Being a Muslim and living in or traveling to non-Muslim countries, always brings about the challenge of where to eat and what to eat. For Muslims who are adventurous eaters, food is not just something to provide energy for a more useful life, although that would be the desire for a real Muslim believer. But here we are not discussing such high levels of faith.
Here we are just Muslims in non-Muslim countries, facing different cultures and tastes and those giant advertised burgers, seafood, various kinds of Italian Pizza, etc., and at some point, we realize that we are not capable of going home and enjoying our toast and fried eggs. That is where we seek an inspiring call, inviting us to eat and enjoy life, and that is where that verse of the holy Quran echoes in our minds: “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32) and thus, we decide to find those “lawful provisions”; The Halal food.
Finding restaurants of all types in all different parts of the world that serve Halal food is not a difficult job these days. From the Far West to the Far East we can see restaurants with a Halal label on their signs. But have you ever happened to ask the restaurant staff if the food is Halal? And have you ever heard the firm reply “Yes, madam. Feel sure. Even our pork is Halal!” This point, my friends, is where our project of finding a real Halal restaurant begins.
In some non-Muslim countries, the population of Muslims in some specific cities or specific areas of the town is quite noticeable. Often, in these areas, the number of Halal restaurants owned and run by Muslim managers is large. We could usually trust these restaurants as the managers care about Islamic law, and therefore the food they serve.
However, in some western countries, my friends and I have come across restaurants in which their managers came from Islamic countries, and so we thought that the food would be Halal. But after some local investigations, we realized that the manager is not a practicing Muslim, and the food they serve is not Halal. Now, what do we do?
Since selling Halal food brings more customers to the burger shops or restaurants, many non-Muslim restaurant owners have decided to serve Halal meat. Therefore, apart from the Halal label on their signs, they keep a certificate in the restaurants, usually hung on the wall someplace all caring customers can see.
Now you might be thinking about how we can trust those certificates? How do we know they are not fake? From the Islamic law viewpoint, you can trust that and enjoy your meal . Do keep in mind the verse that says: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” (2:185)
Even in some coffee shops that serve sandwiches, the managers have provided an extra sandwich-maker for Muslim customers with which they do not roast pork and other non-Halal sandwiches.
Living in a non-Muslim country, it is prevalent to socialize with non-Muslim friends or colleagues. It often happens that our group of friends or colleagues decide to dine together at a fancy restaurant that may not be Halal. It is understandable that isolating yourself from the group may have some personal or social consequences. What can we do at these times?
First of all, we can remind the rest of the group that we only eat Halal food, and they may agree to dine at a Halal restaurant. But if they did not accept, what does Islamic law say about eating vegetarian or Halal food in restaurants that serve pork or wine? According to Islamic law, if we did not have a choice, we should not be too harsh on ourselves, and we should trust the vegetarian or Halal food of non-Halal restaurants .
Thinking deeply of the verse “Then let mankind look at his food.” (80:24), one may realize the importance of the food we eat and its influence on the human soul. Apart from Islamic law, almost all Muslim jurists emphasize that we should be extra careful about what we eat. Because what we eat affects our souls.
Therefore if we intend to treat our souls and ascend the steps of spirituality, it is necessary to find food we are sure of is Halal. In such cases, it would be good to be fussy about eating in non-Halal places. And if the spirituality of the soul matters to us more than socializing with friends, then better to be isolated for a while, rather than preventing the soul from its spiritual growth.
Islam is a complete way of life, which deals extensively on both the spiritual, as well as the physical well-being of its adherents. Hygiene in Islam is one of the great privileges in Islam. This write-up is aimed at examining the Islamic perspective on physical cleanliness.
Cleanliness and purification is an essential part of Islamic life, and in fact, the philosophy behind it in Islam is much beyond the superficial concept of the conventional cleanliness.
In the Quran, Allah says:
"…Indeed Allah loves the penitent, and He loves those who keep clean." (2:222)
Similarly, one of the injunctions that were revealed unto the Prophet (PBUH&HP) following his call to rise and warn was the purification of his garments [i]. The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the infallible leaders (AS) have instructed the Muslims to maintain cleanliness and have seriously frowned at dirtiness and untidiness [ii].
When a child is born, Islam enjoins the Muslims to maintain a high level of cleanliness and purity concerning him/her, as this has an impact on the mind and soul of that child. If the parents neglect this duty, they should answer before God for the consequences. Similarly, circumcision of the male child-preferably on the seventh day- is a mandatory Islamic custom. That is because it “prevents the child against the possible infection of the male genital organ" .
