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I am a white North American male. I was born and raised as a Catholic but refused my religious upbringing. I have recently found Islam and have found a potential wife. I have become well known in my Mosque for being a good man. The woman in which I wish to marry fears her father's reaction to my cultural and religious background, as they are Turkish and very old fashioned.
There are several gentlemen at my mosque who have offered to sponsor me in this endeavour. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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With reference to your letter, we are not exactly clear as to what exactly are the "reaction"(s) of this girl's "old-fashioned" Turkish parents. Are they hesitating or refusing to consider or approve of this proposal for their daughter on the grounds of your a) cultural background and/or b) your new conversion to Islam? We are also unable to understand what you mean by "sponsor" in this context. Therefore, we are not sure if we can be any help to you, except to clearly state that both a) cultural background and b) new conversion to Islam are not bars, legally speaking, to marrying a Muslim lady. However, according to the Hanafi and some other schools of law, there is a need for taking into account the respective social status of the couple. This is known as kufv which means that it is desirable as a legal consideration for the bride and groom to have equal social status. I hope this will help clarify the Islamic legal position in this regard for you.
Question To print this letter click here
What is the Islamic view on consuming vinegar in cooking, is it the same as alcohol?
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Vinegar does not contain any intoxicating qualities and for that reason, it is not forbidden -- it is permissible (halal). Vinegar, which is used as both a flavour enhancer and a food preservative, results from the conversion of ethyl alcohol to acetic acid by acetic acid bacteria. (Please see below for why vinegar is considered halal). Regulations in the U.S.A., for example, require that the unmodified name "vinegar" apply only to the product which has been derived from apples and that this product contain not less than 4 g of acetic acid in 100 ml of vinegar. Vinegar also contains small quantities of ash, sugars, phosphoric acid, and glycerol. A quick method of manufacture is to pour fermented apple cider containing about 10 percent alcohol over wood shavings while air is blown through the mixture. The resulting liquid is then clarified and filtered. Malt vinegar is preferred in Britain, and wine vinegar in continental Europe. The final product of this chemical process does not have any intoxicating qualities whatsoever and is therefore halal.
Vinegar may be produced from a variety of materials: apples or grapes (final product - wine vinegar or cider vinegar); malted barley or oats (final product - malt vinegar); and industrial alcohol (final product - distilled white vinegar). The intoxicating quality is removed when vinegar is made. However, the intoxicating qualities still remain unchanged for nabeez, which is made from ripened dates and has not been put through the oxidizing and filtering process that vinegar is put through. For this reason nabeez is forbidden (haram)
The holy Prophet p.b.u.h.
The jurists agree that if wine has been left exposed to air, and has subsequently turned to vinegar, then it is permissible (halal) at that time. The taste is the test because vinegar has a very noticeable 'sour' taste. (Bada'a 5:113 ).
If the vinegar was made by adopting certain processes such as by mixing salt with it or aerating wine and exposing it to Acetobacter bacteria, (which alters the wine completely and changes it to vinegar) such vinegar is also permissible (halal) according to the Hanafi doctors of law. However, according to some other jurists, this conversion into vinegar is unlawful (haram) (Bahar 8:219)
It has been related by Abu Hurairah that, in the days of the Prophet p.b.u.h., wine was generally made from 5 different sources: grapes, dates, wheat, barley and rye. According to the Qur'an, every intoxicating substance is "khamar" and is therefore prohibited. It is also a rule of law that if a larger amount of a certain intoxicating substance creates an intoxicated condition, then even the smallest possible quantity of the same substance, irregardless of whether or not it creates an intoxicated condition, is also forbidden (haram). However, in cases of extreme necessity, i.e., such as for medicines which have been prepared in the western countries and which contain alcohol, these medicines would be permissible (halal).
The legal principle
It is important to keep in mind the legal principle which governs such situations. This legal principle can be explained as follows: In the process of converting (i.e., changing the chemical or physical character of) one object or a thing into another object or thing depends on two distinct series of acts or changes which pass from one phase or state to another:
1. In the first type of change, the essential nature and a fundamental quality of a thing (substance) (eg. the intoxicating ability of wine) is changed to such an extent that it virtually becomes a new substance. In Islamic legal terminology, such a change is called istihala. Since the newly transformed substance is not what it used to be anymore, it's legal status will change accordingly -- not only for external use but also for internal use. Here the legal status changes because the wine, which is an "unclean" (najis) substance, has been changed into a "clean" substance.
