Ask me anything!

This site is intended to be interactive!  If you have a question about Islam, or have come across an article or a blog post that you think would be of interest to me or to other readers, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know!

At the moment, I have no set timeline for answering questions, but I aim to answer them as quickly as possible.  If they require extra research, then they’ll take me a little longer (and occasionally I actually have to pay attention to my thesis, which can create further delays).

If you’re having any problems commenting, or want to get in touch with me for any other reason, you can email me – askanislamicist at gmail dot com (but written like a normal email address, of course).

Please note that I enforce Wheaton’s Law on this page, as well as on all of the comments.  Please – don’t be a dick.

32 Responses to Ask me anything!

  1. Uzza says:

    This is a fantastic idea for a blog!!! I wish you’d’ve come along way sooner. Right off the top of my head, here a couple of questions I have.

    Is there any archeological or other support for the claim that pre-Islamic Arabs buried children alive? AFAIK, there are a couple of passing mentions of this in the Quran and Hadith, I’ve never heard anything from non-Muslim sources.

    Supposedly, whatever Muhammed (sp?) said as a direct quote of Allah/Jibreel was recorded in the Quran, while whatever he said in his own words went into the Hadith. But it seems to me there is overlap in both directions, which I assume is due to political machinations back in the day. Can you clarify this issue?

    Given a little time I’ll probly think of better questions.

  2. Uzza says:

    What’s your take on whether or not Muhammad could read? I’ve never been able to make up my mind about that.

  3. uzza says:

    “OBL was buried at sea according to Islamic custom”

    —Say whut?

  4. Pingback: Do all Muslims deserve Muslim burial? | askanislamicist

  5. uzza says:

    Considering that Draw Mohammed Day is coming up (5/20), it might be a good idea to lay out just who it is that is against pictorial representations of the Prophet. (contra the public perceptions that it is”Islam”)

  6. thinkplank says:

    i am in love with this blog.

  7. Zainal says:

    What happens to non muslim’s who have drowned and died and body has never been found? what does the Quran say?

    Zainal
    New Zealand

  8. LaFletcher says:

    This isn’t a question so much as a comment! Today on NPR’s Fresh Air they will be talking with someone (I can’t remember his name) about the movement among states to enact laws banning Sharia. Thought it might be something that would interest you! The online audio should be available around 11pm your time. http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/

  9. Joanna says:

    I stumbled upon this blog while in search of verses about Muhammad’s (pbuh) use of the toothpick during Ramadan, and let me say– what a fabulous idea! Many thanks for doing this!

    Let me give you a bit of background to better understand my study of Islam. I have been dating a Pakistani man for the last year and a half. Having been raised in an ultra-conservative Christian family in the southern United States, and myself in search of my own faith, I knew once we became serious that I would want to study and better understand this religion for myself. I had a very elementary knowledge of Islam, most of which was gained by taking a “Women in World Religions” class while in college. I knew that I had only begun to skim the surface of such a detailed and widely practiced religion. While I do not consider my boyfriend to be a practicing Muslim, (his only observances are that he does not eat pork and occasionally fasts during the month of Ramadan), as you well know, it is impossible to remove him from the religion of Islam. It is an integral part of his family, culture, and traditions. I can see the influence of Islam even in the customary daily habits of him using the restroom, greeting others, and eating a meal. I have recently finished reading the Qu’ran it its entirety along with commentary, several other books by Islamic theologians, some of them moderate, some more conservative, as well as a book by a former Muslim who converted to Christianity. I have spent countless hours pouring over books and guzzling cup after cup of coffee in Barnes and Noble, have searched dozens of topics online, and had countless discussions with my boyfriend, but there are so many polar views, and it is often hard to differentiate between what is objective and what is subjective.

