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Sins of the Imagination

Ustadh Salman Younas is asked about imaginings resulting from the words and ideas of others or to hadiths, and what these  might entail with regard to one’s faith.

 

Question:

 
Assalam alaykum wa rahamt Allah wa Barakatuh.

All I want to know is whether this way of imagining is sinful and the scale of sin for each case I described. And the case when it is a kind of normal reflex of the mind. When I think about something I hear on a Christian TV channel, like God needed to become a child in order to save mankind, I think within myself that this is extremely absurd because it would imply that God has passed through a female vagina and an image of an vagina that I may have seen in a biology book or somewhere else appears in my mind.

When I take ghusl I may remember that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, did it the same and I may imagine a nude man. I may read hadiths that say that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was helped with water or stones by such and such a Sahabah during his personal needs in the toilet, and I may imagine a person half nude or full nude cleaning himself in the toilet.

I may read a hadith that says the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was sick and I may imagine an old man with gray hair that is helped to stand up and drink medication on his bed.

I may think about death and a horrible image of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, or sahabah in the shape of a scary human skeleton appears to my mind saying to me this what the most beloved person on earth has become. Or I read a hadith that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, slept with his wife and an image of a man symbolizing the prophet appears kissing and having intercourse with a woman. And it comes to me naturally as part of the normal process of thinking.

Is this manner or way of thinking and imagining sinful and what is the scale of sins for each case I described? What if a feeling of sexual pleasure abruptly appeared? Am I obliged to block this feeling of pleasure immediately to not otherwise I nullify my Islam? Am I also obliged to block immediately all those images even if I don’t have bad intentions or bad feelings in relation to them?
 

Answer:

 
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

To clarify at the outset, none of what you have described entails a nullification of faith, or kufr. You should remove this possibility from your mind altogether.

Similarly, such thoughts and images that come to your mind suddenly are not in and of themselves sinful. In an authentic tradition, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “God has overlooked (i.e. forgiven) for my community that which crosses their minds so long as they do not act upon it.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

For images to come to one’s mind when reading or hearing about certain things is natural to human beings. Sometimes, what one imagines is appropriate and blameless, while on other instances it is inappropriate. In the latter case, we are not held to account for uncontrolled and sudden thoughts that occur in the mind, but we should dispel them once they occur.

Thus, if you read something about the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, such as his manner of taking a bath, and an image of a naked man comes to mind, this is not sinful but you should try and divert your thoughts away from imagining this. Especially when it comes to thoughts of a potential sinful nature, such as sexual thoughts, it is even more necessary to move on from these thoughts as soon as they occur by seeking God’s refuge.

With that said, you need to be careful not to obsess over this as it may put you in a state of perpetual anguish and cause severe misgivings. As I mention above, thoughts of this nature are simply part of our being human. You should not dwell too much on it.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

 

Is It a Sin to Bend Unintentionally in Front of Someone? Am I “Prostrating” to Him?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaikum,

1. Is it a sin to stare at inanimate things like mountains, trees or cars?

2. Is it a sin to bend unintentionally in front of someone? Am I “prostrating” to him?

3. I keep getting bad images in my mind when I think of Allah. What should I do?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

(1) There is no harm in looking at such inanimate objects, particularly when the intention is to reflect and marvel at the Creating of Allah.

(2) No, ignore it. This is far from being prostration.

(3) Ask Allah Most High for forgiveness, seek refuge in Him from the devil, and ask Him to free you from such misgivings.

And consider taking the following free class at SeekersHub: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP) and: Excellence in Faith & Action (from Ghazali’s 40 Foundations of Religion)

And Allah alone knows best.

wassalam,
Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What Should I Think About When Allah Is Mentioned?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaikum,

I always had a mental image of Allah but now I’m getting it out. When reading about Allah I don’t know what to think of. What are we meant to think of when hearing about Allah? I am scared.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

You are not supposed to “imagine” Allah. He is unlike anything whatsoever, as He tells us in the Qur’an. Rather, you should consider the fact that He is your Creator and Sustainer, who created and is sustaining everything in the universe at every moment.

Send blessings on the Noble Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) daily, and seek out some righteous company and teachers. This religion isn’t learnt on one’s own.

Consider taking the following free class: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP) and: Is There a Way to Physically Describe Allah?

And Allah knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani