For those who believe in the afterlife, there is often this concern that whether they go to heaven or hell. Some Muslims believe that being a Muslim suffices for entering heaven, but is that true? If so, what happens to those who are born to non-Muslim families? Some believe that all Muslims are Arab or to become Muslim one should be whether Arab or know Arabic. Then, they might ask about what will happen to those who do not know Arabic. Since no one chooses where to be born, is it fair to send those born among disbelievers (Kafir) to hell? What will happen to converts because of their past before conversion to Islam? These and other questions are all answered here.
Some people believe that God has created mankind to send some of them to heaven and the rest to hell! But, it is not true at all. One is totally free to follow the divine guidance and reach heaven or to deny it and go to hell. Hence, everyone determines him\herself where he\she goes after death.
According to the Quran, God will curse those who are disbelievers and die while they are still disbeliever (2:161). They will remain in hell forever, their punishment will not be alleviated, nor will they be reprieved (2:162). On the contrary, those who are faithful to God and do righteous deeds (98:7) will be rewarded the Gardens of Eden. God will be pleased with them, and they will be pleased with Him (98:8).
Knowing that not having faith will end in hell, what will happen to believers? Will they all enter heaven?
Islam recognizes the freedom and other rights of the followers of the previous religions; also, has ordered Muslims to hold them in considerable respect . Moreover, Islam knows those followers eligible for salvation; it all depends on one’s deeds and faith in God. In Surah al-Baqarah it is said that: “Indeed, the faithful, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans—those of them who have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously—they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:62). In other words, according to the Islamic principles, it is disagreeable to punish those who have not received the message of Islam either before its rise or after that, and God will never do that.
In Surah Al-i-Imran it is said that anyone who follows a religion other than Islam will be among the losers in the Hereafter (3:85). So, being a Muslim, on its own, is the prerequisite for entering heaven; but it is not enough. The key to the eternal salvation and heaven is doing good deeds. Whoever submits to Islam but does not do any good deeds will not go to heaven. On the contrary, there are people who are not Muslim, as we call it, but they will accept Islam if they receive its message and therefore, they might enter heaven. In other words, one should have faith and submit to God, and this should be manifested in one’s acts.
In Surah al-Hujurat, the difference between belief and submission is clarified (49:14). By saying the two testimonies (Shahada), one submits to Islam, but being faithful is more than that. To have faith in God deep in the heart, one should obey God and his messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) (49:14), and this should be reflected in one’s conduct .
It is also stated that the noblest of people before God is the most righteous of them (2:13). This is logical, too. We also, as human beings, naturally like and appreciate those who are good and do good deeds. Hence, what is important is one’s deeds. Skin color, race, language, nationality, gender, age, and social class do not solely lead to salvation and heaven. Two clear examples in this regard are the son of Prophet Noah (PBUH) and the wife of Prophet Lot (PBUH) who both did not believe in prophet’s message and were thus condemned to Hell. Their stories warn that in spite of being a member of the family of the prophet, one might deviate, disobey God and move towards hell.
Among disbelievers (Kafir), there are those who deny the truth and will never submit to the divine guidance. These will never enter heaven, as mentioned earlier. There are also non-Muslims who have not received the message of Islam, and they are not responsible for not receiving it, but they will surely accept Islam as soon as they know about it. These will not be punished and will not go to hell since the Quran says: “We do not punish (any community) until We have sent (to them) an apostle” (17:15).
- Monotheistic faith
- M. H. Tabataba'I, “Tafsir al-mizan”, (2 :14).
It might have happened to you that when there is a ladder leaned against a wall and as you want to pass under it, someone calls you and says: “Do not pass under a ladder!” You might think it's crazy, or you might find it acceptable and even follow it. Which one is true? If you decide to follow Islam as your faith, should you follow those superstitious beliefs or ignore them all at once?
Collins Concise English Dictionary defines superstition as an irrational belief usually founded upon ignorance or fear and characterized by obsessive reverence for omens, charms, etc. . Superstitious beliefs are not limited to a particular faith or region; all nations and clans have their own beliefs, followed by their fears and ignorance. They are mostly routed in the past of a nation, transferred from generation to generation.
Islam defines superstition as all the words, manners and beliefs without a religious or logical base and backbone .
The Quran defines superstition as a burden put upon the human mind and soul by his/her own hands. It introduces Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to us as the last messenger of Allah, responsible to make things clear for his followers to see what to do and believe in, and what not to do and ignore .
"Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be successful.” (7:157)
Shackles are those beliefs human beings had or might have, which made them do things and stop doing some others with no definite reason or scientific study and research. It is the duty of Islam to guide people to accept everything they believe in with their hearts and minds sure of it, which requires research and reasoning.
Well, there was a time when superstitions were limited to passing under a ladder or seeing a black cat. But now, superstitions are more woven in the lives of people. Reports have shown that a quarter of adults in the United States consider themselves to be so. American Youths are more superstitious than the elders, and 70 percent of them rely on luck charms for better academic results. According to some scientific research, this occurs because people think superstitions can relieve their anxieties, improve their performances and help them pay the extra costs of an adverse outcome, be it financial, mental, or whatsoever .
