Q. Can we wear cologne that has alcohol in its ingredients?
A. Yes, since the alcohol used is synthetic. If one does now know what kind of alcohol is used, it is considered pure due to the Law or Purity.
Q. How should I deal with non-religious siblings and family members who do not practice any religion and do not observe even the minimum wajibat (obligations)? To what extent do we have to get along, especially if the sibling does not show much love to you? Am I obligated to keep ties with them or do I have to cut them off?
A. You should not cut off your ties with your siblings completely. You should keep formal ties with them, greet them when you see them, have dinner with them and so on. You are not required to hang out with them and spend a lot of time with them. Yes, it is recommended for you to try to have a positive influence on them, come up with creative ways to guide them, and show them what religion means in their lives. God will highly reward you for that.
Q. Are tattoos haram?
A. Tattoos are not haram if they don’t block water from reaching the skin (because if they do, then one’s ablution and ritual shower will be invalid), but they are Makrooh (unrecommended).
Q. Are we allowed to donate organs?
A. According to a number of scholars, one may make a will to have his organs donated if two conditions are met. First, the life of the recipient must depend on receiving this organ, and by donating this organ after death the life of the recipient is saved. Second, the donor must be pronounced completely dead before his organs are cut from his body. If he is brain dead but has a heartbeat then he is not dead yet.
Q. What happens to someone who curses or slanders a deceased believer?
A. It is a sin to curse a believer, even if their deeds were bad. The Imam (a) teaches us to never condemn a believer but instead condemn their bad deed (if it warrants condemnation of course, as there are conditions and sometimes it is a sin to expose a believer). Now if someone curses a believer knowing that the person he cursed was a believer (whether that person is alive or dead), then that curse will deflect back at him and he will be cursed. But if one did not really know and made a mistake or it was not deliberate, then Allah forgives if one seeks His forgiveness.
Q. Is it permissible to pray with nail polish or false nails? Or must you do wudhu prior to applying false nails/nail polish?
A. If the type of substance used in nail polish blocks water from reaching the fingernails (which is the case with most types of nail polish), then according to the vast majority of scholars the polish must be removed before doing Wudhu. Performing Wudhu with the polish on any of the fingers would invalidate the Wudhu. As for the toes, at least one toe must be wiped, so it is ok to have polish on all the toes except one toe in each foot. So there is a difference between fingernails and toenails. The same applies to false nails.
Q. What is the ruling for all paper material with the names of Allah (swt) and Ahlulbayt (a) on them which I do not need and want to dispose of?
A. What we have to observe when discarding such papers is to make sure that they are not desecrated. If placing them in the bin that gets recycled (and not dumped in a landfill) protects them from being desecrated, then it is permissible. Otherwise, one must either erase, cover, or fully cross out those names or words, or cast them in a river or lake. As for shredders, if people consider using them to be desecration of those names, then it would be haram.
Q. My cat batted me with its paw when I was in sujood (prostrating during prayer). It was in front of me so is my prayer valid?
A. If the cat touches you while praying, your prayer is valid even if it was wet. That is because the cat is pure. However, most scholars have ruled that cat fur on your prayer clothes will invalidate the prayer. Some scholars, such as Ayatollah Sistani, believe having cat hair on one’s clothes does not invalidate the prayer (though it is unrecommended to have them on one’s clothes during prayer).
Q. What about burning paper with Qur'an and Ahlulbayt a.s. names written on them?
A. Some scholars say it is not permissible to burn them, since they view that as a form of desecration. Another alternative is using a paper shredder if society does not view it as a desecration. It’s best to cast the paper in a body of water like a stream or lake.
Q. Is playing with Dice Haram?
A. Playing a game that involves a dice is not haram. Yes, if it’s a gambling game then it is haram. Chess is a gambling game. Backgammon was historically a gambling game, so such games are haram according to the majority of scholars.
Q. Is playing chess forbidden (haram)?
A. We have numerous hadiths that forbid playing chess, and hence the majority of scholars have ruled that playing it is forbidden and sinful. In the past, chess was primarily a gambling game that led to negative consequences. Even if no betting is involved and one plays with the intention of doing mental exercises or just for leisure, most scholars still consider it haram. There might be many negative effects to playing chess that one day science will discover. Some studies show that it’s very addictive, may lead to negative emotions, and might have some concerning impacts on the brain. Allah knows best.
Q. What is the ruling of wearing silk for men? Is it permissible to wear? Is it only not allowed if it is pure silk?
A. Pure silk is haram for men to wear, but if it’s 50% silk, for instance, then it’s fine. Deliberately wearing silk for men in Salat invalidates the Salat.
