Age of Jahiliyah

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Archive for the category “Ustadha Zaynab Ansari”

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SP Answers: Can Muslim Women Study in a Non-Muslim University Environment?

From SunniPath

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher


Is it permissible for Muslim women to seek education in medicine in a non-Muslim environment where non-Muslim men do not lower their gazes?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.

Dear Sister,

I pray this message finds you in the best of health and iman. Thank you for your question.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Seeking knowledge is encumbent on every Muslim.” [Ibn Majah]

As Muslims, we are required to learn what is necessary to make our faith and worship valid, sound and proper.

According to Reliance of the Traveller, a book of Sacred Law according to the school of Imam al-Shafi’i, there are three types of knowledge.

The first type, personally obligatory knowledge, is required of every Muslim male and female who has reached puberty and is of sound mind.

Personally obligatory knowledge includes knowing the basic tenets of faith, such as the attributes of Allah Most High, His Oneness, His transcendence and His absolute dissimilarity to created things. One must also affirm the fact that Allah Ta’ala sent prophets and messengers, and that Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, was the Seal of Prophethood. One must believe in the books of Allah, the angels, divine decree, and the Last Day.

In matters of worship, one is required to know enough to make one’s prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage valid, sound and proper.

In matters of interpersonal relationships and business dealings, one is required to know what makes these relationships valid and invalid. For example, if one is seeking to marry, then one should learn the rulings of marriage and divorce and understand the scope of one’s obligations to one’s spouse.

The second type of knowledge is communally obligatory. If some members of the community undertake this responsibility, then the obligation of seeking this knowledge is lifted from the rest.

However, if no one seeks this type of knowledge, then the entire community is accountable. Examples of communally obligatory knowledge include specialized disciplines of Sacred Law such as Qur’an memorization, hadith classification, the science of methodological principles, and Arabic grammar.

Reliance specifically mentions,

“As for learning which is not Sacred Knowledge but is required to sustain worldly existence, such as medicine and mathematics, it too is a communal obligation.” [Reliance, a5.2]

The third type of knowledge is recommended. It is the type of knowledge which extends beyond the communally obligatory and involves, for example, “in-depth research into the bases of evidence…” [Reliance, a6.1]

To reiterate, learning medicine is considered a communal obligation. What this means in your case, dear sister, is that some members of the Muslim community must seek this knowledge, otherwise the entire community is remiss.

With so many Muslim communities widely dispersed across North America, each community should, ideally, have individuals who are pursuing this type of knowledge. As Muslims, we have a responsibility to serve our own communities, as well as the society at large.

In your case, if you truly feel that there is a need in your community for a Muslim woman physician, then, by all means, you should pursue your goals. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Muslim community is in serious need of sisters who are in the health care professions, including — but not limited to –doctors, midwives, nurses, psychiatrists, therapists, and natural practitioners.

Another very important consideration is that Sacred Law requires persons seeking medical treatment to be treated by same-sex health care providers. Many Muslim sisters end up going to male doctors because there are simply no female doctors available. In some cases, cultural taboos restrict women from going into higher education, thus further contributing to the lack of qualified female health care professionals.

Specifically, Reliance tell us,

“A Muslim woman needing medical attention must be treated by a Muslim woman doctor, or if there is none, then by a non-Muslim woman doctor. If there is none, then a male Muslim doctor may treat her, while if none of the above are available, then a male non-Muslim doctor.” [Reliance, m2.10]

On to the issue of lowering the gaze:

Lowering the gaze is an injunction from Allah Ta’ala to believing men and women. [Surat an-Nur, 24:30-31]

As far as non-believers are concerned, one must deal with them with the same etiquette as when one deals with believers. This means lowering one’s gaze even if they do not reciprocate. This also means refraining from idle conversation, which is a common occurrence in mixed-gender settings, and, when unchecked, can lead to innuendo and flirtation.

For sisters especially, it is best to exercise caution when dealing with non-Muslim men. Be aware of your surroundings and your environment. If someone makes you uncomfortable, leave the room or put some distance between you.

Know your rights in the workplace. You don’t have to tolerate sexually suggestive or explicit language being used in your presence. Likewise, you don’t have to put with people denigrating your religion or religious practices.

