the limits?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you’re well insha Allah. Jazakum Allah khayran for your question and may Allah reward you for being concerned about your religious practice.

Unfortunately, mixed gender schools are now part of most people’s lives and for some, there are no alternatives. Religious individuals and groups must therefore learn how to deftly maneuver within the reality of their environment; balancing the often difficult task of remaining firm on clear principles of social conduct while at the same time doing their best not to isolate or repel others.

We often have to remind ourselves that traditional gender barriers that religion places are no longer understood or observed by most people, especially in the West. Of course, we should maintain these barriers for they serve a necessary purpose, however, we must also be sympathetic in attitude to people to whom such formal interaction may seem strange or extreme. Acknowledging this at least allows us to view and interact with others in a merciful and respectful manner. In time, they may even admire and appreciate the wisdom in our customs.

In these situations, one can only do the best one can, observing proper etiquette and modesty while remaining genuine and good-natured. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Do not be extremists, but try to be near perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Suggestions on Mixed Schools

You could ask the teacher if it is possible to seat you next to a female student.

If you must sit next to a boy, then just ensure that you are properly covered and avoid physical contact. Talking now and again to greet him or when needed is fine. Be natural and don’t be harsh. It’s also not his fault he is sitting next to you!

Simple questions and answers usually suffice to be pleasant yet succinct.

You may also refer to this post: How to Deal with Free Mixing in Public Schools.

I wish you the very best. Warmest salams,

Jamir

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Sincere Repentance from Zina

Ustadh Salman Younas is asked how to sincerely repent from having committed zina and if it is necessary to ask the other for forgiveness.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am a young Muslim guy. I do pray five times a day. But I have committed zina several times. I did make tawba and went back to it. And then I did make tawba again. I am trying to full fill the 3 conditions of tawba. But since my crime involves other individuals, how do I ask forgiveness from them?

I heard one of the condition of tawba involves the rights of others. But I am so ashamed to go to the person that I committed zina with and ask for forgiveness. My question is, will that be sufficient if I regret my sin and ask Allah for forgiveness? Or do I have to ask forgiveness from them too?

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

It’s enough in this case to seek the forgiveness of Allah, feel remorse for your sin, and intend to never return to it again.

The sin that you have committed is something quite serious. However, you should not lose hope in the mercy of Allah, which has lifted people who were trapped in much darker places to very lofty states. As the Qur’an states, “Do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, God forgives all sins.’ (Sura al-Zumar 39:53)

Keep turning to Allah in repentance, and in thankfulness for allowing you to realize your errors. You should also seek forgiveness for those who you assisted in carrying out sinful actions by being a partner to it. While, you do not have to actually seek their forgiveness, you should ask Allah to turn their hearts towards Him, wipe clean their sins, and allow them to enter into His obedience.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Losing Hope and Struggling with the Din

Shaykh Farid Dingle answers a question about struggling with one’s din, not feeling worthy of Islam, and losing hope and trust in Allah.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I’ve been struggling with the din since Allah drew me back into the religion when a calamity had befallen me because there was no other way out. Since then I’ve been practicing. I think to myself, “Why me?” because I disobey Allah a lot and then I repent and then intentionally go back to it. This same cycle repeats over and over again. Eventually I give up. I start to pray less and fall into despair.

There are times where I also disobey my parents. I try my best to obey as much as I can but when it comes to matters which are prohibited in Islam I don’t listen. There’s a hadith that says, whoever is disobedient to their parents will never enter paradise. When I read this, I just start to give up and think to myself, “What’s the point? Might as well just go all out.”

This was one of the reasons why I nearly left Islam. I really don’t know what to do anymore.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Dear questioner,

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an,

“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’”

“And return utterly in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.” (Sura al-Zumar 39:53-54)

And the Holy Prophet has said, Allah bless him and grant him peace, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would do away with you, and bring a people who would sin and then they seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would forgive them.” (Muslim)

And he also said, “Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than a person who has his camel in a waterless desert on whose back is his provision of food and drink which is then lost. He, having lost all hope (to get that back), lies down in shade despaired of ever finding his camel; when all of a sudden he finds the camel standing before him. He takes hold of its reins and then, out of boundless joy, blurts out, ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Lord!’ making a mistake out of extreme joy.’” (Muslim)

So we can learn from these divine teachings that we should not despair of Allah’s forgiveness, and that the cycle of sinning and then repenting, that sinning and then repenting again is part and parcel of our relationship with Allah, and that He loves us to repent to Him. All we have to do is keep striving.