Q. A sister has inquired about the ruling on eyebrow tattoos. Are they allowed?
A. Tattoos are not haram (they are Makrouh) so she can get eyebrow tattoos
However, if the eyebrow tattoos will be such that they draw attention and are considered as Zeena, then from this aspect it would be haram. The tattoos should also not put a barrier on the skin, as this would prevent her from Wudhu and Ghusl.
Q. I have a family member whose health is very poor, and we don’t think life support will help him recover. Are we required to still put him on life support?
A. According to many scholars, if there is no realistic hope for him to survive, then it’s not mandatory to put him on life support. But if you do put him on life support then you cannot have it removed until the patient dies. Removing life support after putting it is not permissible according to many scholars.
Q. Is a swimming pool considered plain or mixed water (keeping in mind chlorine is present in it)? Also, if it is considered mixed water, if a drop of Najasa (impurity) falls in it, does the entire swimming pool become Najis or just that part where the Najasa fell?
A. It’s still considered plain water even if there is chlorine in it, so a drop of Najasa would not make the entire pool Najes.
Q. Is buying and selling cryptocurrencies like bitcoin is halal?
A. There is no evidence in Islamic Law that it’s haram. The Qur’an states in 5:1, “Honor your contracts,” and buying such currency does not fall under any haram category, so it’s possible to buy and sell them.
Q. If a surrogate mother carries a fetus during pregnancy, who is considered the mother, the owner of the egg or the surrogate mother who carries the baby?
A. Some scholars state the surrogate mother who carries the baby is the mother. Some say the owner of the egg is the mother. Yet many scholars today state that both are considered the mother (so the legal rulings of motherhood would apply, such as both being Mahram to the baby, the laws of inheritance, and so on...)
Q. Several minutes after using the bathroom, I noticed that a drop of discharge came out, but I don’t know if it’s urine or something else. Is it Najes and did it break my Wudhu?
A. If after urinating you cleared your urethra from urine, then this drop of discharge is considered pure and your wudhu is not broken. But if you did not clear it from urine, you must consider it Najes and your wudhu is broken. To clear the urethra from urine, the middle finger of the left hand is slid three times from the anus up to the scrotum. Then the thumb is placed on the penis and the forefinger is placed under the penis, and the thumb and forefinger are pulled three times along the penis up to the point of circumcision. Finally, the tip of the penis is pressed three times.
Q. Is it Makrouh (discouraged) to keep my fingernails long?
A. It is recommended for females to keep their fingernails long. However, if they have nail polish on them, they should not make them visible to unrelated men, since it is considered Zeenah (adornments). As for men, they should keep their fingernails short.
Q. Is collagen supplement halal?
A. If the collagen is taken from a non-halal animal, then it would not be halal. It would only be halal if it goes through istehala (complete transformation) while being processed. However, it is not proven that it goes through istehala, and so by default it would not be halal.
Q. I recently took the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I will have to take the second dose during the month of Ramadhan. Will this break my fast?
A. No, taking a vaccine shot does not invalidate the fast. It is not a form of eating or drinking. You may fast and take the shot, and your fast will be valid.
Q. Does verse 5 of Sura al-Ma’idah mean the meat of the People of the Book is halal for us?
A. Most scholars agree that what is meant by food in this blessed verse is food that does not include meat. We have hadiths from the Ahlulbayt (a) that state what is meant by the word “food” (ta’am in Arabic) in this verse is grains (such as wheat). Meat must be slaughtered halal in order for it to be permissible for us to eat even if it is from the People of the Book.
Q. In some parks, there is a kind of 'fortune wheel' where you put money to play, and you win a variable number of tickets for different rides. Is this considered gambling?
A. If it’s guaranteed that the player will receive a ticket, then it’s not gambling. But if it’s by luck (sometimes they’ll win a ticket and sometimes they won’t) then yes that’s gambling.
Q. Can I wear a silk tie?
A. Wearing pure silk for men is prohibited in Islamic law. There are two exceptions: 1- If the piece of cloth is too small to cover the private parts, then it can be made of pure silk and men can wear it. 2- If the silk is not 100%. A man can wear a shirt that is 60% silk, for example, since it is not pure silk.
Q. Is laser hair removal haram?
A. No it is permissible.
Q. I have heard that if someone drinks alcohol, he cannot pray for 40 days. Is that true?
A. No, this person is still obligated to pray. If he prays correctly while sober, his prayer will be valid. However, he might receive a lesser reward for the prayer because he drinks.