As you might also conclude, superstitions have not only been less common, but also they are becoming more frequent among young Americans. There are ways to overcome those beliefs which we are going to discuss in our next article. Still, aside from that, these words uncover one fact: when you follow superstitions and believe in them, they will take the lead in your life and the life of your children, family, friends, etc. One day you might come up with the fact that many of your friends' fears passing under a ladder, too.
The other outcome of following superstitious beliefs is a weaker mental belief in a superpower. Put simply, when you believe in superstitions, you see other powers, be it of Satan, natural elements, or any other thing, stronger and more effective than that of Allah. You might not mean or think that way, but being superstitious makes you so.
One last important aftermath of this system of thinking is a feeble religious mind, one which is easily broken, misled, and gone far away from the straightway of truth. Superstitions weaken your faith, and then they weaken you. A weak person goes forward with a slow speed.
These are the least consequences of superstitious beliefs. You might think about the ways of overcoming these thoughts and getting rid of them which we will discuss later.
So, Are you still afraid of passing under a ladder?
- Collins Concise English Dictionary at Word Reference Online Language dictionaries
- Mokhtaripour, Marziyeh Islam, Superstitions and their Prevention Pasdar Islam, Vol. 385
- Makarim Shirazi, Nemuneh Interpretation of Quran, Vol 1, P 184
- Sandoiu, Ana How do Superstitions affect our Psychology and Wellbeing September 2019
Every day we meet several people at work, in the shops, at the university, in the neighborhood, or at parties and gatherings with whom we communicate and interact. Talking, telling jokes, shaking hands, touching or kissing usually happen in these interactions; but, is a Muslim allowed to do all these with whoever he/she wants? Or is he/she permitted to be exposed to such acts? These and many similar questions are answered in Islam.
To clarify and form the relations among people, Islam has presented the concept of Maharim and the two categories “Mahram” and “non-Mahram” which sometimes serve as conditions, requirements, or the basis of several Islamic laws. Regarding the Islamic rules on marriage, these categories define who a person can and cannot marry. Likewise, when dealing with the Islamic dress code, i.e., explaining whom one must cover specific parts of a body in front of, the concept of Maharim is required.
One’s Mahram is anyone whom it is permanently forbidden to marry because of blood ties, marriage ties or breastfeeding. However, a woman does not need to cover her hair and put on Hijab when she is in their presence. A woman's male Mahrams fall into three categories plus her spouse . Mahrams for a man are derived similarly. The Maharim for both, extracted from the verses of the Holy Quran (4:22-23) and (24:31), are listed below , and all other people and relatives are considered as non-Maharams.
Permanent or blood Mahrams, with whom one is Mahram through blood ties:
parents, grandparents, and further ancestors;
children, grandchildren, and further descendants;
siblings of parents, grandparents, and further ancestors (cousins and their children are not Mahram);
children and further descendants of siblings;
In-law Mahrams, with whom one becomes Mahram through marriage ties:
stepfather (mother's husband) if their marriage is consummated, stepmother (father's wife) even if their marriage is not consummated;
stepson (husband's son) even if their marriage is not consummated, stepdaughter (wife's daughter) if their marriage is consummated[i];
Rada or "milk-suckling Mahrams," with whom one becomes Mahram because of being breastfed by her. When a woman breastfeeds an infant that is not her child for a certain amount of time under certain conditions, she becomes the child's rada mother and everything concerning blood Mahrams apply here, such as rada father/mother, rada sister/brother, rada aunt/uncle and so on. In English, these can be referred to as milk-brother, milk-mother, etc. [ii].
It is forbidden (Haram) to marry Mahrams, but one can marry non-Mahrams who have reached puberty. As explained above, Married couples are Mahram to each other. But unlike other Mahrams, the limitations and rulings on looking and touching do not apply to them; i.e., married couples are the only ones allowed to touch and look at the whole body of one another; even the private parts.
Regarding social interactions, there are some rules according to the concept of Maharim:
Women and men are both required to keep their gazes downcast and should not stare at the other person when facing non-Mahrams or talk to them. Even Mahrams are not allowed to see certain parts of the body of each other (this will be discussed more under a separate topic “the Islamic rules on looking“);
When talking to non-Mahrams, the tone of voice should be serious, and the dialogues should be direct and as much as necessary. One should also avoid telling jokes and laughing loudly [iii];
Any physical contact (i.e., shaking hands, hugging touching) with non-Mahrams is forbidden (haram), except for curing patients. In this case, if a doctor of the same gender as the patient exists and can cure, then it is forbidden to refer to a non-Mahram doctor.
When being sole in a closed room (where no one else can enter, i.e., locked place), it is forbidden for a non-Mahram man to remain alone in the company of a non-Mahram woman. The Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) said: “No man is alone with a woman except that Satan is the third one present ” ;
It is required (Wajib) to cover specific parts of a body in the presence of a non-Mahram according to the Islamic dress code. For men, this includes from navel to knee. For women, the clothing should cover their hair and body, but covering the face and the hands, from the wrist to the fingers, is not mandated .
[i] sister-in-law and brother-in-law are not Mahram.
[ii] Refer to your source of emulation (Marja’ Taqlid) for more details and the rulings.
[iii] See the article on modesty.
- Mahram and non Mahram
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 20, p. 131.
- A. Aroussi Howayzi, “Tafsir Noor al-Thaqalayn”, vol. 3/589, T. 105.