Are Diseases Contagious?

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked how one reconciles hadith and science on contagion.

I have a teacher who is an alim from the Deobandi school of thought. My understanding of disease was that Allah created germs and that many germs are the reason for the spread of disease as they can be passed on when in proximity of a sick person, by the will of Allah.

But my teacher said that this is incorrect and that the hadith “There is no contagion [of disease]” means that illness or sickness is only inherently from Allah, and that germs or genetics have zero part in it. Likewise he was of the opinion that it is not Islamic to take baseless precautions against disease, as the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, ate with a leper out of the same bowl, and that no explicit Islamic commandment exists to warn the believers of something harmful about diseases being passed on. (The ahadith about dipping the fly, visiting the sick, and eating fallen food off the floor – which I believe and follow, but don’t see it in-conflict with my current understanding of Allah controlling who gets sick or not – lending strength to his argument).

The only exception he said would be against leprosy, citing the hadith “flee from the leper,” but even that according to him, quoting Ibn Hajar, was so that someone with weak faith would not lose faith if he were to get infected.

He has not studied biology so I’m not able to explain how genes are inherited. Hence I cannot adequately frame my question with regards to diseases being passed down through genes, but he applies the hadith “there is no contagion [of disease]” to these as well and says the doctor saying “because it runs in your family” is something they have to say, and not necessarily the truth of the matter).

I believe that the Qur’an and Sunna cannot be in conflict with science, so I hope you will be able to explain this to me fully. Is there another school of thought on the matter? How do we explain this hadith in light of the scientific evidence of inherited diseases and infectious diseases?

Jazak Allah khayr.

The sunna of Allah in the world is that matters are normatively correlated to their respective causes. Accordingly, the basis would be that accepting the causation of contagious illnesses or genetic disorders is not at all in conflict with our tenets of faith (‘aqida).

Realities: Tawhid and Moral Responsibility

The believer is always looking at the world with two eyes: the eye of divine oneness (tawhid), and the eye of moral responsibility (taklif). The result of the former is the recognition that Allah alone is the sole doer, and none besides; at every moment, He is the only Creator and Sustainer. As for the latter eye, it is the appreciation of the “causal” relationships between things of this world, and responding to them in an appropriate manner.

The tradition (hadith) in question is reported on the authority of our Master Abu Huraira (may Allah be well-pleased with him) in which he said the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “There is no contagion [of disease]. There is no bad omen. There is no reincarnation as a bird. There is no worm in the stomach.” (Bukhari

Imam Turibishti explained the interpretation of this tradition by speaking about the hadith corpus as an organic whole. He noted that the Lawgiver does not intend to negate realities understood medicinally, in this case, but to negate the independent nature of such realities. What this does is that it allows us to affirm the divine creative act for every single thing. Hence, it is true to say that germs and other microscopic organisms don’t intrinsically, nor necessarily, make another person sick.

Taking the Means 

Yet, at the same time, other traditions explain to us how to take the means to avoid difficulties from matters which have a correlation and relationship to harm. For instance, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) instructed to avoid the leper, and when a leper sought to pledge allegiance to him physically, he had him return his hand to himself.

Having said that, there were other scholars who held fast to what is explicitly stated in this and other traditions. Given what we now know about the nature of the world, germs and the like, it would seem that a such a position is, practically, somewhat untenable to hold.

The upshot, then, is to appreciate the reality of Allah’s creating, the total dependence of creation upon their Creator, and the fact that there is a sunna in the cosmos whereby one thing leads to the other, by Allah’s creating the former, the latter and the relationship between them. (Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh al-Mishkat al-Masabih)

Please also see Concepts of Health and Disease within an Islamic Framework, by Shaykh Jamir Meah and Does Modern Science Confirm the Hadith that Says There is an Antidote in the Wing of a Fly?

And Allah Most High knows best

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Are Prayers Repeated If Hair Is Showing?

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat clears up confusion about hair inadvertently showing during prayer.

I was praying dhuhr. I read four sunna, four fard, then two sunna. After the two sunna I realized some hair was visible. I am unsure at which part my hair became visible. I made sure to tie the scarf well before starting four sunna. So before the two sunna I tied my scarf again. And then when I read that at the end of prayer I realized some of my neck was see through but the pleats of the scarf didn’t allow my neck to show. Only when I stretched the scarf out did it show.

My question is do all of these rakats have to be read again? Do any of the four raka‘s need to be repeated? If yes, which ones?

I pray you are well.

No, none of the prayers need to be repeated. Stray hairs which show are excused. In any case, anything less than a quarter of your hair is considered a small amount, and the exposure of a small amount is excused – even if it is for a long time. (Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah).