The most important point is to maintain professionalism. Be courteous to those around you. Hopefully, if you develop a respectful professional relationship, then it will be easier to educate others about various aspects of Islamic etiquette.

Finally, remember the example of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who was the most excellent of us in conduct.

Lowering one’s gaze and refraining from idle conversation does not give one the license to be discourteous. Rather, one should observe the limits of gender interaction, while maintaining a polite, pleasant demeanor. Remember that one’s behavior can be powerful da’wah.

And Allah alone knows best.

SP Answers: Non-Muslim Courtesy

From SunniPath

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher


I am a non-Muslim living in America. I am studying the history and culture of Islam and find myself overwhelmed by the intricate social interactions. What greetings and phrases should I, as a non-Muslim, refrain from using when conversing with Muslim friends and students? What topics are taboo to speak of with Muslims, either male or female? And finally, what customs should I be sure to observe to be confident I will not inadvertently offend through my ignorance?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.

Dear Questioner,

I pray that this message finds you in good health and spirits.

Thank you for your sensitivity to issues of social etiquette. This is an important question.

First of all, please don’t be overwhelmed. Islam’s social structure, particularly in the area of gender relations, might appear very complicated. However, in reality, if you just stick to a few basic rules, then you should have no problem interacting with Muslims.

1. Greetings and phrases:

You are free to use any greeting you wish. Some non-Muslims like to use the Muslim greeting of peace when interacting with Muslims. If you would like to try this, just keep in mind that some Muslims are surprised to hear salaams from non-Muslims, and might not respond automatically. Others, however, will have no problem with this.
Ultimately, use whatever greeting you are comfortable with.
I can’t think of any particular phrases or expressions to avoid. Consider the way you would speak to someone with whom you are getting acquainted. Normally, you would avoid overly familiar or casual speech. I think this is a rule that would apply to everyone, no matter their religion.

2. Taboo topics:

Again, the context is important. When I studied Islam in Syria, the Shaykh (religious scholar) who founded our school, Ahmad Kuftaro (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him), spoke frequently about the concept of hikma, or wisdom. He defined wisdom as the ability to do what is appropriate at the time when it is appropriate, and in the manner that is appropriate. He said that this was the hallmark of the Prophetic Sunna, the living tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace.
Muslims try to apply this concept of wisdom to their social interactions, particularly with members of the opposite sex.
If you are conversing with Muslims, and especially with Muslim women, then you will want to steer clear of topics that are antithetical to a pious Muslim life, such as premarital or extramarital sex, drinking, drugs, partying, etc. I bring these things up because I have been in situations where non-Muslim classmates have revealed details of their lives that I would rather not have heard. A good rule of thumb is this: is this a topic you would want your little sister discussing with a guy? If not, then it’s better to avoid it.

3. Customs:

Again, the only customs to observe when interacting with Muslim women (and I’m assuming that you’re male) are to avoid shaking the women’s hands or making any sort of physical contact. Observant Muslims avoid the sort of casual physical contact with the opposite sex to which we’re accustomed here in America, such as shaking hands, hugging, etc.

Also, in terms of eye contact, you’ll notice that observant Muslims will avoid staring at members of the opposite sex. This lowering of the gaze facilitates modesty and respect for the other person and shouldn’t be interpreted as a lack of confidence or unfriendliness.

To conclude, gender etiquette among Muslims is not as complicated as you might think. As long as you avoid explicit or suggestive conversation, don’t make physical contact, and maintain a respectful and modest demeanor, then interacting with Muslims of the opposite sex should not be a problem.

And Allah knows best.

SP Answers: Women, Work and Circumstances

From SunniPath

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher


I am in real anxiety and I am not sure what to do, please give me some advice. Many years ago my ambitions were for this Dunya and as others I went to university with hopes of career and so forth. Within the years at university, Allah guided me from darkness in to light, I learnt more about Islam and my life changed. Alhamdulillah, my ambitions were no longer for this Dunya, but I still continued my degree. I have graduated now but am not sure what to do. I don’t want to work as I know for a female it is not the right thing. However, my father passed away last year, I have no brother and am not married. My mother is old and can not work but alhamdulillah our situation is not bad; we still receive half of my father’s pension money that he used to receive monthly. However in England we have to pay extra tax on housing for each person, and I don’t want my mother to be burdened with all the bills and so forth , even though she says she will be able to cope. I also am afraid of missing salah if I work and I don’t know what I will answer to Allah on the day of judgment. This keeps on going around in my head and it’s all I think about; I feel anxiety all the time. I am scared I do not want to go back into the wrong path after Allah has guided me. I know if I miss one salah, before long shaitan will have a chance to work his evil. Also if I don’t work , family and people will say I am a bad daughter for not supporting my mother. I did my degree on radiography, I x-rayed patients in hospital. Is this permissible? Please advise me. I wanted to do Salat al-Istikhara but I do not know the dua off by heart, is it ok for some one else to pray this salah for me?….Also can the dua be read by looking at a book?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Praise be to Allah and may Allah’s peace and blessings be on the Messenger