2. The second type of change is like the decomposition or splitting of a thing into several parts or components. In the Fiqh (Islamic Law) terminology, it is called "tajziah". If the essence and the fundamental nature of the changed thing (eg. the intoxicating ability) remains intact or reduced but leaves traces of the original quality intact, its previous legal status remains unchanged. Accordingly, the old laws and rules applicable to its old status eg. haram (forbidden) and najis (unclean) continues. For example, if wine has been altered only to remove its colour or smell, but not its intoxicating element or quality, then the object or thing has not changed in the real sense, because as far as the legal command which relates to its unlawfulness is concerned, the essential intoxicating element has not been completely eliminated or removed.
Question To print this letter click here
Are gambling and alcohol major or minor sins?
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We have found that the best
way to answer to your question would be to quote from the book entitled
"Introduction to Islam" by Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah.
The particular paragraphs that would be most relevant to your question
are as follows:
The following letter was sent to us from a Professor in the United States who is conducting research of Islamic Family Law throughout the world. His Web site is quite informative.
The Law and Religion Program of Emory University is implementing a series of global studies of Islamic Family Law (IFL). General principles of Shari'a are supposed to govern such matters as marriage, divorce, maintenance, paternity and custody of children for more than a billion Muslims around the world. However, clear variations are to be expected not only because of significant theological, legal, and other differences among and within Muslim societies and communities, but also because Shari'a principles are often in practice modified by customary practices, or as a matter of state policy.
This global series of studies of IFL, as the most widely applied family law system in the world today, has two main objectives: 1) to verify and document the scope and manner of the application of IFL around the world, and 2) to explore and substantiate possibilities of IFL reform within particular communities of Muslims in their specific cultural, theological, legal and institutional context.
These studies are also concerned with evaluating and promoting the practical consistency between IFL and international human rights, especially the rights of women and children. We hope to contribute to this objective through an integrated approach: from research and analysis to policy and law reform proposals, to advocacy for change by groups and organizations within the country or local community.
From this perspective, the Project is designed to provide a forum for presentation of initiatives and reform proposals emerging from within Islamic societies and communities. The Project also seeks to facilitate debate and deliberation concerning these issues of the different perspectives. In so doing, however, the Project's approach is conditioned by a strong commitment to universal human rights norms, especially the human rights of women and children in this regard. By approaching the issues in this way, the Project will provide opportunities for testing and promoting the practical consistency between IFL and international human rights.
The purpose of this letter is to invite you to our thinking and information on the subject in order to strongly and actively invite the widest possible participation and cooperation from all individuals and organizations or groups, educational and research institutions, governmental and inter-governmental agencies, etc., concerned with questions of IFL, whether at the local, national, regional or global level.
Please visit our website at http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl
This is an invitation for whomever is interested to please participate by reflecting on our approach and methodology, correct or add to the information we are presenting, evaluate or suggest revision for any conclusions or recommendations that may emerge over the course of this Project.
Please pass this message along to anyone that may be interested in learning more about our research. Thank you in advance for your participation.
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im
Masha'Allah! The web page [on Sex in Islam] is excellent. I was just looking through the role of sex in Islam and I have never found any literature like this before. It is important that we learn all the aspects of Islam and Islam is not just about Salat and fasting but is the way of life.
Al hamdu-lillah keep up the good work! I have a few questions and I hope you can help:- Jazazkallah!
Q1. Because I cannot find any information in any other place about islam and sex, I thought you would be able to help. What does Islam say about using a condom? And what about masturbation?
Q2. I wanted to ask you that of the four Imams, Hazrat Abu Hanifa, Shafi etc. I just wanted to know which school of thought you follow so that I can understand which school of thought I am following.
Jazakallah for your time and keep up the excellent efforts!
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With regards to your questions, a condom is one of the methods of family planning, which is permissible by the Shar'iah and which is mentioned in our article on Family Planning.
As to your question about masturbation, as far as my knowledge is concerned, it would be permissible on medical grounds, for instance if a urologist or other specialist required a sample of semen for tests, (i.e. sperm count, etc.) then the Shari'ah permits this on the grounds of medical necessity.
There are differing legal opinions in the situation where a person resorts to masturbation when he faces a very crucial problem where it becomes almost impossible for him not to take recourse to a means of sexual satisfaction which is illegal (haram/prohibited by the Shari'ah) e.g. fornication, etc. In this case, some jurists are of the opinion that one could resort to the lesser evil of masturbation in order to avoid the more heinous and more serious sin of fornication, adultery, and so on. Whereas other jurists are of the opinion that masturbation is not permitted under any circumstance whatsoever. The reasoning is "a haram is haram'! Click here or here for further discussion on this.