Also, at death, it is mandatory to perform full body washing ablution (Ghusl) for a dead body of a Muslim.
In addition, ablution (Wudu) and body purity are considered as very crucial conditions for the validity of prayer (Salat), which is the most significant act of worship in Islam. In fact, on a normal circumstance, a Muslim cannot offer his prayers with an unclean body, clothes or use dirty premises. They are enjoined to use clean, pure water and keep it safe from any form of impurities.
Various full body-washing ablutions (Ghusl) after the release of semen, expiration of monthly period or childbirth, touching of dead bodies, etc. are prescribed in Islam to observe some religious obligations.
Cleansing of their genitals with water or other cleansing materials after passing urine or excreta are parts of the Islamic customs. Similarly, Muslims on an interval are enjoined to clip their nails and to shave the hair in their armpit and pubic area. Likewise, they are also enjoined to trim their mustaches in order to avert oral intakes, keep oral hygiene, good physical appearance and to make use of fragrance. Similarly, Islam emphatically enjoins a Muslim to keep his clothes, houses, and environment clean. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “The Arch Gabriel continuously ordered me to clean my teeth until I thought it would be made compulsory” .
In the Quran and narrations (Hadiths) of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the infallible Leaders (Ahl-al-Bayt) (AS), great emphasis has been placed on the cleanliness and purity of the foods and drinks. For the importance attached to the well-being of the body as well as that of the soul, Islam has enjoined the entire human beings and the believers in particular to consume hygienic, pure and lawful foods [iii]. Similarly, it forbids the consumption or usage of all unhygienic, impure and unlawful foods/drinks (such as blood, dead animal, dogs, pig, intoxicants, etc.) and they are considered great sins in Islam and punishable under the Islamic laws.
Cleanliness and personal hygiene in the Islamic custom are aimed at keeping both the body and mind healthy. In some cases such as ablution (Wudu) and body-washing ablution (Ghusl), body purity is considered a prerequisite for the observance of prayers. Moreover, body purity is one of the necessary conditions for attaining an inner or spiritual purity. It is based on this that Muslims are strictly enjoined to uphold high standards of physical hygiene and to be ritually cleaned whenever possible.
[ii] The Prophet (PBUHHP) said: "Verily, Islam is [the religion of] cleanliness, so cleanse yourselves. For surely, only the cleanly enter Paradise"  and "Observe cleanliness in every respect you are capable, for indeed God based Islam on cleanliness" .
[iii]. "O humankind! Eat of what is lawful and pure in the earth…" (2: 168). "O you who have faith! Eat of the good things We have provided you, and thank Allah if it is Him that you worship." (2: 172)
- Nahj al-Fasahah, Vol. 2, P. 998.
- Ibrahim Amini, Principles of upbringing children, chapter 25 P. 176 (published by Ansariyan publications, Qum)
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 76, P. 126.
These days, adultery or having sexual relationships without a marriage contract is becoming more and more normal to people of different faiths and beliefs. This is against all Abrahamic religions that had strictly forbidden adultery. However, those who commit adultery may bring many logical reasons to justify their act. Most people who commit adultery may simply think that this is the natural way of satisfying their biological needs, while not considering themselves as adulterers with a negative meaning.
Many unmarried men and women believe that experiencing a sexual intercourse with their girlfriend/boyfriend is very important for them to decide if they would like to marry that person and live the rest of their life with her/him.
Being aware of all different modern ideas about the importance of experiencing sexual relationship before marriage, in this text we try to have a quick study on the idea of Islam about adultery and the reasons and philosophies behind those ideas.
There are a few verses in the holy Quran that directly speak about adultery and some other verses that indirectly guide people on how to stay away from this vile action.
To clarify the state of fornication among other sins, Allah (SWT) brings it alongside the greatest sins one may commit: “Those who do not invoke another deity besides Allah, and do not kill a soul [whose life] Allah has made inviolable, except with due cause, and do not commit fornication…” (25: 68). As it is clear in the verse, adultery is counted alongside with infidelity and murder.