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

I pray this message finds you in good health and spirits.

Although your situation might appear to present a dilemma, from an outsider’s point of view, it seems that there are some promising and entirely feasible solutions.

1. On praying istikhara:

This is not a difficult prayer to make. There are plenty of places where you can purchase dua books. All good dua books contain the major Sunna supplications like istikhara. You should obtain a copy of Reflections of Pearls, available at
To make istikhara, all you do is make a good ablution, then pray two raka’at of voluntary prayer, then remain on your prayer rug, praise Allah, invoke peace and blessings on the Messenger, and then say the special dua of istikhara. Complete instructions on how to perform Salat al-Istikhara, or the Guidance Prayer, are available right here at SunniPath: Istikhara: The Guidance Prayer.
You do not need to learn the dua by heart. Simply make your two raka’at, then read the dua from the book, or print out the instructions from SunniPath.

2. On women in the workforce:

There is nothing wrong with a woman’s going out and working. If a woman has male relatives to provide for her, then, in general, it is better for her to stay home. However, even this ruling has its details. For example, many women are providing critical services to the community, so as long as they are observing the limits of Sacred Law, then their going out is permissible.
Your situation is very different. In your case, you should go out and work because you don’t have any male relatives to provide for you. Even more importantly, you have an elderly mother. It doesn’t sound entirely prudent to try to eke out a living on your deceased father’s pension, when you have the skills and ability to work. This leads me to my next point.

3. On the obligation to support parents:

If our parents don’t have the means to support themselves, or if they’re elderly, then the Shariah requires us to support them.
You are all your mother has, so why wouldn’t you work? As long as the work you do is within the boundaries of the Shariah and doesn’t compromise your dignity, then it is completely permissible to work. Moreover, there is great blessing in work which is done with one’s own hands. And there is immense reward both in this world and the Hereafter in providing for one’s family members.

Think of the satisfaction you will have as you provide financial security for both yourself and your elderly mother.

And do see the following “Fiqh of financially supporting one’s parents and other relatives.”

4. On missing prayers if one goes out:

Why assume that you will miss your prayers if you get a job? Plenty of Muslims successfully pray on the job, and there’s no reason to assume that you can’t. If you do miss a prayer, then you make tauba (repentance), make up the prayer, and keep on going.

I pray that Allah Ta’ala facilitates the best solution for you and your mother.


SunniPath Answers: How Does a Muslim Woman Find a Spouse by Herself?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher


How can a Muslim woman Islamically look for a spouse if family members are overwhelmed with their personal routines and unable to do so? Bearing in mind, parental consent would be gained first. After that, what method of communication is best, if permissible at all?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,

Praise be to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah shower upon our Beloved Messenger, his family, companions, and those who follow them.

Dear Sister,

There are many different ways of finding a spouse. Many people prefer to go through the recommendations of family members. However, if your family is unable to help in this process, then you are perfectly entitled to take your own initiative.

1. Ask your married friends if their husbands know of any single brothers. Make sure you let your friends know what you are looking for in a spouse.

2. It is also fine to meet someone through school or work or a community gathering as long as the parameters of modest behavior are observed. If you meet someone you would like to discuss marriage with, just arrange for the brother to meet your wali or family.

3. There are several online matrimonial sites where you can look for potential suitors. I can’t vouch for each and every website, but some successful matches have resulted from online matrimonials. Two of the most popular sites are: and Some matrimonial sites require that a sister have a wali (guardian) in order to post her ad. Others prefer that the sister post her wali’s contact information, rather than her own. This is obviously for the sister’s protection.