Question To print this letter click here
Greetings from Dubai, UAE. I wanted to write and congratulate you on a most informative and easy to use web-site, with sympathetically written, accessible copy that will hopefully attract more converts and re-educate born Muslims in the way of Allah.
I have a general question for you - which I appreciate you may not wish to answer. As a new convert I find that this country does little - apparently - to follow the way of Allah, and I am seriously considering emigrating to another country. May I please have your assessment of what Canada would be like for a Muslim?
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Thank you for your compliments and encouragement for the way we manage both the presentation and contents of our website.
Islam is a universal religion. The word 'religion' in the Islamic context connotes an all comprehensive meaning which signifies that Islam is a complete way of life. Consequently the word 'religion' cannot be understood in the ordinary sense of the word commonly used in the West. It almost seems like the world is shrinking due to the proliferation of the Internet and other communication techniques and now more than 1/3 of the total of the world's Muslim population live in non-Muslim countries as minorities. Most non-Muslim countries seem to have adopted the more the secular way of life in preference to the religious way of life.
Thus reconciling the Islamic way of life with secular way of life becomes a difficult balancing act. Consequently Muslim minorities have to do the best they can and follow the Islamic Law (Shariah) to the extent that they can adhere to it.
This same principle, namely, to do the best one can in order to adhere to the Islamic Law, also applies to Muslims who live in Muslim countries as well, regardless of how those Muslim countries interpret Islamic Law in their practical life. To put it simply - you must follow what you feel is correct, sensible, rational, and practical in your approach to the beautiful precepts of Islam. This is usually done by choosing a particular school of law (Madhab) to follow (for instance the Sunni-Hanafi School of law) and to not be bothered if the rest of the community chooses to follow other schools of law and if they do not follow the Islamic injunctions in as conscientious a manner as they ought to. Because, in the final analysis, every individual Muslim has to go by his own conscience. Islam does not have a pope or an institutionalized 'church' to force people to obey their commands rather than the commands of Allah s.w.t. and His Prophet p.b.u.h. in accordance with one's own conscience.
So you see that no matter
where in the world you choose to live - it does not really matter! One
thing that can be said about living in a Muslim country is that at least
in a Muslim country, you will have an Islamic environment which would obviously
be more conducive in following the Islamic way of life as opposed to general
foreign, (even hostile) environments of non-Muslim countries.
Question To print this letter click here
I have recently become very interested in Islam. Your website has been very helpful and I would like to thank you for the educational service you provide.
I am a westerner and have been working in the Middle East for the last 2.5 years. I have met and worked with many Muslims who have all impressed me with their honesty and integrity.
Although you have mentioned that your role is not to answer questions, perhaps you would consider answering mine as I do not see the question on your list of sample letters and I consider it an important question.
I would like to ask what is the process required for a westerner to become a Muslim? Furthermore as I was previously not a very religious person what would conversion mean in terms of my soul and the hereafter?
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Our response to your question is to first of all say that Islam is a universal religion. That means that it is all-inclusive, for it welcomes people from all cultures - whether they be Oriental, European, Middle Eastern, Indian, African, North American, South American etc. Islam is a world faith which treats all human beings as equals. All those who subscribe and adhere (in practice) to the Islamic Ideology and its standard of morality as prescribed in the Islamic Law (Shari'ah) become members of (i.e. 'citizens' of) the Muslim Ummah (community, 'nation') regardless of their place of residence. Therefore, no one nationality can claim it as its own. So even though you describe yourself as a 'westerner,' this does not preclude the Islamic religion for you. In fact it may be to your own advantage as you will see shortly. Currently, Islam is the fastest growing religion in Great Britain. It has been projected that in the next 20 years, the number of British converts will equal or overtake the immigrant Muslim community that brought the faith to the U.K. to begin with!
Contrary to the way the western media portrays it, Islam is a very gentle faith, and it is assumed that a person who wishes to convert will have explored the faith in greater detail. And if he/she still wishes to embrace Islam after having learned more about it, then all he or she need do is recite the following testimony (known as the Shahada) in front of a Muslim witness: La illa ha illa Allah Muhammad ur rasool Allah. (There is no god [worthy of worship] but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger). That's it! There are no documents to sign, no ceremony - just a simple pledge. Quite often this testimony is recited in front of an Imam (his role is like a Minister in Christianity, or a Rabbi in the Jewish faith, only he is Muslim). More details about this can be found on our "Who We Are" web page under the title of "And what we stand for."