If your scarf did not show any of your skin then it is fine, although it is better to use a scarf made of material which is completely opaque.

Use the moments of tying your scarf to ask Allah to cover and veil your own faults and sins, and those of all believers, and you’ll make this act another means of drawing closer to Allah. 

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Feeling Discouraged about Marriage

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil answers concerns about not feeling acceptable as a potential spouse.

I am an American college student trying to finish half my din. I have maintained haya all my life and avoided speaking unnecessarily with men, so I asked my parents to help me search. Unfortunately I’ve been met with rejection before I’ve even been introduced as a prospect.

Men have remarked on how they don’t want a hijabi, they don’t want someone with such dark skin, they are only attracted to Europeans, I am too religious, I am not religious enough, I am too educated, I am not educated enough etc.

I see girls much younger than me marrying remarkable men with ease. I feel like there is something wrong with me. How do I keep my head up? I always dreamed of being a wife and mother in my early twenties but it seems this is no longer possible.

I am not willing to stray from the din or remove my hijab to please a man, nor can I change the way I look and my race. Should I even continue to think of marriage? It seems I am unwanted.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Self-doubt Trap

“And whoever submits his self to Allah and is good in deeds, he in fact holds on to the strongest ring. Towards Allah is the ultimate end of all matters.” (Sura Luqman 31:22)

Dear sister, please know that there is nothing wrong with you. You sound intelligent, kind, and most of all, God-fearing. Your future husband will be so blessed to have you as his wife, and the mother of his children.

Please do not allow the comments of ignorant men get you down. You are a believer, and worthy of every good.

Unfortunately, many traumatized Muslim families produce sons who carry deep-seated feelings of post-colonial shame. They feel that lighter-skinned women who are not in hijab make better wife material. This is their baggage speaking, and it is not your burden to bear. This is not the kind of family you want to marry into.

Keep your heart focused on what pleases Allah, and know that He will never let you down.

Breaking Our Attachments

Many of us get attached to different ideas, and when they do not happen, we become heartbroken. I encourage you to let go of your hope to be a mother and a wife in your twenties, and instead, hold onto the fact that Allah will bless you with marriage and children when He deems best.

If this gives you any comfort, please know that I married my husband at 28. I had my first child when I was 31, and my second when I was 34. I would have been a terrible mother in my twenties even though I really wanted kids. Allah needed me to work through my issues before blessing me with my two little daughters. AlhamduliLlah, His Wisdom eclipsed my own short-sightedness.

Of course, this is my story. You have your own. Instead of wondering if there is something wrong with you, perhaps you can ask yourself a different question. What is Allah trying to teach you? What are some character traits you can improve? What are some gaps in your knowledge that you can fill in?

Preparing for Marriage

I encourage you to complete this course, while you have the time and energy. Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages.

Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, every night, for a loving husband who has both din and good character.

Please read Sura al-Waqi‘a as regularly as you can, with the intention of increasing your rizq, namely, husband and children.

Reflections on Seasons in Life

Dear sister, I remember being a single student of knowledge in Amman, ten years ago. I was in my twenties, and really wanted to get married.

A wise older friend told me that life comes in seasons. This season of your life may feel like a winter, when you so want it to be spring. So, make the most of your winter. Buckle down, and nourish yourself with the courses and podcasts on SeekersGuidance. May the good seeds you plant now come to fruition when the time is right.

Use the time and energy that you have now to be of service to your family and wider community. One day, I pray that you will be a wife and a mother. You will exhausted beyond imagination, but you will be content too, insha Allah.

In the meantime, everything you are learning now will help you in those roles. Trust in Allah’s timing, and in His Mercy. He knows exactly what you need, even if it may not be what you want.

I pray that Allah blesses you with the gift of marriage, motherhood, patience, and contentment.

Please see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered.

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Does Profanity Entail Shirk?

Ustadh Farid Dingle clears up a misunderstanding about profanity, swearing, oaths, and shirk.

I’d like to ask about swearing (as in taking an oath). I used to have a habit of using English profanity a lot of times. I’m currently working on it, and Alhamdulillah, I’ve made progress. Instead of using vulgar words, I usually use the more toned-down version of them, like “oh man,” “oh boy,” “darn,” etc.

I’ve read from various sources that swearing in the name of someone or something other than Allah is considered shirk. What does it mean by taking an oath not in the name of Allah? Is saying “minced oaths” included? Does saying, for example, “Oh boy, I’m so mad at this” count as one?

I’m having a hard time understanding the link between the connotation of these phrases and how the law should be applied, since English is not my first language. Thank you for your help.

Such words do not constitute oaths. An oath is when you swear by Allah.