Hope and Fear

In the verses above, Allah first reminds us of His mercy and then reminds of His punishment. This is a repeated theme in the Quran: always having hope, but not forgetting to fear Allah.

The Devil likes to trick us by making us give up hope, or by making us too hopeful. The way of safety is in between, with fear and hope always vying to control our hearts and always encouraging us to keep going.

Company

Allah Most High has told us, “O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true.” (Sura al-Tawba 9:119) And the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look well to whom he befriends.” (Abu Dawud)

This verse and hadith tell us that we have to be very careful about those with whom we associate, be it in friendships or in the virtual world. Often we get held back by the bad company we keep.

It is not a lack of loyalty to politely avoid your friends of the past who keep dragging one into sin. In fact it is from loyalty to Allah that one do that.

If you don’t change your environment to the extent you can, it is very, very hard to change your life and progress.

Persistence

You are not alone in your struggle. This is what all of us face in life on various different levels. We just have to keep working on ourselves bit by bit, trying our best, relying upon Allah, and seeking His forgiveness when we fall on our nose.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Prayers That Are Never Answered

Shaykh Farid Dingle is asked why it is that our prayers sometimes seem to not be answered and our lives are full of struggle when compared to others.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Why is it that I keep praying to Allah and my prayers (dua) are never answered? Even my non-Muslim friends’ lives are better than mine. Please advise.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Dear questioner,

We must realize that sincere praying to Allah (dua) is a very great honour from Allah. Allah only allows us to pray to Him because He wants to give us something tremendous indeed.

Allah Most High says, “What would my Lord care for you if not for your supplication [dua]?” (Sura al-Furqan 25:77) and, “I respond to the call of the caller when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:186)

How Allah answers our prayers

So our supplication (dua) is something great indeed, and Allah does answer us. However, this happens in one of three ways:

1. He gives us exactly what we asked for. This is the lowest of the levels.

2. He saves us from some affliction that would have befallen us.

3. And this is the highest level, He saves the reward of the supplication for the Afterlife.

The Prophet, Allah grant him blessings and peace, said, “Not a single Muslim prays for anything that is not a sin or a severance of family ties save that Allah gives him one of three things: He either gives him what he asked for immediately, or saves it for him for the Afterlife, of averts from him a calamity the likes thereof.”

“In that case,” replied the Prophet Companions, “we’ll make a lot of supplication.”

“Allah,” he replied, “is yet greater [in generosity].” (Ahmad)

Perseverance in Prayer (Dua)

The Messenger of Allah, Allah grant him blessings and peace, said, “The slave will be answered as long as he does not ask for anything that is a sin or a severance of family ties, and as long as he isn’t impatient.”

He was asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what does it mean to be impatient?”

He replied, “He says, ‘I have prayed and prayed, and I don’t see how I have been answered!’ And so the slave gives up hope at that and stops praying [for what he was praying for].” (Muslim)

So we have to keep praying, even if we imagine that Allah is not answering our prayers.

How to Make Dua

Besides being consistent in one’s prayers, one should also make a prayer for whatever one needs at blessed times, like after praying the obligatory prayer or breaking the fast; one should face the qibla and be on ritual purity (wudu). One should also give charity before making the supplication.

And one should be careful about one’s income. If one’s income is not halal, one’s prayers will not be answered.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah the Almighty is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Verily Allah has commanded the believers to do that which He has commanded the Messengers saying, ‘O Messengers! Eat of the pure and good, and perform righteous deeds.’ (Sura al-Muminun 23:51) Saying, ‘O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you.’” (Sura al-Baqara 2:172)

“Then he mentioned [the case] of a man who, having journeyed far, was dishevelled and dusty, and who spread out his hands to the sky saying ‘O Lord! O Lord!,’ while his food was haram, his drink was haram, his clothing was haram, and he has been nourished with haram, so how on earth should he be answered?” (Muslim)

Conclusion

So keep praying for whatever it is you need because Allah is answering your prayers, and He is with you when you call upon Him.