Q. Am I allowed to keep a dog as a pet in my house?
A. It is not haram to keep a dog as a pet in your house. However, you must know that a dog makes your house najes if it gets wet or licks anything in the house. Hence, you must make sure that the place where you pray on, your body and your clothes are all pure before you start your prayer. If a place becomes najes by your dog, the easiest way to purify it is to pour water on it from a hose. Yes, it is Makrouh (discouraged) to keep a dog in the room that you live in. You can make a separate room for your dog.
Q. What kind of singing is haram? Sometimes we read the Qur’an and Americans say we are “singing” the Qur’an. So, does that make reciting the Qur’an haram too?
A. Singing that has been mentioned in our Hadiths is called Ghenaa’ غناء in Arabic. Whatever is considered in one’s soceity to be Ghenaa’ then it’s haram, since the hadiths forbid us from the label Ghenaa’.
In English, singing is a more general term. The birds sing. When we say the Adhan or read the Qur’an some Americans would say they are “singing” the Adhan or signing the Qur’an. We don’t go by the general word singing in English. We go by the specific singing that takes place in “entertainment” gatherings like concerts or discos. That is haram singing. So any type of singing that is typical of such entertainment gatherings and the Arabic label Ghenaa’ applies to it then it’s haram.
Q. Why are atheists considered Najes (ritually impure)?
A. The foundation of our life on earth is belief and faith. It defines the most important aspect of our life. Non-believers can have a big negative impact on believers. Islam discourages believers to get too close to non-believers and have an atheist roommate or take an atheist as a best friend, for example. By considering them Najes, it becomes quite impractical to live with them and get too close to them. The danger of an atheist taking you away from God is serious, so this is a type of insulation to protect believers. It may be seem harsh to some, but remember that the sin of rejecting God is very serious. God creates you, blesses you, gives you everything, then you reject His existence? This is a huge offense.
Islam encourages us to promote peace and love and positive interaction, but not at the cost of losing your faith. Today you see people keeping social distance because of the coronavirus, right? The virus of disbelief is a greater danger because it ruins your infinite life in the hereafter. So, Muslims must be careful and not let their guard down. Yes, you may keep formal ties with them and show the the manners of the Ahlulbayt (a) in hopes of guiding them.
Q. If a boy stole an item before the age of religious puberty, does he have to return the stolen item now that he is an adult? If it is obligatory to return the item, and he does not have access to the owner, what can he do to rectify his mistake?
A. Yes, the stolen goods must be returned to their owner, even if it happened during childhood. The owner of the stolen item must be searched for until he is found. If he is unable to find the owner, then you give the goods or their value to charity on behalf of the owner.
Q. Is it haram to listen to classical music?
A. Scholars differ in their opinion on classical music. Many of them say if it’s calm, classical music, and it’s not the type that’s used in entertainment gatherings like concerts or discos, then it’s halal.
Q. When we recite a verse that contains a mandatory sujud in the Qur’an, do we have to recite anything while prostrating?
A. You are not required to say anything in this Sujud, but it’s recommended to say the following:
لا إله إلا الله حقا ، لا إله إلا الله إيمانا وتصديقا ، لا إله إلا الله عبودية ورقاً ، سجدت لك يا رب تعبدا ورقا ، لا مستنكفا ولا مستكبرا ، بل أنا
Q. Upon reciting a verse with a mandatory sajdah, is it mandatory to prostrate instantly? And do we have to do sujud on the ground or can we just lift the turba and bring it to our forehead?
A. It is mandatory to prostrate immediately after reciting those verses, and one must actually prostrate on the ground for it to count as Sujud. Standing and lifting the prayer tablet to the forehead does not count.
Q. Why do Sunnis say “Ammeen” after Surah al-Fatiha in prayer? And why don’t Shias say it?
A. Sunnis have hadiths in their books that state it’s mustahab (recommended) to say it. The Imams of Ahlulbayt (a) have said that it’s not part of Salat and it’s not mustahab to say it, and the Prophet (s) never said it nor did he ever command his companions to say it. Hence, Shia do not say it.
Q. Does Islamic law require me to have a beard? Are there any Qur'anic verses to support this?
A. We don’t have a verse on it but we have hadiths that command Muslim men to keep a beard. A minority of Shia scholars believe it’s permissible to shave clean (as they believe those hadiths were circumstantial given the conditions of those times), but the vast majority state it’s not permissible to clean shave.
Q. Is it haraam to not reply to the Salam from your enemy?
A. If they are Muslims and you have a personal dispute with them, you should still reply back to them. But if they are evil enemies of God then yes you can decline to reply back to them.
Q. A friend gave me a gift. I know that my friend does not make all of his money in a halal manner. Can I keep this gift?
A. Yes, it is permissible to keep the gift.
Q. A dog liked a spoon or fork. How do I purify it?
A. You rinse it with sand/dust then wash it with water twice.