    It was not until more recently that the dichotomy of our cultures and religions has started to bother me. I was not involved in any of his family’s Eid celebrations this year (while he, on the other hand, has been involved in the celebration of every holiday with my family, the religious and non-religious ones). I didn’t attend celebrations last year either, but thought little of it because we hadn’t been dating that long. I assumed that this year would be different because I have met all of his immediate family, sans one sister who lives out of state. However, nothing changed. He was just as down about the situation as I was and when we talked about things after Eid, he said that for his family the biggest issue is my religion, or lack thereof of Islam. I had always assumed that it was culture. I’m not sure how other Islamic ethnicities are, but I have found that Pakistanis are very ethnocentric, and want their children to marry within the culture, just as much if not more at times, as within the religion. However, this really bothers me because theologically speaking; it is permitted for Muslim men to marry Christian women. This brings me to my question (I apologize for the lengthy intro!): I am confused as to the status of Christians in relation to Islam. I know there are several Surahs in praise or complement of Christians, but there are also many others that speak very harshly of them. How does this add up in relation to Abrogation? For example, there several verses that say the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) are saved from the judgment of hell, yet there are others, such as Surah 4.116 that says: “God (Allah) forgiveth not (the sin of) joining other gods with Him (which is Islam’s biggest claim against Christianity) but he forgiveth Whom He Pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with God, hath strayed far, far away (from the right).” We also have Surah 5.5: “… (Lawful for you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but also chaste women among the People of the Book (that was) sent down before your time…” On the other hand, there is Surah 5.54 that says: “O believers, do not take the Jews and Christians as allies (some translations render this “for your friends and protectors), they are only allies to each other. If anyone of you takes them as allies, he is one of them. Surely Allah does not guide unjust people.”

    There are several other examples that I could list here, some in favor of Christians, other surahs calling them “the worst of creatures,” but I’m sure you know them all.

    What is your opinion on this? It seems that the Qu’ran says that all sins can be forgiven except the sin of shirk, which is what all Christians are guilty of. And how can a Muslim man take a Christian woman as his wife, if by just taking a Christian as a friend or ally is reason enough to be judged along with him? This seems a blatant contradiction to me. Is abrogation responsible for this? Was it permissible for Muslim men to marry Christian women initially within Islam and it was later abrogated? I have so many questions that I could ask, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Consider this the first of many!

    Best Regards,
    Truth Seeker

  10. Joanna says:

    Thanks again for the wonderful response to my previous post! As I said before, I have loads of questions to ask. Here is the next one:

    This question has to do with compulsion within Islam. Probably one of the most quoted verses of the Qu’ran is that of Surah 2.256 which states: “Let there be no force (or compulsion) in religion.” Of course, especially to most Western thinkers, this sounds like a wonderful, if not politically correct, philosophy. It’s open minded and tolerant; two credentials I am reminded our society lacks more and more each year as we near the anniversary of September 11th. However, in reading other various Surahs and several Hadith (almost exclusively those of Bukhari and Muslim…for those who don’t know, these are the two most trusted sources of Hadith in Sunni Islam), I am hard pressed to believe that this was the mentality of Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions brought to ancient Arabia. Let me sight some examples to the contrary:

    Volume 1, Book 2, Number 25:
    Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
    Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.” (Bukhari)

    And also Surah 9.29: “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and his apostle nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth (even if they are) of the people of the Book, until they pay the Jizya (religious tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

    To me, though, the most startling example of compulsion within Islam was made by the Prophet (pbuh) himself. On several occasions, when asked what was to be done with an apostate (someone who at one point was a Muslim, but later converted to Judaism, Christianity, Agnosticism, etc.), Muhammad said that they were to be killed. Just one such example was cited by Bukhari and Muslim as follows:

    Abdullah bin Masud narrated that the messenger of Allah said:
    “The blood of a Muslim may not be legally spilt other than in one of three [instances] : the married person who commits adultery; a life for a life; and one who forsakes his religion and abandons the community.”

    Even to this day, there is a special tax imposed on Jews and Christians in some Islamic societies and in some cases, members of society are accused of blaspheming the Prophet, and subsequently sentenced to execution. How does this relate to the previously stated revelation in the Qu’ran? Your thoughts and opinions?

  11. Joanna says:

    Hello, here again!
    Okay, my question for today is about the compilation of the Qu’ran. Almost all Muslims claim that the Qu’ran that we have today contains the exact revelations that Muhammad (pbuh) received from Gabriel. On a few accounts, I have come across some information that says that Caliph Uthman had differing version of the Qu’ran burned and one unified version instituted at the primary Qu’ran that we now have. Apparently there was much discord amongst Muslims of the time, as well as fear on the part of the Caliph that there would be doctrinal debates and confusion if something was not done to unify the Qu’ran. What have you heard of this and how do you think this affects the Muslim claim that the Qu’ran has never been changed?