Allah Most High has said in a Hadith Qudsi, “I am as My slave thinks of Me and I am with Him when he remembers Me.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

If we think carefully, being with Allah is probably greater than whatever it is that we are asking Him for anyway. We should cherish the moments of genuine need and sincere prayer because one of the signs that Allah loves one is that one loves to call on Him in supplication (dua) in difficulties and ease.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Pledging Allegiance to Gain Citizenship

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasatis asked if pledging allegiance to a non-Muslim country in order to gain citizenship is a form of shirk.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have a question regarding the pledging allegiance to US to get a citizenship. I live in US with my parents. My dad wanted me to get a citizenship after he got his. I did not want to get the US citizenship since I assumed it to be shirk. Today I got my citizenship.

Now my question is it shirk to pledge allegiance to non-Muslim state, to bear arms to protect it, etc? I would like to know the Hanafi view if possible. If yes, is there any hope for my tawbah to be accepted?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

It is not shirk to pledge allegiance to the US. Rather it could a praiseworthy act of worship with the right intention.

What Is Shirk?

Shirk, in short, is:

    1. 1. affirming the existence of multiple gods;

 

    1. 2. saying Allah is made up of multiple gods (like the concept of the Trinity in Christianity);

 

    1. 3. worshiping another with the intention of getting something from Allah though him;

 

    1. 4. thinking that causes bring about effects independent of Allah;

 

    5. showing off in acts of worship.

The first four take one outside of the fold of Islam, and the last one is an enormity from which one must repent, and not something that takes one out of Islam. Please take the time to study the Essentials of Islamic Belief when the course next opens. Having a solid foundation of what Muslims believe will save you from confusion on matters such as this.

Living in Non-Musim Countries

Merely living in a non-Muslim country, bearing its nationality, or eating its national dish does not entail shirk – nor does voting, whilst we are on the matter. All of these matters are permissible provided one is able to perform one’s obligatory religious duties, and that there is no real, palpable danger to one’s faith or that of dependents. Millions of Muslims live in non-Muslim countries, and despite the recognized challenges, many not only survive — they thrive in their faith.

Defending your home country from an aggressor would be obligatory wherever you lived if the need arose. Pledging to do this does not take one out of Islam.

Making a firm intention to live Islam and show its beauty to Muslims and non-Muslims is one of the ways to making your living in a non-music country an act of worship. Do so, and take the steps to make it happen in your own life and community.

(Kafawi, al-Kulliyat; Sanusi, al-Muqaddimat; Quduri, al-Mukhtasar; Abdul-Karim Zaydan; Buhuth Fiqhiyya Muʿasira).

May Allah allow us to thrive in our belief and practice wherever we are. Amin.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Greeting, Hugging Non-Mahram Men and Women

Ustadh Salman Younas is asked about a wife seeing his husband hug a non-Mahram woman in front of her children and how to deal with this.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have been married for almost six years and have two daughters. My husband usually shakes hands with non-Muslim women and I don’t. I was thinking to talk to him about that. It was first time after six years that my husband’s non-Muslim friend invited us to a dinner. I was surprised to see when my husband’s friend’s wife asked to hug him and he said yes. They hugged each other and then we left. It was a shame for me because they did it in front of me and our kids. I want to raise my children on Islamic manners and now I am getting concerned about it because i believe that our children do what they see.

I talked to him about it and he acknowledged his mistake but I didn’t get any answer that he would not do that again or not. And now after that I am having doubts about our relationship that whether I should continue it or not.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Unless there is something more to the situation that you have failed to disclose, it would seem ill-advised to think of ending your marriage solely based on this action of your husband, which he himself admits is a mistake.

Often, even practicing Muslims find it difficult to avoid shaking hands with the opposite gender in certain situations. There is a social and psychological pressure that people often succumb to when confronted with the choice of shaking someone’s hand or not doing so in both casual and professional settings. Your husband is certainly not the first person to slip in this regard. In fact, it is a common problem that people report and inquire about.