Please see What is the Difference Between a Promise, an Oath, and a Vow?

Training yourself to be grateful

It is worth trying to force yourself to say things like “alhamdulillah” instead because the tongue teaches the heart, and one should thank Allah for everything, and not object to His decree. Please also see Divine Decree, Contentment, and Lessons From the Prophet’s Life.

Over time, if you strive to force yourself to thank Allah for the calamities that befall one, it because easier and easier as if it were are part of the way you are.

Watching One’s Tongue

The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When the Son of Adam awakes, all of his limbs denigrate his tongue. They say, ‘Fear Allah concerning us (limbs of the body), for we are only with you (after all). If you go straight, we go straight, and if you go crooked, we go crooked.’” (Tirmidhi)

May Allah make our hearts, minds, bodies and tongues pure and true. Amin.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Am I a Kafir for Not loving Allah?

Ustadh Farid Dingle advises on feeling no love for Allah and how to rectify this.

I used to love Allah but my iman got weaker and now I feel indifferent to Allah. I don’t love or hate Him. Partly because I used to blame Allah for things. This is a real lack of love, not just waswasa or a dip in iman.

Is it kufr to truly not love Allah? Please answer me immediately.

Belief in Allah means that you know He exists and accept it as a fact. This is called iman. If you do this, you are a believer.

Whether one fears, loves, reveres, or hopes in Him as you really should, is another issue. Worshipping Allah as you really should is called ihsan.

Please see Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s Commentary on the Hadith of Gibril for more detail.

It is not disbelief (kufr) to not love Allah, but it is sin and lack of ihsan that one must strive to work on. If you don’t feel like you fear or love Allah, at least act like you do, because the hand teaches the heart.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

The Point of a Shaykh and a Path

I have learned from this shaykh since I was a little boy. This shaykh is very pious, masha Allah, and he has never done anything harmful to me or anyone. But lately people have been telling me that he dislikes me or avoids me and it is effecting me. So I went to my shaykh and asked him: “Do you dislike me?” and he said, “No. I do not dislike you.” I keep on bothering him with my doubts and I feel as if it is effecting my relationship with him.

I do not want a new shaykh because I already benefit from my shaykh and he is the one who taught me about Islam and is a blessing from Allah Mashallah. But he does have a lot of favorite students and those are the ones that tell me that he dislikes me. I know he doesn’t but I ended up falling for their lies. I am not one of my shaykh’s favorites but behind my back I know my shaykh once said that he worries about me a lot and then during the day he does put time aside to talk to me.

I was wondering if you could tell me how to make sure he does not dislike me and how to fix my relationship with him?

Your relationship with your shaykh should not be a personal one: he is not your buddy, and it does not matter whether you “like” each other.

The point of the shaykh is to direct to Allah, and help you get through the obstacles that stop you from being a true slave of Allah. As long as that is happening, don’t worry about anything else, and don’t listen to anyone else either.

Let it be just you, your shaykh and Allah, until it is just you and Allah, and then just Allah. That is the point of a shaykh and a spiritual path.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Wird without the Permission of a Spiritual Guide

Shaykh Farid Dingle gives advice on making it a habit to remember Allah by taking up a wird and whether permission from a spiritual guide is necessary.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have a question about the “Al-Wird al-Latif.” This Wird is common and based on the prophetic Sunna. Can I read this Wird (say, two times a day) without the permission of my Shaykh or any other Shaykh? Or can I be harmed if I engage in these litanies without their permission?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

It is permissible and recommended to make a habit of reciting any form of remembrance (dhikr) that has come with a sound or even passably weak chain of transmission, for the general divine command, “Remember Me and I will remember you.” (Sura al Baqara 2:152)

As for any other form of remembrance (dhikr), it is also recommended in principle, even if it is non derived directly from one of the prophetic formulae, and even if it is repeated.

That said, what we have heard from certain scholars is that repeating certain names of Allah repeatedly without any guidance from a spiritual guide (murshid, pir) can be dangerous and should be avoided.

It is worth noting that the litany (wird, wazifa) formulae of the various scholars are like medicine: they are designed to deal with specific problems, and not supposed to be taken without guidance and counsel.

In light of this, we would encourage anyone without a spiritual guide with whom they have contact to just keep themselves to the well-known and established morning and evening remembrances that are found in books of fiqh and hadith.

And Allah knows best.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Why Did the Prophet Fast on the White Days of the Month?

Shaykh Jamir Meah is asked about the significance, virtues, and blessings, of fasting on the white days of each month.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I was wondering why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, fasted on the white days of each month? Was there a specific logic behind these particular days? I’ve heard a lot about how the moon affects our moods and I was wondering if this had anything to do with why these days were chosen?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I hope you’re well insha Allah.