  12. qolyehudi says:

    Assalamu ‘aleyckum w’rahmatullah

    Thanks for the blog and your wish to share knowledge with us, that is – at least for some of us:o) – appreciated.

    I do find your approach praiseworthy, I have somehow an equal approach, though I primarily am focusing on Judaism and Islam, especially law in the two. This also leads me to my question, which is how you see the relation between Islamic and Judaic Law in the early years of Islam, if any at all? I know that RaMBaM (Maimonides), Z”L, was influenced by Islamic thinking, primarily when it comes to Philosophy (where it probably would be more correct to say that he shared the Muslim interest for the Greek philosophers), but he was also influenced by Islamic methodology when it comes to Fiqh, which is evident from his use of Qiyas in his Mishneh Torah.

    But how much did it go the other way? Did early Muslim scholars let them selves be inspired from Jewish scholars? And if so, only when they converted and brought whatever Jewish knowledge and methodology they might have with them? I’m thinking on people like Ka’b al-Ahbar.

    All the best

    Shmuel Aryeh

  13. LaFletcher says:

    Hey! Saw this on the BBC site today: “Is anti-Muslim politics on the rise in Florida?” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16152509 — Well, is it? ;)

  14. I really like your writing style, fantastic info , regards for putting up : D.

  15. Uzza says:

    Hey, welcome to 2012. I’m anxiously waiting for you to talk about the language situation that you hinted at a long time ago. One is, people are supposed to read the book in the original Arabic, but it was written in Classical Arabic, which no one speaks anymore, so isn’t everyone reading it in translation even then? How does this compare with English speakers reading Chaucer, Shakespeare, etc.?
    Another one is that old blurb about ‘Islam means peace” because they share the same triconsonantal root.

  16. Prosper says:

    Please can i get about ten definitions of religion?

  17. Prosper says:

    Please can i get about ten definitions of religion??

    • Sure, but just to check, is this what you mean? If not, could you forward a link or a citation for me to check out?

      Thanks!

      re⋅li⋅gion
        /rɪˈlɪdʒən/ [ri-lij-uhn]

      –noun
      1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
      2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
      3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
      4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
      5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
      6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
      7. religions, Archaic. religious rites.
      8. Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one’s vow.
      —Idiom
      9. get religion, Informal.
      a. to acquire a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.
      b. to resolve to mend one’s errant ways: The company got religion and stopped making dangerous products.

  18. Uzza says:

    Can you put this to rest? For years I’ve been seeing this supposed quote by Khomeni floating around the internet, and asking people to provide the source. No one ever has. Usually cited as somewhere in the 4th volume of his 2-volume book, although sometimes given as 4th edition. Never a specific location.

    Link

    Link

  19. Uzza says:

    Check your spam filter? I sent a question, but it had links in it …

  20. Rossie Bierstedt says:

    Les Brown: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

  21. LaFletcher says:

    I have a question for you, and it may fall a bit outside the purview of your blog but I’m curious. Recently I was having lunch and eavesdropped on a (very loud) conversation about marriage, divorce, and Islam. The two people talking were girls, and neither of them was obviously a Muslim (and I know appearances can be deceiving, but by this I mean neither was wearing a head scarf or anything). One was very forcibly asserting that Islam was the first religion to allow and embrace the concept of divorce. Is that true? I have to admit, I’m a bit skeptical about her claims, so I thought I would ask!

  22. firdous says:

    i have 7big fishes in my aquarium.iam little warried that iam doing worg thing. please help me to suggest me right way of islaam that i keep them or sell them to any one…

  23. qolyehudi says:

    I hope everything is well with you.

    I would like, if you have the time and feel for writing a little about it, to hear your opinion on the debate between the orientalists and the anti-orientalists in regards to Islamic law and its development. I’m particular thinking about Halaq’s reactions to Schacht, and the various responses to his criticism of Schacht.
    Do you feel that it is a fair criticism and how do you think, if at all, that it mirrors the discourse of modern academic political discussions?

    All the best

    Shmuel

    • A very good, and very technical question – it will take me a little while to dig up the relevant citations, so please bare with me! I’m aiming to answer it next week!

  24. H. says:

    If you were to create a fantasy/alternative universe world that referenced Crusader-era religious politics in an exaggerated and fictitiously magical way, what would be a good way to make sure that all religious themes are represented as respectfully as possible? Are there any resources on the folklore of that time period?

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