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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.


Types of Thought, Blasphemy, and Sin

Shaykh Farid Dingle is asked about the categories of thoughts and what to do when one has blasphemous thoughts or imaginings.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I heard that there are three kind of thoughts. Intentional thoughts, innocent thoughts, and thoughts due to disease. If someone were to imagine blasphemy would he commit a major sin or minor sin?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Dear questioner,

It is true that thoughts can be of different types and different origins.

Some thoughts may be purely divine, in that they are thoughts of the divine oneness (tawhid), or thoughts of Allah’s perfections. Others are angelic, and these are thoughts that encourage one to do good actions. Some are just neutral, like thoughts about what a word might mean or where you are going to park you car. Another group are evil thoughts, which are either demonic, such as intentions to disobey Allah or deny Him, or egotistic, such as the drive for fame and food.

Another way to categorize thoughts as well is to look at how far one has followed that thought. Some thoughts, whether good or evil, are merely passing thoughts. For example, a believer might have a passing thought to commit a sin, or that Allah doesn’t exist, and seeks refuge from the Devil and ignores it and thereby earn reward with Allah.

The next level would be to dwell on the issue, and waver back and forward about doing a good or bad act. This is a deeper level of interaction. With good deeds, one shouldn’t waver, but rather go ahead and do it even if it seems paltry.

The stage after this is resolve (hamm). Here the slave resolves, for example, to get up for the night vigil prayer (tahajjud), or resolves to steal. Allah be our refuge!

By resolving to do something good, one actually earns a reward with Allah before even doing it. Ibn Abbas narrates that the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said “Whoever resolves (hamma) to do a good deed, and then does not do it, Allah will write it down as one complete good deed. If he resolves to do a good deed and then does it, Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, will write it down between ten and seven hundred fold, or many more. If he resolves to do a bad deed and then he does not do it, Allah will write it down as one complete good deed. And if he resolves to do a bad deed and then does it, Allah will write it down as one bad deed.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

So, yes there are different levels of thoughts, and they do have different moral weights, but we are not held accountable for passing thoughts if we acknowledge those that are bad and discard them immediately.

As for the categorizing a bad thought into a major or minor sin, there is no practical benefit in it. The differentiation between major and minor sins is a purely theological debate, and only has any significance in court when the judge is looking to see who is or is not an upright witness.

If a Muslim plays with sinful thoughts, they should just seek forgiveness and that is it. They should not linger on whether or not it is a major or minor sin.

I would also be wary of visiting websites of Muslims who do not abide by traditional Sunni scholarship. We love and respect all people and all Muslims, but we should only take our religion from those who represent traditional Sunni Islam.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Day 7: Stop Gossip-30 Deeds 30 Days

Day 7: Stop All Gossip

The tongue can kill or heal, build or destroy. A physical scar heals faster than the scarring from harsh words. In the Quran, we are promised spiritual success -and also material success-if we speak well and are conscious of Allah. We also hear hadiths that say that a good  Muslim leaves what doesn’t concern them.

This Ramadan, stay alert during iftar gatherings and while browsing social media. Watch yourself and make sure that you don’t engage in anything hurtful, degrading, or pointless. If someone comes out, try to change the subject, or kindly advise them if you’re sure you can do it in a beneficial way. It’s harder than it sounds, but the effects are better than they sound.


Bring new life to this Ramadan by enrolling in a FREE On-Demand course.

Is It Acceptable to Wear Clothes With Allah’s Name on It?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I am a football player. I would love to see my name “Habibullah” written on my jersey.

1. Is it acceptable for me to wear my jersey into the toilet since it has Allah’s name on it?

2. Will I be responsible if others who buys my jersey wear it into the toilet?

Answer: Assalamu alaykum

1. The basic rule is that it would be disliked to enter the toilet, which is defined here specifically as the area where one relieves himself, while wearing something with the name “Allah” or a Qur’anic verse and the like.

This dislikedness is lifted though when one covers the name or verse before entering the toilet. Yet, even here it would be best to avoid entering with such names/verses if reasonably possible.

2. You will not be responsible and such a possibility does not render it impermissible for you to put your full name on a jersey but what you mention is certainly something to keep in mind as any Muslim would not wish to see the name of Allah disrespected.

You can always, for example, choose to simply have the name “Habib” on your jersey as opposed to “Habib Allah.”

[Ibn Nujaym, Bahr al-Ra’iq (1:256); Ibn Abidin, Hashiya (6:361); Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni (1:109)]

[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 where he spent five years studying Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford and continues his traditional studies with scholars in the United Kingdom.

How Do I Overcome Doubts About My Religious Practice and Past Sins?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

If a muslim does not fulfill the five pillars of Islam, does his practice just becomes vain?

I never ever gave zakat, I pray sometimes and never completed a Ramadan. I have done so much sins that I doubt about deserving Allah’s forgiveness.

Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for courageously overcoming the life challenges you have been facing and striving towards the religion. That takes a lot of sincerity and determination.

The 5 Pillars

While the 5 Pillars of Islam are the cornerstones of the religion, each pillar is still an individual pillar and act of worship. Therefore, neglect of one pillar of the religion does not vitiate the validity or reward of performing another pillar.

What it does mean however, is that that the person’s overall religious practice is wanting and needs to be worked on. As the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘The strong believer is more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, but there is goodness in both of them.’ [Sahih Muslim]

Have no doubt in your mind that Allah Most High knows everything about the journey that you have been through and are still on. Allah loves those who make mistakes and yet continuously comes back to Him, just so He can forgive them.

The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Were you not to commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and then seek forgiveness from Allah; and Allah would forgive them.’ [Sahih Muslim]

And Allah Most High says, ‘And despair not of Allah’s Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah’s Mercy except the unbelieving people.’ [12:87].