The white days of the month refer to 13th, 14th and 15th of each lunar month, when the moon is at its fullest and most luminous.

Fasting on these days (al ayam al beed) is an established sunna, mentioned in various ahadith such as, “If you fast three days of the month, then fast the 13th, 14th and 15th.” (Tirmidhi), and the words of Ibn Abbas, “The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, did not fail to fast the white days either when at home or on a journey.” (Nasa’i)

Reward of a Lifetime

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, informed us that fasting three days a month yields the rewards of fasting the whole month, “because for every good deed you will have [the reward of] ten like it, so that will be like fasting for a lifetime.” (Bukhari, Muslim) Each day earns 10 rewards, thus htree days equals thirty days reward. Thirty days being the maximum days of a lunar month. If one does this every month for twelve months, then they are rewarded for a whole year, and if they do this every year, then it is as if they fasted every year of their life.

While this reward can be achieved by fasting any three days of the month, the Prophet, blessing and peace be upon him, specifically mentioned this rewards alongside the sunna of fasting on the white days, as if indicating to the optimal combination of the general three days with the three white days, “Fasting three days of each month is fasting for a lifetime, and the shining days of whiteness, the 13th, 14th and 15th.” (Nasa’i)

The Lunar Effect

The word lunacy originates from the Latin “lunaticus,” meaning “of the moon,” and has long been associated with mental health. Aristotle is said to have held that the brain was the “moistest” organ in the body and thereby most susceptible to the influences of the moon, which triggers the tides.

Though scientific evidence is inconclusive, the gravitational hypothesis holds that the moon’s gravitational pull has the power to affect animal feelings and behavior, as animal physiology (particularly bodily fluids) are subject to seasonal, lunar, and circadian rhythms. Moonlight itself may have effects on the human physiology.

Some studies have shown that the lunar cycle has a particular impact on human reproduction, specifically fertility, menstruation, and birth rate. During the full moon, it is said that the lunar effect decreases sleep quality and diminishes melatonin levels. Animal studies reveal that the lunar cycle may affect hormonal changes.

The Lunar Effect and the White Days

Fasting in general certainly has many positive health benefits, among them harmonizing hormonal imbalances and lowering blood pressure and sugar levels. Given that the lunar effect theory maintains that bodily fluids and secretions are subject to increase and decrease during the full moon phase, fasting during these days makes sense.

However, there does not seem to be any textual reference to the wisdom or reasons behind fasting on the white days, therefore, it is not possible to say with any certainty whether the lunar effect is part of the wisdom or consideration behind the sunna of fasting on these days.

All good wishes and warmest salams,

Jamir

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Decorative, Ornamental Animal Drawings

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked about the permissibility of using decorative and ornamental images of animals within one’s home.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Is it permissible to use wallpaper with bird drawings/design on it?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Usually, it would be best to avoid wallpaper which has depictions of animate life on it unless the wall will be covered by something else, such as bookshelves and the like, whereby the wallpaper won’t be visible. Such pictures are something that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, strongly interdicted.

However, if the pictures are very small, such that their details cannot be clearly seen, or they are silhouettes or mere outlines, the ruling would be otherwise as they don’t fit the definition of an interdicted picture. Nevertheless, it is still generally superior to avoid them as much as possible.

Please also see: Can I Have Pictures in my House? Can I Pray in a Room having Pictures in it? and The Maliki View on Pictures of Humans and Animals.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Can I Swear on the Qur’an to Cover a Past Sin?

Ustadh Salman Younas is asked whether it is permissible to swear on the Qur’an in order to conceal a past sin one has repented.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

It is not permissible to publicize one’s sins. I have committed a sin in that past from which I have repented. What should I do if I were confronted about this sin and made to swear an oath on the Qur’an?

Is it permissible to take this oath in order to protect myself and my future?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

The general rule is that it is necessary to conceal one’s sins and repent. In a report related by Abu Hurayra, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, stated that all members of his community would be forgiven save those who publicize their sins. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Based on this, scholars have stated that it would be permitted to lie when a person is confronted about their sins, though it is superior to utilize misleading words rather than engage in an actual lie. (Al-Saffarini, Sharh al-Manzuma; Al-Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha)

If one is forced to take an oath in regard to one’s sins, it would follow the same ruling mentioned above. Thus, one would be allowed to express the oath in a way that conceals one’s sin, such as by intending something other than the apparent and literal meaning of the words of one’s oath. For example, stating “I swear I did not lie” but intending by it not lying to a specific person.

For more see: Can We Deny Having Committed Sins After We Have Repented from Them?

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.