With regards to your last question, when a person embraces Islam, it's like they have become a new-born baby. All of their previous sins are 'wiped from the book,' so to speak. Born Muslim's don't get that kind of preferential treatment, unless after having drifted from their faith they then sincerely repent and revert back to it - this is a beautiful gift from God's store of infinite mercy. So when a person embraces Islam, all their previous sins are forgiven by God and they can start again fresh with a clean slate. Now, starting a new life with this clean slate involves two important things: (i) upon conversion, a person must wholeheartedly believe beyond any shadow of a doubt whatsoever that all his/her past transgressions and sins have been forgiven by God in His mercy, and (ii) he/she should not let any thoughts or memories of past sins haunt him/her in their new life. In fact, one should make the utmost effort to forget them altogether and instead thank God for His guidance to the Truth.
As far as learning more information about Islam goes, we have uploaded to our website a substantial amount of material from Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah's excellent book "Introduction to Islam." Insha Allah (God willing) we will soon have almost the entire book uploaded, (as part of our on-line library project which promotes useful knowledge) but for now you can read a great deal here. Dr. Hamidullah explains Islam in a most beautiful fashion to the western reader and in terms that they will understand.
Finally I would like to point out that the most important point, really, is that a person must come to Islam voluntarily. They must be absolutely certain (in both heart and mind) that they are adopting this new way of life by exercising their fundamental human right to make their own choice in accord with their own conscience. This means that a person must come to Islam through his/her own personal choice and voluntary action, thereby exercising their basic human right to freedom of conscience. What I mean by 'freedom of conscience' is that a person has the right to choose his or her own faith without external pressure or indoctrination. The Qur'an is crystal clear in it's fundamental doctrine that, "(It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve." [Qur'an 18:29] And also "Let there be no compulsion (i.e. pressure of any kind) in (the matter of) din [religion] [Qur'an 2:256] Having said this, I think it would be appropriate to insert one caveat here, so I will quote Dr. Hamidullah, because he says it so succinctly. He says, "apostasy after embracing Islam is a political crime, [which is actually considered to be treason] revolt against the community; and so it is punished severely. Better to not embrace Islam to begin with, rather than abandoning it later". . .
P.S. FYI - I myself am a westerner who was raised as a Christian but I converted to Islam over eight years ago and I've never looked back once nor regretted it Al hamdu li Allah (All praise is to God).
(This letter was drafted
by Rabia, (our webmaster) and proof-read and approved by Syed Mumtaz Ali.)
Question To print this letter click here
I am a Muslim female who is 23 years old. I have always admired my religion (Islam/Sunni), and always wanted to be a good Muslim, trying very hard to do what a real Muslim woman should be doing.
My concern is I am in love with a Christian man who works with me where I work. I have tried hard to remind myself of what a severe punishment a Muslim girl would have if she married a Christian. But fortunately, he is very interested in Islam, and is willing to convert as he learns more about our wonderful religion.
Please tell me if he converts, is it okay to marry him, or will Islam have doubts about his real reasons of converting whether it is because if he really believes in Islam or because it is the only way for him to marry me?
How can I know what is in his heart truly? I am sure that he believes in Islam, but I am also sure that if he had never met me he would never convert so I am the motivation for him to convert, is that OK in Islam?
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Once a person declares that he is a Muslim by saying the Kalima (la illa ha illa Allah) verbally, then that person's life, honour and property is protected in Islam -- period.
On the authority of the Prophet of Islam himself, once a person declares the Shahada, it is not for other Muslims to question the sincerity of such a person because what is in the heart of a person is known only to Allah, s.w.t. and nobody else. However, if the conduct of such a person happens to be such that his actions openly contradict his words, for instance if the person says or does publicly such things that would indicate his belief or commitment to atheism or his intentional refusal to accept and obey the Divinely commanded obligations (e.g. salat, zakat, fasting, and Hajj), then other Muslims would be justified in doubting his sincerity and in fact he will thus remove himself from the pale of Islam. However, it should be remembered that if a Muslim person fails to perform such obligations out of sheer laziness or neglect, then he would remain a Muslim, although a sinful one.
We have attached the following
hadiths which are relevant to your question.
to letters [21+] . . .