Therefore, there is no one or no sin that Allah will not forgive if the person repents with sincerity. Do not think you are beyond forgiveness, for Allah’s Mercy, Gentle Kindness, and Compassionate Love is greater and vaster than we can fathom.

Take refuge in Him, and seek out His Love and Protection by slowly but steadily performing the basics of the religion.

Practical Steps

– Pray the Prayer of Repentance (Tawba) for any sins and make sincere du’a to Allah to forgive you, and resolve to not return to them. Once done, do not look back, nor carry on praying Tawba for the same sins. Rather, considerate it finished and move on.

– Read Qu’ran a little bit each day, even with an English translation alongside if need be.

– Keep good company and avoid any company that have a negative influence on you.

– If you are not working, try to get steady and regular employment.

– Seek out recreational outlets such as sports, art, or anything else that interests you.

– Consider doing some occasional community work, whether it’s with other people, animals, or environmental. Helping others and caring for the community and environment has tremendous therapeutic effects, and on many levels.

– Consider taking some basic courses in Islamic studies. If there are local classes or a teacher available this would be best. However, if not, then consider taking one of our free, beginners online courses, found here.

You may also find the following answers helpful:

Struggling to Maintain Faith and Practice
Why Does Islam Seem So Difficult to Follow?
Overwhelmed by Guilt?

I wish you success in your affairs. May Allah increase you in faith and in every good.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

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. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

I Fear That My Past Will Catch up to Me. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I have been through a lot of trauma in the past, and have even attempted suicide. Alhamdulilah, I was guided to Islam through the man I want to marry, but have not told him about my past sinful relationships. I worry that the ghosts of my past will come back and haunt me. What do I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Repentance

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah, the Exalted, has said: ‘O son of Adam, I forgive you as long as you pray to Me and hope for My forgiveness, whatever sins you have committed. O son of Adam, I do not care if your sins reach the height of the heaven, then you ask for my forgiveness, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, if you come to Me with an earth load of sins, and meet Me associating nothing to Me, I would match it with an earthload of forgiveness.”‘ [Tirmidhi].

Dear sister, please trust in the indescribable Mercy of Allah. No matter how terribly you have sinned, Allah’s Mercy is greater than all of it.

Past

Only Prophets (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon them all) are Divinely protected from sin. Everyone else has made mistakes, some graver than others. You are not alone. Continue to make regular istighfar every day, and trust that Allah is capable of forgiving you and burying your past. Give in regular charity with the intention of drawing closer to Allah.

Sin

Please remember to never speak of your past sin to anyone. It is obligatory for you to conceal your sin. Refer to this resource to help you understand why: Is It Permissible to Lie In Order to Conceal Past Sins?

Trauma

You have accumulated a lot of trauma in your life journey. I encourage you to release this trauma through seeking professional help – is there a holistic healer, counsellor or psychologist you can speak to?

I encourage you to consider resources such as the trauma release work of Hakim Archuletta and Hafsa Hasan.

Marriage

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. You have described falling into sin with this man, so I encourage you to:
1) not delay your nikah
2) keep an appropriate distance between the two of you, until the day you marry.

Please educate yourself through courses such as Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages, lesson sets as well as podcasts.

I pray that Allah blesses you with the gift of a sincere repentance, and the gift of a tranquil, loving marriage which brings you closer to Him.

Please see:

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
Reader on Repentance

[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 in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Are You Veiled from God? by Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Are you veiled from God?

Are you veiled from God? What kind of things can be barriers between us and God , asks Shaykh Walead Mosaad. He answers and discusses veils which can come between us and God, saying that even acts of obedience can be a type of veil.

Are you Veiled from GodBrand Manager for Islam

Resources on Veils and God


Cover photo by Stefano Naitana

"Charity extinguishes sin, just as water extinguishes fire."

Isn’t it time to put out your sins?

The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said, “Charity extinguishes sin, just as water extinguishes fire.”
Watch this short video below as Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explains this beneficial hadith:

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I Cannot Stop Drinking Alcohol and Committing Adultery. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I feel lost in my sins, and am desperately trying to crawl out from under them. I have committed a number of sins such as drinking alcohol and committing adultery. I always fall back into these patterns. What can I do to overcome my weakness?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for wanting to seek help.

Support

Allah Most High says: “Say: My servants who have wronged yourselves, never despair of God’s mercy. God forgives all sins: He is truly the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” [Qur’an, 39.53]

Dear questioner, it sounds like you need better support in overcoming your trials. I strongly encourage that you sign up to Purify Your Gaze. This is a safe space for Muslims who are struggling with various forms of sex addiction. You are not alone.

Moving forward

Observe the patterns of your behaviour. What triggers your episodes of drinking and adultery? Ask yourself what you can do to protect yourself from future relapses.

What company do you keep? Are you guarding your prayers? Do you attend regular circles of knowledge? You must increase the light of obedience to Allah in your life, to protect you from the darkness of sin.

Please perform The Prayer of Need and beg Allah to help you make a complete repentance.

Persist on daily istighfar. Please read and implement the following: A Reader on Tawba (Repentance).

Marriage

When registration reopens, please complete this course Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life.

I encourage you and your wife to attend marriage counselling. For the sake of your wife’s health, please get a blood test to ensure that you are not harming her.

Please refer to the following links:

Committing Adultery in an Unhappy Marriage
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: urbandispute

How Do Sins Hinder Us?

How Do Sins Hinder Us?

How do sins hinder us in our spiritual progress?  Shaykh Walead Mosaad answers this question and explains how even a small sin can set us back in our path to Allah.

Ever get caught out on these issues? Deepen your understanding by taking a short course with SeekersHub.

Resources for Seekers

Cover photo by Anwar Vazquez