If your husband is a good partner otherwise and someone who tries to practice his faith, I would advise you to be a loving and supporting spouse. Nudge him in the right direction. Try to understand his struggle and speak to him like a friend and sincere confidant. Help him overcome the difficulties he is facing. But don’t suffocate him. Rather, advise him and then give him some space to take it in and work on himself.

People slip, and sometimes they do so repeatedly. It does not mean they are bad people, nor does it mean that they do not care for their religion and practice. As the Prophet, blessings upon him, said, “Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who repent.” (Tirmidhi)

It is also important to ensure that other areas of your life are ones where both you and your husband are practicing your faith as this may eventually be the key to overcoming one’s vices.

Finally, you should continue making supplication for him and your family. In the end, God is the one who changes hearts.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Seclusion in the Office

Ustadh Tabraze Azam answers a question about what counts as seclusion if one works is a closed office anyone can access at any time.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I work in a small office whose main door is routinely closed, people can do routinely enter and exit but someone from the inside has to open the door for the strangers, we are in a manner that we expect anybody to knock the door or to open with keys at any time. Sometimes I stay alone with a “non-Mahram” woman for a period of time (30-60 minutes). I can not keep the main door open.

Does that count as seclusion, What should I do?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

No, remaining alone with a person of the opposite gender in an enclosed space which people routinely enter and exit from would not constitute impermissible seclusion (khalwa).

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Let no man be alone with a woman except whilst she has her unmarriageable kin (mahram) with her.” (Bukhari)

Usually, the ruling of impermissible seclusion is lifted when there is

    1. 1. a barrier between you and the other person, such as separate offices for each,

 

    1. 2. a window and the like which allows anybody from the outside to look in,

 

    1. 3. a third party present (with some detail), or

 

    4. an absence of a permission requirement to enter the space.

Needless to say, during lunch breaks and the like, namely, occasions where staff are unlikely to come to and fro as normal, the ruling of impermissible seclusion would apply. In such cases, consider keeping the door open, if reasonably possible, or simply stepping away like others have.

Clearly, you would ensure that you’re not lowering your religious guard in all circumstances, and continue to ask Allah Most High to facilitate your matters for you. (Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar)

Please also see What Is the Meaning of Khalwa (Seclusion) with the opposite Gender? and Is It Permissible for Me to Stay in a Flat With My Brother’s Wife If a Child Is With Us?

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Caring for Elders Suffering from Dementia

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked for advice on how best to treat an elder in one’s care, who suffers from dementia, within the bounds of Islam.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have a question. Where and how can I draw the line between what my religion has taught me, and what the doctors say in regard to caring for my elder with dementia?

Religion teaches I should not say an “uff” to my elders. The physiotherapist says I have to force her to do her movements – if she cries, so be it. She says I have to be cruel to be kind.

The intention is clear for me – I want her betterment and I want her to be independent for as long as it is possible. Can you please help to explain to me how to deal with this situation from an Islamic perspective?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Not Offending Parents

You are indeed in a very difficult situation. May Allah make it easy for you. In short, do pretty much what the physiotherapist says to keep her mobile – but use the nicest language, the softest tone of voice, and as much compassion as you can muster.

Allah has commanded the believers to be excellent to their parents, “And your Lord decreed that you worship none but Him, and [that you treat] your parents with the very best of conduct. If one, or both, of them reach old age with you then do not even express any frustration to them [literally, do not say ‘Uff’], and do not scold them. Use the very best choice of words with them.” (Sura al Isra 17:23)

Scholars mention that it is impermissible to use harsh language with one’s parents. This is understood from the first part of the verse, but Allah then explicitly mentioned it to further emphasize the point (Sayis, Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam). Rather, the way of Muslims is to always try to be kind, merciful, and gentle with them — which is not always easy when they reach old age.

Practical Steps

Help her as much as you can with her mobility issues, but make sure you lovingly explain the importance and need for the movements, and that the physiotherapist requires a certain degree of movement. Make sure she understands the benefits of it, and the harms of neglecting it.

Support her through the pain with care and compassion, and realize the she has limits. Maybe pushing her to the degree you have been told to is not best for her. Try to strike a balance between what she wants and what she is capable of doing.