A note of caution about online matrimonials: The nature of cyberspace lends itself to anonymity. It’s very easy for people to misrepresent themselves online. Trust your instincts. If you feel that something’s not right with someone, then don’t pursue discussions with them. Never give out your personal information. Once you feel that someone has potential, get that person in touch with your wali or family. Make sure that your wali or family thoroughly checks this person out before you proceed with the first meeting. And always insist that the potential suitor provide references. This advice applies to whoever you meet, whether it’s through a website or at school or work or anything else.

As to methods of communication, this depends on what you feel comfortable with. If you find someone through an online matrimonial, I believe that initial communication will proceed via email. You may want to correspond with the person through email or snail mail (regular mail) before you decide to meet. Once you feel like this person really has potential, then it’s important to arrange a face-to-face meeting in the presence of your wali or family members. It is entirely up to you how often and for how long you meet. A short meeting where everyone introduces themselves and establishes common ground may be better than a long meeting at first. If you both decide that you’d like to meet again, then you can have longer meetings to discuss issues of importance.

Once again, it’s important to consider two things:

1. Always meet in the presence of your wali or family members. This is for your protection. Your father is your natural wali, or guardian. If he doesn’t want to take this role, then I would suggest your grandfather, brother, or uncle. If none are available, then it is imperative that you ask a pious, mature brother from the community to act as your wali. Once you find a potential suitor, make sure to direct him to your wali.

2. If you correspond via email or talk on the phone, make sure that your conversations are reflective of Islamic propriety. Once you feel attracted to each other and are quite sure you want to marry, then I would suggest that you cut down emailing and phone conversations. This is better for both of you in terms of adab. At this point, it is better to have serious meetings in the presence of your chaperone to hash out the final details of the wedding.

I pray that Allah gives you success in your search for a righteous spouse.

And Allah knows best.

Umm Salah (Zaynab Ansari)

Concerning the Standard Explanation of the Verse of Hijab

From Sunnipath

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Assalamu alaikum,
I wanted to get clarification on the explanation Sh. Nuh gave on the evidence for hijab. This has been a topic of debate since the hijab ban discussion in France and I’m unclear now on where the requirement comes from.

Sh. Nuh writes:

‘There is no other lexical sense in which the word khimar may be construed. The wording of the command, however, and let them drape their headcoverings over their bosoms, sometimes confuses nonspecialists in the sciences of the Qur’an, and in truth, interpreting the Qur’an does sometimes require in-depth knowledge of the historical circumstances in which the various verses were revealed. In this instance, the elliptical form of the divine command is because women at the time of the revelation wore their headcovers tied back behind their necks, as some village women still do in Muslim countries, leaving the front of the neck bare, as well as the opening (Ar. singular jayb, plural juyub, translated as “bosoms” in the above verse) at the top of the dress. The Islamic revelation confirmed the practice of covering the head, understood from the use of the word khimar in the verse, but also explained that the custom of the time was not sufficient and that women were henceforth to tie the headcover in front and let it drape down to conceal the throat and the dress’s opening at the top.’

I’m a bit confused about how the wording used in these particular verses are considered to be a command. My earlier understanding of the evidence for hijab was that the specificity of the command came from the hadith in Abu Dawood about the Prophet (AS) pointing out to Asma that only the face and hands should be revealed. Can you please clarify what it is about the wording/grammar in the verses reference above that makes them the evidence for the fard status for hijab? I’m not clear how the word “khimar” in and of itself is used as evidence to say that hijab is required.

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More Women than Men in Hell?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

I recently received the following from someone who is earnestly attempting to follow the deen, but did not know how to reply in this regard. Your help would be greatly appreciated. May Allah shower you all with his infinite graces for all your service to the ummah:
“I came accross this Hadith and was very disheartened:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: The Prophet said: “I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful.” It was asked, “Do they disbelieve in Allah?” (or are they ungrateful to Allah?) He replied, “They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them. If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them and then she sees something in you (not of her liking), she will say, ‘I have never received any good from you.” Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 28

Women tolerates injustices from their husbands during the entire period of their lifetime. 99% of the wives are treated like servants. However, Islam does not give women the right to complain, or to react against the injustice of their husbands, or to show the same bad attitude to the husband as he shows. If a woman does any of this, hell fire is her destiny!!

Please comment.”

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