Another indication in the Quran about adultery says: “Do not approach fornication. It is indeed an indecency and an evil way.” (17:32)
In this verse, apart from calling fornication an indecency, it considers it as a “way”. Allamah Tabatabayi has studied the word “way” in this verse in comparison with the same word in the following verse addressing the homosexual people at the time of Prophet Lout (PBUH): “Do you come to men, and cut off the way, and commit outrages in your gatherings?” (29:29), concluding that the word way refers to healthy reproduction of human beings. He states that the verses refer to the fact that homosexuality and fornication will lead to the weakening of the families and therefore, to the weakening of the society. 
Another important point mentioned in the above verse is that it does not say ‘do not commit adultery’ but it emphasizes not to even go near it. Not only being alone with a marriageable kin (Non-Mahram), kissing, touching, etc. may lead to adultery and are forbidden (Haram). Simpler acts such as looking, talking on the phone, sending text messages or sending likes on social networks, if prepare the grounds for adultery are considered forbidden (Haram). 
But how should we keep away from adultery in a world in which media and advertisement encourage and invite people to fornication and adultery?
When Allah (SWT) emphasizes on not going near adultery, He provides us with practices and the right lifestyle to be able to stay away from it. Some of the tips are mentioned bellow:
It is narrated from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (AS) that “An evil glance is one of the poisonous arrows of Satan. Many of such glances becomes a cause of prolonged regret.” 
Controlling the look is one of the practices that helps one to be able to control his/her sexual desires. Allah (SWT) teaches us to cast down our looks and not to gaze lustfully at those of marriageable kin (Non-Mahram) or even at animals and things
“Tell the faithful men to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts. That is more decent for them.” (24: 30)
“And tell the faithful women to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts …” (24:31)
These days the rule applies to the movies, pictures and advertisements, etc. in which the naked or half nude images or films of men and women are visible. 
The other approach that the Quran offers to keep the society away from adultery is for women to wear Hijab and cover their body except what is legally observable, such as hands and face. They should also cover their beautification, make up, jewelry, and not even try to announce men of the ornaments they are wearing under their cover by making noises; for example, their bangles and bracelets:
“… and not to display their charms, beyond what is [acceptably] visible, and let them draw their scarfs over their bosoms … And let them not thump their feet to make known their hidden ornaments …” (24:31)
Some men and women may even wear the Islamic dress code and not even look in each other’s eyes, but they do not observe the chastity of speech. They should not speak to each other in a soft and enticing voice to encourage each other’s feelings and they shouldn’t make jokes and flirt with each other.
“…if you are wary [of Allah], do not be complaisant in your speech, lest he in whose heart is a sickness should aspire.” (33:32)
So if the opposite sexes are not allowed to enjoy being together, what is the whole point of them being created in two different sexes and having attraction for each other?
Allah (SWT) has put this attraction and desire toward the opposite sex for people to make families and reproduce and find peace and calmness beside their spouses:
“And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you...” (30:21)
Having a family and being loyal to it helps the society to be a safer place in which people can perform their duties and missions in life without being distracted by vain thoughts and concerns. Therefore, Allah (SWT) emphasizes on getting married and helping others to get married:
“Marry off those who are single among you, and the upright among your male and female slaves. If they are poor, Allah will enrich them out of His grace, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing.” (24:32)
And for those who cannot find a spouse for themselves, Allah (SWT) recommends them to keep their chastity: “Those who cannot afford marriage should be continent until Allah enriches them out of His grace.” (24:33) they should trust in Allah’s word and wait for His promise to come true. Sooner or later Allah (SWT) will enrich them as promised: “… And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Indeed, Allah carries through His commands. Certainly, Allah has ordained a measure [and extent] for everything.” (65:3)
The other guideline for preventing adultery is that the opposite sex of marriageable kin (Non-Mahram) should not stay lonely in a private place together. It is narrated from Imam Ali (AS) that: “A man should not be alone in the company of a woman (marriageable kin (Non-Mahrams)) for in that case Satan will be the third person.” 
After providing all the above hints to people to keep themselves chaste and stay away from fornication and adultery, for those who do not follow the guidelines and insist on committing adultery and have no fear of publicizing it, Allah (SWT) has considered punishments in different levels. 
In Surah Furqan, after stressing on the nasty nature of adultery and its great punishment, Allah (SWT) assures His servants that if they regret their deed and repent to their Lord, deciding not to commit their sin again, Allah will forgive them: “except those who repent, attain faith, and act righteously. For such, Allah will replace their misdeeds with good deeds, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful.” (25:70)
Islam tries to bring peace and happiness to human life with its laws and legislations. It also provides life skills by which one can achieve both worldly and spiritual improvement,