Also, you may want to look into alternative methods of restoring movement. Original Strength Restoration is a good resource on this topic.

May Allah make this test easy for you, and make this service a means for you to enter Paradise. Amin.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Prints of the Qur’an in the Living Room

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked if it is permissible to hang framed Qur’an verses in the house as decoration and remembrance.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I could really use some help right now for this issue I’m having and hoping it’s permissible to use this to ask. If not, can I be directed to where it would be appropriate. I’ve put myself in a bad spot by not speaking up initially and now just trying to save our relationship before it gets even more uglier.

My wife purchased a print with a lot of her money that has Ayat al-Kursi on it and we are now debating whether or not to actually keep it and use it. My wife initially wanted to have it hung in the living room of our house. My intentions of having it, was to have it as a reminder of what it stands for and to help with remembering and reciting it. After hearing opinions from others and considering the fact there’s a TV across the room (which I didn’t say anything about), we’re having second thoughts.

Is there any sort of ruling or resource that may be able to help in remedying the situation? Any rulings on Qur’anic verses being used in such a way?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

In general, we are encouraged by the Shariʿa to remember Allah a lot, “O believers, make much remembrance of Allah.” (Sura al Ahzab 33:41). Anything which aids this remembrance would be praiseworthy with the proper intention and requisite adab.

Use the print as a means of remembering Allah and reflecting on His blessings; this will bring great good into your life. Please also see Rulings Regarding Selling and Displaying Islamic Wall Stickers.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


I Have Hurt People before and after Puberty

Shaykh Farid Dingle gives advice on how to deal with having hurt people in one’s past and rectifying this in the present.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I can recall times when I was younger when I have hurt individuals through my words or actions. For many of them however, I cannot recall particularly if the incidents took place before or after I reached the age of puberty. Additionally, some of them were against members of the opposite gender.

I am now older and married. Reaching out to those individuals who are adult members of the opposite gender feels like a challenging and potentially touchy thing to do with respect to me, with respect to my spouse, and with respect to that individual. I fear however that these individuals may have not forgiven me and that I will thus be accountable for having hurt them on the day of judgement.

As far as I can remember, nothing grave was done to their rights and there is nothing that I can do to return matters to an original state (i.e. no money was taken and no property was damaged, but I surely hurt those individuals). Since then, I have seen some of these individuals and though they have not expressed anger towards me, I always fear that they are holding on to negative emotions towards me in their hearts.

Please advise me on how I should go about dealing with this. How can I fix these mistakes? What do I have to do to rectify these situations (both for before and after puberty, and in cases where I am not sure when it occurred)? Am I accountable for having hurt someone else before I reached puberty?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Dear questioner, your concern is valid, and it is true that we are responsible for every word and deed we do after we reach puberty.

The question is how we can make this genuine concern actionable. As you mentioned, many of these wrongs are neither financial, such that they could be returned, nor are they of a nature that would allow you to formally seek forgiveness without that causing bigger problems.

The answer is to try your best to give extra charity, extra prayers, recite extra Qur’an, without that violating your current obligations to your family.

You should bring to mind these sins now and then, and seek genuine forgiveness, but it should not reach a level of depression or obsession.

At the end of the day, Allah is greater than us and our sins, and He can find a way for the sins to be forgiven. This could be by inspiring those that we have wronged to forgive us now or on Judgment Day, or by giving us extra deeds that will be rendered over to them as recompense.

As for you current interactions with such people, we were all young and foolish at some time in our lives, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I doubt each and everyone of the people we have hurt or insulted or teased is still holding on to each and every offense we did them. People do grow up and move on, usually. For this reason, I don’t think you should give too much consideration to what offenses they are still holding on to. I would imagine that they have forgotten or now ignore such historic events.

Holding on obsessively to one’s past crimes is to doubt in Allah’s omnipotence and complete control of the whole universe. And to forget one’s sins is to deem light that which is terrible in His eyes. We have to tread a healthy middle way that moves us to action and new resolve, as opposed to depression. As one scholar put it, “Don’t be sad, and don’t be depressed, and don’t be comatose. Just get going!”

Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’ (Sura al-Zumar 39:53)

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.